Microsoft’s Flight Simulator is, arguably, our first look an actual next generation gaming experience. The visual bar is undoubtedly raised and the inevitable comparisons to Crysis as a system-melter are not without foundation. Let’s put it this way: being able to sustain 60 frames per second while maintaining the game’s next-gen sheen requires extreme hardware. In fact, I’ve been running a Ryzen 9 3900X with RTX 2080 Ti for a couple of years now and it has served me well on virtually every game I’ve tested in that period but even with optimised settings in effect, I found that a hardware revamp for my high-level system could still deliver an appreciably improved experience.
First of all, let’s lay out the scope of the challenge. Like Crysis before it, the two highest settings presets in Flight Simulator 2020 add such a degree of precision and draw distance that most PCs at higher resolutions will not be able to sustain a very high frame-rate. And to understand why, we need to get to grips with how the game is essentially an all-out assault on your hardware. But first of all, I did take the time to analyse every single one of Flight Simulator’s settings and to figure out how far you can cut back without losing the next-gen visual experience. Optimising a game like this though would usually be a monumental task as it has such varied visuals: the game has a range of environmental types and weather systems, where different settings in the menu will have lopsided performance impacts depending on what type of terrain you are flying over, what the weather is like or how close you are to the ground. With that said, I was able to find optimised settings easily in this game due to the amazing work Asobo Studio has put into crafting the game’s graphical presets.
First of all, if you’re running on a higher resolution display, don’t be afraid to use resolution scaling. If you keep TAA engaged as your anti-aliasing option, using the resolution scaler also allows for temporal upsampling – where information from prior frames is injected into the current one, improving image quality. The higher your display resolution, the more latitude you have. I found that using 80 per cent native resolution on a 4K display looked very similar indeed to the native presentation, but to achieve a similar quality on a 1440p screen, 90 per cent is as far as you should go. At 1080p, I cannot recommend using resolution scaling – I’d keep that at 100 per cent.