New user interface
The first impact users have with a sim is usually the UI or User Interface. Although this is not an aspect that makes or breaks a sim (X-Plane has been a terrific sim with an awful UI for years), it's always nice to have a comfortable tool to work with settings and create our flights.
Laminar promised and, in my opinion, delivered. I love the new UI. It's very solid, very comfortable to the eye and it gives me the feeling that everything's very polished and in their own places.
The model's not bad and the cockpit is quite all right. We have been used to not have amazingly good aircraft on the sims we use and it's kinda of a general unspoken rule that default aircraft are just that: default. If you want something really good, you'll have to wait for a 3rd-party addon. A sim is kinda like a sandbox so that others can do their wonders.
That's the S-76 for me. It's nice, but not good. I will probably fly it as often as I flew the B206 in X-Plane 10: pretty much never.
DreamFoil, get working! We need you!
What can I say? See the screenshots. With a tiny little GeForce GT650M I can have this quality and still have around 15-20 FPS. That's NOT a lot and barely what is needed to fly helicopters (I'd say 25-30 is the minimum) but that's a LOT of eye candy there that I can remove and it will still look good.
Of course, I need a new machine. Any sponsors out there?
In a good gaming rig, I have no doubt the framerate will be very friendly and this version will make a lot of people happy.
"The rest" is pretty much everything else that actually makes for a good sim. This is X-Plane 11, guys. It inherits from 10 and brings a lot of nice stuff to the plate. Is the UI and the eye candy enough to make you drop another US$60? Probably not. In all fairness, I've seen people pay much more attention to eye candy than they do to the actual flight model and physics.
I have no doubt people will be willing to move to XP11 just because it's prettier. I bet they would do it even if the flight model was worse. But Laminar is promising a lot more and I like what I see so far.
I have a better experience overall and, despite my poor, tired Asus laptop, I see myself having a lot of fun with X-Plane in the future.
Let's wait for the final release.