Microsoft Flight makes its official return, and it’ll be yours for free in the spring

Microsoft Flight Icon A5When the call went out in December for beta testers to give the new edition of Microsoft’s classic flight sim a go, there were very few details on the game. Today though, the company has spilled the beans on Microsoft Flight, and it’s out in the spring.

Interestingly, Microsoft has chosen the hugely popular — with developers and publishers, at least — freemium gaming model for it’s newly resurrected franchise. Flight will be free to download and the game will offer players the chance to fly over Hawaii’s Big Island, but in the future new aircraft and locations will come at a price.

Microsoft hasn’t gone into much detail on what players can expect, aside from saying the new locations with have variable weather specific to the region, authentic terrain and recognizable landmarks too.

The free version will come with one plane, the ICON A5. Designed by the same team behind Virgin Galactic’s SpaceShipTwo, it’s a concept two-seater with a car-like cockpit and an amphibious, carbon-fiber frame. The real thing is supposed to make the complex business of flying a plane a little more accessible, making it the perfect introductory aircraft for Microsoft Flight.

By signing in with a Games for Windows Live account, players will also get the classic Boeing Stearman biplane trainer, some extra missions and their own set of achievements to unlock. Microsoft promises regular content updates, and a daily “aerocache” challenge, which appears to be something like a geocaching-style treasure hunt in the sky.

While this makes it sound like Microsoft has gone a little soft with the notoriously simulation-heavy game, there’s no need to worry, as we’re promised it’ll still have authentic flight procedures and customizable controls depending on player’s skill level. But it’s clear the game has been tweaked to make it more attractive to the casual player too.

The beta sign-ups are still open if you want to have a fly now, and the game will be on display during CES next week. Microsoft Flight will be officially released in the spring.