The Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight Is Great For Newbies, And Confusing For Pros

The Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight Is Great For Newbies, And Confusing For Pros

I’ve spent about a week now with the Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight controller. Here’s what I can tell you: if I were a flight sim novice, I’d probably be pretty happy with it. But I’m not a beginner, so I have some critiques.

The VelocityOne Flight has a clean look built out of professional looking moulded black plastic. The yoke is comfortable in the hand and saves some space by putting triggers on the rear that control your rudder. It also comes with a snap-on throttle quadrant with controls for light aircraft and liners alike. This already provides more functionality out of the box than most other yokes on the market. It comes in at A$479.95, which puts it in a price tier above both the workhorse Logitech yoke-and-throttle kit and the sought-after Honeycomb yoke.

And it’s much cheaper than the Honeycomb yoke-and-throttle combo, that’s for sure. But the price point is still high, and I don’t feel like it does everything it can to earn it.

Fly the friendly skies

I own both the Honeycomb and Logitech yokes, and so I automatically compare the VelocityOne experience against them. And when held against them, the VelocityOne Flight’s build quality feels like it comes up slightly short. Despite being nearly A$500, the unit feels surprisingly cheap. The action when pulling or pushing on the yoke feels like it could be much smoother. The throttle levers for jets and liners are light and loose. This lack of weight means making subtle adjustments to engine power feels finicky. The lack of resistance means setting them at 25% power or lower is a great way to have gravity slowly pull them down into neutral position, shutting one of your engines off as you attempt a landing. This is not what you want or need when your heavy aircraft is on approach.

These quirks aren’t present in either the Logitech or Honeycomb controllers. Both have smooth yoke actions, and both have throttle quadrants that provide varying degrees of resistance. The Logitech throttle may feel cheaply made, but its levers hold firm in whatever position you assign. The Honeycomb gear is strong across the board, aiming for as realistic a kit as possible.

Another curiosity is that there are aspects of the VelocityOne Flight that feel rather overdesigned. Attaching the yoke to a desk using its built-in clamps requires pulling the top off the controller, removing a very large Allen key and unscrewing a pair of equally large, hidden screws. This drops the clamps out the bottom of the unit, and you tighten the screws to adjust them. Once tightened, you replace both the key and the lid on the controller.

All I have to do to set up my Honeycomb yoke is place it on the desk and tighten a pair of tumblers below the unit. Yes, by eschewing these tumblers and putting the mechanism inside, the VelocityOne Flight saves you some space under the desk, but attaching the thing runs two steps too far. What do I do if I somehow lose that huge Allen key?

Squawk 7421

The Honeycomb also features specific controls and switches for avionics and certain functions. These add to a feeling of broad authenticity. By contrast, the VelocityOne Flight has an array of blank keys on the throttle quadrant. Flight Simulator binds them to specific controls by default, but you can change them to anything you like. I don’t mind it, it’s designed to be a quick menu for frequent functions and it works well.

What confuses me is a backlit plate behind the yoke. On this backlit plate are an array of alert lights. Flaps up, flaps down, parking brakes, autopilot, there’s a lot of them. What’s confusing is they look like buttons. They’re not, they’re just indicators, and it feels like Turtle Beach has missed a trick there. If the labels on this plate were an array of buttons for frequent controls, it would be among the most comprehensive on any yoke.

The throttle quadrant snaps onto the side of the main yoke chassis with a sharp click. It’s probably the most interesting facet of the unit’s design because flight sim controllers typically leave the yoke and throttle separate. They do this for customisation purposes — pilots in training like the versatility of being able to arrange the throttle on the left or right of the yoke to better simulate sitting on either side of a cockpit. This design precludes that, favouring the right-handed, but an interesting approach nevertheless. What I hope to see in future models is perhaps some extra work done around cable management. The cables for connecting the throttle to the yoke are all external. Given that the apparatus that connects them is a large plastic tumbler, why not have the cable run along inside and get it off the desk?

Finally, some praise for the throttle quadrant: I love that it has throttle, prop, and fuel mixture controls below the levers. When it comes to flight sim hardware, this particular config can be hard to find. Most just run with the standard lever-style throttle on the assumption everyone wants to fly jets and liners. These controls are for single-engine light aircraft, Cubs and Cirruses, and their inclusion opens up a TON of aircraft that are perfect for learning on.

Tower, please repeat

The final thing I want to mention is the Turtle Beach Control Centre program that drives firmware updates. This app is far too particular about what it needs from you to run a simple update. For one thing, it runs in full screen with no ability to adjust its size. For another, if you minimise the app or tab out of it while it’s performing a firmware update, it crashes. This corrupts the update, and you have to start the whole process over. It holds your entire PC hostage until it’s satisfied the update has been applied successfully.

I do want to shout out some built-in functionality that allows the VelocityOne Flight user to change the hardware config from PC to Xbox. For those players who are looking to play Flight Simulator on their Series X|S console, this is a genuine godsend. I can’t think of the last time I saw a flight stick for a console, so it’s certainly got that going for it.

Getting your hours up

I say all of this from the perspective of someone who’s spent a lot of time on home flight simulator hardware and knows what he likes. But if I pull myself out of that headspace for a second and try to look at the VelocityOne Flight as a starter kit, I begin to see the value in it. I wouldn’t choose this as my main HOTAS kit, but I would consider it an excellent option for someone who is brand new to flight sims and wants to level up their input game.

It’s not complex to set up, it’s fairly easy to use, and I can see it being attractive to new pilots and those curious about flight simulator hardware. For those players, the quirks that irritate the more experienced won’t apply at all. If hoping to get started, and the price for entry doesn’t put you off, you’ll be well-served. For veteran pilots, keep coveting that Honeycomb, you’re fine for now.

Find out more about the Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight here.

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