X-Plane 11.20 Beta released to adventurous pilots; includes VR support

by: Dave -
More On: X-Plane



Through the years I have had my ups and downs (so to speak) with X-Plane. While I respect the efforts of the development team (assuming it isn't still a one-man show), I have often resented their full-charge for new versions mentality. The simulator is well worth the $60 asking price, but after paying full freight for versions 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, and 10, I was about to draw the line on buying version 11. I did it anyway, and I have regretted it ever since. I paid the full nut for... a better UI. Yes, the previous interface was embarrassingly bad, but that kind of thing is at best ancillary to the primary function of a flight simulator which, not surprisingly, to simulate flight. Improvements in that broad arena are certainly welcome, but a nominal discount for those with a previous version (or six) would be a welcome gesture. When it comes to primarily UI improvements though, well, that's a free update in my book.

So, yes, I regretted my purchase and resented what I paid for it.

Until today.

With my update to version 11.20, I got VR. It's beta level and there is a long way to go, but to have it at all is a very big deal. Why? Because other than DCS, which will not work well enough with my nVidia 1070 to be useful, X-Plane has the best implementation of helicopter physics. You can take my word on this: if there is any phase of flight that is utterly dependent on a broad and smooth 3D view, it is hovering a helicopter.

After flying around the San Francisco Bay at the controls of a Sikorsky S-76, I can report that the VR aspect absolutely makes a difference in flying an X-Plane helicopter, and it is a good difference to have. Takeoff, flight, and landings were all far, far easier to control. That said, the reduction in graphics complexity required to keep performance above DCS level was a bit disappointing - my arrival at Alcatraz Island was pretty anti-climatic, given the complete absence of any buildings or structures.

It's just a beta, though, so these things are to be expected. I'm sure all of that current issues will be fixed just in time for X-Plane 12.

I'll probably buy it.