If you’re invested in the latest Microsoft Flight Simulator but find using a standard controller kills the illusion, then Turtle Beach’s VelocityOne Flight Control System is made for you.
This is one seriously impressive piece of kit, representing the busiest hunk of a plane’s nerve centre carved out and conveniently ready for you to attach to your desk and start flying for real – well, more like for real.
Opening the box reveals everything that you need to get going, starting with a very handy, super-informative double-sided foldout guide to both assembly and the basics of getting airborne (and staying there). The two main parts are the yoke controller unit and a quadrant module that attaches to that easily. Also in the box are extra light plane handle tops (as standard, the unit is equipped in airliner mode), screws and tape for more permanent attachment of the unit than the easy-to-use inbuilt clamp system, an extra indicator panel overlay, the mere two cables needed to get it all up and running, stickers and other documentation.
Setup is super-simple – it’s the flying that’s the hard part! Just attach the two main units, connect them with one of the colour coded cables and then attach the other one to your Xbox (or Windows PC). All power – and there looks to be a lot of it, as things light up all over just like the real thing – comes via USB, so there’s no need for a spare power outlet. A firmware update was required, which is installed via a free Xbox or Windows Turtle Beach app. It takes a while, but with new features being regularly added, you want to keep up to date.
The look of the VelocityOne once fired up really is something to behold. There are lights on the yoke, which also has a colour screen (or “Flight Management Display”) implanted in its centre, the aforementioned indicator panel, with panels and such that light up accordingly if you engage this or that function – or are heading for disaster (Pull up! Pull up!) – the quadrant module, as well as its additional ten programmable function buttons. Get one of these for Christmas and the tree will be jealous of the light display!
We tested on an Xbox Series X, and were delighted to find that Flight Simulator recognised the VelocityOne controller without any need for faffing about in menus, giving us more time to, erm, faff about in the myriad menus in the actual game. Of course, if you’ve already mastered getting around in FS then you’ll take to this like a pilot to a cockpit, with all standard controller buttons – and a whole lot more besides – placed variously about the VelocityOne. It doesn’t take too much acclimatisation to know exactly where each button sits. Even the new third button on the Series X|S controllers is present and accounted for.
We first took to the air on a sightseeing tour of Melbourne and, after menu hopping to allow actual control of our aircraft, went about the usual stupid stuff like buzzing the MCG and looking for our home. The initial rush of controlling our little plane as in real life – pulling the yoke in, out and all about – was truly something and, best of all, as we kept flying about the excitement scarcely waned. It feels so much more natural flying this way, really upping the simulator feel. Pulling knobs for extra power, adjusting the rudders, using the pitch trim control wheel to keep us airborne while fiddling with other functions and just plain sightseeing, it’s complicated for a cockpit newbie, but delivers a real feeling of accomplishment once the hang is gotten. There’s a reason why top pilots are paid the big bucks. Well, we think they are. They certainly should be!
Flitting about in a Cessna is one thing, but hopping into the captain’s seat on a classic Boeing 747 is another thing entirely, yet it still has that incredible added realism thanks to the VelocityOne. And yeah, we still buzzed the MCG… That colour screen – sorry, the FMD – has a menu to adjust various configurations for light and heavy aircraft, and is really worth having a hunt about in for further customisation – even down to lighting colour.
“It feels so much more natural flying this way.”
The unit itself feels very sturdy in its construction, and with all that’s included we’re actually surprised that it isn’t more expensive. As well as the attention to detail with the actual flight controls – actual aeronautical engineers were apparently involved in the VelocityOne’s design – there are little things, like the programmable functions, down to the Allen key living inside a panel on top of the yoke unit so it doesn’t get lost. Then there’s the very handy headphone socket on the left side of the main unit, to plug in a headset and really dial that realism up to 11 with the Flying High quotes like, “We have clearance, Clarence,” and “What’s our vector, Victor?” Seriously, it never gets old (note, anybody in your vicinity may disagree with that).
While the VelocityOne can apparently be used on other flight games, it really is designed to partner perfectly with Microsoft Flight Simulator and, from our joyful experience, it does that phenomenally well indeed, bringing a realism to simulated flight that has to be experienced to be truly appreciated. Now, please extinguish your tray tables and return your smoking material to the upright position, as we’re coming in to land…
The Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight Control System for Xbox and PC is available now.