After a longer than usual hiatus, the MSFS returned this week with the first Live Developer Q&A of 2022, where Jorg, Seb and Martial provided some updates about what’s going on behind the scenes of MSFS, revealed the plans for the year ahead, and answered many lingering questions from the community of simmers. There’s a lot to unpack!
2022 Roadmap – 6 World Updates, 11 new airplanes, and some surprises!
As we know, the Australia World Update will hit the platform next week, and the MSFS team revealed a few more details about will be included, in what is planned to be the most comprehensive World Update yet. This will be the first World Update this year, to be followed by five additional ones until the end of the year, roughly separated two months apart.
Alongside these World Updates, the team will keep their promise of releasing new Local Legends airplanes, which are relevant to the locations covered by the updates. The Ju-52 was the first in this series, next week we’ll see the Fokker F.VII come out with the Australia World Update, and 5 additional airplanes are expected to come until the end of the year.
The other series of airplanes being created by the MSFS team are the Famous Flyers, whose first release was planned to be the Antonov An-2. This plan may be changing up a little though (read more below), but the idea is to launch 5 of these planes until the end of the year, roughly timed with the forthcoming Sim Updates.
Finally, the team also has in store other “major releases” that will look to expand and enhance MSFS on several fronts. These will include the already revealed Top Gun: Maverick DLC, coming in May, and also official support for gliders and helicopters in the Fall. However, throughout the year, several surprising “major releases” will be launched, although no details were revealed at this moment about those launches. A full year to look forward to!
Next week, on January 31, World Update VII: Australia will be released with a comprehensive overhaul of the country. This update will include new aerial imagery and improved elevation data and resolution, but also a lot of additional content. The MSFS team partnered with Orbx in the creation of 94 POI’s and 4 airports (YPBO Paraburdoo, YLRE Longreach Airport, YMBT Mt Beauty, and YSHL Shellharbour Airport), and there will also be a big number of new photogrammetry cities: Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane, Perth, Hobart, Cairns, Darwin, Townsville, Bunbury, and Mackay.
With a lot of new things to see in Australia, there will also be a lot of new things to do. Once again, Perfect Flight collaborated on this update with 5 Landing Challenges, 6 Discovery Flights, and 5 Bush Trips. These should be the perfect starting point to go out and discover all the new stuff being introduced in Australia with World Update VII.
Still on the topic of World Updates, it was revealed that the next one will be focused on the Iberian Peninsula, thus covering Portugal and Spain! This will be a particularly exciting update for me, personally, since Portugal is my home country and is in dire need of some improvements. I even got a little emotional seeing the image of a bridge during the stream, recently built just a few kilometers away from my family’s home.
This will be World Update VIII, and it’s expected to come out by late March.
As usual, this update will enhance the selected region with improved aerial imagery and elevation data, dozens of POI’s, 4 new airports, and certainly some new photogrammetry cities as well. It was not revealed if the many Portuguese and Spanish islands will be covered, such as Madeira, the Azores, or the Canaries.
When the Australia World Update launches in MSFS next week, a new Local Legend airplane will also be available to add to the excitement of discovering this big and beautiful country. The Fokker F.VII Southern Cross, a historically important airplane for Australian aviation history, will also be released on January 31. It was flown by famed Australian aviator Charles Kingsford Smith, who in 1928 made the first transpacific flight from the United States to Australia.
The Fokker F.VII will come in a few models and configurations: two models of the famous Southern Cross, with the original cockpit or modern avionics, a ski and a float version, and the choice between a single-engine and the iconic trimotor. Some 11 liveries are expected to be included. During the stream, Orbx’s Ellise Christopher showed some stunning images of this vintage airplane, which appears to have been created with a lot of attention to detail.
Looking ahead to the Iberian World Update, the MSFS team also revealed already some initial details about the “Local Legend” airplane that will come by that time. It will be the Dornier Do J Wal, a 1920s “flying boat” that made the first transatlantic flight between Spain and South America and was also the protagonist of the first aerial crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by night, accomplished by a team of Portuguese aviators. So, an important airplane for both Iberian countries!
As for the Famous Flyers, Jorg revealed that the team continues to face some licensing difficulties with regards to the Antonov An-2, which was supposed to be the first one out, initially schedules to late 2021, then delayed to February of this year. Despite being “done”, it seems it can’t be released until Microsoft and Antonov reach a licensing agreement, and that’s taking longer than expected.
Because of this delay with the An-2 launch, a new Famous Flyer is likely to take the spot of the soviet biplane as the first aircraft to be released in the series. Jorg Neumann announced a new development partnership with the also famed Carenado, with the goal of releasing the Beechcraft Model D17 Staggerwing for MSFS. The target release date is March 1st, timed with Sim Update VIII. Carenado’s Fernando Herrera made a presence on the stream to showcase the beautiful model of the Staggerwing. Knowing Carenado’s abilities when it comes to visuals, this should be a very detailed model of the Staggerwing, arguably one of the most beautiful airplanes ever created!
Sim Improvements and the PMDG conundrum
Besides the impressive new content that’s coming to MSFS in 2022, the development team is also looking to introduce many improvements to the base simulation. This will actually be a particular focus throughout the year: refining the simulation and stabilizing the platform. One of the most significant enhancements to come will affect the propeller simulation, which will be completely overhauled to be more realistic, paving the way to proper helicopter flight dynamics later in the year.
During the stream, Asobo’s Sebastian Wloch detailed all the new changes to how props behave in the simulator. That presentation alone is a very impressive showcase of the improvements being made, which include prop wash, feathering, wake turbulence, condensation, and more. Starting with Sim Update 8, the Cessna Grand Caravan, the King Air and the 152 will be updated with this improved propeller simulation, which will also be open for creators to use in third-party airplanes.
Touching a topic that recently caused a bit of a stir, the infamous difficulties PMDG has faced with the 737 as they waited for Asobo’s feedback on an undisclosed issue, the MSFS team revealed some insightful details about what exactly was at stake. Apparently, it was all a miscommunication problem with a very easy solution. It seems PMDG needed to know when the sim has stopped loading but was unaware that the SDK already included the tools to know this. Since Asobo and Microsoft are very often busy helping a huge number of developers, this led to some inadequate communication between them and PMDG, which resulted in this entrainment. Once they all figured out what was going on, every doubt was finally cleared.
Finally, the MSFS team ended up answering a bunch of community questions, which are just too much for us to summarize here. If you have the time, see the full video below where you’ll see some images and trailers of the upcoming updates and airplanes, and the honest and straightforward answers from the MSFS team to many of the most common questions.