Microsoft Flight Simulator has always been about making you feel like a pilot, but you’ve never been able to experience it in VR — until today. With today’s free update, Asobo Studio has added support for OpenXR-compatible headsets, which include Windows Mixed Reality headsets as well as the Valve Index, HTC Vive, and the Oculus Rift and Oculus Quest (if you use a Link cable).
Microsoft originally announced that the VR feature would be coming first to the HP Reverb G2. This latest update includes support for most Windows Mixed Reality headsets, Oculus, Valve, and HTC headsets.
Before, if you wanted to feel like you were really in an airplane while playing Flight Simulator, it would take a lot of computer monitors and some carpentry skills. Even then, you could only make your surroundings look like the cockpit of a single model of airplane. Now all you’ll need is a VR headset — oh, and a powerful computer to run it at a resolution that’s passable for screens an inch from your eyes. When Microsoft ran a beta test of the feature, an i5-8400 or Ryzen 5 1500X paired with a GTX 1080 were listed as the minimum specs.
The update is also giving the world a winter makeover, adding snow and ice to the variety of weather conditions in the game’s real-time weather simulation. According to a blog post by the head of Microsoft Flight Simulator, the game will now “add real-time snow and true-to-life ice coverage to the entire planet.”
Currently, flying over the North Pole in the game gets a bit weird, not least of which because it’s all water with no ice. As you would imagine, in real life that region is often very icy, so it’ll be interesting to see if the new weather conditions will make this area more true to life. In fact, let’s go see for ourselves. We’ll be departing as soon as everyone turns their phones off. And the runway clears. And, of course, we’ve got to de-ice the wings now.
If you’re interested in trying out VR, the default keyboard shortcut for turning it on is Ctrl+Tab. If you’re using a customized keyboard mapping, you’ll have to check in the settings, where there will be a new VR tab. There’s a full FAQ for VR mode on the Flight Simulator forum.