'Flight Simulator' developers explain its 'shared world' multiplayer

Share the skies with other players, plus real-life air traffic and weather.

Last year we got some hands-on time with a pre-alpha build of the next Flight Simulator game in Microsoft's long-running series. While that gave a peek at the game's photorealistic environment and inclusion of information like piped-in live flight traffic and weather data, Windows Central points out a seven-minute video the developers just posted that goes into the game's multiplayer features.

The main mode is a shared world where everyone playing Flight Simulator can potentially see everyone else, relying on Azure servers to provide enough capacity. That includes people flying in the real world, with "most" air traffic accounted for, along with AI that will take over if information from the real plane is lost for a moment.

To play in that mode you'll have to turn on real-time weather as it's happening, however the real-time air traffic can be turned on or off. If you don't want to use the default settings and rules, then turning to "all players" will let you fly by your own preferences. You can form groups with other players to include them in your game, or go solo. In a group, the leader can adjust time, weather and other settings but only the people in the group will experience things that way.

No matter what settings you're using, CEO Sebastian Wloch says the game can handle tens or hundreds of thousands of planes at a time, but the servers will send players data for real air traffic that's within 200km of their location, and information from up to 50 multiplayer planes that includes whichever ones are closest. How many you actually see may depend on the power of your PC, and players can toggle names on or off to see which planes are piloted by other players. It's been a long time since Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition or even the short-lived free-to-play Microsoft Flight, and at-home pilots should be able to take to the sky on PC later this year.