Best VR Flight Simulator
What makes the best VR flight simulator? Eight out of 10 people would probably give you a different answer to this question. The reason for this is quite simple – not everyone is looking for the same experience.
Some people want to learn how to pilot planes while others may be looking to experience an FPS shooter above the clouds. Some many want the level of interaction with a cockpit that no other games can provide, and others may just want to kill time with something different. Here are some of the top flight simulators for VR platforms, based on popular opinion and performance.
There’s no sugarcoating this. The X-Plane 11 is widely considered the most realistic flight simulator around. Microsoft’s long-running franchise finally arrived to VR with the 11th version of the flight simulator.
Everything about it from airplane design to user experience is very realistic. The cockpits are accurately depicted and you can do everything from turning knobs to checking instrument readouts. The latter is even more realistic, thanks to the headset tracking feature.
The buttons have a sensibility setting so that you can experience a more immersive environment. But as great as this sim is, it does have two drawbacks, at least for some people. For one, the X-Plane 11 is mostly played with a virtual yoke, which isn’t exactly ideal.
Secondly, the game doesn’t have very exciting scenarios. If you want to train as a pilot, it will do a good job. But if you’re expecting to engage enemy combatants, do acrobatic maneuvers, or explore the world freely, then you’re playing the wrong game.
As most pilots will tell you, the experience is authentic. It’s thrilling to be a pilot but it can be boring to actually fly a plane, since nearly everything is automated.
- Most realistic experience
- Superior physics engine
- Very realistic plane and cockpit models
- Smooth gameplay performance
- Expensive sim
- Requires considerable knowledge
Ace Combat 7
If you’re looking for something more action-packed, this could be the flight simulator for you. The Ace Combat 7 VR game has been created for the PS4. It has impressive graphics and above average tactile feedback which help create an immersive experience.
This game caters to a less technical player base. You won’t need to take flight lessons in order to have some fun, complete missions, and handle yourself in the air. The mechanics of the game are simplified, compared to other titles, and even the controls are easier to master.
While this may take away some of the realism, to non-pilot gamers, it shouldn’t be an issue. Since this game was made for entertainment, the fact that it doesn’t take everything too seriously isn’t a problem.
However, one may observe a distinct lack of content. It won’t take you many hours to experience everything the game has to offer. That said, the budget-friendly price helps balance things out.
- High-quality graphics
- Easy to learn
- Simple mechanics
- Action-oriented gameplay
- Exclusive to PlayStation VR
- Has more non-VR gameplay than VR content
This is an older but free-to-play title, nonetheless. Since 2015, the game’s developers have been releasing DLCs to offer users more things to do, more planes to pilot, and more scenarios to overcome.
The stripped-down version of the game only includes two aircrafts, one modern and one WWII-era plane. In terms of realism, the developers did a good job of capturing the overwhelming feeling of what’s it like to be inside a plane’s cockpit.
The level of detail is impressive, especially since you can also explore the aircraft beyond the confines of the cockpit. That said, DCS World also offers a more user-friendly experience, which is why it’s popular with casual gamers too.
What is a bit unfortunate is that the game is old and the resolution and graphic details are not up to today’s standards. Especially when compared to most titles. However, if you do decide to spend some money on the DLCs, the extra content might just compensate for the average graphics.
- Immersive environment
- User-friendly tutorial
- Has a free to play version
- Realistic cockpit and plane designs
- Average quality graphics
- DLCs can get expensive
Another fan-favorite in the action-packed genre is the VTOL VR simulator. Created by BDynamics Studio and available at a decent price, this is a flight sim that combines realism with futuristic flight combat mechanics in a very interesting way.
The game allows you to experience everything from combat missions, to aerial refueling missions, to carrier operations, and much more. The graphics aren’t too impressive, although the cockpit designs and level of interaction helps compensate.
There are only two aircraft in the game, the F/A-26B and the A/V-42C. Each plane comes with its own array of missions and different gameplay mechanics that are sure to entertain users for hours.
The overall performance is very smooth and the game is much more user-friendly than it would appear at first. As such, it’s a hit among avid flight sim fans and casual gamers.
- Action-packed game
- Futuristic combat maneuvers
- User-friendly controls
- Good amount of content
- Doesn’t have the most realistic graphics
- Not everyone likes arcade-style gameplay
The Aerofly FS2 is one of the best VR flight simulators when it comes to feedback. Its implementation of haptic feedback technology makes controlling the cockpit a more immersive experience.
Many users also appreciate the fact that the game has a free-to-play base, on top of which you can purchase DLCs to gain access to new content. In the base game you’ll get access to 20 planes, various locations, as well as a flight school game mode.
Although realistic to some degree, the gameplay is more user-friendly in terms of what you have to do to take off, stay on course, and land safely. However, the haptic feedback is much better than the actual control sensitivity that the FS2 game displays.
Because of this, the physics of the game may seem a bit off to avid flyers or hardcore flight sim enthusiasts. That said, it’s one of the most complete free-to-play games, despite its graphics and sometimes flat world environment.
- Lots of free-to-play content
- Haptic feedback
- Good-looking cockpits
- User-friendly controls
- Not the most responsive flight sim
- Average graphics
This is Just the Beginning
It’s no surprise that flight simulators have become a hot commodity in the VR gaming industry. They’ve been popular among gamers and pilots since the 1990s. But when you actually step foot inside the best VR flight simulator, you might not want to go back to your PC or Console screen ever again.
As you can see, there are plenty of flight sims to choose from, whether you want realism, entertainment, action, or a bit of everything. It depends on how much you’re willing to spend, what you’re into, and what you’re hoping to learn, if anything.