Developer Stream: Improvements from MSFS 2024 will be implemented in MSFS 2020 Sim Updates

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is set to start receiving improvements trickling down from the development of the upcoming Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024, the developer team has confirmed.

In the November Developer Stream, Head of Microsoft Flight Simulator Jorg Neumann, CEO of Asobo Sebastian Wloch, and Executive Producer at Asobo Martial Bossard ran through upcoming updates to the sim, including Sim Update 14, World Update 16, and other improvements in the pipeline.

Sim Update 14

Sim Update 14 is due for release on December 5, bringing fixes to multiplayer and ATC, performance improvements, and a range of other changes.

The update will also see the first example of the development for MSFS 2024 trickling down into the current sim: atmospheric colours. Speaking during the stream, Sebastian Wloch said: “Our team completely reworked the atmospheric simulation for Flight Simulator 2024, and among the improvements are the horizon line which is fixed.” The ozone layer engine has been reworked for the 2024 sim and the team “implemented them back into [MSFS] 2020”, Wloch added.

He also highlighted changes to the sun, saying: “In the reworked atmospheric scattering we have a different sun colour which is more accurate. We moved that back also into [MSFS] 2020.”

The team then showed some before and after screenshots of these changes to the ozone and sun in the sim, with the lighting now looking more natural and refined.

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Finally, Sebastian showcased some changes to the ground handling physics: “There has been a lot of rewriting of the physics engine in 2024, and we found a way to bring back some of the effects into 2020.” He then showed a range of clips of the C172 on the ground, both stationary and moving, with the aircraft appearing much more dynamic and more impacted by the forces around it – these changes can be watched 29 minutes into the stream, and will launch as part of Sim Update 15. The changes to the physics engine will be fully compatible with existing addons, Sebastian said, adding: “Plane makers don’t have to change anything. We’ll make it a default setting. It should not break anything.”

Famous Flyer 8 – Cessna 207

The next Famous Flyer to be released will be the Cessna 207, developed by Carenado. The team showcased some screenshots of the aircraft, with Jorg adding that the result is “beautiful” and that it would likely be released on December 12.

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Water masking and World Update 16

The team then took some time to discuss water masking. Jorg said they had been working with Maxar, a well known American space technology company, to start building a water masking engine around the coastlines in the sim. He described this as an “experiment” that is “relevant to World Update 16”, which he announced would be the Caribbean.

The update will feature new digital elevation maps and aerial imagery, 104 points of interest, seven new bespoke airports, three landing challenges, three bush trips, and three discovery flights. The update is being developed alongside Gaya Simulations, a well-known scenery developer with a long-standing history of contributions to MSFS World Updates.

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The seven bespoke airports are:

  • MUCL — Aeropuerto International Vilo Acuna
  • MDPP — Puerto Plata International Airport (Dominican Republic)
  • MTCA — Antoine-Simone Airport (Haiti)
  • MKJS — Sangster International Airport (Jamaica)
  • TTCP — Crown Point International Airport (Trinidad and Tobago)
  • MYEH — North Eleuthera Airport (The Bahamas)
  • TFFS — Les Saintes Airport (Guadeloupe)

Other announcements

Jorg also confirmed that bug fixes and updates for the ATR 42-600 / 72-600, the first in the sim’s “Expert Series”, were ongoing, and that the next update could come in January 2024.

Meanwhile the iniBuilds A320neo released with Sim Update 14 Beta will be removed following the end of the beta period, with Jorg saying that the aircraft is currently too unstable, and will likely return in the coming months.

While the team talked at length about developments to MSFS 2024 being brought backwards into MSFS 2020, there were no updates on next year’s sim or when it may release, other than to tease one new screenshot from the upcoming simulator, with Jorg simply commenting: “It’s coming.”

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Analysis

While this was a Developer Stream that was somewhat light on major announcements, it served one crucial purpose: the team fulfilling their commitment that development on MSFS 2020 wouldn’t simply stop with MSFS 2024 now in the works. There was understandable concern within the flight sim community when the 2024 iteration was announced earlier this year, with speculation around what would happen to the 2020 sim’s development. At FSExpo though, Jorg explained that they would explore whether elements of the 2024 sim’s improvements could be “backported” into the current sim: it is welcome and encouraging news to see that process beginning with both the ozone and sun enhancements, and the new ground handling physics.