A few months ago I reviewed the casual-focused Microsoft Flight. Apparently I was the only gamer who didn’t view it as a personal assault against all of sim culture. If even reading its name tortures your ulcer, just get yourself a license for Xplane and never want again. I was a believer in the concept of a small free-to-play flight sim that focused on VFR flights. The aerocash hunts, missions and unlocks were a great idea and made a genuinely fun flight sim. But for all of MS Flight‘s inventiveness, it seems that most of the creativity went into making the DLC a rip-off in new and exciting ways.
The first warning should’ve been the Hawaiian Adventures expansion. It opened up the game to all the islands, new missions, and even a new plane. Not too bad for $20, right? There’s a good bit of content to keep you busy, and the powerful Vans is fun to fly. However, if you want to try any of the medic evac or cargo-hauling missions, you’ll need to purchase the Maule, which is available for a staggering $14.99.
It’s not the prices that are the problem, though. This is pretty standard in Sim Land. Just look at Railworks, whose catalog features thousands of dollars worth of DLC. Microsoft Flight Sim X scenery packs regularly sell for much more than what Flight charges. Simming is an expensive hobby, even casual ones like Flight.
The problem is that if you actually want to try the new stuff in your expansion pack, you’ll have to buy even more DLC. Hawaiian Adventures doesn’t cost $20, it costs $35, but you’d never know that until you’ve spent yourself more than halfway there. It’s like buying a used car and realizing later it doesn’t just need an oil change, but a new radiator too. Surprise!
Recently, a pack containing the entire Alaskan wilderness was released in the same $20 format. The pack comes with a Carbon Cub to fly and lots of tiny airstrips at which to land. Yet the Cub doesn’t even come with a cockpit. That’s right, you can only fly the Carbon Cub in third-person mode. The devs say that a virtual cockpit is on the way, but I have a bad tingling feeling that it’ll cost me. Oh, and it still requires the Maule.
F2P can work; just ask Turbine. Heck, if anything, F2P made their games better. This isn’t Day 1 DLC outrage or overpriced garbage (Saints Row the Third, I’m looking at you), but a whole new way to get screwed. When you start holding back content from DLC packs to sell as other DLC packs, you find yourself three-layers deep into the Russian nesting doll of shame.