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Plugin Review: VisualXP Ultimate X-Plane 12 by SimAdditions

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Plugin Review: VisualXP Ultimate X-Plane 12 by SimAdditions


By DrishalMAC2

As the skies beckon aviation enthusiasts into a world of unparalleled realism, X-Plane 12 emerges as a state-of-the-art flight simulation platform. This experience is further enhanced by the revolutionary VisualXP add-on. Seamlessly integrating with X-Plane's already impressive environment, VisualXP elevates virtual aviation to new heights. It transforms the visual landscape with meticulous attention to detail. From the complex patterns of cloud formations to the subtle interplay of light on aircraft surfaces, VisualXP orchestrates a visual symphony. This symphony captivates and sets a new benchmark for immersive flight experiences. Delving into the details of this transformative add-on, it's clear that VisualXP is not just an enhancement, but a groundbreaking revelation in visual enhancement plugins.
VisualXP is available in three distinct plugin levels, as illustrated in the image below. Further details on each category will be discussed later in the review.


Installing this product is straightforward. Firstly, download the product from the store. Once downloaded, extract the files into the X-Plane/resources/plugins folder. Additionally, you'll need to replace a lights file located in X-Plane/resources/bitmaps/world/lites. After loading the files into X-Plane, enter your personal serial key into the plugin, and upon activation, you're good to go! Clear instructions are provided to the user in a text document accompanying the download of the addon, ensuring a hassle-free setup.

The "Atmosphere" tab in VisualXP offers an extensive array of settings to tailor the atmospheric lighting in X-Plane to your liking. It includes seven ozone colour presets, each distinctly different, ensuring there's a match for everyone's preference. My personal favourite is preset five. Additionally, there are eleven "Sky Scattering" control sliders, giving you the power to fine-tune the haze and lighting. For convenience, these can be set to "Auto Control Scattering," allowing VisualXP to automatically adjust these settings for you. The tab also features two visibility control sliders and a cockpit ambience control slider, both of which have an automatic adjustment option. Lastly, there's an "Aerosol" strength control slider, which can be manually set or left to automatic control.

I've discovered that the Atmosphere tab, with its comprehensive range of settings, significantly alters the appearance of your simulator. The abundance of adjustable options means you're likely to find a setup that suits your taste. I generally recommend using the automatic control settings unless you're quite experienced with these parameters. VisualXP efficiently adjusts these values to realistically represent live weather conditions. Even the default settings for the atmosphere component of this plugin make a substantial difference to the simulator's visuals and enhance the lighting remarkably.


Below I have provided screenshots showcasing the atmospheric settings activated, with all other VisualXP features disabled. These images illustrate examples of all the ozone colour presets available, alongside the default atmospheric lighting in X-Plane 12. I have captured these for a variety of scenarios, covering three distinct locations, at different times of day, and under various weather conditions.


The first set of images was taken in Gran Canaria, showcasing clear weather conditions at sunrise.


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.10.46.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.10.56.jpg

Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.10.59.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.11.02.jpg

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Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.11.11.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.11.13.jpg


The second set of images was captured in Birmingham, United Kingdom, featuring clear weather conditions around midday.


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.55.22.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.57.44.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.57.52.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.58.00.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.58.05.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.58.09.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.58.13.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.58.18.jpg


The third set of images was again taken in Birmingham, U.K., this time with the weather set to "VFR Broken". These images were captured around midday, below the conditions of the specified weather.


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.59.23.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.59.42.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.59.48.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.59.51.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.59.54.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 10.59.58.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.00.01.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.00.03.jpg


The fourth set of images was also taken in Birmingham, U.K., but with the weather set to "VFR Broken". These were captured around midday, this time above the weather conditions.


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.01.23.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.01.30.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.01.34.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.01.37.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.01.41.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.01.44.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.01.46.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.01.49.jpg


The highlight of VisualXP is undoubtedly its transformation of X-Plane's clouds. It includes four cloud form presets. While I haven't noticed a significant difference between these presets, as they tend to be situational, simply activating the cloud enhancements immediately reveals a dramatic improvement. The enhanced clouds are a marked upgrade over the default ones, and like the "Atmosphere" tab, there are numerous options to fine-tune cloud details.


Initially, there are two checkboxes to enable/disable "Standard Cloud" enhancements and Extreme "Cloud Enhancements". Note that the "Extreme Cloud Enhancements" are still in Beta. I strongly recommend activating the "Standard Clouds Enhancements" but keeping the "Extreme Clouds Enhancements" off due to their Beta status and performance demands. "The Standard Cloud Enhancement" alone makes a substantial difference, as evidenced in most VisualXP screenshots shared online.

Following these, a "Cloud Density" slider allows for adjusting cloud thickness. Then, four "Formation Control" sliders modify cloud shapes. Two "Clouds Shadows" control sliders change the appearance of shadows on the clouds and the shadows cast by the clouds on the ground. Finally, three "Clouds Brightness" control sliders manage various brightness aspects.

The clouds section is a major selling point of this plugin, included in all versions. The manipulation of clouds is executed remarkably well, offering users considerable manual control if desired. However, for most users, I recommend leaving the settings to be automatically controlled by VisualXP.


Below, I have included screenshots that specifically highlight the clouds feature of VisualXP, with all other features of the addon turned off. These images display the effects of the four cloud form presets provided by VisualXP, alongside comparisons with the default cloud forms in X-Plane. To showcase the versatility and impact of these presets, the screenshots were taken under a range of weather conditions and at different times of the day.


The first set of images was taken at midday using the "VFR Scattered" weather preset.


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.18.53.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.19.01.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.19.04.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.19.06.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.19.09.jpg


The second set of images was taken around midday, using the "IFR Non-Precision" preset.


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.21.16.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.21.21.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.21.24.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.21.27.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.21.29.jpg


The third set of images was taken during sunrise using the "VFR Scattered" weather preset.


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.23.37.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.23.40.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.23.42.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.23.45.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.23.48.jpg


The fourth set of images was taken around midday, using the "Cumulonimbus" weather preset, selectable in VisualXP from the "Weather" tab.


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.29.48.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.29.50.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.29.52.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.29.54.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.29.55.jpg


The water enhancement section in VisualXP significantly enhances the visual appeal within X-Plane, particularly in its rendering of water. This feature modifies wave appearance, size, and the way sunlight reflects off water surfaces. It includes three distinct "Water Mods" presets, each offering a unique look. My personal choice is mod two.

The first set of adjustments includes two "Waves Foam" control sliders. These can be manually adjusted or set to automatic via the "Auto Control Waves Foam" checkbox, allowing VisualXP to manage them. Next, there's a "Water Depth" control slider, which also offers both manual and automatic control options. Following this, two "Water Waves" control sliders alter the strength and scale of the waves, with options for manual or automatic adjustments. Lastly, the "Sun on Water" control slider affects how sunlight is reflected from the water, and like the others, it can be manually or automatically controlled.

The water modifications by VisualXP are impressively executed, greatly enhancing the visuals of coastal destinations. They bring a dynamic and realistic feel to the otherwise flat default water in X-Plane 12, contributing to a more 'living world' experience within the simulator. These water effects, while situational, are a personal highlight for me, especially given my fondness for island hopping. It's important to note that this feature is exclusive to the "Premium" and "Ultimate" editions of VisualXP. I recommend setting these controls to be automatically managed by VisualXP for an optimal experience.


Below, I have provided screenshots showcasing the water enhancement feature of VisualXP, with all other features of the addon deactivated. These images compare the three distinct water presets offered by VisualXP against the default water visuals in X-Plane. To comprehensively demonstrate the enhancements, these screenshots were captured at various times of the day and in a range of different locations.


The first set of images was taken in Gran Canaria around midday.


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.38.50.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.38.53.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.38.55.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.38.59.jpg



The second set of images was also taken in Gran Canaria, this time during sunset.


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.39.26.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.39.30.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.39.32.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.39.37.jpg


The third set of images was taken in Boston, U.S., around midday.


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.43.03.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.43.07.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.43.09.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.43.13.jpg


The fourth set of images was taken in Boston, U.S., this time around sunset.


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.43.35.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.43.38.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.43.41.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 11.43.44.jpg


The Scenery section in VisualXP offers a variety of slightly more miscellaneous yet notably detailed enhancements to the simulator's visuals. A key highlight is the "Lights" mods, which significantly enhance night lighting in X-Plane. These mods tend to expand the lighting range, increase brightness, and add a touch of bloom. Although three preset light mod options are included, I've noticed they appear quite similar.

Next, three "Lights Fog" control sliders allow adjustment of respective settings, with an option for automatic control. A particularly noteworthy feature is the "Enable Fog Spotlights" tick box, introducing light pollution effects into the simulator. This feature notably elevates airport night lighting and introduces volumetric lighting for aircraft lights, becoming especially prominent when using landing lights. For night flying enthusiasts, this feature alone can substantially enhance the experience.

Another setting includes a control slider to adjust the light spots strength, primarily influencing how lights reflect off the ground. This can be set to either manual or automatic control. Lastly, there's the "Scenery shadows" feature, which, in my experience, doesn't seem to make a noticeable difference, leaving its exact impact somewhat unclear.

The night lighting changes implemented by VisualXP are nothing short of amazing. I recommend setting all controls to be automatically managed by VisualXP, and don't forget to enable the fog spotlights for that extra visual appeal, although it can impact performance depending on your system. It's important to note that these scenery features are exclusive to the ultimate edition of VisualXP.


Below, I have included a selection of screenshots that focus on the night lighting enhancement provided by VisualXP. These images feature the three different lighting presets, along with a comparison to the default night lighting in X-Plane. Additionally, to highlight the impact of the fog spotlights feature, I have added screenshots demonstrating the visual differences when this option is turned on and off.

All images for the following three sets were taken in Los Angeles at different angles, with the time set to midnight. 


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.09.43.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.09.47.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.09.50.jpg

Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.09.53.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.10.02.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.10.06.jpg

Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.10.09.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.10.12.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.10.42.jpg

Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.10.46.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.10.48.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.10.51.jpg


These images showcase before and after comparisons of when the "Fog Spotlight" option is turned on and off.


Cessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.11.39.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.11.42.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.12.04.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.12.11.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.12.22.jpgCessna_172SP - 2023-12-20 12.12.24.jpg


In the "Premium" and "Ultimate" editions of VisualXP, users gain access to a proprietary live weather system and weather search feature. My experience with the live weather system has been somewhat mixed. I've found it to be occasionally inaccurate and prone to bugs. Consequently, for much of my testing, I've relied on the default X-Plane live weather, which integrates seamlessly with VisualXP. However, there's good news on the horizon: an overhaul of the live weather feature is planned, aiming to resolve these issues. I've been in touch with Sim Additions, and they're fully committed to addressing and improving these concerns.

The "Weather Search" function, on the other hand, performs reliably for airports with available METAR information. This feature seems to be dependable and adds a nice touch to the overall experience.

Additionally, the "Weather Briefing" feature, exclusive to the "Ultimate" edition of VisualXP, offers a comprehensive overview of weather conditions. While this feature does have its share of issues and bugs, Sim Additions is aware of these and is actively working on fixes.




This addon has impressively had no impact on the performance of my machine. The sole exception is the previously mentioned "Extreme Cloud Enhancement" setting, which is currently in beta and did result in a lower FPS. Apart from this, the rest of the plugin's effects have had no adverse effect on my frame rate and introduced no stuttering at all. The extent to which the visuals are enhanced by this plugin, coupled with the absence of any significant performance drawbacks, is truly remarkable. It speaks volumes about the optimization of this addon and reflects the hard work and diligence of the team at Sim Additions.

The user interface of this addon is exceptionally clean and user-friendly. The tabs are well-organized, and the inclusion of control sliders greatly enhances the versatility of VisualXP. A notable feature is the option to reset each control slider to its default value, indicated by a green or yellow box next to it. The box appears green when set to default and turns yellow once manually altered.

In the top right corner of the interface, there's a convenient feature to save and load presets based on different settings. This function has been flawless in my experience, with no issues encountered. Additionally, the colour scheme of the UI can be customized from a selection at the bottom, and the opacity of the background is adjustable to suit user preferences.


Furthermore, the settings window can be popped out of the X-Plane application, a functionality accessible via the middle button in the absolute top right corner. This aspect of the UI design adds an extra layer of convenience and flexibility to the user experience.

*Information provided to me directly from the team at Sim Additions*

  • Improving Live Weather as much as we can (This will be continuously in each update till we find the best result that most users will be satisfied with)
  • Improving Interface as much as we can (This will be continuously in each update till we find the best result that most users will be satisfied with)
  • Improving all enhancements functions as much as we can (This will be continuously in each update till we find the best result that most users will be satisfied with)
  • Adding any new stuff that can serve the user in any way whenever we find something new, especially for weather stuff.
  • Supporting Linux and Mac once we finished the reported issues for some users of Windows.
  • Improving Performance as much as we can (This will be continuously in each update till we find the best result that most users will be satisfied with)
  • We try to add any requested feature from our Users whenever available/accessible.

Are there plans to fix the current live weather option, and could you provide more details regarding this fix? 

  • Sure, we've added a new system, the weather will be downloaded whenever a new flight is acquired, a new area has loaded, or by user request.
  • The downloads will be automatic and will keep trying to get data automatically in case the user is offline till the user stops the operation or the connecting returns online, instead of stopping at the first attempt.
  • Will add all nearest airports'|cities|stations| weather briefings to the interface, and the weather will be transitioned smoothly between these giving areas whenever we close to them.
  • If the users have built a flight plane, live weather will download weather data for every flight plane point and will take this point data whenever there are no areas available (above oceans for example).

Does Sim Additions plan to release any more products in the near future? If so, could you provide further details regarding this?

  • We are planning to add multiple plugins, the first one will be something related to Weather only, let's say advanced weather briefing similar to what we have on VisualXP but with more options, without visual enhancements, this plugin will be on our road map after we released VisualXP for Mac and Linux
  • Will keep then focus on users' requirements for X-Plane 12 and will try to do anything that can serve them.

Customer Service 
Following the series of questions I posed to them about the product, their response was not only rapid but also exhibited a high degree of professionalism. This experience gives me a strong sense of confidence in their customer support. I believe that if any users encounter issues or have queries about the product, Sim Additions will address them in a similarly efficient and professional manner. 



YouTube video by the author


VisualXP is an exceptional addon that significantly enhances the visual experience in X-Plane, bringing the simulator's world to life with remarkable realism. The abundance of controls available makes it highly versatile, catering both to users who enjoy fine-tuning every detail and those who prefer a more 'set and forget' approach. The addon's ease of use and impressive performance straight out of the box are standout features. It's astonishing how VisualXP manages to deliver such substantial visual enhancements without compromising on performance.

Additionally, the ongoing development of this product by the team at Sim Additions, coupled with their clear roadmap for future improvements, is a testament to their commitment to excellence. My personal experience with their customer service has been very positive, instilling further confidence in the product's future.

For anyone seeking to elevate their X-Plane experience with lifelike visuals, VisualXP is the perfect choice. Its flexible pricing structure is an added advantage, allowing users to choose features that best suit their needs and budget.







VisualXP Ultimate X-Plane 12 by SimAdditions is now available from the X-Plane.Org Store here:


VisualXP Ultimate

Priced at US$25.97



  • VisualXP has its own live weather resource, you don't need any extra plugins. With this plugin you can search weather for three airports. We call them Departure, Arrival, and Alternative Airport. You can also check the weather briefings for the current position of the aircraft.
  • VisualXP has its own UI (user interface), which will show you the live weather information, search results, and the current weather briefings for the aircraft position.
  • The interface has multiple tabs. These tabs are named Atmosphere, Clouds, Water, Scenery, and Weather. Each tab has its own functions, buttons, and sliders. With these buttons, and sliders, you can easily control VisualXP.


X-Plane 12
Windows Only - Not Compatible with Mac or Linux at this time.
Things To Be Considered Before Buying

  • If you are using DataRefTool or DataRefEditor, you need to disable them before using ViualXP, VisualXP will stop working instantly once one of these plugins is detected as Enabled. and it will inform you with a message in the user interface to disable these plugins.
  • Do not use any other plugin, scripts, or mods that controls one of VisualXP features as that will make conflict and will make bad visuals.
  • The performance will be different from one plugin level to another because of the features that each one has, the higher level will have more performance effects, but no worries with the plugin sliders you can lower the settings to fit your device capacity.
  • The plugin can't work in offline mode, a connection to the internet must be available for the license system and downloading weather.
  • We cannot offer any demos at present.
  • The plugin has been developed using the Windows 10 platform and will be for windows only at this time, sorry for Mac and Linux users, we will support these platforms in the future.
  • The functions of the plugin can be increased or decreased depending on the X-Plane 12 version and the ability that Laminar Research offers.

Review System Specifications

Windows 10, Intel i5-12400F, 32GB RAM, RTX 3070Ti 




Plugin Review by DrishalMAC2
22nd Dec 2023
Copyright©2023: X-Plane Reviews


(Disclaimer. All images and text in this review are the work and property of X-PlaneReviews, no sharing or copying of the content is allowed without consent from the author as per copyright conditions).




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