Flight simulators, and the simulator genre in general, have a natural home on PC. The more thoughtful and intellectual outlook, the detailed technical setups, the dedicated peripherals – none of that really marries all that well with a living room home console set up. Microsoft, however, are intent on bringing the Xbox world and its PC cousin ever closer together, but surely with Microsoft Flight Simulator coming to the Xbox Series X|S console they’ve now gone too far?
Thrustmaster are willing accomplices to Microsoft’s quest, realising that if people are going to get into a sofa-bound flight sim, many of them are going to want some of those specialised peripherals to do it properly. The T.Flight Full Kit X combines a tried and tested Thrustmaster T.Flight Hotas One joystick with a TFRP Rudder, giving you everything you need to utterly immerse yourself in the world of being a pilot, apart from a snazzy uniform.
There’s an immediate issue though, as the Hotas One’s USB cable is just 1.5m long. For a piece of equipment aimed at the living room, it seems like a huge oversight not have a lengthy extension cable included in the box, and I found myself having to slide over a footrest to sit right in front of my TV screen and test my mum’s theory about TV-based blindness. You can obviously buy your own USB extenders, but there’s already the sense that the fiddly nature of PC gaming has crept out of your office space. It’s worth noting that the kit is fully compatible with PC as well, with a selector at the rear of the joystick unit, where you’ll have no such cable problems.
Once you’re close enough, the system itself is nice and intuitive to set up. The rudder unit connects to the body of the joystick via a proprietary T.RJ12 cable – which oddly has plenty of length – with the joystick’s subsequent single USB connection playing nicely given the number of sockets you might be using for a headset and an external drive.
You can split the T.Flight into its two component parts, with the thrust unit on the left and the joystick on the right, or secure the two sides together. The underside of the T.Flight has a neat cubby for a hex key, which you can use to tighten the screws beneath, and doing so makes the unit as solid as you could hope, with just the right amount of weight to keep it in place while remaining comfortable on your lap.
The T.Flight stick has been around for a long while, and other than the Xbox specific buttons included across it, there’s very little different to report. I have to say that it feels like it’s gained a couple of pounds since reviewing the Ace Combat edition, but that could be my memory playing tricks on me. Either way, you’re getting a solid entry-level flight stick here whose sturdy plastic build will hold up to plenty of being bumped around in your living room.
One of the greatest things about it, besides the modular nature, is the ability to set the tension on the stick. If you flip the unit over there’s a dial beneath the joystick which allows you to tighten or loosen the stick’s motion, giving you the ability to find the perfect tension point for you, or to alter it depending on what aircraft you’re flying in Microsoft Flight Simulator or are about to hop off-planet in Elite: Dangerous.
The TFRP Rudder is where things get really interesting. The moment you pull it out of the box, you can tell that it’s extremely well built, and that they’re going to stand up to hundreds of hours of use. That’s handy when you’re going to be sticking your great big hooves on them.
You might wonder, why do I need rudder pedals? Fundamentally, they’re needed to bring your flight simulator experience closer to the real thing, and in doing so they make the whole thing feel more intuitive… once you get used to how they work. As the name might tell you, they give you the ability to control the rudder of your plane with your feet, just like the real thing, while the differential braking gives sim pilots a further incremental level of control over their digital craft.
They use Thrustmaster’s patented S.M.A.R.T (Sliding Motion Advanced Rail Track) technology which gives the pedals a buttery-smooth motion as they move up and down the metal tracks. You’ve then got the large differential brake pedals, which will house those with shoe sizes up to a UK size 12 (or 45 if you prefer European sizes). As someone with a Size 9 foot, I had absolutely no problems with them. If you don’t want to have your whole foot on the unit, you can remove the heel rests and use the balls of your feet, but I personally saw no need to do so.
The only shame of the TFRP is the inability to change the tension, which seems odd when the T.Flight Hotas stick can. Still, they seem to sit in a satisfying middle-ground, requiring just the right amount of pressure to shift the pedals and move up and down the rails. Thanks to the fact that they re-centre themselves they’ll also always be where you need them to be. Crucially, I found they completely upgraded my experience with Microsoft Flight Simulator on Xbox Series X, making it feel as though you’re one with the plane. At £150 they shave a few pounds off the two unit’s separate prices too, so if you are planning on heading off to the digital skies this is the best value way to do it.