As weird as it seems, there is a flight simulator that works on the browser. And no, it’s not Google Earth. It’s something else, developed by a single person.
Have you ever been in vacation wished you could do some simming but your gaming computer is back home, waiting for you?
What if you could use a sim in your laptop (or mobile device) on a browser? Sounds weird? Well, I will be honest, it did as well for me (although I have done a simple browser sim in the past), but the idea is really cool and Geo-FS handles it pretty well.
Let me get this out of the way right from the start: you can’t obviously expect a full-blown sim. It’s not. Geo-FS is something else and I will explain exactly what it is and what you can take from it.
How I got to know Geo-FS
I never heard about Geo-FS until I found it, by accident, at FlightSimExpo back in 2019.
I was walking around the event, checking what was being exhibited on not-so-featured areas and I saw a small booth with a single person there, sitting in front of a computer, playing a sim I didn’t recognize. I approached the person and asked what it was.
“It’s a flight simulator running on a browser”, he replied.
The person I was talking to was Xavier Tassin, owner and the sole developer of Geo-FS, which is exactly what he told me it is: a flight simulator that runs on a browser.
I think my enthusiasm and interest with it caught Xavier by surprise. You see, I am a web developer. Doing stuff for the internet – stuff that works on browsers – is what I do for a living. And, like I said before, some years ago I even did a sort of a flight simulator in which you could fly around a Minecraft-ish scenery on your computer while using your phone as the yoke (your phone was controlling the aircraft in your computer). So, this was something I immediately related to!
I asked him to give it a try and talked to him for a bit longer. He explained me how it worked, how he was making money out of it (although the sim is free – more on that later) and we obviously talked about helicopters.
Throughout the day we kept on talking about Geo-FS and, obviously, helicopters and Xavier got interested in doing helicopters better.
Fast forward to October 2019, I met Xavier again at Flight Sim Show, in Cosford. It was great seeing him again and now he had news for me: he had a whole new helicopter, with a much better flight dynamics and he wanted me to try it.
So, I jumped in his brand-new EC-135 and off I went. There were a few things that needed to be tweaked but it was looking great already and
How it works
It’s all pretty simple, really. Geo-FS runs on any modern browser and it doesn’t require anything special. No fast internet, nothing.
You can play using your keyboard or mouse but also your joystick. Yes, browsers (the modern ones anyway) support joysticks.
The sim uses Microsoft’s Bing data scenery (on the HD version) to create the virtual world, so you can fly anywhere. There’s also a basic weather system and you can fly around with other players in a massively multiplayer environment!
There are groups of players that do fly-in events and play “missions” that they make up. There’s a thriving, living community of Geo-FS players around the world.
Using a browser for a sim, go figure!
Is it really free? What’s the catch?
Yes, it is free. You can use Geo-FS without paying anything, but you won’t have the HD textures. You can fly around anywhere, use all aircraft and all features. All of them, except the High Definition version. If you use the free version, you’ll be using a 10-meter-per-pixel texture set.
For €9,99 (about US$11) per year, you can unlock the HD version. More on that here.
OK but why? Why should I use it? It’s so limited!
It is limited. Systems are limited, the flight dynamics is limited, there’s a lot in the regular sims out there that you simply won’t see in Geo-FS. But that’s not the goal anyway.
Geo-FS was developed as a flight simulator for the masses. Something simple that everyone could use.
Kids around the world – in poor countries, for example – are using Geo-FS to fulfil their dream to fly (virtually) just like a lot of us do. But they are doing it on non-state-of-the-art computers. No huge downloads are required, no installation, nothing. Just open Geo-FS and have some fun.
It’s a wonderful tool for those that want to start simming but have no resources to do so. Or for “regular” simmers to go for a spin at the office during lunch break or when they are away from their simpits.
Got, it. Where do I start?
Just head out to www.geo-fs.com with your modern browser (please don’t use Internet Explorer 4) and enjoy it.
And if you’d like to get some better textures, no ads and support Xavier and this amazing project, subscribe to the HD version.