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Microsoft's new Flight Simulator uses some amazing tech

Microsoft surprised everyone by unveiling a new Flight Simulator at its E3 2019 press conference. But are you aware of all the impressive tech being used behind the scenes in the game? We got a peek behind the curtain, thanks to a PC Gamer interview with Microsoft's Phil Spencer.

According to Spencer, Flight Simulator uses "over 2 petabytes of geographical data," giving the game an immense amount of realism both in the terrain you'll see from the skies and the geography that juts up from the ground and digs down into the surface.

But it's not enough just to use geographical information and satellite imagery. If you've ever looked closely at Google Maps in satellite view, you probably discovered that the maps are just a bunch of pictures stitched together. In order to present a "seamless" Earth, Microsoft uses Azure artificial intelligence to put all of those images together and fill in the missing bits.

And on top of that, Flight Simulator apparently uses real weather data, too. In Spencer's words, it makes it feel as though you're flying around "what looks like a living planet." And Flight Simulator looks so real, in fact, that Spencer was shocked he was looking at gameplay footage when the game was presented to him prior to E3.

"Is that the game?" Spencer reportedly asked Shannon Loftis, the GM of Microsoft Studios Publishing.

"Yeah, that's the game," Loftis responded.

'You're going to have to put at the bottom [of the trailer] that that's in-game," Spencer told Loftis, "because nobody's going to believe that's in-game."

So why a Flight Simulator now after so many years? Spencer told PC Gamer that he felt Microsoft could do something new with the series; something it hadn't done before. Judging by all of the data being poured into the game and all of the tech being used to create Flight Simulator's rendition of Earth, it does seem like Microsoft is taking this version of the popular sim further than it ever has in the past. We're not flight nuts by any stretch, but the idea of flying around in this game sounds appealing. We might have to give it a go.

There's no word on when Flight Simulator is set to arrive; no release date was given at E3. But we do know that when it does launch, it'll be coming to both PC and Xbox One, and it'll be a part of Microsoft's Xbox Game Pass subscription on both platforms.