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Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020: Release date, price, system requirements and more

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020
(Image credit: Xbox)

At long last, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is finally taking off. The latest version of this hyper-realistic sim is available to download today (August 18). Here's everything you need to know, from the price to the airplanes you'll be able to fly, to the equipment you'll need to run the game. 

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 release date

Since the first version was released in 1982, Microsoft's Flight Simulator has been known for its realism, from the aircraft to the flight performance to the geographical world around it.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is available for PCs, and Xbox Game Pass subscribers. It will also be released for the Xbox, presumably with simpler controls, but the company has not said when this version will be released.

Microsoft Flight Simulator price

Microsoft Flight Simulator is being released in three versions: The Standard Edition  costs $59.99, and will let you fly 20 different planes. The Deluxe Edition ($89.99)  includes 25 aircraft, and the Premium Deluxe Edition ($119.99) includes 35 aircraft. 

While all versions let you land and take off from 37,000 airports around the world, each edition has have "handcrafted" airports with additional details. The Standard Edition has 30 such airports, the Deluxe 35, and the Premium Deluxe 40 airports.

The Standard Edition is also available as part of Xbox Game Pass for PC (beta), which is currently just $1/month.

In Europe, would-be pilots can also purchase Microsoft Flight Simulator as a 10 double-layer DVD box set via Aerosoft. It should be available at retail locations by August 21.

All versions are currently available for download.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 system requirements

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020

(Image credit: Xbox)

This is not a game for wimpy PCs. Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 requires, at minimum, a Windows 10 PC with either an Intel i5-4460 or AMD Ryzen 3 1200 processor, an Nvidia GTX 770 or AMD Radeon RX 570 GPU, 8 GB RAM, 2 GB VRAM, 150GB of hard drive space, and support for DirectX 11. 

According to Windows Central, Microsoft recommends an Intel i5-8400 or AMD Ryzen 5 1500X CPU, Nvidia GTX 970 or AMD Radeon RX 590 graphics, 4GB of VRAM, 16GB of RAM, and a 20Mbps download speed.

You're also going to need a decent Internet connection, as map updates from Bing are said to be sizeable.

On August 17, Nividia announced that it has game-ready drivers available for Flight Simulator

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 VR headset compatibility

Microsoft Flight Simulator will first be available on the HP Reverb G2 VR headset. Available for preorder ($599), the Reverb G2 is slated to ship this fall. It will feature dual 2160 x 2160 LCD panels and four tracking cameras, and will be compatible with both Windows Mixed Reality and Steam VR platforms. 

Microsoft has not announced compatibility with any other VR headsets at this time, but we will update this story accordingly.

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 aircraft

The following aircraft are available in Microsoft Flight Simulator:

Aircraft available in Microsoft Flight Simulator
Standard EditionDeluxe EditionPremium Deluxe Edition
Airbus A320neoXXX
Aviat Pitts Special S2SXXX
Boeing 747-8 IntercontinentalXXX
CubCrafters XCubXXX
Daher TBM 930XXX
Diamond DA62XXX
Diamond DA40 NGXXX
Flight Design CTLSXXX
Robin CAP 10XXX
Robin DR400-100 CadetXXX
Beechcraft Bonanza G36XXX
Beechcraft King Air 350iXXX
Cessna 152XXX
Cessna 172 Skyhawk (G1000)XXX
Cessna 208 B Grand Caravan EXXXX
Cessna Citation CJ4XXX
Zlin Savage CubXXX
Diamond DA40-TDIXX
Diamond DV20XX
Beechcraft Baron G58XX
Cessna 152 AerobatXX
Cessna 172 SkyhawkXX
Boeing 787-10 DreamlinerX
Cirrus SR22X
Pipistrel Virus SW 121X
Cessna Citation LongitudeX
Zlin Shock UltraX

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 airports

According to Microsoft, players can land and take off from around 37,000 airports around the world. However, 40 of these airports have "hand-crafted" elements, offering more detail and other features. So, for instance, all players will be able to fly into San Francisco's airport, but only those who have the Premium Deluxe version will be able to see these hand-crafted items. Microsoft has not specified what the exact differences are between hand-crafted and non-handcrafted versions.  

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020

(Image credit: Xbox)

Standard EditionDeluxe EditionPremium Deluxe Edition
Aspen/Pikin County (USA)XXX
Bugalaga Airstrip (Indonesia)XXX
Chagual Airport (Peru)XXX
Courchevel Altiport (France)XXX
Donegal Airport (Ireland)XXX
Entebbe Int'l Airport (Uganda)XXX
Cristiano Ronaldo Madeira Int'l Airport (Portugal)XXX
Gibraltar Int'l Airport (UK)XXX
Innsbruck Airport (Austria)XXX
Los Angeles Int'l Airport (USA)XXX
Tenzing-Hillary Airport (Nepal)XXX
Nanwalek Airport (USA)XXX
John F. Kennedy Int'l Airport (USA)XXX
Orlando Int'l Airport (USA)XXX
Paris Charles de Gaulle Int'l Airport (France)XXX
Paro Int'l Airport (Bhutan)XXX
Queenstown Airport (New Zealand)XXX
Mariscal Sucre Int'l Airport (Ecuador)XXX
Rio de Janeiro-Antonio Carlos Jobim Int'l Airport (Brazil)XXX
Juancho E. Yrausquin Airport (Dutch Saba)XXX
Gustaf III Airport (France)XXX
Seattle-Tacoma Int'l Airport (USA)XXX
Sedona Airport (USA)XXX
Sirena Aerodrome (Costa Rica)XXX
Stewart Airport (Canada)XXX
Sydney Airport (Australia)XXX
Telluride Regional Airport (USA)XXX
Haneda Airport (Japan)XXX
Toncontin Int'l Airport (Honduras)XXX
Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport (Canada)XXX
Schiphol Airport (Netherlands)XX
Cairo Int'l Airport (Egypt)XX
Cape Town Int'l Airport (South Africa)XX
O'Hare Int'l Airport (USA)XX
Adolfo Suarez Madrid Barajas (Spain)XX
Denver Int'l Airport (USA)X
Frankfurt Airport (Germany)X
Heathrow Airport (UK)X
San Francisco Int'l Airport (USA)X

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 map

As impressive as its aircraft modeling is, Microsoft Flight Simulator is also known for its highly accurate rendering of the Earth. The simulator relies on Microsoft's Bing Maps, and uses Microsoft's Azure AI to incorporate terrain data, foliage, as well as real-time weather for photorealistic graphics.

For those who plan to purchase Microsoft Flight Simulator, the company recommends the following peripherals, which include a variety of flight controls:

Honeycomb Aeronautical

Extreme 3D Pro
Flight Rudder Pedals
Flight Throttle Quadrant
Flight Yoke System
X52 Pro

F/A-18 Grip
Warthog HOTAS (stick + throttle)
MFD Cougar
Pendular Rudder
T.Flight Stick X
T.16000M (stick only)
T.16000M FCS (stick + throttle + rudder)
T.Flight HOTAS 4
T.Flight HOTAS One
T.Flight HOTAS X
T-Flight Rudder Pedals
TWCS Throttle

Virtual Fly
V3rnio TPM

Xbox Controller
Xbox Adaptive Controller

Microsoft Flight Simulator: What the critics are saying

Across the board, reviewers who got their hands on Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 praise the game for its attention to detail and amazing graphics.

Matt Hanson of TechRadar says "For fans of the series, and simulator games in general, the new Microsoft Flight Simulator offers a dramatic generational leap that will define the genre for years to come." However, he notes that there's a real learning curve, and recommends purchasing a peripheral, such as a game controller or flight stick, rather than relying on a keyboard and mouse.

Seth Macy of IGN is even more effusive, and calls Microsoft Flight Simulator "the most incredible experience I've ever had on a computer." He says that the game takes up a huge amount of data, especially when downloading Bing maps, so it's worth pre-loading some areas to save yourself some bandwidth issues.

Jeffrey Wilson of PCMag calls Flight Simulator a "love letter to aviation," but also noted it took him nearly 24 hours to download its 150GB installer. He says the learn-to-fly mode is essential for getting the basics down, and also liked how much you can customize the graphics, down to real-time weather and air traffic.  

  • Mixonk
    “The Standard Edition will cost $59.99, and will let you fly 20 different planes, and land (and takeoff) from 30 different airports. The Deluxe Edition ($89.99) will include 25 aircraft and 35 airports, and the Premium Deluxe Edition ($119.99) will include 35 aircraft and 35 airports.
    You can actually fly to every single airport in the world, (takeoff and land). There are even 37,000 of the world airports that have been manually edited so that they are more detailed/realistic. These 30 (standard), 35 (deluxe), and 40 (premium edition) airports are just handcrafted international airports that are even more detailed than all of the others. The standard edition will still have these same 15 airports as the premium edition does, but they just won’t be the more detailed/realistic versions .