Going back into P3D, I find myself enjoying this new sim quite a lot, much more than I expected.
I don’t anticipate it replacing X-Plane 11, but it might be my preferred VFR sim of choice.
The problem with X-Plane 11 is the lack of variety in scenery. Flying through southern England looks no different than flying through South Florida. There’s no landmarks, nothing to say “Wow, I’m really flying in England”.
The last couple of days, I loaded up a flight through Southern England in P3D using Orbx sceneries and ran the same flight I flew last month in XP11. I was blown away by the results. The airport felt more alive…with people standing about. The scenery was incredibly varied, with hedges between fields, castles, suspension bridges, wind farms, etc. It totally blew away anything I’ve seen in X-Plane 11.
The weather was something great too. I’ve tried several different weather engines in X-Plane 11 with negative results. xEnviro has too many issues with conflicting with different aircraft, incorrect ATIS reports, incorrect wind speeds, rain not tapping over windshields, not working with weather radars, etc. Skymaxx looks crappy, Ultra Weather XP looks crappy, and I have a flickering problem with FS Enhancer.
I’m using ActiveSky with ASCA and the difference is night and day. I’ll fly through wisps of clouds and it feels, wispy. I’ll match weather with outside and it looks identical to what it is outside. The rain feels like rain, etc.
The only problem I have is P3D feels too “dark” due to the limitations of the engine. It’s not that big of a deal, but it’s a bit annoying.
I think ultimately the difference between P3D and XP11 is in regards to getting what you pay for. As most people know, a niche such as flight simulation can be expensive. XP11 out of the box looks fantastic but it doesn’t have a lot of the third party support, at least for scenery, as you would expect. There are great airports, yes…but I’m looking for regions. Arguably, you can create regions with Ortho4XP, but I’m not keen on spending dozens of hours rendering areas at ZL16 texture, which takes up a lot of HDD space.
Still, both are great simulators. I’m just happy to have the choice between both for whatever purpose I need, whether VFR/IFR flying or for specific planes (such as the C182 or the DH8D).
With that, there’s one more thing. I’ll be doing a real life trip to Europe next year. I’m thinking starting from Amsterdam and going down through Germany and Switzerland to Rome. Sounds good? I’m planning on virtually flying that route too. Should be a lot of fun!