Realistic flight simulation is a kind of niche game genre at this point, but for fans, a new version of Microsoft Flight Simulator is about as close to combining multiple birthdays at once. If you want to jump into this exciting new post, or if you have not played for a while, you will want some flight controls.
Sure, it̵7;s possible to play Flight Simulator 2020 with a keyboard and mouse, or on Xbox One with the standard game controller. But there is no way to fly. If you want to get the immersion that the fantastic new graphics and mapping system provides, you want some inputs that at least approximate the controls of a real aircraft.
Stick or ok?
Which gives rise to an important point: should you go with a more old-fashioned joystick or a yoke (what looks like a steering wheel)? The “Hands On Stick And Throttle” setting (too short) is more common, just because it works for both fighter simulators and sci-fi spaceships. But Microsoft Flight Simulator is not about combat, all aircraft in its range are civilian aircraft without weapons.
Unfortunately, there really is not one size fits all solution here. Both an ok and a HOTAS will work with Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020, and you can pilot all aircraft with either. But the smaller recreational aircraft for one or two seats like the ICON A5 usually use a joystick, while large commercial aircraft like the Boeing 747 use a yoke and various auxiliary controls.
So make your decision based on the type of plane you think will fly more in the game. Oh, and you may have to exercise a little patience – with the game recently released, both HOTAS and ok controls are hard to find in stock right now.
The best HOTAS control for Xbox One: Hori Ace Combat 7
Unfortunately, flight controls for Xbox One are hard to find. The only one currently manufactured is a Hori stick-and-gas set, originally manufactured for the fighter aircraft Ace Combat 7. But Hori is a reliable manufacturer, and this set includes all standard combat controls (plus handy labels for the standard Xbox buttons.) It includes adjustable sensitivity for all analog controls, a 10-foot cable for couch pilots, and a direct headset jack. It is also compatible with the computer and will, according to Hori, work with the Xbox Series X as well.
Best HOTAS controller for Xbox One
The Best Budget PC HOTAS: Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS 4
If you need a HOTAS setting for your PC without spending an arm and a leg, this Thrustmaster all-in-one controller will work fine. It contains five axes of movement (four for the pin, one for the throttle) and twelve buttons, adjustable resistance on the pin and the possibility to separate the pin and the throttle for a more ergonomic position. You can also redo the buttons on the hardware itself and bind multiple layouts to the internal memory of the stick. It’s a surprisingly packed package for the cheapest item on this list. (Note the PlayStation brand: it works for both PS4 and PC.)
Best Budget HOTAS for PC
The best budget yoke for PC: CH Products Flight Sim Yoke USB
While this all-in-one system lacks bells and whistles in more elaborate ok systems, it accurately simulates the “feel” of a larger commercial aircraft. The CH Products design includes full motion with five axes and twenty separate controls, with either the included software or custom controls in the game. You can hold on to this control alone and complete it with your keyboard, or add to a control panel for more complex functions.
Best Budget Yoke for PC
The Best Deluxe HOTAS for PC: Logitech G X56
If you want to go all out with a HOTAS installation, the Logitech X56 design is what you are looking for. This military style was inherited from Saitek’s much-loved X52 (Logitech bought Saitek in 2016). The variety of controls and quality of components on the X56 is second to none, including dozens of buttons, steering wheel, dowels, switches and RGB indicator lights. The pin uses adjustable voltage on each of four springs, and the throttles with two shafts are divided into two parts for fine control of several virtual components. The system combines for 13 different axes, all of which can be customized via Logitech’s G software or the game itself.
Deluxe Yoke for PC: Logitech Flight Yoke System + Rudder Pedals
If you prefer a no-check, Logitech is also the best high-end option. Its combi package with full ok plus pedals is for serious simulators who prefer to go for large-scale commercial aircraft. This multi-part set includes a voltage-adjustable, five-axis yoke with a single-line LED screen and a variety of hand controls, a three-throttle, three-switch control clusters and two pedals for adjusting foot controls under your desk.
If that’s not even enough for you, you can add Flight Mult-Panel, Switch Panel, Radio Panel, Instrument Panel or any combination thereof for more dedicated controls. (Or, of course, simply tie additional features to your controller.) This system is not for anyone but quite a lot to invest in a simulation game set, but for those who have it is hard to beat without going into the full simulator rig area .