Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 lets you fly to just about anywhere in the world - here's how to play it

(Image: Microsoft)(Image: Microsoft)
(Image: Microsoft)

It's one of 2020's most anticipated video games, promising to take the visual fidelity of the medium to new heights and present an immersive gaming experience.

But it's not some bombastic shoot-em-up with Hollywood blockbuster-style action set pieces.

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Instead, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 aims to be the most realistic depiction of controlling an aircraft ever committed to video gaming history.

Here's everything you need to know about it.

What is Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020?

As you might have guessed from its self-explanatory title, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 gives aviation fans a chance to pilot a multitude of aircraft from the safety of their own home.

At a time when travel restrictions are preventing real life getaways to exotic locales, Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 might just be the next best thing.

Using groundbreaking technology and satellite imagery from Microsoft's Bing Maps database, the game is able to represent the entire planet at 1:1 scale in photo-realistic detail in many areas.

The technology working under the hood is really quite impressive. Thanks to said satellite imagery, 37,000 airports from across the globe will be represented realistically. An impressive 40 of the world's top airports have also been hand-built by the development team for even more attention to detail, including Heathrow.

The game world will also include over two million cities and towns, 1.5 billion buildings and two trillion trees.

How difficult is it to play?

(Image: Microsoft)(Image: Microsoft)
(Image: Microsoft)

Though the game sells itself as an incredibly realistic simulator, its difficulty is completely scaleable to your tastes.

Diehard fans of flying can turn the simulation options way up for a realistic experience, but if you just want to kick back and explore the world from the relative tranquillity of the open skies with nothing more than a few buttons to worry about, you can do that too.

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That eight hour flight from Stansted to New York you've always dreamt of piloting in real time? You can do it in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.

But, likewise, if you just want to buzz over your house in a Cessna while imagining waving to your virtual self, go ahead.

When can I play it?

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 will be released for PC on Tuesday 18 August 2020.

A release for Xbox consoles is expected down the line, although an exact date has not yet been confirmed. It likely won't be until after Microsoft's powerful Xbox Series X console is released in November.

How much does it cost?

(Image: Microsoft)(Image: Microsoft)
(Image: Microsoft)

The game is expensive, although you are getting a literal planet's worth of content for your purchase.

Three different versions of the title - Standard, Deluxe, and Premium Deluxe - are available, with each providing an incremental set of airplanes to choose and additional airports with more detailed visuals.

The Standard and Premium Deluxe editions of the game are available to buy as a physical, boxed release, although the size of the game means it's being packaged across 10 DVDs.

These discs will also contain only the game's basic content. The actual simulator software and updates are downloaded during installation, and so an active internet connection is required to play the game

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The pricing ranges from £59.99 for Standard, to £79.99 for Deluxe, and £109.99 for Premium Deluxe, but if you're looking for a cheaper option, read on.

How does Game Pass work?

Excitingly, alongside the usual retail versions, the game is also being included as part of Microsoft's Game Pass.

Game Pass is a subscription service. Users pay a monthly fee, and in return are given access to 100s of games that can be downloaded and played at no extra cost. The service primarily benefits players on Microsoft's Xbox consoles, but the PC version is receiving a major 'get' in the form of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020.

You will need a fairly up to date PC to run the game at its highest graphical settings, although previews of Flight Simulator 2020 have praised it for its wealth of graphical options.

These allow users to sacrifice graphical fidelity in order to play it on lower powered machines, while maintaining impressive visuals.

For more information on Game Pass, head to the official website