One of the best things about video games is the level of immersion that you just don’t get with other forms of media. Whether we’re making use of 3D audio or jumping into VR, we’re constantly looking for ways to make our gaming sessions more realistic. For fans of flight simulation games, one of the best ways to get that bit closer to the action is to swap out your controller for a joystick. Not only does this allow for a higher degree of control and precision, but it feels pretty cool too.
There are a number of offerings on the market, but the one I’ll be taking a look at is the T.Flight Full Kit from Thrustmaster. This kit is compatible with both the previous and current generations of Xbox alongside PC. The latter, however, requires a little setup because you’ll have to install the relevant drivers for your PC.
Unboxing the T.Flight Full Kit
The T.Flight Kit comes with everything you need to take to the virtual sky – the well received Hotas One and Rudder Pedals. It comes in three parts, the Joystick, the Throttle and the Rudder Pedals. The Joystick and Throttle are initially separate, joined together by a cable, but the two can be slotted together and screwed tight. As I was using the kit with my Xbox, I found it offered a lot more stability this way; however, those with a PC setting will likely appreciate the freedom to spread out the kit and make room for their mouse and keyboard.
The Rudder Pedals are a separate piece of kit that you can connect to the back of the Hotas. Once the kit itself is all set up, all you have to do is plug it into the USB slot in your Xbox or PC, and you’re good to go. The cable that comes with the Kit, unfortunately, is pretty short. For most of us who are playing on console, it isn’t going to be enough. To be able to comfortably play from my sofa, I had to use a USB extension cable.
For the uninitiated, Hotas stands for “hands on throttle-and-stick”, and it’s your primary way of controlling your aircraft. Whilst not quite as high-quality as some of Thrustmaster’s more premium offerings, it’s sturdy and has a good feel to it. With the option to adjust the tension of the joystick by twisting a dial at the bottom, you can alter it to suit your preference or the game you’re playing, which was a welcome addition.
The Hotas One features a number of buttons and triggers that correlate to those of an Xbox controller. Spread across the Joystick and Throttle, these can be mapped for use with just about any flight simulation game, though there are a handful that are already pre-configured. Playing Microsoft Flight Simulator and Star Wars: Squadrons, for instance, was as easy as plugging the kit into my Xbox and jumping straight in.
As these games are already compatible with the kit, their respective tutorials walk you through most of their controls, though they’re fairly intuitive. Other games, however, will require you to manually map against the flight stick, but hopefully, the list of supported games will grow. Navigating some of the in-game menus was also a little tricky with the Hotas, so I had to switch over to my controller at times, but this is a pretty trivial complaint when you look at everything the Hotas offers.
Strictly speaking, you can control your aircraft entirely using the Hotas stick, but Thrustmaster’s Rudder Pedals are an absolute treat. Built with industrial-grade aluminum slide rails, the pedals feel sturdy, and its S.M.A.R.T. (Sliding Motion Advanced Rail Track) system allows for smooth, precise movement and differential breaking.
As you can probably guess from their name, the rudder pedals allow you to control the rudder of the plane to adjust the course of your aircraft to varying degrees. Star Wars: Squadrons, for instance, uses the Rudder Pedals to roll out of the way to avoid incoming missiles, which adds a whole new element of excitement to the game.
The pedals themselves are large enough to support foot sizes of up to size twelve for those who want to keep their whole foot on the pedal, though the attached heel-rests can be removed if you’d rather control them with just the balls of your feet.
Much like the Hotas, the pedals are pretty intuitive, but it might take some time to get used to how much pressure to apply. Without the option to adjust the tension of the pedals like you can with the joystick, they are pretty sensitive. Too much pressure might just send you spiraling out of control, but once you get used to them, they make for an enjoyable, immersive experience.
Despite a few short comings – the shortness of the USB cable and the need to navigate some areas using your controller – using the T.Flight Kit was a thoroughly enjoyable experience. As somebody who has never used a flight stick before, I found most of the controls fairly intuitive, and with a handful of pre-configured games, I didn’t need to waste time mapping controls, but the option is there if I want to expand my library of games.
Whether you want to take to the virtual skies as a pilot in Flight Simulator or test your mettle against the Empire in Star Wars: Squadrons, the T.Flight Full Kit brings you one step closer to the action. Whilst it’s not the most premium option on the market, the T.Flight Full Kit is solid, beginner-friendly, and offers a tremendous amount of value for money with everything you need for a decent cockpit setup.
Platforms: Xbox, PC