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The Best Flight Sticks for Microsoft Flight Simulator

Video game flight is having a moment. Maybe being stuck inside because of the COVID-19 pandemic has everyone yearning to explore the world from the skies, but the recently released Microsoft Flight Simulator surprised us all with its blend of depth and accessibility. Whether it’s flying over real-world locations or contending with real-time weather patterns, this love letter to aviation is positively poetic.

Normal video game controls are already tricky enough, whether you’re using a gamepad or a keyboard and mouse. However, flight controls truly challenge you to take your technical skills to the next level. For that extra layer of accuracy when flying video game planes, for yaw control like you’ve never seen, you’ll need a flight stick (not to be confused with a fight stick).

Thanks to the release of the biggest flight sim in years, this niche hardware may now actually be pretty tough to find. If you can’t get your mitts on a full hands on throttle-and-stick (HOTAS) setup, you may need to settle for something like a vertical mouse or another joystick alternative. However, if you do spot a gaming flight stick, these are the ones we suggest you snatch up before take off.

These sticks are also good for more than just fun but dry flight sims. If aerial combat is more your thing, last year’s Ace Combat 7 resurrected that franchise after a decade-long hiatus. Meanwhile, this holiday’s Star Wars Squadrons promises a next-gen upgrade to the classic sci-fi fantasy of piloting X-Wings and TIE Fighters. Here are the best flight sticks for Microsoft Flight Simulator and more.

Best For a Realistic Piloting Experience

Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog

Thrustmaster is a name you’re going to see a lot on this list considering just how strong the brand is when it comes to flight sticks. If you’re looking for the best of the best, no matter what it costs, go with the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog. This metal beauty looks like it was lovingly ripped right out of its real namesake airplane, and has the array of throttle and dual-engine inputs to match.

Best For PlayStation 4 Owners

Hori HOTAS Flight Stick for PlayStation 4

Hardware peripherals for PlayStation consoles tend to be slightly different than their Xbox and PC counterparts. Flight sticks are no different. From Hori, makers of fine fight sticks, this HOTAS Flight Stick lets PS4 owners put their hands on the throttle and joystick. It’s also compatible with PC, so this may be the one flight stick to suit all your needs.

Best For a Midrange Thrustmaster Experience

Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS X

For a slightly more affordable Thrustmaster experience, consider the midrange T.Flight HOTAS X. While it is made of plastic, it’s hard to care since you enjoy Z-axis rotation for rudder controls (something the HOTAS Warthog lacks unless you get external pedals) and a nifty detachable throttle for a more comfortable setup.

Best For RGB Lighting

Logitech X56 HOTAS RGB Throttle and Stick Controller

Logitech’s premier flight stick is a great, new potential choice. The build quality impresses with its light, but solid, metal body and suction cup stability. You can customize it in a variety of ways, from programming more than 180 controls to flying with unlocked individual engines to adjusting throttle panel knobs to playing around with RGB lighting.

Best For Budget Flying

Thrustmaster TCA Sidestick Airbus Edition

This is definitely the budget pick for Thrustmaster flight sticks. However, along with saving you cash, the TCA Sidestick Airbus may prove less intimidating than a full-fledged flight stick that’s covered in scary buttons and knobs. The joystick still offers flight controls more powerful than a regular controller. When you’re ready to go further, this stick also plays nice with other Thrustmaster accessories.

Best For Arcade Action

Logitech Extreme 3D Pro Joystick

Logitech’s budget flight stick is another accessible option. The streamlined controls and rapid fire button make it perfect for action-packed, arcade experiences rather than elaborate flight sims. Still, you can tweak the Extreme 3D Pro more to your liking with programmable buttons and Z-axis rudder control.

Read More: The Best Flight Sticks for Microsoft Flight Simulator

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