(Image: Microsoft)Wednesday’s Xbox and Bethesda Showcase revealed that Microsoft Flight Simulator, the hyper-realistic sim that allows you to fly around the world, will soon feature a competitive multiplayer mode. Beginning this fall, players will have the option of racing against friends and other players online.
Developer Asobo and the Reno Air Racing Association joined forces to bring the STIHL National Championship Air Races—called the “world’s fastest motorsport”—in-game. The new mode will become available via what Asobo is calling Flight Simulator’s “first major expansion,” which will also include a number of famous race planes capable of flying up to 500 mph at altitudes of 50 to 250 feet. Microsoft hasn’t yet said whether the expansion will be free, which sort of insinuates that it won’t be. The expansion is currently set to roll out in November.
In the meantime, Microsoft is pushing out World Update 6, which will reportedly upgrade the game’s rendition of Germany, Switzerland, and Austria beginning September 7. It will also add 100 real-life landmarks, four new European airports, a new terrain setting, and a handful of bush trips and landing challenges. According to a conversation between Polygon and Microsoft Flight Simulator Head Jorg Neumann, the terrain updates are possible thanks to new satellite and aerial data likely procured when the game switched from Bing’s maps to Google’s last year. Asobo is also reportedly planning on adding helicopters to Microsoft Flight Simulator for the first time beginning in 2022.
Beyond the obvious excitement that comes with being able to race friends and foes in realistic planes, it will be interesting to see how fans of the game put their own spins on it. I’m eager to see if Twitch’s DougDoug streams viewers’ attempts to control a race via chat as he did in single-player mode, or if airsport professionals will weigh in on the game’s details the way real pilots have in single-player mode. Once November hits, only time will tell.