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Microsoft Flight Simulator: 5 things I learned playing the new ultrarealistic flight sim – CNET

There’s a new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator driving a lot of PC gaming attention right now, in part because it’s the first ground-up new entry in the long-running series since 2006. The new version, besides stunning graphics and realistic physics, benefits from being able to stream in real-world cloud-based mapping data in real time, drawing from what Microsoft says is over 2 petabytes of Bing Maps content. That means the game will livestream 3D maps from wherever you’re flying in real time, but that also requires a robust internet connection. 

Flight sim fans don’t necessarily consider themselves gamers. Often they play Microsoft Flight Simulator, the gold standard of realist flight sims, and nothing else. They can have entire PC setups with multiple displays, expensive flight control sticks and pedals and the latest graphics cards and processors, but they wouldn’t know Master Chief from Q*bert. (The game retails for $60, but it’s “free” for Microsoft Game Pass subscribers.)

The first flight sim I ever played was Chuck Yeager’s Advanced Flight Trainer back in the late 1980s on my Tandy 1000. I have not particularly kept up with the genre, but the hype around the 2020 version of Microsoft Flight Simulator got me interested in strapping in and giving it a go. Here’s what I discovered. 

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Dan Ackerman/CNET

You can buzz your house 

Naturally, one of the first things I did in Microsoft Flight Simulator was to take off from JFK airport and attempt to find my Brooklyn apartment. Guiding myself by local landmarks from the Statue of Liberty to the Gowanus Canal, I quickly found my neighborhood, and by following the elevated subway tracks, was able to buzz right by my building, which was rendered at a decent level of authentic detail. It feels a lot like the 3D view in Google Maps, with satellite images skinned over 3D structures. 

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Good luck playing with a keyboard and mouse 

On my first attempt, I went with the keyboard-and-mouse control option on my gaming laptop. But, during the tutorial, one of the very first instructions was to take control of the yoke by using the number pad. My laptop, of course, did not have a separate number pad. The game didn’t seem to recognize this, or if it did, it didn’t care. I could have gone into the settings and tried to remap some of the controls manually, but instead I switched to a gamepad, which worked better. Obviously the best option is a high-end flight stick, but many of the top models are sold out right now

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Dan Ackerman/CNET

You need a hefty PC to play

The “official” minimum specs to play the 2020 version of Microsoft Flight Simulator is an Intel Intel Core i5-4460 CPU, Nvidia GeForce GTX 770 (or Radeon RX 570) and 8GB of RAM. I say, good luck with all that. I’m using a laptop with a Nvidia 2080 GPU and Core i7-9750H right now, and that’s just about acceptable, if I drop the resolution to 1,920×1,080 pixels. And, the game takes up almost 130GB of hard drive space, so better clear off some room. 

Read more: Best gaming laptops for 2020

Sorry, Mac gamers

The biggest hint is that this is called “Microsoft” Flight Simulator. And unlike some other Microsoft software products like Office or Skype, you can’t play this game on a Mac. MacOS systems can play a similar game called X-Plane, but it’s not as advanced. 

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Dan Ackerman/CNET

It’s included in the Xbox Game Pass for PC subscription 

Xbox Game Pass is a secret weapon for many gamers, with tons of great games included for a set monthly subscription price. The Game Pass for PC and Game Pass Ultimate versions include Microsoft Flight Simulator, which normally sells for $60. Game Pass for PC is currently $5 per month for a limited time, and Game Pass Ultimate, which includes both PC and Xbox games, is $15 per month. 

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carrying Flight

Flight carrying comatose Russian dissident Alexey Navalny departs for Berlin – CNN

(CNN)Russian opposition leader, Alexey Navalny — who is gravely ill after a suspected poisoning — has arrived at a hospital in Berlin following a medical evacuation flight from the Siberian city of Omsk, according to a CNN team on the ground.

The Kremlin critic was flown out of Russia on Saturday morning to receive treatment in the German capital. Jaka Bizilj, chairman for Cinema for Peace Foundation, which organized the medical evacuation, told CNN that Navalny is in a “stable condition.”
The hospital, Charite Berlin, confirmed on Saturday it had admitted the 44-year-old for medical treatment, adding in a statement posted to Twitter that an “extensive medical diagnosis” is being carried out.
Navalny, a critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, is in a coma after becoming sick from suspected poisoning on a flight to Moscow from the Siberian city of Tomsk, his spokesperson Kira Yarmysh said Thursday. The plane later made an urgent landing in Omsk, she added.
In a tweet marking Navalny’s departure, Yarmysh wrote: “The plane with Alexey flew to Berlin. Many thanks to everyone for their support. The struggle for Alexey’s life and health just begins, and there is still a lot to go through, but now at least the first step has been taken.”
In an earlier tweet, Yarmysh posted a photo showing Navalny’s stretcher being put onto the air ambulance. “Alexey is taken to the medical aircraft. Yulia is with him,” she wrote. Yulia is Navalny’s wife.
On Friday, Russian doctors treating the anti-corruption blogger gave his team permission to move him.
“We do not object to his transfer to another hospital,” Anatoly Kalinichenko, deputy chief physician at the hospital where Navalny is being treated, told reporters, according to TASS.
The Siberian hospital treating Navalny has rejected claims the Russian opposition leader had been poisoned on Friday — even as his wife said the doctors there could not be trusted.
RIA Novosti quoted the deputy head doctor as saying: “We have requests from relatives to transport [him]. They take this risk upon themselves, we do not mind.”
On Friday, Kalinichenko, the deputy head physician, said no poisons were found in Navalny’s blood or urine.
“We don’t believe that the patient suffered poisoning,” Kalinichenko told local journalists in a news conference.
“Poisons or traces of their presence in the body have not been identified. Probably, the diagnosis of ‘poisoning’ remains somewhere in the back of our minds. But we do not believe that the patient suffered poisoning,” he added.
Navalny’s team claims transport police in Omsk have detected a “deadly substance” that poses a threat to his life and the lives of those around him, and say this is the reason why the hospital initially did not allow him to be moved.
TASS also reported Friday that an “industrial chemical” identified in samples taken from Navalny was a non-toxic substance commonly found in plastic products, citing the regional branch of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

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Flight Microsoft

Microsoft Flight Simulator beginner’s guide and tips – Polygon

Microsoft Flight Simulator delivers on a big promise, letting you explore nearly every inch of Earth from the skies.

If you’re a newcomer to the flight simulator genre eager to take off and see the sights, that may not be so easy at first. It’s worth mastering a few basics early on.

Polygon’s Microsoft Flight Simulator beginner’s guide will give you the foundations you need to soar. Before you explore the air around everything there is to see, check out these essential tips on flying, navigating, and controlling the camera.

Complete the Flight Training first

Microsoft Flight Simulator is, unsurprisingly, a realistic flight simulator. Unlike an arcade flying game, there’s a lot you need to know before you can even take off properly. Everything you need to know to take off into the sky, stay up there, and land safely is explained in detail in the Flight Training section.

The Flight Training menu in Microsoft Flight Simulator

Complete all eight exercises and you’re set
Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

While it’s hardly exciting to recommend that everyone dive into training mode first thing, it’s essential. Flight Training covers nearly every concept worth knowing, and it’s designed to get you up in the sky as fast as possible. At the same time, it explains a handful of controls that might not be intuitive, especially if you’re planning on playing this game with a controller. These eight and short exercises will familiarize you with basic controls, navigation, and landing.

Completing Flight Training takes roughly 30-40 minutes, and by the time you’re done, you should feel confident enough to fly around the world on your own.

Which planes to use

In Flight Training, you’ll exclusively use the Cessna 152, which has a cruise speed of 107 KTAS (knots true airspeed). As you’ve learned in your lessons, that speed range is fairly good for cruising around a small area. If you want to cover more ground, you’ll need a faster plane.

In this section, we’ll discuss the types of planes in Microsoft Flight Simulator, and give you some ideas about when and why you might want to use them.

Propeller planes

Propeller planes in Microsoft Flight Simulator

Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

Propeller planes like the Cessna 152 are great for flying low and relatively slow. If you plan on sightseeing around dense areas like cities or trying to find where you live, pick a propeller plane with a cruise speed of less than 150 KTAS.

Turboprops

Turboprops in Microsoft Flight Simulator

Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

Turboprops are similar to propeller planes, but they’re twice as fast and have double the maximum altitude. These are good planes to move up to after you’ve gotten comfortable with propeller planes. They’re also a good fit when you want something faster, like when going over larger stretches of land like mountains, large forests, or big lakes.

Airliners and jets

Airliners and jets in Microsoft Flight Simulator

Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

To cover longer distances, consider stepping into an airliner or jet. Both options have quadruple the airspeed of the plane you learned the basics on and can climb to more than three times the altitude. Both options have comparable speed but handle differently due to their size. Some airliners have much larger fuel reserves, in case you feel like simulating an intercontinental flight from the comfort of your home computer.

How to fly anywhere

One of the most exciting aspects of Microsoft Flight Simulator is the ability to fly anywhere in the world. Setting off to the skies above some of the world’s most beautiful sights — or even your home — is simple, but there are a few things worth knowing first.

Most of the world’s major landmarks are called Points of Interest. If your goal is to check out famous places or natural wonders, then all you need to do is search for them in the World Map / Free Flight mode.

Searching for a landmark in Microsoft Flight Simulator

Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

If your destination is a famous landmark, you can easily find it by using the search function from the map screen in Free Flight mode. Once you’ve found your location, the map will zoom in on it, allowing you to set it as a departure point or arrival area. In our guide to finding famous landmarks, we recommend setting Points of Interest as arrival points and locating a suitable departure airport.

To see how your house has been modeled, check out our guide on finding where you live in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

How to use Active Pause

Active Pause is a feature that you might have seen recommend on a loading screen, but it’s not bound to any key, so you might not know how to use it.

Active Pause info screen in Microsoft Flight Simulator

Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

Active Pause allows you to stop the motion of your aircraft and look around. Hitting the normal pause menu by pressing the Escape key on your keyboard or pause on your controller brings up your options, obscuring everything else. However, if you want to stop the action and take a look around, you need to bind your Active Pause function to a key.

The Control key works well, because the game doesn’t use it, and it’s at the bottom of your keyboard, which makes it quick and easy to access.

The Great Pyramids in Microsoft Flight Simulator

I could only get this shot with Active Pause
Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

We staged the shot above using Active Pause. With the function enabled, we orientated the external camera (by hitting the View button our Xbox One controller) and set the position of the sun at the right height by changing the weather settings in the toolbar.

This feature is also a great if you’re trying to find your house and you need to take a moment to look around to locate it.

Have fun with the ATC options

Before you set off for your flights, be sure to check out the ATC Options. Changing these air traffic control settings won’t have a major impact on your flight, but they’ll allow you to have a little fun with the radio messages you hear while flying.

The ATC Options in Microsoft Flight Simulator

Image: Asobo Studio/Microsoft Corporation via Polygon

Whatever you write in as your tail number will appear on the back of your plane. You can add a few letters or numbers here. This makes no real difference, but it’s nice seeing your name or favorite numbers plastered on the side of your plane.

Your call sign is usually a set of identifying characters that the air traffic control team will use to identify you over the radio. Any letters you use in your call sign will be called out using the Phonetic Alphabet, but if you write in a short word, there’s a chance they will say that instead. Short names and words work great, though we found that profane language gets replaced with a generic call sign.

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