Touch and Go on Arrakis – Microsoft Flight Simulator Dune Expansion Review

I love it when there are collaborations between Microsoft Flight Simulator and other brands. Over the last couple of years, we’ve seen the Top Gun Maverick content added which featured a lot of low altitude flying challenges with an F-18 – talk about great content as those challenges were mighty fun to do. I’m still happy I ended up near the Top 50 in the world on those challenges! We also had the Red Bull Bullseye Landing Challenge added to the sim. Additionally, we saw something a bit different as a fictional aircraft from the Halo universe was added, the Pelican.

Whether its collaborations based on real flight events, fictional events with real aircraft, or even fictional aircraft – I’m all for it! Thankfully the collaborations continue as Microsoft has teamed up with Legendary to release the Microsoft Flight Simulator Dune Expansion, and guess what, it absolutely does not disappoint!

The Microsoft Flight Simulator Dune Expansion is now available for free for both Xbox Series S/X and PC players. This is the first time in the 40+ years of Microsoft Flight Simulator that sim pilots can experience flying along the terrain of another world. The Dune Expansion adds 5 ‘Touch and Go’ Challenges and 1 Rescue Mission for players to partake in. Pilots get to fly the famous Royal Atreides Ornithopter from the Dune movies, an aircraft that features oscillating wings, afterburners, and exceptional control for traversing the world of Arrakis.

Dune Expansion – Canyon Rush Challenge

My first impressions of piloting the Royal Atreides Ornithopter were great – and that great experience got even better as I grew more familiar with it. The aircraft feels incredibly responsive and easy to control. This makes performing the touch and go challenges a lot of fun and honestly not all that challenging due to the superb control. However, the challenge will come in the form of how fast you can do it though. The faster you can touch and go and proceed to the next touch point will mean a higher ranking at the end of the challenge and a better overall seat on the leaderboard. Each challenge has 3 points for the player to touch down and then proceed to the next location. The third landing site is the final where you just need to touch down and conclude the challenge.

As mentioned, the Ornithopter is incredibly fun to fly, and it won’t take pilots that long to grow familiar with it. It features a short-fueled afterburner that if used constantly won’t last throughout the challenges. So, pilots will want to find the ideal times to use it (usually during take off to get back up to speed). It’s also fun gauging the power of the airbrakes – I’ve had a blast going into landing sites at full speed and then at the last second pulling out the landing gear and hitting the airbrakes for a perfectly timed quick landing. Obviously, go slow to begin and get familiar with the aircraft, but it’s so much fun – so much fun!!! – once you get familiar with it and go storming into landing sites. It makes these time-based challenges very enjoyable.

The other great thing about the Dune Expansion is that all of these missions are done on the world of Arrakis. It’s a new, sandy terrain to get used to and master. The lower you fly along the sand the faster you’ll go. Also, there are caverns for pilots to navigate in some of the missions and, of course, steep drops in elevation for pilots to engage the Ornithopter’s dive mode to quickly reach the ground below. As if the ‘thopter wasn’t already exciting enough to fly, but then add in the dive capability and my goodness – let’s go!! Check out the video below that features the dive functionality of the Ornithopter.

Dune Expansion – Mountain Dive Challenge

Each of the challenges ensures pilots get the full experience of the Ornithopter. Plus, the final mission concludes with a sandstorm and relies on everything taught in the prior challenges to prepare the pilot for a successful run in the rescue mission. It’s important to be as quick as possible otherwise pilots will get caught up in the sandstorm and fail the mission.

If you are a fan of Dune, then I can’t imagine any reason why you wouldn’t take flight immediately with the Royal Atreides Ornithopter in the Microsoft Flight Simulator Dune Expansion as it’s incredibly satisfying to fly! Even though the content can be completed fairly quickly, it’s absolutely a great addition to the sim. Plus, pilots can continue going back for more to better their rankings and scores for the leaderboard. And best of all, pilots can also take the Ornithopter anywhere on Earth as it is selectable from the aircraft menu.

So, who wants to be the first pilot to take the Ornithopter to Oshkosh for AirVenture 2024? Maybe I’ll do that next, but the first place I took it was to the Grand Canyon!

Flying the Ornithopter around the Grand Canyon