A couple of weeks ago I reviewed a simple, budget-priced virtual reality flight sim, the Cessna VR Flight Simulator. It is a nice introduction to VR flight sims if one is not already smitten by that world of high-flying pilots traveling all over the world without ever leaving their home.
As I stated in that review, I have always loved flight sims, years and years went by without trying a new one but Virtual Reality (VR) changed everything. No need for expensive joysticks or fancy basement cockpits when you are fully immersed in the aircraft with VR.
So, from the Cessna simulator, I started hunting for other flight sims to review and quickly came across XPlane 11 and FLYINSIDE. XPlane seems to be the go-to app in this instance, so I shelved it to try FLYINSIDE first.
From what I can tell FLYINSIDE started as a way to get VR into other flight sims and somewhere along the way they decided to create their own standalone flight sim which is what I'm using for this review.
It could be intimidating as it is such a big step up from the Cessna sim but it's not. In fact, it's menus and method of navigating around the application are straight forward which is a good thing considering there is next to no documentation or help files.
(Image Property of FLYINSIDE)
There is a wiki online that will get your hopes up for a hot second till you realize it is basically empty of one thing a wiki needs… information. Being as this is an early access (Beta) release it is to expected for somethings to be a little skinny or even sketchy but after a while the total lack of info gets frustrating.
As far as just jumping in and taking off or bouncing in a landing it couldn't be easier with the easy flight mode selected. This is a fun easy flight mode. One that needs just enough input to stay interested and try to get better.
The scenery outside the cockpit is an amazing leap from the Cessna sim too. It is much more detailed and starting to look fairly realistic from the air and not too bad on the ground. Kind of like Google Maps/Streetview hybrid.
It's good enough to keep you interested but things start to get a little boring with the easy flight mode. Sitting in the cockpit becomes a bit like sitting in a car. Are we there yet???
The cockpit detail is good… better than the Cessna VR by a little bit but not quite as good as what I'm seeing in XPlane now that I'm flying it for the next review installment. Very few if any of the dials and buttons worked in the Cessna VR but most of the cockpit is accessible in FLYINSIDE.
There is just one little thing that keeps popping up just enough to ruin this experience and that is aforementioned lack of documentation. While most of the cockpit appears to work… good luck with figuring out how if you are not already a pilot or at least experienced with the plane models that come with the sim.
(Image Property of FLYINSIDE)
Also, the initial update was a disaster and a real hassle. My VR computer is on Wi-FI and after several attempts to download the full package and new update I finally gave up and switched the computer out with a hard-wired one elsewhere in the house. The update worked flawlessly then. While researching this update problem I found out others were having this issue and to ask the devs for a Steam key since that version updates via the Steam platform.
The lesson here is if you buy it… buy it from Steam unless you are hardwired into your internet.
I really want to like this flight sim. It is so easy to use out of the box but its lack of documentation is a disaster. Just to drive the point home a little further. I've not fired up FLYSINSIDE since I downloaded a full copy of XPlane 11 which is documented and supported by a huge online community.
In fairness to the devs, this early access sim is not priced the same as XPlane 11 either. IT's priced at $35US acknowledging its early access limitations but to this reviewer that is a bit overpriced with what you get right now. It's more like an early access $19.99 game, but development is probably hard to fund at that level.
In summary, as far as just jumping in and flying right away with no experience with decent scenery… it's great. Till just flying around isn't enough and the lack of documentation eats away at one's will to continue the experience.
Next up in the VR Flight Sim series is XPlane 11 so join me again next time if I'm not too bruised up from all those bounced landings.
M.D. McCallum, aka WarLord, is an international award-winning commercial graphics artist, 3D animator, published author, project director, and webmaster with a freelance career that spans over 20 years. Now retired, M.D. is currently working part-time on writing and select character development projects. You can learn more about MD on his website.