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Microsoft Flight Simulator will bring ‘all the pilots on the planet’ together in multiplayer

That includes virtual pilots and live air traffic from around the world

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Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

When developer Asobo Studio described Microsoft Flight Simulator last year I half expected the game’s ambitious feature set to be pared back before release. Instead, the developer is pressing ahead on all fronts, including multiplayer.

Flight Simulator will use Microsoft’s Azure cloud infrastructure to host and deliver graphical data as players need it, but also to support the game’s multiplayer systems. Asobo CEO Sebastian Wloch says in a YouTube video that every single player will be part of the same shared world, and that those multiplayer systems will be “seamless” for users.

Asobo will be pulling in live data of aircraft currently in flight in the real world. So not only will the weather and lighting be identical to the current conditions wherever you choose to fly, the other planes in the airspace around you will be identical as well. It will bring together “all the pilots on the planet,” Wloch says — both real and virtual — in the same experience.

Now, how that works in practice remains to be seen. It’s likely that Microsoft will adopt something similar to the systems employed by Frontier Developments to run Elite: Dangerous. The spacefaring game spools up multiple instances of each of its 400 billion star systems as needed, with roughly 30 or so players to each instance. That reduces network traffic and also helps mitigate griefing. When you want to connect with other players on your friends list, however, you need to “wing up” with them in order to drop into the same instance.

There’s no release date yet for Microsoft Flight Simulator, but the game is expected for both Windows PC and Xbox One, and will be included in the Xbox Game Pass program.

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