13.4.2023 – 17:31z

Review: MK-Studios Dublin v2 for MSFS

When it comes to Dublin, this is always my cup of tea. I love the city and the airport. When I got the opportunity to review the recently released Dublin scenery for Microsoft Flight Simulator by a well-known developer MK-Studios, I was thrilled to see the changes and improvements in this rendition. Firstly, we thank MK-Studios for providing us with a review copy of this scenery. I should also mention that despite the fact we’ve received the product for free and I have a special place for Dublin in my heart, the review is going to be based on facts and the general feeling I have from the developers’ work.

First impressions

Since the time I’ve been to Dublin personally, the airport has changed significantly, and I could’ve felt it immediately after I loaded up into the simulator. The first big thing that caught my eye was the new northern runway, which I immediately tried myself on my first flight from this new Dublin scenery.

The first impression namely consists of the airside, apron and terminal. I wasn’t looking into the surrounding area in detail yet. I immediately noticed changes to the texturing, compared to the previous version of MK-Studios Dublin. This is visible, especially on the Terminal 2 building, as well as the taxiways and runways. These now seem to be much more vibrant regarding colours and don’t appear washed out to my eye, as the previous Dublin v1 did.

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Texturing

Firstly, the new texturing caught my eye the most. There are many changes compared to the previous MK-Studios Dublin v1 version of the airport.

The textures are crisp, vibrant and have PBR. Thus, I can tell the difference between the various materials used in the scenery. This is namely visible in the 3D interior. The textures don’t seem to be repetitive, and rather every centimetre feels different.

I also like the ground textures, which seem to have the same advantages as the terminal textures and other buildings.

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Speaking of the textures during various weather conditions, there are puddles on the ground almost everywhere, except for the runways, which seem to be drier under rainy conditions. On the other hand, the winter ground textures seemed to be way too united. Everything was very white and runways and taxiways way too clean. I would probably enjoy a bit more variability on the ground, like a bit of grass visible through the snow layer and such. However, the terminal and even the cars and smaller details seem to be covered by snow, which I didn’t see in many sceneries yet.

As far as the textures in the surrounding area are concerned, these weren’t left behind quality-wise either. Even though parking spaces, hotels, gas stations and so on are basically less important for any virtual pilot, the quality of these aren’t representing that idea and the MK-Studios team put a lot of effort into these textures as well.

Lastly, the parallax interior effect also made the scenery more realistic. This basically creates a 3D-like interior in buildings, which this scenery by MK-Studios uses a wide advantage of. It is used almost everywhere in the scenery. This creates a great impression, without a significant loss in performance

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Modelling

Regarding the modelling, the whole scenery seems to be extremely detailed. The polygon triangles are blended together, there are no jagged lines that would destroy the immersion and everything that is supposed to be round is round, and vice versa, everything that is supposed to have a rectangular shape, has.

This whole idea is visible throughout the whole rendition. Thus, the surrounding area isn’t left behind, as with textures.

If you are reading my airport reviews frequently, you might already have guessed that I am a huge 3D interior freak, and this is probably one of the most crucial things I consider in my ratings. The 3D interior is done well in this case. However, it is only done on Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 aprons, nowhere else. There is no 3D interior in Terminal 2 either, which disappointed me a bit. However, I understand this might be because of optimization, as there is a parallax interior used almost everywhere.

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Even though the 3D interior is not everywhere, there is a ton of details where it is. There is good PBR, and different signs and small details are present. I also liked the 3D interior found in the control tower, which also included a small easter egg. Two computers with BSOD.

Unfortunately, I also found numerous visual glitches throughout the rendition, such as roof flickering (solved in update 2.0.2) and a triangular glass panel in Terminal 2 for no reason. There is also an unfinished part of the terminal, between Terminals 1 and 2.

Overall, I was fairly impressed with how the modelling is in this scenery.

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Surrounding area

The surrounding area is done to a good extent, too. No modelling was left behind and even the least important parts of the scenery in regards to casual flying are modelled to a comprehensive detail. There are buildings such as ALSAA Sports Club, Radisson Hotel and various office buildings in the airport’s close vicinity. In addition, there is also the bus hangar near IKEA. However, the IKEA store is not modelled or textured properly in this rendition.

I also found those yellow and blue Dublin buses in the Dublin Bus hangar nearby. To my surprise, I didn’t find these kinds of buses anywhere else in the scenery. They would fit perfectly into the airport’s terminal area, as there are enough bus lines to and from Dublin and Swords cities.

The nearby Circle K gas station and McDonald’s are also rendered. The surrounding area ground textures, that are included with this scenery also offer crisp and vibrant textures, with nothing to be desired. To conclude the question about the surrounding area, I was very satisfied with what MK-Studios Dublin delivered.

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Night Lighting

At the first glance, I was satisfied with how the lights behaved on the MK-Studios Dublin v2. The PBR materials also help the night lighting come to life, and it is insane how well is everything lit. Especially inside the terminals, where the lights are pronounced and behave realistically, and the PBR materials help it reflect on the objects in the terminal.

Further speaking about the terminal, it is rather hit-and-miss. The terminal parts that have a 3D interior with everything modelled seem to have much more detailed night lighting than those that only have 2D textures instead of the whole terminal modelled. Microsoft Flight Simulator is rather unforgiving regarding this and it makes it clearly visible where the developer saved up on the resources.

The parallax interiors are another story and bring a compromise between the two extremes of having very good night lighting and the classic “FSX-ish” night lighting. It won’t impress one but does the job much better than an ordinary 2D texture.

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On the other hand, the night lighting on the apron seems to be great, but the light sources seem to be less pronounced than in the terminal. These look like there is no depth in the light, and it is just a basic light source with no shine or anything.

Even though there are parts in the rendition where the night lighting is the “one-man show” on this scenery, some textures seem to bring the immersion down. It’s unfortunate, but the significant changes in the lighting quality in this scenery are simply not my cup of tea.

Animations

There are also some important animations in this rendition that help with the immersion. Especially the VDGS integration and animated people in the terminal caught my eye. All of this brings the scenery to life to a wonderful extent.

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Speaking about VDGS, it is not done through a GSX profile, but rather by using the Nool VDGS plugin. Similarly used on Orbx’s Oslo (ENGM). The plugin works fine. It detects the aircraft correctly, however, it seems to have issues with determining different variations of the PMDG’s 737, thus resulting in offset parking by my side. I didn’t have this issue with an A320. Presumably, because there is only one variation of it so far. Despite the plugin being inaccurate at the moment of writing this article, I strongly believe that this is going to be resolved in future updates.

Regarding the animated people, you can find them everywhere in the 3D terminal and on the apron near the aircraft. They walk around realistically and they seem to bring a lot of life into this MK-Studios scenery. It makes the scenery pleasant to my eye, as the airport doesn’t seem to be dead, with only aeroplanes around.

Performance

Speaking of the performance, this will come down to the aircraft you are flying anyway. There were significant changes in how the airport behaved performance-wise depending on what aircraft I chose to test with. If it was with Fenix A320, I got slightly worse performance, however, with PMDG it was much better.

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It seems to me that the 3D interior took the most performance out of the MK-Studios Dublin v2, as anytime I took a look at it my frame rates dropped moderately. It was still flyable, but there was a bit of lag visible. I might’ve come down from 70 FPS to around 40 with PMDG 737.

During the night, the performance remained basically the same as during the day, thus I come to the conclusion that the night lighting isn’t an issue in this rendition.

I am running An RTX 2060S with 8GB of VRAM, 32GB 3200MHz RAM and AMD Ryzen 5 5600X. My simulator is on an HDD, which slows down the loading times. I run Microsoft Flight Simulator on medium to high settings, with LOD set to around 120. This is the sweet spot for me regarding performance and visuals. Flying to this and from this scenery was pleasant and even though there were some drops in performance it didn’t make the experience unflyable to me.

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Conclusion

As Dublin Airport is a large and important international hub that mainly connects mainland Europe with the Northeast of the United States, it is also an important part of virtual flying. If you enjoy flying to detailed sceneries with the best immersion on how an airport actually works and is alive the whole day and night, I think the MK-Studios Dublin v2 represents this quite impressively.

Despite its some visual glitches and lack of detail during the night in some parts of the airport, it is still a great overhaul compared to the V1 version, which was released almost two years ago. As the real airport constantly changes, MK-Studios will have to do a lot to keep up with the changes and I hope to see this in the future.

The northern runway addition is probably the most significant change for any flyer, this makes this upgrade important namely for online network flyers.

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The scenery is available for approximately €18.31, and in my opinion, it is worth the price for basically any flight simulator enthusiast. Currently, there is also an ongoing sale, bringing the price to around €14.65 as of the moment of writing this article on 12/04/2023. You can get the scenery through Orbx Central and their website.

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