Microsoft Flight Simulator has already proven itself to real-life pilots for accurately capturing what it’s like to sit in an actual plane cockpit, which makes it feel like a bit of a lost opportunity that it’s not yet available in VR. But that’s all about to change later this October (or early this November) thanks to a new VR beta coming to Windows mixed reality headsets.
This marks the culmination of a promise developer Asobo Studios made over a year ago. When the company first unveiled Microsoft Flight Simulator at E3 in 2019, it hadn’t yet considered VR for the game. But public demand for the feature quickly changed the company’s tune, and it's been working on adding VR support since.
“Right after the E3 trailer came out there was a lot of people making that exact assumption, that ‘Oh yeah, this better be supporting VR right from the get go.’ It honestly wasn’t our plan,” lead developer Jorg Neumann told AVSIM in October of last year. “But we are listening, and we heard it, so we will try our darnedest to make it happen.”
While the game didn’t quite get VR support in time for launch, players will finally soon be able to take to the skies in VR...assuming they get into the feature's closed beta. Spots are limited, and you’ll need to own a Windows Mixed Reality headset to even sign up for one.
In a developer Q&A Wednesday, Neumann explained the rationale behind the beta. While the team has been working on VR support for over a year, he said, it’s now looking for player feedback before it makes the feature live, with the next step in its development being a 2-phase closed beta.
The closed beta is set to lift off either later this October or early this November, with the first phase being limited to Windows Mixed Reality headsets (like the Samsung HMD Odyssey or the Acer WMR HMD) and a second phase adding support for additional headsets later on.
To get a shot of joining the beta's first phase, you’ll need to first join the Microsoft Flight Simulator Insider program, then submit a DxDiag file to Asobo. If that sounds strange, it’s probably just so that Asobo can check if you meet the minimum system requirements for VR, as DxDiag is a tool for testing DirectX functionality. There are detailed instructions both for how to sign up and how to submit your DxDiag file on the site. If you’re like me, you also might be further along in the process than you expected- I am apparently already a Microsoft Flight Simulator Insider just through subscribing to Xbox Game Pass.
During the Q&A, Neumann also spoke about the Japan world update that dropped earlier this week and said that the US is next on the list. While we don’t have an official release date yet, he said that the plan is to release world updates every two to three months.
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Michelle Ehrhardt is an editor at Tom's Hardware. She's been following tech since her family got a Gateway running Windows 95, and is now on her third custom-built system. Her work has been published in publications like Paste, The Atlantic, and Kill Screen, just to name a few. She also holds a master's degree in game design from NYU.