Microsoft Flight Simulator’s UK update proves there’s no place like home •

Microsoft Flight Simulator's UK update proves there's no place like home •

Give me the world and I’ll always find an excuse to come straight home. Microsoft Flight Simulator has offered the whole world, at a level of fidelity that still manages to take my breath away. And yet, in the months since its launch, despite its promise to create a world that for many of us has been closed, I still find myself patrolling the same sky that I have been stuck time and time again. , taking off from London. City Airport or Biggin Hill to patrol the lower north and my little corner of south London.

This has been the case since I started playing the Microsoft Flight Simulator beta, but at least circling the same airspace made it easier to map the progress developer Asobo and his team have made in the months following its launch. At the time, I was driving down the city airport road and plunging left onto Isle of Dogs through Greenwich Park, Blackheath, and then driving back to Lewisham, before perhaps leaving for the Medway with the sun setting behind my back. I almost feel naive that I was so impressed with it all back then – the Greenwich Maritime Building was an indescribable block in the initial version, as were the now nearly empty cluster of skyscrapers that rose up around it. One Canada Square in recent decades when London was not. don’t get the same level of detail as many other cities in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

London as it appeared in the launch version of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Excuse the bad catch and the bad theft. I was young and I didn’t know any better.

Now, however, that has all changed. The UK update that landed last week after being held for a short while brings some drastic changes, bringing in more photorealistic towns and a generous suite of new points of interest. There has been some understandable disappointment among gamers that this new level of detail is more common in the South East than elsewhere in the UK, but … well, as a Londoner, I’m afraid of not to be one of those who complain. Instead, I feel like I am seeing the city entirely again. And I can honestly say Lewisham has never looked so good.

My usual ride has been transformed. Taking off from Biggin Hill then returning to the A20 just past Chislehurst, following it as it heads towards Catford and Lewisham, the cluster of skyscrapers gathered at Isle of Dogs now take on their recognizable shapes – the Pyramid of Caesar Pelli is there at the top of One Canada Square, and there’s the Hatching Heights of Newfoundland and even the West India Quay. As you follow the Thames west, each bridge is now in its place and is no longer submerged under water. There are so many new details too, whether it’s the Sky Garden or an appropriate interpretation of Buckingham Palace.

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It’s enough to get me to venture beyond my comfort zone, go just north of the river and west to see Microsoft Flight Sim’s perspective on Stamford Bridge, and it’s too impressive. But soon, I can’t wait to get home and swing to see a football pitch closer to my home: Ladywell Arena, home of Lewisham Borough FC – a team, I’m sad to say, hasn’t been able to play through the entirety of this pandemic. Still, there is the floor, and a small blemish on the floor where the 100-seat Clinton Rhule stand is located. It is both glorious and uplifting, my little corner of the world looks absolutely pristine from the sky. What a great job Asobo has done with Microsoft Flight Sim since its launch – and how dizzying it is to think how different this London will be over the years as the simulation continues to evolve.

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