X-Plane 12 Photoreal Scenery: not really any different?

Pro Member Trainee
kusznir Trainee


I loaded the photoreal x-plane 12 scenery packs downloaded from here, following the instructions here.  The result, though, was basically the same quality.  I definitely would not qualify it as "photoreal".

Moreover, I definitely had some substantial issues with the airport KPUW when the scenery packs were loaded: the airport had what appears to be a cliff in it, and a (car) road running right through the airport.  The runway was completely unusable there.  If I disabled the scenery downloaded from here, it worked fine.

I am using XP12 Steam edition, and (before adding any of the scenery here), I downloaded the "additional free content" from Steam that was supposed to be the base scenery.  (Without that, for example, the sea-tac airport was just a field of water, no runways or anything.  This is used in one of the tutorials).  After loading the Steam scenery, I didn't run into any more issues with airports being "underwater", but I would hardly rate the result as "photoreal".

So, from that, is this what is more or less expected?  Is the Steam scenery download basically the same as the photoreal scenery here?  

If extra scenery would improve the visuals of XP12, is it possible to set it up to download as you go (eg, anytime you're near the border of what is downloaded, have it background download the next quadrant of scenery)?  I think FlightGear was doing this when I last used it...

Thanks all!

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Pro Member Captain
Ian Stephens (ianstephens) Captain
Ian Stephens is an expert on this topic. Read his bio here.

Your concerns about the photoreal scenery in X-Plane 12 are quite valid, and I appreciate your detailed description of the issues you're encountering. Let's delve into the crux of these problems and explore some solutions.

Firstly, the essence of photoreal scenery is to provide a more immersive and accurate representation of the real world in the flight simulator. When installed correctly, these packs should offer a significant enhancement over the default X-Plane 12 ground textures. The fact that you're not observing this difference is indeed perplexing.

Understanding the Scenery Discrepancy:

  • The key to photoreal scenery is its resolution and accuracy. If the scenery packs you've installed don't show a noticeable improvement, it could be due to a few factors:
  • Compatibility Issues: Ensure that the scenery pack is compatible with X-Plane 12.
  • Installation Errors: Revisit the installation instructions to confirm each step was correctly executed.
  • Steam Edition Specifics: The X-Plane 12 Steam edition may have nuances in how it manages additional content. Ensure that your version is up-to-date and check for any known issues with Steam.

Addressing KPUW Airport Anomalies:
The issues at KPUW airport, with the appearance of a cliff and a road running through it, suggest a conflict between the photoreal scenery and the default scenery data.

  • Conflict Resolution: Try disabling other scenery add-ons to rule out conflicts.
  • Scenery Order: In your X-Plane settings, ensure that the photoreal scenery is correctly prioritized in the scenery library.

Comparing Steam and Photoreal Scenery:
The additional free content from Steam should not be identical to the photoreal packs. However, if the visual difference is minimal, it might indicate that the packs are not functioning as intended or that the Steam content has significantly improved.

Dynamic Scenery Downloading:
Regarding your query about downloading scenery on the fly, X-Plane does not currently support this feature natively. However, it's an intriguing concept that has been explored in other simulators like FlightGear.

Next Steps:

  • Check for Updates: Ensure that both X-Plane 12 and the photoreal scenery packs are up to date.
  • Community Assistance: Engage with the X-Plane community forums for specific advice or shared experiences.
  • Experiment: Try different photoreal scenery packs to compare results.

In conclusion, the challenges you're facing with the photoreal scenery in X-Plane 12 are not typical. It's possible that a combination of installation nuances, compatibility issues, and settings within the simulator itself are contributing to the discrepancies you're observing.

If you need further assistance or have more specific details, feel free to share, and I'll be more than happy to provide additional insights based on my experience.

Safe flying!

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