Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 continues to be a bewildering beast. Flight sim fans are probably still floating high in dreamland after finding out Microsoft was bringing the beloved series back, although no one probably expected the end result to look as jaw-droppingly good as it does. As far as simulators go, MS Flight Simulator is about damn-near photorealistic as it’s seemingly feasible to get, aided by extensive satellite photography and the of Microsoft’s Azure cloud service.

A new ‘Discovery’ series is set to debut in early October, delving deeper into the digitally recreated planet which Microsoft is using as the basis for the ambitious flight simulator ever created. Teasing the upcoming series, Microsoft has dropped some preview footage showcasing a handful of environments we’ll be flying over at 700 mph, and the effect is astonishing.

We’re at that point now where you’d be hard-pressed to tell the difference from the real thing. The fly-over New York and the sub-urban townscape are great, but it’s the little details out in the middle of nowhere which really impress. The visible shallows by the coast are a highlight, as is the detail in the intensive agriculture. 

Most players are going to be spending a ton of time in Microsoft Flight Simulator twiddling their thumbs, eating those little bags of peanuts they hand out, looking at this, a digital recreation of seemingly our entire planet, streamed in through high-fidelity satellite data store on the ethereal cloud. Clouds powered by the cloud, we truly have reached our zenith.

Microsoft Flight Simulator is still tipped to launch in 2020 for PC and Xbox One.