More FS2020 Scenery issues: New York (part 2)

Continuing from part 1, here’s more examples of fascinating glitches in the photogrammetry rendered scenery around New York and surrounding area.

Flying West from Floyd Bennet Field, here’s an unusual road traffic pattern at Gerritsen Inlet Bridge, Brooklyn, complete with some find of stone spire:

Continuing West to Coney Island, it looks like it’s been decimated by a hurricane. I love that the Ferris Wheel is rendered as a solid disk (to the right of the window opening):

Apparently it’s been so long that Coney Island has been closed under COVID-19 lockdown that the coaster has become overgrown with trees:

As a comparison with FSX, Coney Island has a modeled scenery object for the ferris wheel and the wooden coaster, but the rest of the amusement park is covered with autogen trees:

Back to FS 2020, the Steeplechase Pier is partially underwater, but odd that the end of the pier is actually rendered as a solid object:

Coney Island rail yard is also overgrown with trees:

Continuing towards the south edge of New Jersey port area, there’s some melty dock scenery, and docked ships are spouting some trees:

The Bayonne Bridge is looking a bit solid:

This whole dock area is full of some of my favorite scenery glitches in FS 2020 so far (I had a few screenshots in my earlier post), solid cranes – there’s plenty here:

Flying towards Newark Airport, Port Newark has plenty of cranes that are all rendered in the same solid style:

There’s also plenty of ships fully loaded with trees, and other pointy things:

The railyard along side the airport also has trains full of trees:

This area around New York is full of interesting scenery glitches, I’ll continue with another post shortly.

More FSX vs FS2020 scenery comparisons: New York (part 1)

I’ve posted before some ‘interesting’ scenery rendering issues in Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, but here’s a few more flying around New York Staten Island area.

First up, here’s the Verrazzano-Narrows Bridge in FSX:

Notice also in FSX you’ve got full water wake effects landing on water, something not implemented yet in FS2020.

Here’s the same bridge in FS2020:

… you can’t fly under most bridges yet in FS2020, but rendering them as a solid wall underneath the bridge is one way of making that obvious.

I love the large dock cranes rendered as solid objects in FS2020 – here’s some cranes in Port Newark in FS2020:

… and the same view in FSX:

… notice fully rendered crane objects, and the detail in the container ships.

More to come, but loving these rendering issues in FS 2020 so far 🙂

Two weeks later: Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 – what’s good (and what’s not)?

I’m two weeks into playing the new Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 and in general, it’s awesome. Completely awesome. The graphics really are eye popping, however there’s a surprising number of scenery glitches, annoyances and other bugs. A lot of bugs. But is it still playable? Yes. Definitely. Issues and bugs aside, it’s incredibly good.

First, what’s good?

A lot. Too much to summarize really. Here’s a few key features:

The new globe map

… is awesome. I’ve no idea why FSX still used the incredibly simple map that wasn’t even draggable with your mouse; you needed to move it around clicking 4 cursor icons. This was probably my biggest pet peeve with previous MS FS versions. Dragging the globe around to select an airport to depart from or even a flight plan is quick and easy. One minor issue, given that the maps and scenery are based on Bing maps it’s odd that if you zoom in on the globe to even citywide level the map displays as a blurry nondescript mess with zero detail. At a much higher regional level there is a satellite level of landscape detail and real weather patterns fly by – which is also a very nice touch.

Low level flight detail

The level of detail in the scenery at ground level and even flying 100 feet from the ground is incredible. I’ve never seen this level of detail close up in a flight sim before and it opens up a whole new aspect of low level game play and realism that just wasn’t there in any previous flight sim. In FSX, above 2000 feet or so most scenery looks ok, but flying anywhere lower than 1000 feet it gets blurry. Land on the ground in a random location and the ground texture is just a blur with smeary and pixelated detail.

In FS 2020 however, the textures at ground level are rendered with an amazingly high level of detail. There’s short grass, long grass, and other bushy vegetation. The grass moves around in the wind. Trees around you look believable up close. You can fly from field to field barely above the ground, inbetween trees, over the tree tops and it looks great.

Here’s a couple of shots from landing on the surrounding mountains in the Lake District UK:

This doesn’t always work as planned though. The photogrammetry approach of rendering aerial photography on top of 3d elevation data sometimes results in some terrifying scenery glitches that look like the world has been melted by a nuclear blast. More on that at later.

Global photorealistic detail everywhere

In the past, if you wanted photorealistic scenery you could purchase add-ons for FSX and other sims, e.g. VFR Photographic Scenery from JustFlight. It’s incredible to think that we now have photorealistic scenery everywhere, for practically the whole world, without needing to purchase or download location specific addons. The combination of a massive 100GB initial install plus constantly streaming scenery as you play achieves something that only a few years ago would have seemed impossible.

If you have enough bandwidth the game will download scenery as needed, but if you don’t have enough bandwidth the game will give you a warning that it’s unable to download fast enough. You can carry on anyway, or in the menu settings you can define preload cached scenery areas and download them and cache them for when you fly into those areas. There’s 3 different scenery detail levels, low/medium/high, and you can select the level of detail depending how far you are zoomed in on the map. If you are zoomed in close you can select squares on the map to download at highlevel. If you are zoomed out at a region level, you can select large squares of area to cache at a lower level.

Ok, now on to the issues…

Scenery and rendering issues

Tall palm trees appear to get rendered as abstract rock sculptures. In areas with a lot of palm trees, the areas tend to look like some futuristic apocalyptic nightmare where trees have turned to stone:

A lot of bridges are not modeled as 3d objects and appear under water. Satellite scenery of rivers or coastlines that include boats and ships get rendered below the animated water:

Along rivers and coast lines where you’d expect to see boats and jetties, they’re rendered a few feet underwater which makes for some weirdly apocalyptic scenes:

There’s no modeling of the physics of landing on water. Yes, you can land on and take off from water with the A5, but there’s no effects that show the water reacting to the aircraft, so no splashes or wakes that we even had in FSX before. Hopefully this gets added later. Your aircraft doesn’t appear to float either. The animation of stormy sea looks completely awesome, but when landed on water the animation of the waves appears to occur in the background and you’re just greenscreened on top of it.

Scenery Issues

You don’t have to go far, especially in cities, before you come across some bizarrely wonderful scenery rendering glitches. Here are some of my favorites from 30 mins flying around the SF Bay Area:

Fisherman’s Wharf in ruins:


Melted ships and cars that look like they’re burnt out and abandoned:


A car crashed through the entrance of the Hyatt – what’s interesting about this one is the driveway and entrance goes underneath the building at street level, so I’m guessing the rendering engine (or Bing) doesn’t know how to handle that imagery and just pasted in vertically on the surface of the building:


Tall structures like cranes and tall bridges get rendered like the scenery is draped over a solid structure, that leads to some weird abstract buildings:

More solid cranes:

Areas with docklands are full of issues, as you’ve got tall cranes and large ships where the game doesn’t really know if it’s a building or a ship, and in some cases fills ships full of autogen shrubbery, with amusing results such as these:

Most of these ‘melted’ and unusual scenery issues seem to be in areas where the photogrammetry scenery is used, in other areas where there’s only autogen buildings they don’t seem to have the same issues.


This latest version of Microsoft Flight Simulator is incredible in how far modern technology has progressed the flight sim genre from what we became used to in predecessors like FSX. However, it’s also quite alarming how many issues there are in the game on release. Given that Microsoft and Asobo are committing to a 10 year support lifetime for the game, there will be fixes and updates coming, but it will be interesting to see how often these come and how they chose to prioritize the types of issues they fix.

Comparing screenshots of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002, 2004 and FSX

Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 is almost here and I thought it would be interesting to look back at how the scenery has evolved since early versions. I have FS 5.1 (DOS), FS 2002, 2004, and FSX as well as numerous scenery add ons.

Here’s a side by side comparison over Southend, England:

FS 2002 Over Southend
FS 2002 Over Southend with Just Flight South East England VFR Scenery
FS 2004 Over Southend
FSX Over Southend

The Just Flight VFR scenery is pretty good in comparison to the stock scenery. The water textures definitely improved in FSX, but what is it with the colors? Pretty sure the sea at Southend does not look like the Caribbean.

Ok, one more comparison, let’s take a look flying out of Napa in FS 2004:

FS 2004 flying West from Napa
FS 2004 flying West from Napa

And now in FSX:

FSX flying West from Napa

And now with Blue Sky Scenery:

FSX with Blue Sky Scenery, flying West from Napa

It’s about 2 weeks to go before FS 2020 is released. Will be interesting to compare how good the Bing satellite image based scenery is compared to previous FS versions.