One of the oldest franchises in PC gaming is making a comeback this spring as Microsoft gears up to release its latest flight sim title. Now simply called Microsoft Flight, the game adopts a free-to-play model and is designed to be accessible to everyone, making it much more friendly to casual players who can undertake in various missions and challenges, search for hidden "aerocaches" or just relax and cruise.
Microsoft Flight will give players the freedom to fly the skies over the beautiful island of a Hawaii in a handful of aircrafts. Gamers who sign up using their Games for Windows LIVE account will have access to achievements and receive additional free content, from extra missions to new planes, including a Boeing Stearman. Of course, additional content such as new aircraft and regions will also be available for purchase.
The franchise was axed in 2009 along developer Aces Game Studio as Microsoft moved ahead with plans to cut its workforce by up to 5,000 jobs, only to be revived a year later. Despite dropping the "Simulator" label the game will supposedly still allow more experienced players to tailor the flight controls to match their skill level. The idea is to make the game easy for beginners while still challenging for flight simulator veterans.
Previous releases up to Flight Simulator X in 2006, while popular, were very much niche products regularly supported by third party mods and add-ons. Microsoft is hoping this new approach will reach a broader audience without alienating flight enthusiasts who cherished the series' realism and customizability.
Microsoft is currently accepting applicants for the closed beta phase. You can add your name to the waiting list if you'd like to give it a go or head to microsoftflight.com to find out more about the game.