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Thrustmaster Hotas T Flight X impressions

mitor

Established Member
Hiya, gearing up for the release of Elite Dangerous and thought I'd share my impressions of the my new joystick:

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I've been looking for a replacement joystick or HOTAS (hand on throttle and stick, basically a joystick with separate throttle control) for a while as I have long since sold my Saitek X52 due to a lack of games and my standby stick (A Saitek ST290) is falling to bits.
With the sudden influx of amazing looking space games like Elite Dangerous, Star Citizen, EVE Valkyrie and No Mans Sky there can’t be a better time to get back into the action!
So I’ve been umm-ing and ah-ing as I vacillated between the expensive X52 pro (around £109 from dabs at the mo) or the very, very expensive Thrustmaster HOTAS cougar (don’t ask the price). In amongst all this though someone mentioned the Thrustmaster T Flight Hotas X, which, aside from the catchy name, also has a catchy price at only £29.99. Figuring I could always just sell it later I thought I’d take the plunge and give it a shot.

So a few days later and I have it in my possession, first impressions are fantastic with the joystick being a decent size and pretty solid. It comes supplied as two separate units; throttle and stick which are hard wired together by a foot of cable, but can join into one, slightly more stable unit. There is only a single USB lead required so the throttle and stick can’t be used separately. Personally I used the stick in its separated configuration. Although it doesn't have suckers to hold to the desk both units are quite wide and offer a reasonably stable platform as long as you don’t get too carried away.

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The great impression continues once you go hands on with the unit. The build quality seems pretty damn good, especially for the money and I’d even say that it feels slightly more robust than my older, much more expensive, X52 setup. The travel on the stick is nice and smooth, the throttle is quite a light touch which I quite like. Ergonomically it’s a resolute rightie only affair and I find it fits my slightly larger hands pretty damn well. The styling is a little old fashioned and I would prefer the throttle to be a tad larger but these are really just minor quibbles.
Button placement though is the area where this stick really shines. I’ve found the cheaper sticks to have too few buttons or too many in one place and the X52 series by Saitek seems to have lots of frills I don’t need and not enough buttons that I do. The T Flight has the trigger and a decent clicky POV switch on the stick itself plus two nicely accessible buttons up top.

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There is also a third button in a kind of bumper position above and right of the trigger which I found very hard to hit without almost taking my hand off the stick so it’s not all good. The stick has the typical two axis of movement as well as a third axis for rudder control via stick twist which you can disable if you prefer.

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On the throttle meanwhile we have three buttons sitting under your thumb as well as two by your ‘trigger’ finger. A great addition here a two way rocker or slider which gives you another analog axis to play with. The suggest is this can be used as an alternative rudder (indeed this is the way the stick works for its PS3 compatibility) but it is a separately programmable axis. I found this a fantastic feature for controlling side to side strafing in Elite. The Throttle has a single détente in the center so you can feel when it is at fifty percent, possibly of use in proper flight sims or so you can easily use it as a full range throttle (with one half being reverse speeds)

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Finally there are three extra buttons on the base of the throttle as well as two on the stick for programming functions. Personally, neither of these features matter much to me as I suspect the programming is of more use to console users and buttons not on the controls somewhat defy the point of a HOTAS setup, particularly as I plan playing in Virtual Reality, and won’t be able to see them!

So with all that exciting stuff out the way it’s finally time to plug it in. I went with the Windows 7 auto-configuration and everything worked nicely with no messing about. Elite Dangerous, my current game of choice has a configuration stored for the stick which also works well, just needing slight tweaking for taste.
Initial play is really good and in many ways this feels like one of the nicer sticks I’ve used in a while with a good smooth travel across all axis. The stick does also have the option of changing its resistance via a nut underneath but this didn’t make much difference to me as I preferred it with its stiffer out of the box setup.

Sadly my one real complaint is something that is hard to work around; the stick has a pretty bad deadzone, particularly on the stick twist. You have to move the stick by a few millimetres before the game responds which is almost certainly a hardware issue. This can make lining up shots slightly harder than it needs to be.

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Overall the Hotas is still wildly good value for money and is, for me, a colossal step up over mouse keyboard or joypad play.
 

DeanE

Distinguished Member
Nice review as I'm thinking of buying a HOTAS for both Elite Dangerous and the Star Citizen DFM, but still toying with which one to purchase.
 

Democritus Mav

Established Member
Great review mitor. Good impression of the stick. This particular HOTAS one looks like it is the sweet spot between price and performance. It's relatively inexpensive (sub £50) and it offers excellent control.

Like DeanE above I am thinking of getting a HOTAS specifically for Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous. I also think it will help with the immersion factor as I plan to play both these games with an Oculus (if it is ever released!)

I am thinking about purchasing the Saitek X-55 Rhino which although a lot more expensive (£165) it is getting sterling reviews by flight sim enthusiasts. The Rhino has interchangable springs on the stick so that you can adjust the tension and get the feeling right for particular aircraft. Having "flown" in a military grade flight simulator (Typhoon Eurofighter) I know that the flight stick is actually very stiff and requires a fair a mount of force to push and has zero deadzone. I'm hoping the Rhino might be able to recreate that feeling at home.
 

Sega Mega Dave

Distinguished Member
I had this stick ages ago when BF3 was released, i think i paid £28 from Argos but never seen it on their site since.

Cracking stick for the money and decent enought weight too it as well.

Good review and a thanks from me. Plus you gain a bonus point for using the word détente.
 

DeanE

Distinguished Member
Great review mitor. Good impression of the stick. This particular HOTAS one looks like it is the sweet spot between price and performance. It's relatively inexpensive (sub £50) and it offers excellent control.

Like DeanE above I am thinking of getting a HOTAS specifically for Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous. I also think it will help with the immersion factor as I plan to play both these games with an Oculus (if it is ever released!)

I am thinking about purchasing the Saitek X-55 Rhino which although a lot more expensive (£165) it is getting sterling reviews by flight sim enthusiasts. The Rhino has interchangable springs on the stick so that you can adjust the tension and get the feeling right for particular aircraft. Having "flown" in a military grade flight simulator (Typhoon Eurofighter) I know that the flight stick is actually very stiff and requires a fair a mount of force to push and has zero deadzone. I'm hoping the Rhino might be able to recreate that feeling at home.
I was just about to purchase the X-55 but read a review that stated for the cost it felt very light and flimsy, possibly something that may be improved upon with a Pro series update. I was looking at Saitek's force sensing stick the X-65F for a while (the throttle to this stick looked stunning) however I don't think it took off, hence them releasing the X-55. I am also tempted by the Warthog but want to get a stick that I know will be fully supported and generally it appears that the Saitek hardware is well supported.
 

Sega Mega Dave

Distinguished Member
I'm tempted to go X52 pro and the rudder pedals to control yaw.

Job done.
 

mitor

Established Member
Hi

Thanks for the kind comments. I don't think any of you would be disappointed with the X52 pro and ,although I haven't tried it, the X55 is surely just better again. I think the question mark is over the X52 standard which costs near to £100 and doesn't really offer much over this Thrustmaster.
 

Delvey

Distinguished Member
I've had one of these for a few years and have to agree they are excellent value for money
 

hopeless

Prominent Member
I am also tempted by the Warthog but want to get a stick that I know will be fully supported and generally it appears that the Saitek hardware is well supported.

The Thrustmaster Warthog is plug and play and will work with any game that supported a joystick.

It's a fantastic stick but overkill for the majority of games.
 

DeanE

Distinguished Member
The Thrustmaster Warthog is plug and play and will work with any game that supported a joystick.

It's a fantastic stick but overkill for the majority of games.
Correct, however various posts on forums I've read it does seem that people generally get on far better with the Saitek hardware and generally have less issues setting up the stick and throttle.

I am only interested in two games and but have no problems shelling out for the best stick on the market (as long as it is setup friendly). I guess considering what a lot of people have spent on both ED and SC, most will want to experience them the best way possible, VR included at some point too. :smashin:
 

hopeless

Prominent Member
The Warthog is primarily designed for DCS-A10C which maps the controls automatically. For Rise of Flight, I had to faff about for awhile to get it set up properly. There's also no swivel on the stick so you'll have to factor in rudder pedals too.

It's definitely for the hardcore (which I'm not). It's beautifully built but it's big and takes up a lot of desk space. For the most part it sits there unused. The rudder pedals do make a good foot rest though!

If you're not looking to play an DCS games I'd look elsewhere.
 

DeanE

Distinguished Member
The Warthog is primarily designed for DCS-A10C which maps the controls automatically. For Rise of Flight, I had to faff about for awhile to get it set up properly. There's also no swivel on the stick so you'll have to factor in rudder pedals too.

It's definitely for the hardcore (which I'm not). It's beautifully built but it's big and takes up a lot of desk space. For the most part it sits there unused. The rudder pedals do make a good foot rest though!

If you're not looking to play an DCS games I'd look elsewhere.
So you wouldn't recommend it for this? I know a few people that have the stick and say it is simply stunning and like you say, no swivel on the stick for yaw but that doesn't bother me though as I would get rudder pedals, but I don't know anyone that has tried it with ED. I am just of the impression though that where this is a really high quality package with high quality components aimed at sims, the Saitek hardware just doesn't quite measure up and feels a little cheap in comparison. I guess I will have to read more reviews of the X-55 or maybe wait to see if they have a Pro version of that planned.

Alpha 4 of ED is due any time now, so I am looking forward to playing that but getting a little tired of using the pad if I'm honest :)
 

hopeless

Prominent Member
So you wouldn't recommend it for this? I know a few people that have the stick and say it is simply stunning and like you say, no swivel on the stick for yaw but that doesn't bother me though as I would get rudder pedals, but I don't know anyone that has tried it with ED. I am just of the impression though that where this is a really high quality package with high quality components aimed at sims, the Saitek hardware just doesn't quite measure up and feels a little cheap in comparison. I guess I will have to read more reviews of the X-55 or maybe wait to see if they have a Pro version of that planned.

Alpha 4 of ED is due any time now, so I am looking forward to playing that but getting a little tired of using the pad if I'm honest :)

I've been out of the loop for awhile and not familiar with Elite Dangerous or Star Citizen.

The Warthog has some heft to it. I tried using it in BF3 and got nowhere. I just couldn't fling the stick around fast enough. It's designed for precision I suppose. Its a 1:1 replica of the real thing. Like you say it is stunning. It's even been used as the HOTAS in the Batwing in The Dark Knight Rises.

Like I said, if you're playing arcade type games then it's overkill. Check out DCS World (it's free) and see if you like it and then decide.
 

DeanE

Distinguished Member
I've been out of the loop for awhile and not familiar with Elite Dangerous or Star Citizen.

The Warthog has some heft to it. I tried using it in BF3 and got nowhere. I just couldn't fling the stick around fast enough. It's designed for precision I suppose. Its a 1:1 replica of the real thing. Like you say it is stunning. It's even been used as the HOTAS in the Batwing in The Dark Knight Rises.

Like I said, if you're playing arcade type games then it's overkill. Check out DCS World (it's free) and see if you like it and then decide.
That's the thing though, I wouldn't be using this for arcade games and wouldn't imagine that it would have been any good in BF3, it seems to be a stick aimed more at the sim market and for precision flying like you say. However games like ED and SC aren't arcade games either, but I do know that they are taking the physics of the craft you fly very seriously .. I may hold on until after the DFM for Star Citizen is released.

Didn't realise they used it in The Dark Knight Rises mind you. :)
 

mitor

Established Member
For those of you wondering if a stick like the Thrustmaster Cougar Warthog would work well with Elite Dangerous because of it's lack of rudder, it's worth bearing in mind that there is very little yaw in E:D.

Most of the control is pitch (up/down) and roll. The pitch (side to side) movement is very slow by design and the lead designer has said that it may be reduced yet further in later builds to avoid ships 'turreting in space'

I think people without twist rudder sticks won't be missing all that much
 

DeanE

Distinguished Member
For those of you wondering if a stick like the Thrustmaster Cougar Warthog would work well with Elite Dangerous because of it's lack of rudder, it's worth bearing in mind that there is very little yaw in E:D.

Most of the control is pitch (up/down) and roll. The pitch (side to side) movement is very slow by design and the lead designer has said that it may be reduced yet further in later builds to avoid ships 'turreting in space'

I think people without twist rudder sticks won't be missing all that much
Problem for me there is this with be for SC also which is yaw heavy (Chris Roberts' preferred control), no idea why he prefers a pitch/yaw setup over pitch/roll, but hey ho. However CIG have confirmed that even though the default control may be yaw on the x-axis, this can be changed to roll instead.
 

mitor

Established Member
Yeah, as long as there is only primary movement on 2 axis then simple remapping should get you decent control on a regular stick.

I'd quite like a Cougar HOTAS but, equally, I don't want a divorce (so I'd have to keep it secret!)
 

GMC79

Distinguished Member
Mine arrived today, very good for the money. Never used a stick before ever so is weird and i know what u mean about deadzone but for the cash it's a minor quibble. (and gets the sim juices flowing in other than driving games ;-) )
 
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Razorclam

Prominent Member
Think I just picked up a used one of these for £20. Result.
 

majnu

Distinguished Member
Looks pretty decent for the price and a good stop gap until the sc themed HOTAS are released.
 

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