The new Microsoft Flight Simulator is an immersive beast of a PC game, and we can only imagine how immersive it might get in VR — but you might not have to imagine much longer, because Microsoft has just opened signups (via Eurogamer) for a closed beta of the virtual reality experience.
There are quite a few requirements if you want to be considered, though. Not only do you have to own the game, have a Windows Mixed Reality headset, be a registered Microsoft Flight Simulator “Insider” and sign an NDA, you’ll need a slightly beefier PC than the base game — with an Nvidia GeForce GTX 1080 or better sporting 8GB of VRAM, as well as 16GB of system memory.
And, you’ll need to prove your PC qualifies by submitting your DxDiag (press your Windows start button, type “dxdiag”, hit Enter) so Microsoft can confirm those specs and that your system isn’t prone to BSODs or other major system errors.
(The DxDiag file is basically just an inventory of your system, but it does also list recent application crashes.)
Intriguingly, it doesn’t look like you’ll need the HP Reverb G2, the specific headset that Microsoft originally said would get first dibs on the game. Any Windows Mixed Reality headset will apparently do to start, which should be neat for those who got deep discounts on items like the Lenovo Explorer and Samsung Odyssey over the past couple of years.
In a video Q&A, developer Asobo Studio says the beta should kick off in late October or early November. The company had previously promised a free VR update this fall, so it probably shouldn’t be much longer than that. If you’ve got an Oculus, HTC, or other VR headset, there’ll be a second wave of closed beta for other devices as well — Asobo says it hasn’t decided when that wave will kick off.
It’s not surprising Microsoft might want to be cautious with the VR rollout, because the game initially tended to eat powerful gaming PCs for lunch. Even our Nvidia RTX 3080 wasn’t enough to run it at full bore, partly because we hadn’t paired it with a fast enough CPU. That said, we’ve seen some framerate improvement in recent updates, so perhaps VR won’t be a tremendous stretch this holiday. And maybe it’ll give you more time to find a flight stick.
Update October 3rd, 12:31PM ET: Added that the beta is expected to kick off in late October or early November.