Thanks for opening that topic
I also bought the sim yesterday, but my attempt to download the 12 GB archive faced the cruel reality of my internet connection, which is too slow :/
I launched the download in the morning before going to work. It was supposed to be a 9 hours download. When I came back in the evening, the archive was there... it was 6 GB... Yes, the download stopped in the middle
Anyways, I have read all possible feedbacks in various forums, and so far it's very clear P3Dv4 is the new king of the sims.
Concerning the performance, if the graphical options are set to the same level as P3Dv3 can reach (LOD_RADIUS and autogen draw distance can go much higher in v4 than in v3), most simmers are getting better performance in the v4 than they did in the v3. This includes testing with addon sceneries.
Concerning the addons, just like in DTG FlightSimWorld, most sceneries will work perfectly in P3Dv4. More complex sceneries, which require some external DLLs or modules like SODE, will require some update, else some objects will be missing.
Contrary to DTG FSW, the FSX native planes seem to work perfectly, as long as they don't use DLLs or external modules. Their cockpits are clickable too (not clickable in DTG FSW).
However, the FS9-format addons seem not to work at all anymore, but this is not really a problem. The only area impacted by this is the AI traffic, since all of the freeware AI traffic uses FS9-format airplanes. These packs will not work anymore, so you'll have to switch to payware AI traffic that use AI aircraft in native FSX format instead.
Concerning the new graphical options, there are some warnings:
- The autogen draw distance allows you to push the autogen appearance up to the horizon (almost). However, this has quite a high cost in performance, so you'll have to set that carefully. At least, you should be able to improve that ridiculously low default draw distance that plagued FSX...
- The dynamic lighting seems to be a bit exaggerated (way too powerful) in default planes, and for some users it is a real FPS killer ! (one user in avsim reported dropping from 50 FPS to low 20's....). I don't know if this is linked to some video card settings or anything like that...
- Despite that dynamic lighting, P3Dv4 is still very far away from the graphical quality of XPlane 11 at night. This is a little disappointment but for now it's compensated by the 64 bits architecture benefits. For now, we can only hope Lockheed continues to improve the lighting in future patches.
- Although the shader-modding tools like the famous PTA will not be available for P3Dv4 (authors have stated on the forums they won't be developping any new version), it seems the modified shaders from the v3 can be moved to the v4 without issues. This will be interesting to improve the lack of luminosity, saturation and contrast that P3D is famous for
- For those who never tried P3Dv3, I suggest a bit of caution when setting the "cast" and "receive" options for the shadows settings. The main dangerous points are the autogen objects: buildings and vegetation. In both cases, the "receive" option is not expensive in FPS at all, and it really improves the rendering (no more illuminated autogen in shadowed areas). However, the "cast" option can have a huge FPS impact in some cases. From my experience, the cast option for buildings has never been a problem. But the cast option for the vegetation killed my FPS in OrbX sceneries with dense forets (PNW). I expect the same behavior in v4.
That's pretty much it. P3Dv4 is there and a lot of addons from FSX or P3D are already usable, and more will come. Nevertheless, although the most famous addon makers (A2A, OrbX, PMDG, FSLabs etc...) have already promised a free upgrade of their products from P3Dv3 to P3Dv4, there is still no promise from VRS to update the TacPack (neither for free or for fee...). This is a major problem for all the people who fly military planes in P3D and we hope they will soon change their mind, or at least provide some news...