• Review: Lockheed Martin Prepar3D v4

    Weather

    Prepar3D comes with 17 pre-set weather themes. These include all the originals from FSX, along with seven presets by Orbx.

    The Orbx themes are well-made and provide an extra challenge, while at the same time ensuring the weather stays realistic in terms of visibility and cloud layers. If you enjoy flying in stormy situations or want realistic static weather, then these additional themes definitely trump those of the default presets!

    Prepar3D v4     Prepar3D v4

    There is also a full weather customisation tool, allowing you to create your own worldwide weather within P3D. This includes customising visibility, cloud layers, cloud types, temperature, wind direction, wind speed, precipitation and air pressure, to name a few. This is a really comprehensive tool and can be used to create just about any weather pattern you can think of, from clear sunny skies to that of the apocalypse!

    There is however no 'Real-World Weather' option. While FSX had the ability to source this from real-world METAR information, this feature was dropped by Lockheed Martin, presumably to save licensing costs of the source data, especially while there are better payware options available.

    Freeware And Payware

    There are thousands of add-ons available for Prepar3D v4, but initially when the platform was released, there was definitely a gap in compatible aircraft and scenery!

    As Prepar3D v4 compiles scenery in 64-bit and uses Microsoft DirectX 11, a number of popular add-ons had compatibility issues (gauges were non-functioning and some exterior models were invisible). This meant developers had to re-compile these through the new Prepar3D v4 SDK, ensuring that everything in the simulator back-end would be functional.

    Prepar3D v4     Prepar3D v4

    Most if not all major FSX developers now work on Prepar3D, including PMDG, Orbx, Aerosoft, Milviz, Just Flight, REX and Flight1 amongst others. This had lead to some incredibly highly detailed aircraft with functionality not too dissimilar to real-world training tools - something that Lockheed Martin pride themselves on.

    What about the freeware scene? Unfortunately, it's not so big. While X-Plane 11 has a plethora of quality freeware add-ons to choose from, Prepar3D lacks in this area. Personally I feel this is mainly down to the fact that as a platform, Prepar3D is only built to have high-end aircraft with full systems cockpit simulation, something that the majority of FSX freeware lacked, and therefore does not fit their ethos.

    There is almost an imbalance to this, as while P3D has plenty of very good payware add-ons, it lacks in the freeware department, whereas X-Plane excels in the freeware category, but falls behind slightly with the better-known payware developers (up until very recently at least).

    What Have We Lost?

    Looking back at FSX, there are only two things that I can see that has gone astray.

    Prepar3D v4     Prepar3D v4

    The first, as previously mentioned, is real-world weather. You can no longer tell the simulator to pull data from METAR stations to populate the world with updating realistic weather. While not a major loss as there are add-ons that can do this (and let's be honest, FSX didn't do this particularly well anyway), it still would have been nice to see Prepar3D with a feature that did this or similar, especially as Lockheed Martin packages P3D as a training tool.

    The other I have noticed is multiplayer. FSX had a massive multiplayer scene built-in through the former Game Spy network and later via Steam, with people connecting to servers and flying together in both serious and light-hearted scenarios. This however, is understandable as to why it didn't make it to P3D, mainly as Lockheed Martin do not have the provisions to run multiplayer servers, and those who are looking for a serious setup have options like VATSIM, IVAO and PilotEdge already available to them.

    Besides these two, a lot has been added to P3D in which to ensure it becomes the next-generation ESP simulation.


    27 Comments
    1. ftldave's Avatar
      ftldave -
      Michael intentionally made a glaring omission in the review: P3D - still not licensed for recreational or hobby use. The ugly rotten albatross hanging around P3D's neck since its beginning.
    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Very nice review Michael, and as you pointed out, for those looking for a simulator which aids them in their studies, this is the way to go.

      Good luck with your own career as a pilot!

      W33
    1. mlam's Avatar
      mlam -
      Quote Originally Posted by ftldave View Post
      Michael intentionally made a glaring omission in the review: P3D - still not licensed for recreational or hobby use. The ugly rotten albatross hanging around P3D's neck since its beginning.
      And that's not going to change. It's the thing that's held me back from purchasing. The $200 price tag I can live with - but at the end of the day if I'm completely honest, I really don't qualify for any of the licenses. Maybe "learning"? After nearly 30 years of flight simming though, how much more am I going to learn?

      X-Plane is probably the future for me in flight simming.
    1. pugilist2's Avatar
      pugilist2 -
      Great review! I agree, P3D really needs an updated database and airports.
    1. anaismith's Avatar
      anaismith -
      I have had every instance of P3D since v1 but have never warmed to any of them. I cannot abide the start up interface and aircraft selection screens which are clunky. FSX was superior there. Plus I have so much invested in FSX payware wise that FSX remains my go to sim. I have no intention of starting all over again in purchases. XP11 may well be the future (I have that too) but has no seasons and again cannot warm to it.
    1. ryogahibiki345's Avatar
      ryogahibiki345 -
      Quote Originally Posted by anaismith View Post
      I have had every instance of P3D since v1 but have never warmed to any of them. I cannot abide the start up interface and aircraft selection screens which are clunky. FSX was superior there. Plus I have so much invested in FSX payware wise that FSX remains my go to sim. I have no intention of starting all over again in purchases. XP11 may well be the future (I have that too) but has no seasons and again cannot warm to it.
      The aircraft selection screens are just about the same. I like the ability to favorite aircraft and show only the ones I fly most often. It's much more stream lined in every sense of the word. The only thing for me that changed is the in world menu. Used to I could hit Alt+A to bring up the aircraft menu but now it's Alt+E for 'Vehicles', not the end of the world but it was hard to get used to after being with Sub-Logic Flight Simulator since the C-64 days, all the way to FSX. It's not clunky you just have to get used to it.
    1. Roger Wensley's Avatar
      Roger Wensley -
      Well some things I learned from that were interesting, that Xplane 11 has no seasons (plus no or little atc?) and P3D has lousy scenery and few aircraft. FS9 plus investments and several hundred free airports seems the way to go.
    1. scottm's Avatar
      scottm -
      I'm holding off until I see the large list of addons that will be disabled/crash the sim with this new V5.... a certain developer's WXR seems to always flake out when there's an incremental update. But I hope that won't be the case this time.
    1. DavidN16's Avatar
      DavidN16 -
      I believe it is too early to switch to P3D v4 [64 bit] (stay with P3D v3 [32 bit]) as there just isn't much in the way of freeware scenery or aircraft that will work in the sim.

      If you stay with version 3, you can still use a lot of the FSX freeware. So, upgrading the standard P3D airports you need are available to you to install what you want.

      A weather program ought to be included with P3D for that price.

      As for joining up with other FSX, XP and P3D simmers .. simply using the freeware program JoinFS. It works perfect for joining all the platforms (it's apparently not rocket science to get it done.)

      As long a hobbyists continue to support the 32 bit format, I am happy simmer.
    1. gt401964's Avatar
      gt401964 -
      I'm more than happy with my FSX Steam and P3D V2. All my FSX addon/payware aircraft and ORBX scenery work in it. Except my PMDG which do not allow a double install. P3D works so much smoother than Steam I must say and loads quicker.
    1. anaismith's Avatar
      anaismith -
      Quote Originally Posted by Roger Wensley View Post
      Well some things I learned from that were interesting, that Xplane 11 has no seasons (plus no or little atc?) and P3D has lousy scenery and few aircraft. FS9 plus investments and several hundred free airports seems the way to go.
      I almost totally agree. A well modded FS9 gives them more recent sims a run for their money. Plus on modern machines it runs so well. MSFS peaked with FS9 in many ways.
    1. rooitou's Avatar
      rooitou -
      Quote Originally Posted by anaismith View Post
      I have had every instance of P3D since v1 but have never warmed to any of them. I cannot abide the start up interface and aircraft selection screens which are clunky. FSX was superior there. Plus I have so much invested in FSX payware wise that FSX remains my go to sim. I have no intention of starting all over again in purchases. XP11 may well be the future (I have that too) but has no seasons and again cannot warm to it.
      I agree with everything you say; FSX start-up and aircraft selection screens are far superior to clunky P3D. Still prefer FSX, especially due to steep price hikes of add-ons for P3D4 and many developers (eg Aerosoft, A2A, Simskunkworks) requiring separate purchases for the same thing.
    1. nathantw's Avatar
      nathantw -
      Quote Originally Posted by mlam View Post
      And that's not going to change. It's the thing that's held me back from purchasing. The $200 price tag I can live with - but at the end of the day if I'm completely honest, I really don't qualify for any of the licenses. Maybe "learning"? After nearly 30 years of flight simming though, how much more am I going to learn?

      X-Plane is probably the future for me in flight simming.
      I've been flight simming since its inception. I'm still learning. I purchased Aerosoft A320/A321 and it's like I just went back to school. Don't kid yourself. There's still a lot of learning out there.
    1. zswobbie1's Avatar
      zswobbie1 -
      Nice review.
      Guys, it's a review of a sim, NOT an opening for comparisons between different sims & personal choices.
      Obviously we have our favorites. It's purely a review, NOT what is better than other sims & moist certainly not a debate on licence requirements at all. Those type of comments do not belong here, as we are not internet police!.

      Remember, those serious simmers are learning all the time, just as serious real pilots are.

      Nels, thanks for the review. Much appreciated.

      Regards,
      Robin
    1. Rupert's Avatar
      Rupert -
      Yes it's good review. Having said that, obviously the reviewer wasn't reviewing the "updated" P3D. As of the latest update several aircraft mentioned in the review have been deleted. For example there are no Beechcraft there anymore.

      if you still have Beechcraft aircraft in your P3D don't update it!
    1. jacklyon2's Avatar
      jacklyon2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by DavidN16 View Post
      I believe it is too early to switch to P3D v4 [64 bit] (stay with P3D v3 [32 bit]) as there just isn't much in the way of freeware scenery or aircraft that will work in the sim.

      If you stay with version 3, you can still use a lot of the FSX freeware. So, upgrading the standard P3D airports you need are available to you to install what you want.

      A weather program ought to be included with P3D for that price.

      As for joining up with other FSX, XP and P3D simmers .. simply using the freeware program JoinFS. It works perfect for joining all the platforms (it's apparently not rocket science to get it done.)

      As long a hobbyists continue to support the 32 bit format, I am happy simmer.
      Most of "native FSX freeware", works well on P3DV4.x
      The others freeware, most of them, was (or are going), converted to P3DV4.x
      Most of "native FSX payware", works OK also on P3DV4.x
      And the others payware, (the more complex and expensive ones), are also been converted to P3DV4.x
    1. jacklyon2's Avatar
      jacklyon2 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ftldave View Post
      Michael intentionally made a glaring omission in the review: P3D - still not licensed for recreational or hobby use. The ugly rotten albatross hanging around P3D's neck since its beginning.
      They will never, write on the site "entertaiment allowed", because if they do that, the Microsoft lawyers will make a party on.

      But, the true is after, Dovetail, sunk the "ESP entertaiment license", is that is hard to believe that someone other, will try to fight
      with Lockheed, on FS market. and re-buy the "entertaiment license".

      So, ESP entertaiment license, is dead... and the only reason that P3D is not officialy for "entertaiment", is that they not want to pay (again) to Microsoft

      By the way, Microsoft was smart, they sold two time the same product/license/code... one to Lockheed, and after to Dovetail,
      with the great marketing idea of "entertaiment FS" or "serious FS"....
    1. zswobbie1's Avatar
      zswobbie1 -
      Quote Originally Posted by ftldave View Post
      Michael intentionally made a glaring omission in the review: P3D - still not licensed for recreational or hobby use. The ugly rotten albatross hanging around P3D's neck since its beginning.
      Guys, this is a review, NOT a debate about P3D's different licensings.

      It is totally irrelevant to what the review is all about. P3D's licensings have been debated on every single sim forum to death, & has no place when commenting about a review.

      Non of us are 'official' internet police, & finger waving has no place here. nor has any debate about FS2004, X-Plane or any other sim.

      A word of thanks to the Michael, who compiled the review would be most welcome, as it is obviously not easy to write something to share with fellow simmers, who, as we know, tend to nit-pick evrything!

      Be thankful & gratefull, guys!
    1. howlak's Avatar
      howlak -
      Thanks for the review, Michael
      I expected in the comments, lets say, more "user info".
      From my side V4.5 has made a great improvement in scenery loading and night lights. As user of FS9, FSX, FSX-SE, and Prepar3D from V1 to 4.5 (the subject of this review), this version is the best of the MSFS saga.
      Agree with Michael that the scenery should be renewed, but seems that LM has given this business to ORBX.
    1. punnett's Avatar
      punnett -
      I don't agree with Robin, it's good to hear people's view on the different sim's. I have been trying to decide for months but don't want to give up all my fsx freeware and payware.
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