Stephen Posted September 12, 2022 Report Share Posted September 12, 2022 X-Plane 12 - Next Generation X-Plane Beta release "Early Access" The X-Plane Flight Simulator was originally released as X-Plane 1.00 back in 1995 which is now 25 years ago. Basically every 4-5 Years Laminar Research the X-Plane's developers releases another numbered upgrade version of the Simulator, the current version is v11 (v11.53) that was released originally back in March 2017. Each release is a new version and to use it, it will have to be repurchased, the cost of X-Plane 12 is US$59.95. But the initial cost also covers all development and any new features for that full version run, up until the next version is released in the development cycle in approx 4-5 years. Notable is that the US$59.95 payment will cover both not only the access to X-Plane 12, but also the current X-Plane 11 as well, which is good value for newcomers to the X-Plane Simulator. There is a process in numbered version releases. A first release is the Alpha release, a highly developed version only for the developers and third party developers to align the Simulator into a working model. Then comes this (current) public Beta release noted as an "Early Access". The "Beta" release is a public purchase version, so everyone can now access the new Simulator and it's new features. But it's not a final release, as it is still only a development release. So if you want a fully working X-Plane Simulator then this beta release version is not for you. The Beta will go though a few numbered upgrades as the development process works out the bugs and issues, but around say vb12.9 (usually two or three months), it with then go to a RC or Release Candidate version, usually there are two or three RC's in rounding up the final bugs and issues and then finally X-Plane 12 will go "Final", as the official X-Plane 12 Release v12.00. In the case of X-Plane 11, it was released as a Beta on Nov 24th 2016, and as noted went final in Mar 2017. In reality the Beta release IS the launch of the new version we now have here, the bugs and problems aside. In most X-Plane upgrade cycles in the past it took mostly only four years between each version, so to a point X-Plane 12 is late, basically by a whole year. That late aspect will hopefully translate into a much more fully formed beta version, as the X-Plane 11 version was quite buggy for a while (four months), so this time Laminar Research have had far more significant time on it's development (the Alpha stage release was as long ago as early March 22) to make it a more efficient and stable release. If your expecting a MSFS (Microsoft Flight Simulator) clone with X-Plane 12, then that is not what it is. The background to X-Plane 12 is actually unusual from past release editions. Earlier most version releases focused on new features and major simulator changes, like X-Plane 10 was a visual overhaul, and X-Plane 11 was a system (Vulcan/Metal API) overhaul. But X-Plane 12 is more focused on fixing up already current features by making them far, far more efficient and far, far more effective assets, in other words in American jargon "Upsizing". To put this X-Plane 12 version into perspective. It is to take all the current areas that needed attention, areas that have not been refined or of what simulator users have complained about for years, and then not just fix and address these areas, but make them MEGA, "blow them out of the water" so to speak, and in reality the success of this X-Plane 12 version rests on that aspect completely. The title of this article is "New Generation", and that means everything here has be refined and revised, but it is not a completely "wipe the table clean and let's start again" sort of aspect (like Microsoft did with MSFS), as the base of the simulator has already had a huge and significant recalibration from the older OpenGL API (Application Programming Interface) to the current Vulcan/Metal API, which under X-Plane 11 created those significant changes, but also set the foundation to build a lot or to allow the fundamental changes here in X-Plane 12. We will cover only the basics here, and over time X-PlaneReviews will do a more in-depth review of the most significant areas of the new release. So everything shown here are just the first impressions of X-Plane 12 with no refinement or in depth study of the particular areas. If you are not sure if your computer will run or just want to check out this new version of X-Plane. Laminar Research provide a DEMO version to download of X-Plane 12 that covers only the Portland area, the full version requires an Authorisation Key (number) and costs US59.95. Disk Boxed sets of X-Plane 12 will be released at a later date. Laminar Research have changed the X-Plane logo for a more coloured version. Starting up Starting up X-Plane 12 is significantly far faster in loading than X-Plane 11 (obviously that depends on the aircraft and scenery configuration you choose), but I feels it is far more responsive. My current X-Plane 11 start up time is 1m 18s (xEnviro disabled), a horrible 1m 36s with xEnviro active, so being able to disconnect (or not use) xEnviro already saves me a third of my startup time. X-Plane 12 however in start-up was a blazing 51.28s, with a custom scenery and the default XP12 Boeing 737-800, pretty impressive. Start-up screen is now different in X-Plane 12... It is far brighter start to X-Plane than the night landing shot in X-Plane 11 (Highlighting the Boeing 737-800), in X-Plane 12 it is a dawn (or sunset) runway shot with the new default Airbus A330-300. Changes to the Menu The Configuration Menu screen is almost a carbon copy of the Microsoft Flight Simulator (MSFS) Config screen in design, and far more colourful and has a far more intuitive interaction. The links are exactly the same; Resume Last Flight, New Flight, Load Saved Flight, Flight School and Settings, but oddly it feels completely different while doing exactly the same interface job. If new to the X-Plane Simulator, the start-up programme will move to a "Quick Tour" demonstration, showing you an aircraft and a short flight on how to fly it. Changes are that the default airport is now KPDX - Portland and moved on from X-Plane 11's KSEA - Seattle. The default start-up aircraft is also new and changed as well... before it was the Cessna 172SP, now it is the Cirrus SR22. The menu configuration has changed, but in reality not at all? In changed we mean the look, but basically almost every menu page is basically and almost exactly the same as before. Note there is also a "B" on the graphic to denote that this version is the "Beta", version. Resume Last Flight, just loads the last configured flight. The rest load the configuration pages for; New Flight, Load Saved Flight, Flight School and Settings. As noted the layouts are exactly the same, but the Menu itself is now a lovely translucent, and it looks extremely nice, or again very MSFS 2020 in feel. Top banner Menu is exactly the same with no changes. Flight Configuration The "Flight Configuration" Menu is the same as before but now translucent with a nice grey background. Gone is the oppressive dark blue of X-Plane 11. It is a far more brighter happier interface with more colour on the "Weather" and "Time of Day" interfaces, although the layout is actually the same. Weather is not that vastly different as expected, there is now however a huge amount of altitude levels compared to the earlier three. Time of Day is the same. Selecting your "Location" is slightly different with initially only showing the selected airport runway layout, you now have to zoom in to see the start positions. We will go to the "Settings", pages for continuity. Again you can see they are mostly still the same but with the new translucent look. In line are General (settings), Sound, Graphics, Network, Data Output, Joystick, Keyboard, and VR Hardware. On the bottom of the General Page is the "About X-Plane", tab for the current version and Credits. Two areas to look at is the General & Graphic Settings. On the General Page only one item has been removed and that is the "Runways Follow Terrain Contours" option under the Flight Model. The Graphic Page left has had more changes. "Visual Effects" is gone to be replaced by two new sliders for; Ambient Occlusion Quality (SSAO) Rendering Resolution (FSR Supersample) The rest in Texture Quality, Antialiasing and Anisotropic Filtering are the same. Notable is that with the size of the options, the page has now to be slided (moved) downwards to get access to the Field of View section. Changes right side includes now five sliders; Cloud Quality Shadow Quality Rendering Distance World Objects Density (replacing Number of World Objects) Vegetation Density Tickboxes changed includes "Draw Shadows on Scenery" (replaced by slider), and "Use Vulcan driver for faster rendering", as OpenGL is now not used in X-Plane 12 (note; and neither with the OpenGL plugins). Still there is the "Draw Parked Aircraft" tickbox. Accessiblity, Monitor Configuration and Visual Offsets are all still the same. The rest of the Settings pages are also the same. MAP The MAP page layout is the same except for the new feature to show "ATC Boundries", the map has also a darker tint, grey surround and feels quite more like the earlier X-Plane 9. We will look at the ATC in the Air Traffic Control section. Scenery & Mesh Let's get to the most controversial item first... Photo-Scenery or Photogrammetry. Unlike MSFS X-Plane 12 still doesn't have real world photographic base for the simulator. There are several reasons for that. The biggest is that the MSFS photo-scenery engine is two petabytes of world map data, impressive, but you can't download and store 2 Pb as even one Petabyte is equal to 1,000 Terabytes on any standard computer configuration. So in MSFS it is streamed to you as you want it or use it. But most users want (even demand) X-Plane to be "Self-Contained" on your desktop. X-Plane 12 is a bigger at a 80.6 GB download (up from 63 GB), and that will still be a significant space on your hard-drive, worse as most of us use the far faster and more efficient SSD's, still the best compromise here is 2TB (Terrabytes) SSD of which I use (it is still all the best to have the simulator core and scenery on one drive for better usage). So Laminar have gone for upsizing the current scenery, rather than replacing it with photogrammetry tiles. So the scenery tiles have had significant attention to increase their internal data (mostly OSM - Open Street Map) in giving more data depth and detail. Yes the actual tiles have been refined, not only for more efficient loading, but to save frameweight, or less usage of framerate and faster loading and also have a more denser DEM (elevation) data for more mesh detail. And this is why since the introduction of X-Plane 10 the look and mesh data has remained the same. In X-Plane 12 you will need to reload all the Default Global Scenery (a refresh of this now very old data won't be a bad idea either). Portland as noted is the new Demo default scenery, and it looks very good (below). The "Landmarks", packages have been doubled, adding in Berlin and Frankfurt, Budapest, Los Angeles, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, Saint Louis and San Francisco. X-Plane Landmarks - Chicago X-Plane Landmarks - Dubai X-Plane Landmarks - Las Vegas X-Plane Landmarks - London X-Plane Landmarks - New York X-Plane Landmarks - Sydney X-Plane Landmarks - Washington DC X-Plane Landmarks - Berlin and Frankfurt X-Plane Landmarks - Budapest X-Plane Landmarks - Los Angeles X-Plane Landmarks - Paris X-Plane Landmarks - Rio De Janeiro X-Plane Landmarks - Saint Louis X-Plane Landmarks - San Francisco Grass was a debated feature, and also not included here yet in X-Plane 12 in actual 3d as it is a significant highlight in MSFS. Which personally was my biggest gripe in covering over the low-resolution mesh that was an X-Plane feel, but not a good one. You may not get grass everywhere, but there are some excellent new grass textures as part of the Global Airport toolkit, and highly realistic and impressive they look, but it is a shame they can't be used Globally. Overall it is a step in the right direction. Ground Textures have also had a huge upgrade, runways, taxiways and some very, very nice edge areas. You could call this aspect now Custom Scenery Quality textures as there is a lot of grunge and more realistic ragged edges. To a point we have had third-party custom surfaces for years, but now the default ones should be even better and more realistic globally.... Impressed. One of the big advantages of MSFS's photogrammetry is that custom scenery will fit in better than X-Plane's landscapes. Exceptional (and cheap) CityScapes are available for MSFS, but still very far and few are available for X-Plane, which I see as a considerable drawback for the Simulator, only time will tell if third party scenery developers will now deliver the same products for X-Plane 12, for those requiring their real life VFR visual aspects to their flying, then the next year or so will be vital in this area, and to a point of even for the success of X-Plane 12 as a simulator. The Autogen (that uses the internal data) is also more dense now and you have a lot, lot more of it, certainly in structures, ports, warehouses, Oil/Fuel Tanks, industrial assets, lighthouses, golf courses, tennis courts and even grave yards. Shipping, coastal areas have had the most attention. So those core X-Plane assets and mostly of all of those files sitting in your Resources folder have had a significant overhaul. So you have a new aircraft carrier in the USS Gerald R. Ford class ship and the frigate. The sailboat is new as well. Ship detail is excellent, there are more new ships in X-Plane 12, but I have to find them... then I will add them to the ones seen below. First Scenery Impressions There are no details yet on which areas have had attention. I found some areas (Los Angeles and Australia) the same as X-Plane 11, however in the United Kingdom, I found the ground textures that are quite different in look and feel, and far deeper in colour, they look impressive. This is Cornwall UK. Note the excellent and more realistic cliff faces. Mountain mesh looks more detailed, but the better lighting helps here to bring out the detail, but overall I feel there has been an improvement. But you still have to accept the poor urban scenarios, no High Industrial, and still there are the huge blank areas to spoil the (LA) landscape... ... if your looking for MSFS landscape detail for VFR flying then it isn't here, as it feels still all very same X-Plane. Many X-Plane users note that scenery or the visual aspects are not high on their lists of why they will use X-Plane 12. But I disagree. As you need a wholly realistic environment to fly in, and certainly with the attraction to MSFS. But what you see here is not I believe the complete finished visual look of X-Plane, as to change a major component (like Laminar did back in X-Plane 10) would have say "pushed the boat out too far", this is an area you could say will be still under development during the X-Plane 12 version run, so I am hoping to expect to see another big feature based on scenery development mid-version of X-Plane 12. Trees and Fauna Notable in the images above are the trees. The trees (and fauna) are now all 3d and finally real quality 3d trees are here (so no more cardboard single or cheap crossed art trees). But not only are these trees brilliantly good in detail, but they now also move with the wind and change with the seasons as the seasonal rendering is dynamic and driven by the already installed (X-Plane11 updated) shader system, to which the shaders are also controlled by local data in latitude and time. Notable as the trees are more expanded in size, they are not clustered as tightly together as in X-Plane 11, and so the earlier very dense forests are more lighter to look at. Seasons Another big change in X-Plane 12 and desired for years (even decades) is "Seasons" in; Summer, Autumn (fall), Winter and Spring. With the help of those animated trees, then they will now change with the landscape to suit the season, upside down as well. In other words if you fly from the northern to the southern hemisphere, the seasons will switch to suit the local climate. Honestly I really love taking off in one environment and landing in another completely different season and environment. By living in Australia, that aspect gets highlighted a lot if you travel overseas or vice versa. So to have that aspect highlighted in X-Plane 12 is a really big highlight for me. A main point to note is not just the change of the seasons, but the FEEL factor. Notice below the warm conditions and the cold and stark conditions are very different and highly realistic. Very Impressed. As we have already covered, it is that these various separate areas can overlap into others, as with the Trees and Seasons to work together as a whole. Weather Yes they have complained about the old three tier X-Plane Weather and Environment system for years, or even for far longer. This is of course a major feature here in X-Plane 12 and in reality the biggest change to the look and feel of the environment around you. The one thing that really blew me away when sighting MSFS for the first time was the weather engine. It is a masterpiece of coding but it is not as effective dynamically. Here X-Plane 12 will have a big advantage. The weather system in X-Plane 12 has been overhauled totally from the ground up. And instead of downloading a large number of METARs local to airports and meshing them all together. X-Plane 12 uses centrally-processed NOAA GLIB files from the Laminar Research central server which will span the globe and be using weather data moving around in real time. This change will transition the simulator from a current slice-of-time approach using hourly reports to a forward-looking method based on algorithmic predictions. This change is expected to greatly decrease the granularity of data, improve real-time meteorological information in less traditionally underserved areas, and allowing for smoother real-time weather transitions in-flight and globally, not locally, so no more nasty jumps in weather changes as your flying. I found local (Australia) conditions to be perfectly replicated, and I'm impressed by the detail and quality of the conditions I can observe visually. In previous versions of the X-Plane Simulator, clouds were rendered as 2D objects (or little puffs). So to simulate 4D effects many of these objects would be drawn together simultaneously at the huge cost of simulator performance. Let us be honest here, all Simulator weather systems are heavy on your computer hardware, meaning your graphics card and there is no difference here. X-Plane 12 has and uses volumetric clouds using Ray marching to render cloud boundaries and calculate the position and the effect of individual water droplet clusters. This is Volume Ray marching, not Ray Tracing, which is faster and far more efficient. They look amazing! Note the excellent lighting strike, it is a long way from the hapless X-Plane10 lighting strikes. GLIB files here can create three-dimensional Precipitation, Wind, Air Pressure, Turbulence, Temperature models that translates to your visual and real-time weather system, it is like having your own little perfect environmental weather system around you now, and better on your framerate as well, but I haven't yet fully tested that aspect yet. But what I do see is fully three-dimensional (towering) clouds that move and reflect as real. The changes to the X-Plane to the X-Plane "Weather Settings" page is quite significant. As you know (if you read our reviews and comments) that I was a big fan of xEnviro. But lately have not been so much. In reality there has been nothing better to replace it (I don't like messing around with core files to make something else work). So is very excited to have a weather engine that can match it in volumetric clouds and lighting effects, not to mention losing the exceeedingly slow loading times. The biggest drawback was in two areas when doing reviews, horrible framerate use (sometimes 30 fr), but worse was the non-adjustable weather conditions that consistently changed as you did the review. Both aspects now gone in X-Plane 12, did I mention the horrible startup times... The weather aspect also cover other features. One is rain. MSFS was at it's release was highly lauded over it's rain effects, so Laminar has responded to that in several ways. First are the excellent wet ground effects (puddles) in high precipitation events, this aspect has already been highly promoted by Laminar and rightly so, you will head to airports just to splish-splosh your way though these excellent puddles, but so are the other climate effects that are graded to the seasons, such as snow and ice which is just as good, and thankfully global in application. xEnviro again had the same idea for a short time, and I loved it, yes I'm very excited about these seasons and the seasonal effects and now having seen them in X-Plane 12, I'm even more excited and coming into winter it will be a must used feature for me in X-Plane 12, Another aspect was rain. We had a plugin called Librain by Saso Kiselkov, but since Vulcan/Metal was implemented it didn't work. The plugin (code) was actually taken in-house by Laminar and has now been made a default feature (Laminar should do more of making good plugins default features), but here it is refined and now far, far better than the original idea, of which Laminar are very good at. The rain spots are visible externally as well as internally (but aircraft have to be converted to use the rain feature). Water Another yearly complaint was water. To be honest I always thought that X-Plane water effects (reflections) were not too bad, except were they went into an algorithmic pattern. But what the users really wanted was water depth, not waves per se. This was very visually visible if you lived in tropical areas (I do) in that the sand and coral changes the water colours at shallow depths. Flight Sim FSX has had a basic version of this effect for years but X-Plane never did, also important was the point the water meets the land, say a beach, as in that aspect it didn't look very realistic either. And so here now both of these water features in depth and transparency are now visually active, and very effective it is as well. The transparency effect is quite exceptional, but so is the water flow in calm and heavy seas. It looks extremely realistic and yes this is a computer simulation, not real world images, a shipping simulator would be as good as a flying simulator here. Many users on release complained (they always do?) that it wasn't good enough, well it is a far better than any of my expectations, but notable was in some areas in the interaction with shoreline were some very noticeable straight lines, it's in the beta fix box. Lighting The lighting system has been totally rebuilt to now include photometrics. The engine can now handle specifying the brightness of a light source either at the individual bulb level (as is common for aircraft) or as measured from outside of the lens covering the bulb (as is common for airports). As with everything here in X-Plane 12 areas crossover (one area can affect another) so the new lighting effects will effect on how the clouds behave in looking realistic, in how the cockpit is rendered (X-Plane 11 cockpits were impossibly dark) and the overall realism of the look of the simulator. It is important to note that the lighting engine has been moved to the Vulcan/Metal API's to access the Graphic Card far more efficiently and faster. X-Plane has had HDR (High-Dynmic-Range) for a while (X-Plane 11), but not a totally full HDR (there was still a lot of LDR - Low-Dynamic-Range also mixed in there). But here we now have a FULL HDR spectrum for our visual use. Or a scene-referred workflow which is one in which we manipulate our images prior to their transformation from camera color space to display the color space. So sky brightness to ground brightness has been highly improved and set to real world brightness and reflection levels. This fine tuning and in creating highly realistic water reflections has been the core (and the time consuming) area of the main lighting task of X-Plane 12. That aspect is also transposed onto the aircraft. Internally the nasty jaggies are gone, and replaced by clean sharp shadows. Externally the aircraft shine and are lit to perfection... so much more highly improved here. Notable however is that the colours are far more saturated than in X-Plane 11, but more internally than externally?, as I had to tone them down a little. Runway and approach lighting has been fine tuned to be authentic to real world brightness levels, to the specific ICAO specifications. And it shows are the approach lighting is highly realistic. But there is a problem with the reflection artificial lighting at night, as it is well over saturated and doesn't look at all realistic... Overall night lighting levels for airports has been reduced significantly to allow for more realistic dark surroundings to runways and taxiways. The direction of airport lighting is also being considered so that airports appear more akin to an "inky black void" when viewed from airliner cruise altitude. One area I have been excited about (but noted to be coming later in b1.1), is a non-completely dark sky, so as no matter how high you fly then there is still light (bleed), but most simulators cheat by just taking the full black night as a default. In reality the real world is not like that and it will be interesting to experience this real and more realistic night sky, certainly as you you fly long haul distances. But for now, it is very, very inky black at night. ATC One area that never felt or was even realistic, and certainly compared to Flight Simulator (all variants) is the X-Plane ATC or Air Traffic Control. This was hopelessly the worst aspect of X-Plane. Fixing it was just as bad, even internal Laminar coders (including Austin himself) have taken turns to try and fix it. In the end reason finally was reached in that it needed a professional coder to try to create a decent ATC. That job went to Jim Kier of the UK, whom created the FS version of Traffic Global. Accessing the new ATC in depth will of course take a separate article, of which I intend to do. The ATC layout is light years better that X-Plane 11. With both hard a surround and translucent panels for ease of use. The panel can also be adjusted for size, from large to very small as not to interfere with your flying... One thing to stress though is that this X-Plane 12 release of the ATC is not the completely finished feature. As basically the core is required to run and effectively and to be assessed before adding in any fancy extras. Notable is that already Improved ATC Speech and Pronunciation has already been implicated as long ago as 2018 with two voices in Joey (Male) and Salli (Female), but still this fully new coded ATC is in no doubt a huge step forward for Simulation, but expect more still coming to this specialised feature in the X-Plane 12's future. Sound Oddly enough "Sound" is new to X-Plane. You may laugh, but yes we have already had sound in aircraft and in the simulator. But what we are talking about here is "Ambient", sounds or background acoustics. In the lead up to the release of X-Plane 12, the one person that impressed me the most was Laminar's sound guru Daniela Rodríguez Careri. Daniela who came aboard Laminar Research around the middle of the X-Plane 11 run. Effectively Daniela has not really had an impact until now, but all that changes here with X-Plane 12. Not only does her work lift the quality of the sounds of the complete default aircraft fleet, but also is very significant in creating for the first time in X-Plane those background ambient soundscapes. Incredibly we thought you wouldn't need them around you until they are actually there. Now they create a more realistic environmental feel to the simulator, or a real world realism. Notable is that all FMOD in X-Plane12 is now v2.0. Notable is that a lot of FMOD v1 aircraft are not translating well to v2, and will need to be upgraded to work correctly. Again many third-party addons do already provide airport soundscapes (XPRealistic and Traffic Global to name two), but these are very sledgehammer style effects that actually can become quite annoying over time. Daniela's approach is more unique, so X-Plane not only looks different but actually feels different when using it. Again rustling trees and nice airport vehicle sounds are just the start as this will be a growing soundscape thoughout the whole of the X-Plane 12 run. Systems All aircraft in the X-Plane 12 world now cast wake turbulence, this means a wing cutting through the air in X-Plane 12 leaves a vortex in the air that swirls inward over the wingtip, and sinks slowly as it dissipates energy over time. Austin Meyers has also spent a lot of time in creating new areas of aerodynamics. Covered now here in X-Plane 12 is better flow and lift for (Supersonic) Delta wings, which is based on the vortex-generation based on the PLAN-FORM of the wing for delta wings, and Entrained Flow is also now simulated. Entrained Flow is usually around a fast-moving jet of air, and when the air nearby is then grabbed and dragged along and then speeding up the air all around the aircraft, in other words a boundary layer creating a vacuum. This effect can be seen when the horizontal stabilizer is jiggling around from the thrust of the engines. Anti-Ice is more in-tune with not only the aircraft's aerodynamic surfaces, but also the systems that the aircraft uses for Anti-ice prevention that is now more highly replicated via pumps and de-icing. Aircraft trim and balance is now also different, in loading weights of passengers and cargo. Instead of one set of weights, the different weights are now calibrated via different zones for more trim realism in the zone of inertia, just like on a real aircraft. In the same vein, hydraulic systems have also been separated in X-Plane 12 so multiple hydraulic areas like the individual flight surfaces can now be powered or failed, before it was singular, not multichannel. Trim Tabs vs Clean elevators can now be also diverged, as they react differently in dynamic flight. Flight Controls can also be separated (via two joysticks, or assigning a separate system to a yoke), and then it can be switchable to the other side if required. Throttle indents (Airbus) can be now assigned and thankfully now a fully working governor is now available for helicopter control. TACAN or TACtical Air Navigation, is a VOR station beacon that is mostly used by the military as it is smaller than the larger VOR array, now X-Plane 12 has TACAN identifiers for this use. GLS or GBAS and GNSS satellite approaches are now also available in X-Plane (12), for the use of the more popular RNAV approach which is a non-precision flight path. This should add in extra realism when using modern satellite based approach paths. Notable for all new default aircraft including above, their systems have had major upgrades (which can be used via PlaneMaker for any X-Plane aircraft). Biggest change is the MAP display in that it is now scalable (so no more tiny waypoint triangles). Default Aircraft The X-Plane 12 fleet is quite different this time around. In the past you usually got a banner aircraft plus a few upgrades to the existing fleet, but that is not the case this time around. There is of course still a brand new banner aircraft in this case an Airbus in the A330-300 (the Boeing 737-800 was the banner aircraft for X-Plane 11). But overall there are now 19 aircraft and the 8 aircraft denoted here in purple are NEW. The rest coming over from X-Plane 11 have all had significant upgrades to X-Plane 12 effects, textures and avionics. Airbus A330-300 Cessna Citation X Lancair Evolution Cirrus SR22 Grumman F-14 Tomcat Robinson R22 Beta II Piper PA-18 Super Cub Van's Aircraft RV-10 Aero-Works Aerolite 103 Beechcraft Baron 58 Beechcraft King Air C90B Cirrus Vision SF50 McDonnell Douglas F-4 Phantom II McDonnell Douglas MD-82 Schleicher ASK 21 Stinson L-5 Sentinel Boeing 737-800 Cessna 172 SP Sikorsky S-76 A330-300 The Airbus A333 is the new primary banner default aircraft for X-Plane 12. For a default aircraft it is exceptional, but currently still comes with only a basic FMS. An authentic Thales System has been announced as in the works, notably it should be installed before X-Plane 12 goes final. Cessna Citation X Most exciting in this X-Plane release is the Citation X. This is one seriously nice aircraft, and has separate control systems (left and right) and it is extremely nicely detailed. Lancair Evolution EVOT-850 This Evolution is a direct copy of (Laminar Research) Austin Meyer's personal aircraft and you also get Austin Myer's himself in the pilot's seat. It comes with a powerful Pratt & Whitney PT6A-135A turboprop aircraft engine, 750 hp (560 kW) and G1000 Avionics. Cirrus SR22 The Cirrus SR22 is a single-engine four- or five-seat composite aircraft built from 2001 by Cirrus Aircraft. It is powered by a 310 hp (231 kW) Continental IO-550-N piston engine and G1000 Avionics. Again Austin Myer's himself is in the pilot's seat, and the aircraft is very popular with "Round the World" fliers. Grumman F-14 Tomcat Yes Mr "Top Gun" himself in the F-14 Tomcat is part of the new default aircraft list. The F-14 is an American carrier-capable supersonic, twin-engine, two-seat, twin-tail, variable-sweep wing fighter aircraft. Robinson R22 The Robinson R22 is a two-seat, two-bladed, single-engine light utility helicopter manufactured by Robinson Helicopter Company. Here it comes in two versions with skids or pontoons. Piper PA-18 Super Cub The Piper PA-18 Super Cub is a two-seat, single-engine monoplane. Introduced in 1949 by Piper Aircraft. Here it comes with the larger "Bush", tyres or "Tundra" option. Van's Aircraft RV-10 The Van's Aircraft RV-10 is a four-seat, single-engine, low-wing homebuilt airplane sold in kit form by Van's Aircraft. It is the first four-seat airplane in the popular RV series. It is powered by a Lycoming O-540 six-cylinder, air-cooled aircraft engine, 260 hp (190 kW) and G1000 Avionics. The "Extra Aircraft" folder has now been retired, this included the B52G, B747-100, C-130, Columbia 400, MD KC-10, Space Shuttle and the X-15. First Impressions of X-Plane 12 This article isn't a summary or even an in-depth evaluation of the new version of the X-Plane Simulator in version v12. It is just an overview of what X-Plane 12 delivers and the changes between the versions. But I will add in here my first impressions, even though I have had only minimal time using it. My computer specifications have been listed at the bottom of the article and all notes here are with those specs. First of all I wasn't expecting a dynamic change like you got with X-Plane 10 or X-Plane 11 as noted at the head of this article. X-Plane 12 delivers what we expected with the current features ramped up to over a 100%. Performance is excellent and far better than I expected. I think we are seeing the results of the switch over to the Vulkan/Metal APIs in a far more refined way. Startup and responsiveness is overwhelmingly far better. From startup X-Plane 12 feels far more better put together and that is a considerable achievement in the event of the massive internal changes here, and that it all comes with a significant weather overhaul thrown in. Do your changes like changing aircraft and location and the speed is really astounding and smooth, we say the word refinement and it is already very good here and still so early in a Beta phase is very good news for Laminar Research. Everything works together very nicely, this simulator is very nice to use. If you read my specs, you will see I am marginal on the Graphic Card, and you do feel the extra work put on the card in X-Plane 12. So that will be a priority area to upgrade, and so you won't get away anymore with a weak graphic card. But a slight refinement is still needed with blurry textures at these medium settings which is actually a mirror to the same in the early X-Plane 11 Beta. My framerate is improved by around 20 fr, but notable as noted earlier by being able to remove the xEnviro environmental engine, so averages are around 45fr-50fr on these settings. Notable is that I haven't done any fine tuning yet, so these settings are basically out of the box... and I am a very happy simulator user. On features there are too many I really like, I couldn't even pick out a favorite. The weather, lighting and seasons (really all one big feature) are simply excellent, and far better than what I saw in the previews. The fauna and trees are excellent as well, and you don't have the expected frame rate hit from them I was expecting. But to note the lighting (mostly night lighting) still needs a lot more refinement. Dynamics are very good, and you do now have that same MSFS sheen or polish that was missing from X-Plane. Aircraft and Custom sceneries are extremely impressive if you have spent the money over the years. Seasons are brilliant with amazing snow coverage as is the static ice and water effects and even the rain is highly improved. Default aircraft fleet are all really good and now in areas even custom payware quality, so you are getting excellent value for money just there. Water is highly impressive as well, but I feel there is still more refinement required, shore edges are in some places are straight lines and the translucency is excellent, but in areas it needs another element as notable are the visual ships hulls in the water, were in real life they would be hidden by the waters reflective surface. ATC - Air Traffic Control I can't yet comment on as I haven't used it yet, but again the feature looks impressive out of the box. I like the dual interface and window adjustments and it looks easy and nice to use and you can use the "Speak" button realistically, dynamically of course I will test it out. I really love the translucent interface and menus. It looks and feels modern, but the actual interaction in settings and menus are exactly the same, so there is no learning curve there. I found a lot of aircraft don't translate evenly from X-Plane 11 to X-Plane 12. Virtually everything will have to be adjusted or configured for the new simulator version, that said, when configured they are excellent in the new environment. A lot of older X-Plane 10... if all aircraft of a certain age are now sadly redundant unless saved by developers. We knew that new mesh and the VFR (Visual Flight Rules) visual aspects would not change with X-Plane 12. But seeing it in the flesh is very disheartening. It feels old and out dated, if you don't have any custom scenery it doesn't look good at all. At any altitude above 10,000ft it is fine, below it is not. I feel that Laminar is going in the wrong direction, but with no VFR improvement for over a decade it is starting to show. Without MSFS 2020, X-Plane could have got away with this aspect, with MSFS... it just can't anymore. You need to be able to see items on the ground replicating real world infrastructure, and that aspect is seriously missing here, a few landmark packages Austin are just not going to cut it anymore. I don't want to end this overview on a negative note, as the X-Plane 12 Simulator has so many, many positive aspects. We never expected X-Plane 12 to be a MSFS killer, as X-Plane is a totally different philosophy to MSFS. And in every area it really is a major version step forward, and certainly brilliant value for what you get. X-Plane 12 looks and feels far more realistic, more real life and more dynamic, certainly a big step upwards to being a qualitysimulator... Overall I seriously love it. X-Plane 12 Minimum Requirements CPU: Intel Core i3, i5, i7, or i9 CPU with 4 or more cores, or AMD Ryzen 3, 5, 7 or 9. (Those with other CPUs should try the demo before purchasing.) Memory: 8 GB RAM Video Card: a Vulkan 1.3-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 2 GB VRAM If your system is borderline, we encourage you to try the demo first. The full version of the simulator will perform exactly the same as the demo—neither better nor worse. X-Plane 12 Recommended Requirements CPU: Intel Core i5 8600k or Ryzen 5 3500 or better, or Apple Silicon Memory: 16-24 GB RAM or more Video Card: a DirectX 12-capable video card from NVIDIA or AMD with at least 4 GB VRAM (GeForce GTX 1070 or better, or similar from AMD) Supported Video Cards: NVIDIA: NVIDIA GeForce 900 or newer, driver version 510 or newer AMD: AMD Radeon RX 500 or newer, driver version Adrenaline 22.2.1or newer Supported Operating Systems: OS X: OS X 10.15 or newer (e.g. Catalina, Big Sur, or Monterey) Windows: Windows 10 or 11, 64-bit Linux: Varies If you want to run on Linux, you will need to try X-Plane on your distribution to see if it is compatible. We have developers using Ubuntu 20.04 LTS and newer successfully, however we don’t provide support for specific distributions. We require the proprietary driver from NVIDIA to run X-Plane. We require the Mesa drivers, version 22.0 or newer, for AMD to run X-Plane. X-Plane 12 (Beta) is purchased directly from Laminar Research for US$59.95 and the download file size is 82 GB X-Plane 12 Price is US$59.95 _____________________ X-Plane 12 Beta release overview by Stephen Dutton 12th September 2022 Copyright©2022: X-Plane Reviews Review System Specifications: Computer System: Windows - Intel Core i7 6700K CPU 4.00GHz / 64bit -32 Gb single 1067 Mhz DDR4 2133 - ASUS GeForce GTX 1080 8Gb - Samsung Evo M2 2TB SSD - Sound : Yamaha Speakers YST-M200SP Software: - Windows 11 - X-Plane b12.00 (Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copy of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions) All Rights Reserved Kiwiflyer 1 Quote Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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