Threshold Exclusive: Freeware 'LevelUp' 737NG Series Introduced for X-Plane

August 13, 2020

Hinted at by a cryptic teaser post on the 10th of August, a new line of freeware 737NGs has been announced by 'LevelUp', the product of a re-structuring of the now-defunct Ultimate Project.

The line will include five variants over the Ultimate's original three - bringing the 737-600 and 737-900 alongside the previously released 737-700, 737-800 and 737-900ER. According to the developer, each aircraft has been updated to modern-day standards.

"Hello again", they begin. "Friends, it’s been a while since anything substantial has come out of this project - we’re sorry for that. In the time we were away, we’ve had a complete restructure."

"When two developers announced their exit from the 737 Ultimate development this time last year, it marked the beginning of a new chapter for the project. The core developers of the Ultimate project discussed the transfer of the project to Threshold’s product development section for continued development. After a few days of negotiations, the keys were handed over, and shortly thereafter, a new team was assembled to continue the legacy.

"During the planning and early development phase, it became apparent that these 737s are less becoming a continued development of the existing planes and more of an entirely new project. What resulted from this is a completely reimagined line of 737s extensions, engineered and developed from the ground up again.

"Working with Zibo and his excellent 737-800X as a starting platform, we began deconstructing the plane down to it’s core, to produce the most vanilla and clean outcome possible. We’ve also been working directly with Laminar Research and using their developer copy to redevelop the visuals and optimise the entire package."

Outlining their goals for the LevelUp project, these are to reduce file size by sharing assets between planes, to keep Zibo systems and make them easily updatable, as well as to 'maintain product continuity' with Laminar's 737 - an interesting move considering the Ultimate Project's previous distancing from the default plane.

The feature list goes as follows:

  • Redeveloped exterior: The -600, -700, -900, -900ER has all been redone inside and out, with all of the visual changes adapted to the -800.
  • Redeveloped textures: Based on the default 737 textures, reauthored to take further advantage of X-Plane 11’s PBR
  • Retextured cabin interior: Supersampled in 4K
  • Runs on ZiboMod: The entire lineup is still powered by the ZiboMod you know and love, currently being rewritten for better optimisation in C++. We’re working with Zibo on this project, as we have previously.
  • Brand new LevelUp UI: Redeveloped Tablet interface that brings added accessibility and clarity, with Threshold news and media right at your virtual cockpit.
  • Integrated Real Display Mod: Developed by Max Smith, the new 737 series comes with realistic PFD displays out of the box
  • Modular Visual Architecture: Common components such as the entire cockpit, wings, engines, gears, and tails are used for all 737s; animated into position to adapt to different fuselage lengths.
  • Redeveloped Cockpit Textures: Based on the default textures, super sampled to 4K, all with PBR work done by FSEnhancer’s Enrico Del Bono
  • Redeveloped Flightmodels: Each variant has its own dedicated flight model, completely redeveloped to behave as is in real life, continually cross-referenced with simulators and pilot input.
  • Automated Load & Save: Load and Save is removed entirely in favour of an automated system that remembers your last configuration and settings
  • Eyebrow Windows: toggleable eyebrow windows, accessible through the Tablet.
  • Performance Improvement Package: toggleable visual changes with the installation of PiPs: shorter engine exhausts, reshaped strobe housing, and louvred belly vents.
  • Remodelled wingtips: reshaped blended winglets, new scimitars, and completely remodelled standard wingtip.
  • Animated aft-exit for -900ER: Users flying the -900ER has the option to toggle the aft exit: either plug the aft exit (in less dense configurations), or leave the aft-exit there for single class high density configurations
  • Optimised for efficiency: file size and performance
  • System assets commonality: The entire fleet of 737 NGs sit in one folder, using the same system code, enabling faster ZiboMod feature updates.

In terms of post-release improvements, the team provided an extensive list of items that they'll be working on - these include improved flight dynamics and the addition of re-mastered default FMOD sounds developed in partnership with Daniela Rodríguez Careri. Boeing Business Jet variants (BBJ) and -700 and -800 freighters will also be on the roadmap.

According to the developer, "the 737 MAX will be covered as a standalone series in the nearer future, you can expect the same quality and immersion you’ll expect from the 737NG series. We do not have a set release date, but we will begin development of the new series once we have the NG series matured to provide a reliable platform for the MAX’s."

Interestingly, as a parting message, the development team gave some more insight to their name choice - LevelUp - and why they chose to move away from the '737 Ultimate' tag. Essentially, it is to 'reflect their values' and allow them to 'explore beyond the Boeing 737'.

You can join the LevelUp community Discord server here.

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