To say that it has been awhile since the last major installment of Xplane would be an understatement. It’s been nearly five years since Xplane 11’s 2016 release date. This all changed recently with the announcement of Xplane 12. According to the presentation, Xplane 12 is going to be quite a step up for Xplane 11. But in what ways? If you’ve been curious about what Xplane 12 might bring to the table, stay tuned! The following are some of the biggest updates included in Xplane 12 according to the presentation.
Updated Weather Engine
For many simulator pilots, one of the biggest elements when it comes to a flight simulator’s realism, is the weather. Xplane 11 already has a decent weather engine as it is, but with the coming Xplane12 update, it will definitely be kicked up a notch. Perhaps the best part of the new weather engine will be its ability to read local METAR data and realistically model the weather for any area! To me personally, this is a big deal. I have always liked my simulators to be extra realistic and one of the things that always bothered me with Xplane 11 is that I could practice at my airport and use its local time, but I couldn’t practice with the current weather in my area. It isn’t a huge deal as you can try and replicate yourself in the weather settings, but it will be quite nice to have accurate local weather modeled in Xplane 12! Another function being added to the Xplane weather system will be the introduction of seasons! Any pilot knows that air temperature can make a huge difference in the way your plane operates. Having seasons being added to Xplane’s weather will also be a nice addition to its realism. It’ll make for some good looking scenery too!
Perhaps the largest part of the Xplane 12 update is going to be the graphics. I have been a long standing user of Xplane but one thing I (and many others) can say about it is that visually, Xplane lacks greatly. Even in 2016 when it was first released the graphics seemed out of date. Xplane has consistently looked like it was made in 2010. I think the team over at Xplane has finally realized this, following the massive popularity in Microsoft Flight Simulator. In order to try and keep up, the Xplane team is going to be releasing quite a few graphical updates in Xplane 12. Most of them have to do with the way the scenery and atmosphere look, but some of the updates change the way the graphics engine functions. Some of the visual updates include: new fully modeled clouds, raindrops and prop-wash, highly realistic water, and a new forest engine. The clouds and raindrops coming with Xplane 12 are going to be amazing for anyone using Xplane to practice IFR. I’m quite excited about them myself. When it comes to VFR pilots, especially in tropical regions, the way water will be modeled in Xplane 12 will be a vast improvement. According to the presentation, Xplane 12 will model not only the color, but also depth and wave size based on different bodies of water. This will make deciding your altitude visually easier and more realistic when flying over water. Last but not least, there will be a completely new forest engine in Xplane 12! As much as I hate to say it, Xplane 11 has some of the worst looking trees I’ve ever seen. According to the presentation, all trees will be modeled as you get closer in order to make them much better looking and more realistic. I’m quite excited to see how they look! In regards to how Xplane 12 will produce it’s graphics, it will compute graphics data with the GPU before using the CPU. In other Xplane titles, it has been the other way around, using the CPU first. This will be excellent for anyone using high end graphics processors as you will now be able to use it to its fullest extent.
One thing about Xplane 11 I have always hated is how quiet it is. The only thing that ever makes any noise is the aircraft. When you’re flying this isn’t such a big deal but when you’re on the ground, it feels awkward. Thankfully, Xplane 12 will bring a variety of ambient sounds to the table, finally making Xplane a bit more immersive. One thing Xplane 12 is not fixing, is the annoying computerized voice of air traffic control. There will be a new ATC interface that will make talking to air traffic control more interactive, but the voice remains the same; making me feel like I’m listening to Ok Computer. This is definitely not a huge problem, but it is a pet peeve of mine.
Perhaps what most people are excited for is the new default aircraft that are coming to Xplane 12. According to the presentation, there will be four new aircraft: a fly by wire A330, a Citation X business jet, a new Cirrus plane, and an F-14. The first three listed will be great! But I do have an issue with the F-14. I have no doubt that it will be a great model, but there is already an incredible F-14 Simulator out there that is incredibly realistic. This is none other than the DCS World F-14. If you’ve never heard of DCS World or want to learn more about it, check out this article here! Xplane may be trying to catch up to DCS World and I don’t blame them, but considering the F-4 phantom that is in Xplane 11 right now, I’m not expecting anything special. With that being said, the A330, Citation, and Cirrus will be three more great aircraft to have at your disposal!
I know that many people were quite disappointed by the Xplane 12 presentation as they were expecting a lot more out of it. But personally, I’m quite excited to see what Xplane 12 brings to the table. I’ve loved Xplane for its realism but never enjoyed the way it looked, if Xplane can get its graphics on par with Microsoft Flight Simulator, I will be over the moon. Ultimately, we can’t make any judgments about Xplane 12 until it is actually released. But until then, fly safe.
If you want more up to date information regarding X Plane 12, check out Flight Simulator Blog here! They’ll be following along with all the updates as they come in!