The traditional two-analog gamepad is a versatile input tool, but when it comes to something like a flight simulator, nothing beats having a joystick and a throttle. On Xbox One, that is now an option thanks to the introduction of Thrustmaster’s T.Flight HOTAS One for $80. This wired, USB hands-on-throttle-and-stick controller gives you all the buttons you’d get on a traditional Xbox One joypad. And Thrustmaster has even worked with Frontier Developments to ensure it works flawlessly with its space sim Elite Dangerous.
I got my hands on the HOTAS One, and I’ve spent some time with it in Elite Dangerous on the Xbox One. That experience was pretty magical. Frontier recently updated its game for Xbox One X support, so I was sitting in my living room, playing Elite Dangerous in 4K, and using a HOTAS stick to control my ship. This was especially immersive because the stick and throttle is the exact same size and shape as Thurstmaster’s HOTAS One.
That dedication to accuracy encouraged me to play around with the feature of the HOTAS One that enables you to separate the stick and throttle. In Elite, these controls sit off to either side of you, and you can set up the HOTAS One similarly to make it feel even more like you are sitting in the cockpit.
This was all a long way from a proper PC setup, but the HOTAS One does work with Windows. That means you can combine it with a VR headset or TrackIR if you want. But in the context of a console, however, I was feeling damn cool.
If you’re not an Elite Dangerous superfan, however, you can probably skip the HOTAS One. The stick should work with some other games, but … the Xbox One just doesn’t have a lot of flight-style experiences. Ace Combat 7: Skies Unknown, an arcade-style flight sim, is due out in 2018, and Thrustmaster has said that it will work with the HOTAS One. But beyond that, you won’t find much reason for this controller … well, except for that one game.
I was really excited to set up the T.Flight HOTAS One specifically for the starfighter mode in Star Wars: Battlefront II. That is one of the best parts of Electronic Arts’ latest entry in the galaxy far, far away, but one problem: it doesn’t support joysticks. I tried to get it to work, but it turns out that it’s not possible yet.
And so I’m left with the HOTAS One and not much to do with it. Elite is a cool thing that I dig, but it’s not my only game. If it’s the thing you return to every night, and you play on Xbox One, then I think you have to get this. Otherwise, I’d at least wait for Ace Combat 7 and possibly an update to Star Wars before plunking down the money.