MSFS 2024: Bringing Purpose to Flight with Pilot Lifestyles
Addressing one of flight simulation's well known hurdles
It has been three days since the amazing events of Flight Sim Expo 2023 ended. Skyward's coverage of this event will be split into multiple articles over the next few weeks, but one of the most heartening announcements of all came from the next iteration of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2024 (MSFS2024). A decent amount of the initial reaction to the "next generation" of this simulator was met with questions as to why this couldn't be some sort of midlife upgrade or downloadable content. With Microsoft Flight Simulator X (2006) able to operate for over a decade, questions as to why a new version of MSFS would be enough to validate an entirely new title were pretty valid.
During Microsoft's keynote presentation at Flight Sim Expo 2023 in Houston, there were three main points referred to as "Focuses". Described by Jorg Neumann, head of Microsoft Flight Simulator, the first focus was the "Aviation Activity System".
With information from the video above and the live presentation, pilots in MSFS 2024 will be able to choose aviation careers based on real world careers. The known careers at this time include:
Executive transport service
Helicopter cargo transport
Hot air balloon trips
Industrial cargo transport
Low altitude training
Remote cargo ops
Search and rescue
VIP charter service.
Airline operations are notably absent, but Jorg Nuemann made it a point to say that there is much more to come on that subject in the future.
While at the expo watching the presentation, the gravity of that part of the announcement hit me immediately. As someone that has more experience with military related flight games and simulators than anything else, one of the biggest hurdles people like me have when switching to civilian flight simulators is the lack of direction. Or at least what seems like a lack of direction from our point of view. Being able to fly dozens of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft anywhere on the planet is an impressive capability, but sightseeing and aimlessly wandering can be something that causes users to gradually fade out from the simulator. Third party services like the expansive VATSIM network for air traffic controlled journeys and Parallel 42's job focused The Skypark were created to fill this potential void.
Assuming the Aviation Activity System of MSFS 2024 is a part of the base simulator, the exposure to more task based aviation will be something both new simmers and simmers that long for more defined aviation will benefit heavily from. While some careers will naturally be more designed for solo aircraft operations, others have the potential to be as coordination heavy and teamwork reliant as they are in the real world.
The scientific study of extreme weather phenomena by teams of aircraft. Search and rescue teams trying to locate lost hikers as the window of rescue narrows. An array of fixed-wing and rotary-wing aircraft working together to stop a raging wildfire. These more dangerous careers are not to supersede skydiving aviation, aerial construction or cargo transport, but honestly these types of experiences are usually absent from flight simulation.
This was a smart move for Microsoft and Asobo Studio. It could've been derailed by adding arcade game like tasks like flying through rings or similar gimmicks. Instead, immediately providing opportunities to experience real world aviation jobs as a part of the standard simulation experience increases the chances to retain simmers long term. And as I mentioned earlier, people who are used to more task driven aviation are more likely to stay engaged.
As I begin my earnest effort to get more familiar with civilian flight simulation, I am seriously looking at the next generation of Microsoft Flight Simulator with more intrigue.
About the Writer
Co-founder of Skyward Flight Media. After founding Electrosphere.info, the first English Ace Combat database, he has been involved in creating flight game-related websites, communities, and events since 2005. He explores past and present flight games and simulators with his extensive collection of game consoles and computers.