Microsoft Flight Simulator is a once-in-a-generation wow moment

Of course, the first thing I do in the new Microsoft Flight Simulator is fly over my house. Heading out from London City Airport in the nimble, aerobatic Extra 330LT, and up into the late evening sky to see the sun melt into the horizon. Skimming The O2, then grazing the tips of Canary Wharf’s mob of skyscrapers before banking left over the Isle of Dogs, buzzing the Royal Naval College as we head up over Greenwich Park and then Blackheath as London blooms into parkland south of the Thames.

Then it’s simply a case of looking out for the cluster of buildings that marks Lewisham to the right, dipping right then left once again to pick up the Waterlink Way. And there it is. My home. In a video game, for what I’m pretty sure is the very first time. I step away from the controls and out into my garden, slightly dizzy from it all, only to see the sky has darkened to the exact same shade of hazy blue as the one I was just flying through.

Microsoft Flight Simulator isn’t the first game to pull in real-world map or weather data to make for a more authentic simulation, nor is it the first game to try and bring us the entire world. But there’s an alchemy here that goes beyond bullet point feature lists or plain numbers, blending together to create one of those rare wow moments that come along once a generation, or that maybe herald the next. This really is a phenomenal thing.

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