Microsoft Flight Simulator delivers a complete digital recreation of planet Earth, but it’s only the start of a multi-year journey. The title provides a platform for future updates to come, and is also supported by a growing community of third-party developers and their content. Microsoft Flight Simulator already features a wide selection of mods and add-ons, and more are added all the time, both in the official Marketplace and from a variety of other sources, further cementing MSFS as one of the best PC games around.
The MSFS Marketplace provides a hassle-free channel to access new content from both Asobo Studio and third-party developers, but it can be hard to know where to start or what content is worth your attention (and much of the content is premium). Outside of the Marketplace, there are innumerable sources for additional MSFS content. Now that Microsoft Flight Simulator is on Xbox, there are more people than ever with eyes on the game, asking what the best mods and add-ons are.
Here are our picks for the best mods and add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator.
The end result is one of the most visually stunning and technically impressive video games of all time, and a title that, especially after numerous post-launch updates, caters to both flight sim veterans and casual players. Asobo Studio truly knocked it out of the park, but the original release was limited to powerful gaming PCs. However, Asobo Studio recently brought Microsoft Flight Simulator to Xbox, a fantastic port that immediately became the showcase for Xbox Series X|S consoles and made Microsoft Flight Simulator one of the best Xbox games for those interested in a premier flight sim.
Both the list of Microsoft Flight Simulator airports and the list of Microsoft Flight Simulator aircraft are impressively extensive, and continue to improve over time. MSFS even gives players ways to augment their flight sim experience with optional first-party and third-party content from the official Microsoft Flight Simulator Marketplace or external sources.
This might include additional planes or airports, improvements to existing planes or locations, visual and quality-of-life improvements, new activities and missions, custom liveries, and more. Microsoft Flight Simulator is absolutely the premier flight simulator available right now, and is even more unique thanks to its recent Xbox launch.
What are the best mods and add-ons for Microsoft Flight Simulator?
Microsoft Flight Simulator Premium Deluxe Upgrade — Asobo Studio
- Available from the Microsoft Flight Simulator Marketplace for $85
- Compatible with PC and Xbox
Microsoft Flight Simulator includes three different editions from which to choose, ranging from the base game to the Premium Deluxe Edition with 20 additional DLC add-ons. If you only purchased the base game of Microsoft Flight Simulator, or are playing through Xbox Game Pass, you may be wondering how you can obtain the high-quality additions of the Premium Deluxe Edition without paying full price for the entire game.
Fortunately, the Microsoft Flight Simulator Marketplace provides exactly this option with the Premium Deluxe Upgrade add-on, which is available for a pretty decent discount over the full Premium Deluxe Edition of the game. The Premium Deluxe Upgrade for Microsoft Flight Simulator includes 10 new aircraft and 10 handcrafted enhanced airports.
- Diamond Aircraft DA40-TDI
- Diamond Aircraft DV20
- Textron Aviation Beechcraft Baron G58
- Textron Aviation Cessna 152 Aerobat
- Textron Aviation Cessna 172 Skyhawk
- Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner
- Cirrus Aircraft SR22
- Pipistrel Virus SW 121
- Textron Aviation Cessna Citation Longitude
- Zlin Aviation Shock Ultra
- Amsterdam Airport Schiphol (Netherlands)
- Cairo International Airport (Egypt)
- Cape Town International Airport (South Africa)
- O’Hare International Airport (USA)
- Adolfo Suárez Madrid–Barajas Airport (Spain)
- Denver International Airport (USA)
- Dubai International Airport (United Arab Emirates)
- Frankfurt Airport (Germany)
- Heathrow Airport (United Kingdom)
- San Francisco International Airport (USA)
Microsoft Flight Simulator World Updates — Asobo Studio
- Available from the Microsoft Flight Simulator Marketplace for free
- Compatible with PC and Xbox
Since its launch, Asobo Studio has attempted to add new content to Microsoft Flight Simulator every single month, usually in the form of World Updates. These free content add-ons provide a variety of visual and gameplay enhancements to specific areas of the world, amping up the realism in Microsoft Flight Simulator to new levels. To date, there have been five Microsoft Flight Simulator World Updates, with a sixth one announced during the Xbox Gamescom 2021 event.
All of these World Updates are completely free and available through the Marketplace, but players need to download them manually.
- World Update I: Japan. The first World Update includes enhanced digital elevation mapping for Japan, enhancements for six cities (Sendai, Takamatsu, Tokushima, Tokyo, Utsunomiya, and Yokohama), enhancements for six airports (Hachijojima, Kerama, Kushiro, Nagasaki, Shimojishima, and Suwanosejima), 18 custom Points of Interest (POIs), improved countrysides and architecture, and three new activities.
- World Update II: USA. The second World Update includes enhanced digital elevation mapping and aerial imagery for several states in the USA, four enhanced airports (Atlanta, Dallas/Fort Worth, Friday Harbor, and New York Stewart), visual and logistical improvements to 48 additional airports, nearly 50 custom POIs, and two new activities.
- World Update III: United Kingdom & Ireland. The third World Update includes enhanced digital elevation mapping for the U.K. and Ireland, five enhanced cities (Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, London, and Oxford), five enhanced airports (Barra, Liverpool, Land’s End, Manchester-Barton, and Out Skerries), visual and logistical improvements to 85 additional airports, new architecture and landmarks, over 70 custom POIs, and three new activities.
- World Update IV: France, Belgium, Netherlands, & Luxembourg. The fourth World Update includes enhanced digital mapping and aerial imagery for France, Belgium, Netherlands, and Luxembourg, two enhanced cities (Paris and Amsterdam), three enhanced airports (Megève, Nice, and Rotterdam), visual and logistical improvements to 100 additional airports, and two new activities.
- World Update V: Nordics. The fifth World Update includes improvements to landscape details and architecture, five enhanced airports (Bornholm, Ísafjörður, Stockholm Arlanda, Svalbard, Vaasa), visual and logistical improvements to 100 additional airports, 77 custom POIs, and 10 new activities.
- World Update VI: Germany, Austria, and Switzerland. The sixth World Update will arrive in Microsoft Flight Simulator on Sept. 7, 2021, and includes enhanced digital elevation mapping and aerial imagery for Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, five enhanced cities (Frankfurt, Wuppertal, Basel, Graz, and Vienna), four enhanced airports (Lübeck, Stuttgart, Klagenfurt, and St. Gallen), 100 custom POIs, and lots of new activities.
A32NX — FlyByWire Simulations
The Airbus A320 family of airliners are some of the most popular and instantly recognizable aircraft in the world, and the A320neo is one of the standard aircraft included in Microsoft Flight Simulator. However, the community quickly realized that Asobo Studio’s implementation of the A320neo was far from perfect, and a group of talented creators (who go by FlyByWire Simulations) set out to improve upon the base.
The A32NX mod adds a whole range of improvements to the default A320neo, including an all-new cockpit interior supported by the anecdotes of dozens of real-world A320 pilots, and various other enhancements all over the aircraft. If you want to fly this legendary aircraft with the highest degree of realism, this is the mod for you.
FlyByWire Simulations is a smaller group of creators who work on this project when they can, so new developments and features can be slow to arrive at times. Still, as the A32NX mod stands right now, it’s already a fantastic addition to Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Boeing 747-8 — Salty Simulations
- Available from GitHub for free
- Compatible with PC
In a similar vein to the A32NX mod listed above, Salty Simulations has worked tirelessly to introduce a ton of improvements to the beastly Boeing 747-8 airliner, which dominates any sky it’s flying in. Improvements include internal and external textures and a myriad of additions and enhancements to the cockpit, which is, at least to hardcore flight simulator users, the most crucial part of an aircraft, and certainly the most important to get right.
The 747-8 is a truly massive aircraft, so only the most confident of pilots should settle down in the cockpit, but with Salty Simulations mod, you’re at least guaranteed it’ll look as real as possible. You’ll have to grab this mod from GitHub versus other “more official” MSFS add-on sources, but the installation process is still relatively painless.
Airbus H135 Helicopter — Hype Performance Group
Microsoft Flight Simulator boasts of an impressive number of aircraft across all purposes, ranges, and sizes, and the number continues to grow over time. However, one category of air-capable transportation that players missed at launch was the inclusion of helicopters, which add an entirely different dynamic to your flying experience. Fortunately, courtesy of Hype Performance Group, you can achieve that dream in Microsoft Flight Simulator.
The Airbus H135 added via this add-on may not be explicitly perfect in every way, but it’s being constantly improved and iterated on over time. This mod is a lot of fun if you have ever fancied flying a helicopter over a bustling city or scenic countryside, and the H135 here looks great, is entirely functional, and even comes with different liveries from which to choose.
Liveries Mega Pack — Project Mega Pack
Microsoft Flight Simulator features a ludicrous amount of options and settings to configure your game exactly how you want it, but options for customizing individual aircraft tend to be limited. There’s currently an official “Aviator Club” livery pack in the MSFS Marketplace to celebrate how far the game has come, but it’s only one MSFS-branded livery for the default aircraft.
If you want to go above and beyond, there’s no better option than the Liveries Mega Pack, which to date includes well over 700 unique liveries across all of Microsoft Flight Simulator’s aircraft. The liveries are all high quality and offer a range of options from real-world liveries and brands to not-as-real options. This pack is genuinely impressive, but it’s also a lot to install.
If you want specific liveries from the pack, you can also install the option Livery Manager to customize which liveries from the pack are installed. Also, be sure to check out our guide on how to use custom liveries in Microsoft Flight Simulator for even more guidance on the subject.
We Love VFR — PuffinFlight
Microsoft Flight Simulator features unbelievably spectacular visuals, but plenty of finer details are sacrificed to achieve the grander scale the game enjoys. Some of these finer details are actually crucial to pilots looking for the most realistic experience in MSFS, as they provide visual cues in the world to align an aircraft. With the We Love VFR add-on from PuffinFlight, thousands of these objects are accurately placed all over the world.
The pack includes objects like communication towers, antennas, chimneys, construction cranes, and much more. There are two regions to We Love VFR, with each adding tens of thousands of new objects. Region 1 covers Europe and Asia, while Region 2 mostly covers North and South America.
Global AI Ship Traffic — KL791
Microsoft Flight Simulator features live AI traffic of aircraft that accurately follows real-world traffic or commercial aircraft, providing a greater sense of depth to the game. However, pilots that spend a lot of time by coasts or over oceans may have noticed a strange omission: ships are nowhere to be seen. With Global AI Ship Traffic, a similar solution to Microsoft Flight Simulator’s built-in live AI aircraft traffic is added, but for water vessels.
Dozens of kinds of ships are added in this add-on, including military vessels, cargo ships, cruise ships, fishing boats, and many more. What’s more, many of the most famous and well-known ships actually follow their real-world routes in-game, so you can find those ships while flying around if you want. MSFS is an impressive simulation experience, but the addition of ships takes it to a new level.
Bushtalk Radio — Bushtalk
Many Microsoft Flight Simulator players may just be looking for the realest virtual flight experience they can find, but more casual players may desire simply flying around and exploring parts of the world. For those who fall in the latter group, Bushtalk Radio is perfect. This optional add-on is entirely free (but does require an account), and acts as a “tour guide” of sorts for MSFS flights.
When you’re flying around, Bushtalk Radio will provide interesting facts and information about surrounding locations and points of interest, and can give you a greater sense of where you are in the world. This is a great add-on for casual flights, and pairs wonderfully with Microsoft Flight Simulator’s already existing Discovery Flights.
Orbx MSFS Products — Orbx
- Available from Orbx and the Microsoft Flight Simulator Marketplace for a range of prices
- Compatible with PC and sometimes Xbox
Finally, the last add-on for Microsoft Flight Simulators is actually a collection of MSFS mods. Orbx is one of the biggest creators for Microsoft Flight Simulator, and they’ve created mods for enhanced airports, locations, and much more. Some of their content is available in the Microsoft Marketplace, most of it through their website, and prices range from free to approximately $30 (although some may go higher).
Orbx creates quality mods and add-ons for MSFS, so any of their products are likely a safe bet to elevate your experience. There’s a lot to choose from, and unlike many of the other mods on this list, Orbx does have options in the MSFS Marketplace, meaning you can also install them on Xbox consoles!