Microsoft’s latest Flight Simulator is a triumph in beauty, thanks to its use of Bing maps and real-time weather conditions. Last July, the company promised a virtual reality (VR) mode but said it would only come to HP VR headsets. Now that virtual reality update is here, and good news: it works with most VR headsets. But you’ll need a powerful gaming PC to keep up.
The virtual reality update is free, and despite early promises, works with several VR headsets, including Windows Mixed Reality headsets, HTC Vive, Oculus Rift, and Oculus Quest (with Link cable). That’s not even a complete list; nearly any OpenXR-compatible PC headset should work.
But, a VR headset isn’t enough, of course. You’ll need a powerful computer to run the game. Microsoft said you’d need at least an i5-8400 or Ryzen 5 1500X along with a GTX 1080 graphics card during the VR Beta. And that’s the starting point.
Of course, to complete the feel of flying a plane for real, you’ll want to spring for a “Hands-On Stick And Throttle” (HOTAS) setup or, at the very least, a flight stick. Microsoft has been hard at work taking a fantastic looking game and making it look even better, with updates to improve its Bing Map entries and add more textures to more areas.
And to that end, adding virtual reality isn’t the only thing coming with the latest update. While Flight Simulator already mirrored some real-life weather conditions, it didn’t account for every possibility. If you’re flying in an area that’s rainy or storming in real life, the game will give you rain and thunder as well. But it didn’t simulate winter and icy conditions. Now that changes, and you can get snow, ice, and more. Of course, if you’d prefer smooth flying, you can turn off real-time weather.
The VR and winter weather update for Flight Simulator is out now, and you can download it through Steam and the Microsoft Store. Game Pass holders probably want to choose that one, as it comes free with a PC or Ultimate subscription.