Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 Update 5 : First Impressions

Update 5 for Microsoft Flight Simulator was released on on 7/27/21 this week, and my first impressions (after waiting 2 days for my download to complete) are … WOW.

It’s smooth, buttery smooth. In 1080p with a Ryzen 5 3600XT and a RTX 2060 I was previously getting around 30 fps at best, and dipping below that in heavy city areas like New York. After the update with the same settings I’m now getting around 60fps, but the even without the increase in fps, the sim is noticeably smoother with less stutters that I used to notice before.

There’s plenty of other updates and changes:

  • the world map now shows satellite imagery and place names on the map which makes it much easier to find interesting places to fly (unlike the plain grey non-descript map we had before)
  • while the game load time seems about the same, the load time from creating a flight from the map and arriving on the runway ready to fly has definitely been improved (it seems at least twice as fast as it was)
  • particle effects have been added for water, dirt and snow landings. For float planes, you now get a somewhat realistic wake behind your plane when you land or taxi on water. This is a massive improvement over none at all that we had before
  • there’s a number of ski and float plane options added for the stock planes
  • seaplane harbors have been added to the map, so you can start a flight from a harbor or see the locations of harbors on the VFR map
  • more POI markers on the maps and in game as you’re flying

I’m sure there’s plenty more to find, but these are the major changes I’ve seen so far.

Am I happy with the update so far? Yes, definitely. I’ve had one crash to desktop (CTD) so far after just flying for an hour, which is far more that I’ve experienced before. Posts in the forums suggest a lot of CTDs right now, so hopefully there’ll be more fixes to come. Right now though I’m enjoying being able to take off and land from water and have it look somewhat realistic, and feature we had on most of the MS FS versions.

As a comparison, shortly after launch I was comparing taxiing on water near the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in FSX:

Verrazzano Narrows Bridge, NY – Microsoft Flight Simulator X

Here’s what it looks like after Update 5 with the wake effects (but still a shame about the rendering of the bridge itself):

At least the water wake effects now look realistic (where previously there wasn’t any):

… those solid bridges really need to get fixed though.

On the plus side, one final screenshot – how stunning is this?

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