Asobo/MS preview massive performance improvements with Sim Update V

With the Xbox release of Flight Simulator right around the corner, coming later this month, PC flight simmers continue to wonder how their experience on the desk will change with the launch of the console version. Thankfully, in the latest Developer Q&A from the Flight Simulator team, a lot of information was revealed about the improvements that will come on July 27th.

The highlight of the update will definitely be the significantly improved performance of the sim. Asobo has rewritten and improved parts of the engine architecture in order to increase overall performance, and the results are quite dramatic! Asobo’s Sebastian Wloch showed a typically resource-heavy flight with the Cessna 152 over New York, with the large amount of photogrammetry that looks astonishing but hurts performance quite a bit.

The improved performance with Sim Update V is incredible. Compared to the current version, Sim Update IV, and in this New York scenario, performance increases from around 35-40 fps to 60 fps. We are looking to an increase of around 60%! How crazy is that?

MSFS Sim Update V 1
New York in 4K at nearly 60 fps!
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Seb shows that Flight Simulator will now make better use of the system resources, as the team optimized some things and moved around processes. The GPU should now be used to its full extent, with the CPU being a little freer to process other necessary things, which should lead to fewer stutters too. RAM usage is also significantly lower!

VR should also get this positive impact, depending on system configuration, headset choice, etc. With VR, the graphics card is usually the bottleneck, so we are more likely to see better performance with some headroom there (with a RTX 3080/3090, for instance).

These kinds of performance enhancements are truly exciting and surprising. Jorg Neumann even went on and said that in 30 years of experience in the gaming industry he has never seen anything like this. “It’s freaking amazing!”

Obviously, everyone is eager to get this now. Well, Sim Update V will come with the Xbox release, so be prepared to download it for PC on July 27th.

If you’re wondering whether this performance increase is due to the implementation of DirectX 12, then the answer is no. All these improvements come exclusively from enhancements to the sim. The Xbox version of Flight Simulator will be based on DX12, but the team is still working on that for the PC version. It will come, but not as soon!

Once that happens, though, MSFS may perform even better, but the most noticeable changes will be visual. Ray Tracing will be possible with DX12, as well as much improved reflections (no more grain!) and other effects. As we previously revealed, there is a wide variety of new and cool effects coming to MSFS, such as wake effects on the water, but these are not dependent on DX12.

Moving on, the team continues to search and gather better data from the world, which will come on future updates in order to improve things like elevation data, high-resolution aerial textures, and improved photogrammetry data. The goal is not only to keep providing new cities with photogrammetry but also improve existing ones as Bing data continues to be updated. In fact, it was revealed that the US will get another dedicated update next year, with the goal of improving its current state with the aforementioned new and better data.

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Trees as far as the eyes can see!

While the increased performance is definitely the highlight of the upcoming Sim Update V, there are a few additional fixes and improvements that the community will surely appreciate, some of which have been discussed for months, particularly with the infamous “Tree LOD Problem”.

There have been countless reports (and a few mods in the meantime too) of trees only showing up in a relatively small area around the aircraft, significantly breaking the immersion and the quality of the scenery further ahead. Good news on that front, as Asobo managed to find the cause of the problem and implemented a solution after weeks/months of research. It turns out that this issue was caused by some problem with latitude calculations – the further north/south you were, the fewer trees. It was an easy fix after the cause of the problem was found, and it will also come with Sim Update V and the Xbox release.

Also teased is some kind of announcement coming up regarding gliders, a much-requested feature that looks to be getting some attention now.

We’ll see what Microsoft and Asobo have in store for us in the coming updates! The team continues to be very vocal about the ongoing process of expanding and improving Flight Simulator, with clear and ambitious plans ahead. This month the Xbox version will be out, as well as Sim Update V, which will be followed by the World Update dedicated to Germany, Austria and Switzerland, and the Maverick expansion in the Fall. Busy times for MSFS!