Microsoft Flight Simulator: BUG of the Year Edition
Let me make this clear. The said Game of the Year Edition is an absolute train wreck, packed with bugs, some acknowledged by the developers as present at release. Time to ask: is the sim we were promised?
I’ve waited a whole month to write this, waiting for news of an update, but apparently there is none. There is a beta fix that is comparable to the workaround solutions the community found to some of the problems this sim has. Microsoft Flight Simulator for me is now in the same category as the HP Reverb G2: when it works it’s great, but many times it simply does not work as it should. The problem, you see, is that with Microsoft Flight Simulator there was a clear solution: revert to SU6, which was more or less stable and not force people to download a SU7 that is more broken that anything else.
I understand that marketing may have played a part in the decision to put this version out the door, but the problem is that users have been stopped from being able to play this as a simulator. It’s more a “workaround” bag of choices and for some of us it’s been a reason to not touch the sim for most of a month, simply because it does not work. I’ve tried to use it, but being one of the unfortunate VR users of this sim, I was kicked out of the cockpit by a bug that Microsoft knew was there, wrote about in the release notes, and still dropped on us. What the hell were they thinking? What the hell is Microsoft thinking?
I asked, some time ago, if we could really trust Microsoft on this return to flight simulation, and at this moment in time I feel that maybe, unfortunately, I need to ask this again. Each new update of the sim brings bugs and problems that were not there before, as if enough testing is not made internally before release. I know it is complex to make all things works together, especially in a simulation of this type, but maybe developers must make sure they have a core sim that works perfectly — or almost there — before adding new features and options. Less eye candy and more functionality is what this sim needs.
A sim packed with “workarounds”
While I believe making the sim compatible with Xbox can help to bring new users to flight simulation, we see now that the said compatibility PC/Xbox is not as clear as initially suggested, and the recent problem with PMDG’s DC-6, that had to be removed from the Xbox Marketplace, due to a bug breaking the product, is an indication that, with more complex aircraft, this may be something to expect. The plane works fine in PC, but Xbox owners can ask for a refund now, as Microsoft said, a solution is being developed, but it “will likely take a few more months to achieve that.”
The Game of the Year Edition of Microsoft Flight Simulator — which I now call the Bug of the Year Edition — is riddled with problems, and many are documented in the sim’s forums. One that affects me particularly is the toolbar not working in VR. People did find workarounds that do work for some but not for everybody, but this is not the way to solve the problem, especially when Microsoft knew, when they released SU7 that it was broken. Yes, broken…
One of the reasons for this to break is the introduction of controllers for VR, which are badly implemented although the developer update says it’s “Fixed” — they just had to copy what X-Plane 11 did to do it right — and do not work as those who want VR controllers hoped for. While I understand the sim has to offer options for everybody, I don’t need or want VR controllers, as I am doing fine with my HOTAS/keyboard/mouse/rudder pedals, as I believe most VR users do for flight simulation. My problem is that by adding controllers Asobo/Microsoft broke the usability of the toolbar in VR. It’s funny that in the exact same edition they praise the VR experience in Reno, they break the immersion and make many VR users simply go elsewhere. Believe me, I even thought about buying other sims, and reinstalling others. Well, I’ve spent more time in Project Cars 2 lately…
Is this a sim or Frankenstein’s monster?
My problem with VR, is simple: without the toolbar I can not fly as I want to. I know it’s not Asobo’s problem, but one of the things I do most of the time in the sim is to fly gliders, one in particular, and for that I am using Kinect Assistant, a tool to generate thermals. Well, the Kinect Assistant works from the toolbar, and I need to fly with the KA window open, to see where thermals are, and that’s a chore to do now. Before, I could just define the weather and then make adjustments while in VR, now everything is broken. And by the looks of it, it’s going to be that way during this holiday season, meaning Microsoft simply does not care.
VR users are just a fraction of the whole universe of users of the sim, but the bugs are not limited to this aspect, and I guess, with recent developments, everybody is watching what Laminar Research brings to the table. It may not be as graphically impressive as Microsoft Flight Simulator is, but if X-Plane 12 is what is being shown, and is stable and flyable, even when servers are down, many might consider it as a real alternative. I know I do!
I just want to fly, and I must admit I’ve had some fun in Microsoft Flight Simulator, but sometimes I feel that it is being developed in a way to satisfy everybody, without the core sim being stable enough for that, and the growing number of problems suggests me I am not wrong. It’s as if Asobo/Microsoft are creating a Frankenstein monster, with different parts — like the controllers in VR — that may simply go out of control and crash the project.
MFS should follow X-Plane and DCS’s example
This as and the effective lack of clear communication, makes me go back to the question: can we trust Microsoft when it comes to sims? I saw what happened with Flight, years ago, and while Microsoft Flight Simulator is different, the dependency on so many Cloud things, the marketplace that is broken sometimes and the number of bugs makes me want to have a sim that I can fly, independently of everything else. Because for many simmers, there is no other game to play, when their simulation of choice is broken. And now, effectively, my sim of choice has been broken for one month, and it’s going to stay that way until 2022. I wish I could simply go back to SU6… but even that is not possible.
Users did ask for Microsoft to go back to SU6, but the company opted for issuing a hotfix… that is something done quickly to solve a problem. Well, one month is gone, and apparently only in 2022 we will hear anything from developers, so the hotfix is more a frozenfix. Yes, there is a beta for a hotfix — the strange names we are building now thanks to this mess — but not everyone wants to install it, especially those with slower Internet connections, as they may have to reinstall the whole sim afterwards. And still, there is not promise that the bugs will be ironed out. Strangely — or not — not any clear information from Microsoft if there will be a solution before Christmas. When things go south, silence is — mostly, what we get, I feel. It’s sad!
One of the good things we have with X-Plane 11 is that we can install it twice, keeping a stable version and one which receives the updates for testing, so we can try it and see if it’s working. I once had three versions of X-Plane 11 installed, as I needed to debug a few things. I also have two versions of DCS running (the base and a beta version in this case), and I would say those sims have had less bugs per month that Microsoft Flight Simulator, so maybe Microsoft needs to learn something and allow us to do the same here. That would make me happy!