(Pocket-lint) - Microsoft Flight Simulator is here at last, and it's fair to say that it's absolutely wowing people with its almost photorealistic graphics, serene vibe and insanely massive sandbox to fly in.
It's a technical marvel and no mistake, letting you drop onto any point on the globe and fly around landscapes and cities that are insanely realistic and accurately recreated. However, it's also got that prominent "Simulator" in the name. So, while many people have been eagerly awaiting the game with flight sticks at the ready, what about if you're not quite so experienced? How is Flight Simulator to play if you've never played a flight sim before?
We've been doing just that, and have gathered some of the key lessons we've learned, right here.
1. Flying a plane isn't easy
This might sound both obvious and discouraging, but the more hours you spend with Microsoft Flight Simulator, the more you come to realise that flying a plane can be just about as difficult as you'd imagine.
The game has a helpful set of tutorials to get you started, teaching you how to control your plane while airborne, as well as takeoff and landing procedures, but we'd call them fairly limited. Once you've completed the eight of them (or before, if you're feeling gung-ho), you're on your own.
We'd heartily recommend turning all of the assists you can find to their highest settings, and not worrying about whether that makes you too mainstream. Happily, with the simplicity of controls dialled up, you can still fly even the most complex airplanes available without too much hassle. Still, adding a controller to your mouse and keyboard will make the world of difference.
2. Don't get cocky, kid
Our next lesson is something we learned the hard way while flying around a range of global locales. You might think you're the next Amelia Earhart once you pull off a couple of nice banking turns, or fly between a couple of skyscrapers, but don't get too cocky.
It's only normal to have a go at a loop-the-loop or barrel roll at a certain point, but these maneuvres aren't as simple as they feel like in other games.
If you really want to feel like an idiot, go ahead and try one out in a 747 and see where that lands you. Or doesn't, so to speak.
3. It's all about the weather
We're not the first to say it, but the cloud formations and weather patterns in Flight Simulator are quite simply astonishing to look at and fly through.
Best of all, you get a real-time weather control widget that lets you adjust them on the fly, going from raging storms to placid sun in an instant. Heck, you can even control the exact stratification of three separate cloud layers, meaning that even dolts like us can easily engineer sunsets so perfect they'll make you weep.
The key lesson is to use this weather widget all the time - see your surroundings in every type of light, change the date to adjust the sun's position, do it all!
4. Who needs holidays, anyway?
The release of Microsoft Flight Simulator, like Animal Crossing: New Horizons before it, couldn't have been better timed. It's been ages since tourism and global flight seemed so remote a possibility to so many people, making it the ideal time to drop yourself in a tiny Cessna a few thousand feet above literally whatever place you fancy visiting.
Know Paris like the back of your hand? Check it out and see if you can remember your way around. Fancy seeing the Grand Canyon? Drop yourself there and fly through its yawning chasm. Always hankered after a flight through Hong Kong at night? Go for it now.
The funny thing is that there are so many amazing places to visit that it's almost a fool's errand to list them all. Still though, if you've got some favourite holiday destinations from years gone by, we'd recommend starting there. It'll soothe your soul.
5. Cruising altitude
While you'll probably be like us and spend your first couple of hours trying to zip around in a smaller plane, getting a sense of speed and momentum to scratch that adrenaline itch, when you get to your first flight with a bigger beast, take it easier.
Our first 747 flight was out of JFK in New York, and was planned to just involve a quick jaunt over the city to see what it's like taking one of the big boys off a runway. An hour later, we were still cruising in between cloud layers, just marvelling at the cockpit switches, options and controls at our fingertips.
The different planes can cater to very different vibes, basically, but all of them share the capacity to offer an extremely relaxing bit of time-passing travel.