The Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight (Rating: 7/10, WIRED Recommends) isn’t a HOTAS in the strict sense of the word. It’s a HOTAY: Hands-on Throttle and Yoke. The VelocityOne includes four throttle controls, vernier levers, a control panel, and a small plane-style yoke. That means it looks roughly like the controls found on light propeller planes, but the system can be used in MFS to control anything from an ultralight craft to a larger jet. It works with both Windows PCs and the Xbox, and it integrates well with Microsoft Flight Simulator on both. You just install the Turtle Beach Control Center on your gaming machine, and the software handles the mapping of the numerous buttons to flight controls.
The yoke itself feels very solid, with a good level of resistance as you push, pull, and turn it. Although you aren’t going to get the same feel as a real control connected to a plane, it feels solid and tight enough that you instinctively use the light touch and small adjustments that flying needs.
A small screen and set of controls on the front of the yoke allow you to control the settings directly. You can switch from Xbox to PC mode, save profiles and button assignments, and run a clock to tell you how long you have been flying. There are no foot pedals, but a couple of index finger controls on the front of the yoke are assigned to the rudder, which is usually controlled by the feet in small planes. It’s a compromise, but it works well once you get used to it.
What you do get are a wide range of controls. There are over 40 separate customizable hat switches, levers, and buttons on this thing, including the 10 on a panel below the throttle axis. As well as a fold-out, stick-on-the-wall poster guide to the default assignments for all of them, the VelocityOne also comes with two sets of labels that can be stuck to the panel buttons. That’s a big help when you are getting started and navigating your way around: no more hunting for a certain control while getting ready to land. Two hat switches (the small finger-controlled joysticks on top of the yoke) control your view, so it is easy to glance out of the window and across the control panel without taking your hands off the yoke.
As well as these buttons, there is a matrix of 12 LED lights on the front panel that have swappable labels, so you can set up warning and status lights for things like parking brake status, engine fires, or a low-oil-pressure warning. That provides an extra level of realism, but many fliers will rely on the status lights and warnings in the onscreen instrument panel rather than glancing away from the screen. There is also a 3.5-mm headset socket, which means those who like to use a wired headset will have one less cable trailing from PC or Xbox to the controls. It’s also a definite plus for temporary setups and for flying in multiplayer mode, as it means fewer cables when using a headset.
There’s a lot to like about the VelocityOne. It has a great solid feel to the yoke and offers a veritable smorgasbord of customizable controls. It’s also adaptable: The inclusion of both a pull-knob-style throttle and a sliding lever means that it simulates the controls of both small propellor planes and jets. It’s a worthy investment for the serious flier who wants to get more into the realistic side of flight sims.