Microsoft Flight is coming this spring, and it's free.
There aren't many games with a pedigree that compares to that of Microsoft Flight Simulator. It first took flight all the way back in 1980 as an Apple/TRS-80 game developed by SubLOGIC; Microsoft got involved in 1982, upgrading and porting it to the PC and releasing numerous subsequent editions as well as a few "combat" versions for folks who insist on shooting at things in every game they play. But while there was a time when the Flight Simulator franchise was a heavy hitter - an era when a joystick was just about mandatory equipment for any computer gamer - it was very much a niche product by the time the last iteration, Flight Simulator X, was released in 2006.
But gone is not forgotten and now the storied franchise is set to return as the free-to-play Microsoft Flight, slated for launch this spring. The game will let players take to the skies over the island of Hawaii, where they can undertake various missions and challenges, search for hidden "aerocaches" or just relax and cruise.
"Many people dream of flying, but few have the chance to experience the fun of exploring the world from above. Microsoft Flight provides players the opportunity to explore that curiosity and interest," said Executive Producer Joshua Howard. "Aviation can be incredibly technical, but we've taken great care to build an experience that makes taking to the skies thrilling and accessible for everyone."
To that end, the game will support various levels of realism, providing an authentic flight experience for experienced joystick jockeys while letting the yank-and-bank crowd do its thing with a mouse and an exterior view. It will also offer virtual pilots the first look at the ICON A5 light sport aircraft, described as a "jet ski for the skies," that won't actually enter production until the end of 2012.
Gamers who sign in to their Games for Windows Live account while playing will receive additional free content including the Boeing Stearman, extra missions and access to achievements and an Online Pilot Profile. Additional content including new aircraft, regions and customization options will be available for purchase.