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Microsoft Flight Simulator’s real-time snow looks magical

Now do fall colors!

Shortly before the Christmas holiday, the developers behind Microsoft Flight Simulator released a new free update for the cutting-edge platform. It introduced virtual reality for those with high-end machines, and it also added real-time snow effects all across the globe. On Monday, the team released a lavish new trailer showing off their virtual snow machine, and it looks nothing short of magical.

Flight Simulator draws from more than two petabytes of Bing Maps imagery, including satellite and photogrammetry, to create a realistic simulation of the surface of the entire planet. But that kind of data can only be captured clearly on bright, sunny days. That limitation effectively locked the world in an endless summer ever since the game launched in August 2020. Now, the team at Asobo Studio has divined a way to map virtual snow on top of those summer landscapes in real time. It’s a remarkable technical feat, and it makes the already-gorgeous game that much more inspiring to look at.

The next step will naturally be to add fall colors to the map. Asobo could add that with one of the four or five World Updates or three large simulation updates promised throughout 2021, all of which will be free to owners. The next major update will add further detail to the United Kingdom. Microsoft Flight Simulator is also expected to launch for the Xbox Series X in the summer.

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