Turtle Beach’s VelocityOne Flight system is unapologetic about its target audience. From its setup right down to the profile settings, this is for fans of Microsoft Flight Simulator.
Designed specifically with Xbox in mind (though it’s also compatible with gaming PCs), the VelocityOne Flight promises to enhance your experience and add a more realistic, tactile feel to your time in the virtual cockpit. And for the most part, it’s a success. In fact, the only thing letting it down from being one of the best joysticks is the game itself not always playing ball.
VelocityOne Flight – features & design
Price: $379.95 / £349.99
Compatibility: Xbox, PC
Features: 180° yoke handle rotation, built-in display with on-board customization, 10 programmable buttons, trim wheel, swappable lever heads, vernier controls
Many flight sticks try to be as authentic as possible when it comes to controls, and the VelocityOne is no different. Featuring a true-to-life 180° yoke handle rotation to go with a push and pull system for ascending or descending, it certainly talks the talk. It also has a non-contact hall effect sensor to ensure longevity along with integrated rudder controls and more buttons than are probably necessary.
That isn’t a criticism, by the way – I’m all for customisation, and the VelocityOne Flight excels in this department. Each one comes with a modular throttle quadrant, and it boasts 10 programmable buttons to go with a trim wheel, levers, swappable lever heads, and vernier controls. When combined with the status indicator panel behind the yoke, it’s all a bit fancy.
While we’re on the subject, let’s talk design. Although it looks good out of the box, the VelocityOne Flight isn’t necessarily the most eye-catching flight stick on the market. Not at first, anyway. While it’s got some nice, grippy texturing on the yoke and rubber rests for your thumbs, it wasn’t as flashy as I’d been expecting for something in this price bracket – it’s surprisingly understated beyond some pops of color from the plastic heads.
Then you turn it on.
Suddenly, RGB lighting comes to life and spills out from the buttons, around the yoke, and even the sticks. This gives it the extra push that has you realising it’s a premium item. It’s really rather handsome, and you can fiddle with those colors via onboard settings.
This is displayed on a handy LED screen in the middle of the device, and it’s easy to access even when you’re a few hundred feet above the digital ground. That means you can quickly adjust bindings, check which buttons do what, and swap to single or double propeller modes.
I was equally impressed with the more mundane clamp system. Lift off the back hatch and you’ll see a sturdy Turtle Beach-branded Alan key and two bolts that you can undo to lower a pair of metal arms. These then slot onto your desk and can be tightened to fit, at which point you can snap the lid back on to hide these inner workings. It’s an elegant solution that doesn’t require any permanent screwing in or extra kit, allowing you to use the VelocityOne Flight on your coffee table or the best gaming desks.
VelocityOne Flight – performance
Let’s be honest with each other for a moment: you’re buying the VelocityOne Flight for Flight Simulator, right? And if that’s the case, there’s something you should know. Namely, the game doesn’t let you operate its menus via any third-party sticks. This means you’ll need to use a controller or mouse to navigate. It also means certain tutorials (including ones teaching you to look around the cockpit) are fundamentally broken unless you keep switching to your traditional handset. Basically, don’t panic like I did – it’s Flight Simulator, not you.
This is understandably annoying, especially considering the fact that the VelocityOne Flight is designed specifically for Flight Simulator. However, it’s not Turtle Beach’s fault. And, in all fairness, it’ll hopefully get fixed at some point in the future. It’s just something to be aware of.
Prepare for takeoff
Luckily, it’s not important once you actually get to the good stuff – flying. In action, it’s exceptional. Deeply responsive to the slightest movement, there’s a thrill to guiding your aircraft through the Himalayas to gliding over central London. That customisable element means you’re all clear to tailor the experience to taste, too. Frankly, it’s about as close as you can get to being in a real cockpit without taking up classes. I’ve got nothing but good things to say about the VelocityOne Flight in action.
As with a few other sticks, though, just be advised that this one isn’t compatible with all flight sims – it’s not going to work on the likes of Elite Dangerous for Xbox, for example. However, it did do wonders with the far more arcade-y Star Wars Squadrons. Particularly the TIE Fighter sections; this setup closely matches the TIE’s own flight stick, so it was much more immersive to use than a standard controller.
Yes, I know some will see it as heresy that I even bothered to try. But hey, I had to do my due-diligence. And also, using a flight stick to fly Star Wars ships is awesome.
The downside? It’ll take some getting used to. The VelocityOne is exceedingly responsive, to the point that I found it difficult to handle at first. Lining up shots in Squadrons while balancing rotation, speed, and direction was quite tricky (I soon became the Empire’s most bumbling space cadet), and Flight Simulator regularly saw me going into a stall because I was overly enthusiastic with the yoke.
Still, this is a good thing rather than a drawback. I’d far rather have a flight stick with a greater range of control than one that manoeuvres like a tank.
In fact, my one real criticism is that the VelocityOne Flight’s levers could be sturdier. Because they’re thin metal, there’s a bit of wobble to them. They aren’t in danger of snapping off at the slightest abuse, but it would have been nice to see a little more rigidity from something this expensive.
Overall – should you buy the VelocityOne Flight?
If you want a more immersive Flight Simulator experience, I have no qualms at all in recommending the VelocityOne Flight. It’s an expensive investment, sure, but you’re getting a very high quality for your cash. It’ll also last you, and the setup is universal enough that you should be able to keep it at your desk for a long while to come. It really is one of the best Xbox controllers.
There’s no need to worry about the Xbox focus, either – it works every bit as well as a PC controller for gaming, so budding captains who only use computers are still A-OK to take off with this particular flight stick.
4.5 out of 5
Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight review
Even though it’s held back slightly by Flight Simulator’s menu navigation issues, the VelocityOne Flight proves its worth once you’re up in the air.