Flight sims make perfect sense for VR, but there are precious few offerings out there on the market. Imagine our delight when Flight Unlimited popped up on Oculus Go, then. Sadly, this is not the VR flight sim you’re looking for, and it’s not a great arcade experience either.
This is a bit of an odd one. Though the name is slightly different, it appears to be a port of a PC game called Flight Unlimited 2K18, which described itself as a ‘casual flight simulator’ (incidentally, there doesn’t seem to be a link to the classic Flight Unlimited trilogy from the 90’s). That game never left Early Access since launch in 2017, holds a ‘Mostly Negative’ Steam ranking and appears to have become a bit of a joke for YouTubers to play around with. Not the most encouraging start.
The Go version of the game definitely keeps things casual. Upon booting up the app you’ll find yourself sitting in a fairly detailed cockpit. But instead of setting about learning what every knob and switch does, you’re relegated to just controlling the throttle, the wing flaps, breaks and the landing gear. You steer by treating the Go’s controller as if it were a flight stick.
Though it’s removed much of the detail you might be hoping for, playing Flight Unlimited can actually be a pretty fun experience in a goofy sort of way. The motion controls are highly sensitive, so trying to stay on course can be a challenge. But the missions involve some enjoyable challenges, like landing a plane on the Golden Gate Bridge. Crash and you’ll most likely be treated to a stomach-churning tumble into the river and some violently-clipping assets to chuckle at.
As daft a delight Flight Unlimited can be, though, it’s not a great port to VR. The game more or less appears to be a straight conversion of the PC title with the little done to update it. In fact, sometimes it’s less than that; in the main menu, if you turn your head slightly you’ll see a hastily-added, staggeringly blurry and warped image of an aircraft hanger that looks like this.
Not only that, but the scale inside cockpits ranges from acceptable to hilariously enlarged. It’s like some craft have been designed for giants, and it gives you absolutely no sense of ‘being there’.
It’s a shame, because there are some genuinely impressive sights in the game, taking Go’s limited power into consideration. Soaring above a Google Maps-flat San Francisco might not be the most convincing experience, but it’s fun to pick out 3D landmarks. The same is true of Vegas, although anything that’s not an iconic hotel seems to pretty much be a grey box.
So, no, I wouldn’t recommend splashing out on Flight Unlimited; you’re better off sticking with something like Ultrawings. It’s far too simplistic and goofy for the flight sim crowd and slap-dash VR implementation makes it hard to justify for anyone with a more casual interest in the genre. The search for VR’s ultimate flight sim doesn’t end here.