I have bought XP11 a week ago, after feeding on the MSFS series between 1996-2014 and from then on, LM P3D versions.
To be honest, I had high expectations. The reason why I bought XP11 is that I obtained my PPL (A) this July and was told by many that XP has far superior dynamics. Also, there seems to be way more general aviation stuff. So I said to myself, thousands of Euros spent on the "other platform" or not, I am gonna give XP11 a try.
I was initially quite pleasantly surprised. Even the default scenery looked acceptable, especially at night. Lighting, mood, and atmosphere are really "there" in XP11, Laminar nailed it. I'd love to see more 3D airports though, nothing fancy but at least a small building or hangar. But no big deal, it would be nitpicking to raise this as a concern.
After spending a week on XP11, having fun in the summer, I decided to check out how it looks in the winter. And then... bang... It looks exactly the same as in the summer. Seriously? Man, I had to doublecheck, triple check to actually believe that there are no seasons in this "superior" simulator. How realistic is it to spawn in northern Scandinavia, in Quebec, in Siberia, or anywhere snowy in December (for example), and find green summer fields and vegetation? I was - and still truly am - shocked and utterly disappointed. I really, really wanted to fall in love with the platform but this makes it a no-go for me.
I hoped there is some kind of cure, maybe some mods, plugins, anything. Found some pseudo-solutions, 3rd party payware add-ons (TerraMaxx or whatever it is called) but even that one won't bring about the expected result. It will load the textures globally, not taking regions, local climate, latitude into account. Flying from Quebec, Canada to Miami, Florida in December will spawn you in a more or less accurate, snowy airport for departure but as you move south, the transition is far from being smooth or gradual. New textures are loaded globally. First of all, one or more significant "loading pause" is introduced, second, imagine the landscape looking out the window being snow-covered and then all of a sudden, everything turns summer green. Very weak attempt - but at least, an attempt to improve on what Laminar should have delivered in the first place. Even prehistoric versions of the MSFS series had proper regional seasonal textures according to latitude, region and such. Right now if I wanna do the same flight in P3DV4.5 from Quebec to Florida, I will depart from a winter wonderland, possibly with snow falling, and then I will start seeing less and less snow cover as I progress southward. And then nicely, the snow textures are replaced with snowless yet wintry textures, and then gradually with more and more summer-representing ones. As it should be. It is totally ridiculous that XP11 does not offer this and I am very much hoping that the next version will introduce seasons by default.
I would really, really love to love the platform, so don't get me wrong, I am not here to bash XP11, it's actually the opposite. If I didn't like it, I would not give a d*mn about the details. What makes me seriously concerned is the response from Laminar on their forums, saying seasons are not even on their current roadmap. So I have no high hopes about improvements regarding the lack of four seasons.
A very nice looking summer sim, this is what XP11 is for me right now.
Maybe some of you know more about what is going on behind the scenes, maybe I just didn't find the forum posts where there is talk about incoming seasons. Learning that seasons will be introduced would make my day for sure. P3D has its own issues (loads of...) so never know, perhaps the upcoming Microsoft Flight Simulator is going to be the one that gets it right.