Finally Prepar3d has been released in glorious 64bit, much to every flight sim pilot’s delight! It’s been a tough time getting addons to work with it but the end result is amazing.
Prepar3D or P3D was derived from FSX in a way. Lockheed Martin obtained ESP technology from Microsoft and have built on that and produced P3D. In November 2010, Lockheed Martin debuted Prepar3D 1.0, as a training application for educational, civil, military, and aviation professionals.There are numerous licences, the one we used in our test was the Academic license priced at about $59.95 (price at time of writing this article). For more info on the various licenses click here to find out more. Features of P3D include a Virtual world with 40 high-detail cities and more than 24,900 airports, realistic air traffic control, Modifiable real-time weather system, continuous time of day, seasons and a variety of lighting effects and a large library of aircraft and scenery addons.
Like FSX P3D has a huge library of aircraft available to it, the list of aircraft with P3D is found here.
FSX and P3D share a lot of add on scenery. The excellent FTX ORBX scenery has FSX and P3D installers, if you have FSX then in a lot of instances you can install into P3D too if you have the installer. For examle ORBX has an installer for FSX and P3D, Captain Sim the same as well as a lot of the Aerosoft Mega Airport Series. However one big disappointment is that if you own the excellent PMDG aircraft for FSX you WILL need to purchase the aircraft again for P3D! This can be costly if you are moving from FSX to P3D and want the PMDG aircraft as well. Qualitywings 757 collection however does have an isntaller for FSX and P3D an you can happily use the qualitywings 757 aircraft for both FSX and P3D. TRhe excellent Captain Sim 1011 aircraft as below work with P3D and no need to purchase a seperate license to use with P3D.
Captain Sim 1011 P3D Captain Sim 1011 in flight with FTX orbx Scenery for P3D
Please check however before installing, most developers will have notes on P3D installation and use. In our experience all the top developers we used in our test as mentioned had a P3D installer except for PMDG.
The great thing about P3D unlike FSX is it is not stuck on older DX9 or DX 10 technology for its graphics. It currently makes use of DX12 which allow it to take advantage of moern day graphics cards features. This means increased performance, virtual cockpit shadows, HDR Lightining, fog, better clouds and weather and high quality 4096 x 4096 texture limits are available. No need for any DX fixer to make it look better. The framerates are also much better with the same scenery and aircraft as its FSX cousin. In our tests over 20 FPS better than FSX in the same scenario
Again this is the same as for FSX, Virtual cockpit capabilities allow exact replications of 3D cockpits with fully interactive displays and representative physical switches.
Captain Sim 1011 for P3D
Cockpits depend onthe aircraft but good qaulity aircraft such as Captain Sim, PMDG and Quality Wings have amazingly realistic cockpits and fully functional switches and buttons. Check the aircraft before purchasing or downloading to see if they have 3D and detailed cockpits. Most these days have 3D cockpits.
Despite plenty of activities again no real pilot career mode in P3D either, something hugely lacking in a lot of the flight simualtors, it would be nice to have some sort of Pilot career mode but it does have plenty of activities. Also the number and type of activities depend on the version of P3D you have.
P3D has hundred of addons probably a little less than FSX, however you wont lack for addon options. A lot of FSX addons also include a P3D installer so you can install the same product for P3D. UK2000 Scenery airports, Aerosoft Airports and DreamTeams Ground Services for example all have FSX and P3D installers. As P3D was originally in away born from FSX this is the reason why there are so many compatibilites between FSX and P3D.
Scenery resources are extensive and like the Addons a lot of the huge FSX libarary can be used with P3D if there is an installer. The leading Scenery developers like ORBX do have dual FSX and P3D installers so again if you owned FSX and move to P3D and had OrbX scenery you should be able to use the installer to install to P3D as we did with our test rigs.
FTX Orbx P3D Mega Airports by Aerosoft for P3D
Another major scenery developer MegaScenery Earth also provides support for P3D. To summarise P3D is very well supported in both addons and scenery. probably after FSX has the most Addons and Developer Support!
P3D has a very similar replay system to FSX , in fact its virtually identical. You can replay your flight and set a playback time for example if you want to just see the last 6o seconds of your flight, you simply type 60 into the replay box and it will start from 60 seconds ago. Simple.
V4 is the newest iteration. It is 64 bit, so no more worries for OOM or out of memory errors for long-haul flights or complex scenery presently.
Not the best platform for simmers who are cash-strapped because many of the scenery airports and planes are payware.
Very large selection of payware for P3D v3.4. P3D v4.x+ will have just as wide of variety of selection of aircraft in the next few months, but first the payware devs need to port over their work into v4 because it is 64 bit (and versions 3.4 and earlier were 32 bit).
Best platform in terms of choice of selection for jetliners. Payware planes like the FSLabs A320 have some of the most comprehensive and accurate systems commercial flight sims have to offer today in 2017.
Does not look as good “out of the box” as X-Plane. To make it look fantastic or to the level of X-Plane 11, you will need to spend anywhere from ~$70 USD minimum (just for the OrbX base package) upwards of $200 USD or more.
Has an End User License Agreement (EULA) that states that P3D cannot technically be used for entertainment, but that provision is frequently ignored and virtually never enforced as of June 2018.