Which Simulator to Choose?
By Max Ashton
Prices are taken from Steam, which I recommend that you use to download the simulators, however Prepar3D doesn’t sell the software anywhere else apart from its own website.
Scores can be regarded as biased since they’re from my own point of view and the fact that I use a lot of add-ons. I’m trying to be fair and although I mainly use Prepar3D, I have 40+ hours on the other simulators.
I will start by saying that if all you want is eye-candy to fly around in, then this simulator is just for you! With completely gorgeous, photoreal scenery, beautiful sunsets, high-definition airports, good-looking planes, straight out of the box, I would 100% recommend this flight simulator. The visuals are so realistic that you can land on the golden gate bridge or fly under it!
However, while it has very high quality eye-candy, all the planes feel the same. Although they look extremely different to each other, in terms of controls, there’s no in depth systems, no ground control, no traffic, and no live weather. The other sad aspect is that there are only few states in America to fly around, and there aren’t a lot of extra add-ons to make it as big as Prepar3D or Xplane11. Add-ons will be listed last.
So, you are probably wondering what in the world Prepar3D is. Well, it’s pretty much the father simulator of Flight Simulator X since Lockheed Martin bought all of its rights from Microsoft, and because of that, the classic Flight Simulator X feel still remains in a much improved, updated version.
In Prepar3D, we are up to version 4.5 right now, a 64-bit version, which is important because switching to 64-bit would allow you to utilize more memory – 32-bit is limited to about 3.5 GB ram usage – to improve the simulator’s performance and prevent crashing all the time if you’re using complicated add-ons.
It’s also why I down-voted Flight Simulator X a lot compared to Prepar3D, because essentially, it’s a 15 year old flight simulator that is not designed to be operated on newer computers. There are also a few new features such as PBR, dynamic lighting, dynamic reflections, volumetric fog and a whole new list of aircraft to choose from. It even has that good old Flight Simulator X user-interface feel to it. For anyone who has played that classic before, adapting to it would be easy!
Xplane 11 Rundown
I have put about 30 hours into Xplane11 and I must say, it is a unique simulator. It has an incredible feel to it, right out of the box, unlike Prepar3D where the scenery is mediocre but the systems are amazing, or Aerofly2 where it’s just all scenery and eye-candy with no serious intention attached to it.
Xplane11 is that simulator that sits at the halfway point between the other two, and I would say that if you just want to fly from airport to airport and crash sometimes – Xplane11 is amazing for that. The scenery isn’t as amazing as Aerofly2 but it does have very well detailed auto-generated scenery, a fair number of custom built airports without any add-ons required, and very good aircraft considering it’s all just out of the box.
If I only had one choice, I would choose the default aircraft out of Xplane11 any day over the Prepar3D default aircraft, and not to mention that Xplane11 has crash effects! If you smash into the ground by accident, your plane breaks into several pieces and explodes into flames. It’s a lot better than any simulator out there that I’ve tried!
I also find it really easy to practice landings in this simulator because it has a very good feature that allows you to select approaches that you can choose to automatically load as it positions you within 5 to 10 miles of the airport runway. You can land at any airport in the world with ease. Xplane11 also has windshield droplet effects that make flying through bad weather a lot more immersive.Xplane11 has a tonne of freeware scenery add-ons as well. I would highly recommend Xplane11 to anyone new to flight simulation, or is coming back to it, or doesn’t have a simulator yet and doesn’t want to spend a tonne of money on add-ons.
As amazing as Xplane11 is in my own opinion, one factor it can’t give is that classic Flight Simulator X feel and all the other amazing add-ons that it doesn’t have! If you have the extra money, Prepar3D can be five times better then Xplane11, but in times like these, it’s probably best that you don’t spend on anything beyond the simulator itself.
Addons I love to use that I can’t live without!
Active sky for Xplane11 and Prepar3D v4, live weather add-on, sold separately!
Simbreif: Free flight planner simbrief.com/system/dispatch.php?newflight=1
High-quality Prepar3D Aircraft: PMDG, A2A simulations, Fly the Maddog X, Aerosoft, Majestic Software
High-quality Prepar3D Scenery: Flytampa, Orbx, Flightbeam, Fsdreamteam, Twentyninepalms, Photosimlabs
Mediocre-Quality Prepar3D Aircraft: Carenado, Alabeo, Just-flight, Milviz, Aerosoft
Mediocre-Quality Prepar3D Scenery: Imaginesim, Latinvfr, UK2000, Digital Design, Aerosoft, Drzewiecki-designs, FSDG, FSDT
High-Quality Xplane11 Aircraft: Flightfactor, Zibo MOD (free), FlyJsim, Take Command!
High-Quality Xplane11 Scenery: Icarus Simulations, Nimbus, Aw Designs
Mediocre-quality Xplane11 Aircraft/Scenery: Aside from the Vmax 767, the Colimata Concorde and the Jardesigns a330. I haven’t used much else for Xplane11 aside from freeware, so I can’t extend my opinion further.
Aerofly2 High-Quality Scenery: North-eastern USA, Switzerland, South Florida, Orbx Netherlands are recommended.
Watch YouTube videos for reviews and tutorials, use fselite.net/category/news and other flight simulator forums/sites to catch up on the latest flight simulation updates, stay safe and I hope to go flying again in the real world with you guys sometime soon!