After having tried Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 a few times using the basic X-Box game controller, I could instantly tell it was not going to be good enough for what I wanted from the software – it was capable of so much more and you don’t fly a plane with a game controller.
Being X-Box based limits choices a bit here, although they are USB connected, only a select few control devices will function on the console.
There are a couple of stick-type controls but the basic Cessna style planes all use a yoke setup for flight control. The options here now drop to just two – the best one being the Velocity-One from Turtlebeach, shown below.
The Velocity-One is a fantastic control setup – the only one that also features a decent approximation of a four-lever control quadrant for jets etc as well as the push-pull linear controls for throttle/prop/mixture on smaller planes like the Cessna.
The clamping system is one of the best out there, two steel fingers with hidden tensioning bolts will clamp on to any desk up to around 50mm thick. The axis actions are smooth and positive, the button pad lights up and is fully configurable. In front of the yoke is a status indicator panel or “SIP” – this is not fully functional yet and is waiting for a software update from Microsoft, when enabled the lights should turn on when things like the undercarriage is up or down, stall warning, and many other indicators.
There is an LCD panel in the middle of the yoke but apart from the clock i’ve not used that much yet.
A little more play time and it still felt like something was missing from my ‘cockpit’ – rudder pedals.
At the time of my writing this, Turtlebeach were working on a pedal setup but no release date was yet announced. The options for pedals on the X-Box are extremely limited, the best ones at the time are those included with the Thrustmaster HOTAS One kit (above). This kit comprises the pedals and the ‘HOTAS’ which stands for Hands-On-Throttle-And-Stick – the HOTAS would replace the yoke for use on larger fly-by-wire planes.
The best option for me was to go for the Thrustmaster kit – this would give me the best of both worlds with a yoke and pedals or HOTAS and pedals or any combination of the lot as they all work together once the simulator is programmed for them.
A few months later…
I saw one of these little boxes advertised, there is not much about for the X-Box as it is a closed system and this looked very good.
It’s a mini control box that offers real knobs and buttons as opposed to mouse-clicks for the tasks of radio tuning, navigation receiver tuning, plus all the functions of the autopilot system, at least on the non-airliner planes anyway.
It works perfectly and increases the realism and immersion a lot as it is just so much more realistic.