Laminar Research has announced X-Plane 12 has been released in Early Access.
X-Plane 12 is a significant upgrade of the platform, with almost every component being rewritten based on first-principles physics and real-world data. Highlights include an upgraded lighting and sound environment, seasonal effects, new aircraft and a realistic weather engine.
The global scenery features a new photometric HDR lighting system with varying brightness, intensity and spread, which is computed in real time. The X-Plane world now features ambient FMOD sounds for the entire planet with birds in forests, cars in the cities and ground service vehicles at airports.
3D water rendering has been upgraded globally so the water colours will match the real world; for example, tropical regions will have tropical water colours, etc. The wave height is also weather dependent and will change according to the weather conditions. The float plane physics is also modelled based on feedback from actual pilots and aircraft will interact with different wave conditions.
New 3D forests contain a variety of species and trees that sway in the wind. Seasonal and weather effects are also modelled with snow, ice and rain accumulation. Tree colours and leaf coverage also change depending on the season.
X-Plane 12 includes detailed 3D scenery for more than 17,000 airports worldwide with new ground textures, towers and pavement effects. The suite of utilities enabling artists to create custom airports has also been upgraded. A new tower kit features different control towers and animated jetways as well as a library of pavement effects to customise the level of cracking, oil spills, pavement material, etc.
The ATC system has also been improved to allow realistic procedures to be followed. Air traffic controllers now have different accents depending on location and will follow real-world regional ATC procedures.
A new weather engine features realistic 3D volumetric clouds and a proprietary weather algorithm to inject data from the real world into X-Plane. Various effects such as wake turbulence, microbursts and thermals are also modelled. Moreover, precipitation now accumulates on surfaces with freezing or thawing based on the actual temperature.
The Early Access version includes 19 high-quality aircraft with full 3-D cockpits. The default aircraft from X-Plane 11 have been extensively upgraded with improved flight dynamics and systems to bring them to modern-day standards. Additionally, seven new aircraft have been added, including the F-14 Tomcat, Airbus A330, Cessna Citation X, Cirrus SR22, Robinson R22, Van's Aircraft RV-10, Piper PA-18 Supercub and the Lancair Evolution.
The Early Access version of X-Plane 12 is available on Windows, Mac and Linux. Like with previous versions of X-Plane, free updates will be available for the lifespan of v12. Access to X-Plane 11 is also included in case any add-ons are not yet compatible with X-Plane 12.
X-Plane 12 is available as a download from www.x-plane.com for $59.99. A free demo version is also available.