Hands-on with the Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS flight stick

Hands-on with the Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS flight stick

Thrustmaster is no stranger to the world of peripherals when it comes to all sorts of simulation gaming, so for E3, the company brought a slew of it’s racing wheels and flight sticks to the show. Of all the products brought to the show, the most intriguing piece of tech on display had to be the recently announced T.16000M FCS HOTAS (Hands On Throttle And Stick) flight setup.

While similar to the already-available T.16000M flight stick, this new upgraded version boasts a more robust control options and a slicker aesthetic. The stick also features the company’s in-house “H.E.A.R.T.” system, bringing with it 16-bit resolution to put it on par with the highest end Warthog throttle and stick in terms of precision and accuracy, which retails for more than triple the price.

MUITNThe package also includes a new throttle, which features 5 axes and a rear RJ12 connector in case you want to incorporate a rudder system into your home setup. The throttle adds 14 buttons and an 8-way hat switch.

My time with the setup was spent playing various modes in the space flight simulator Elite Dangerous, which feels like an ideal fit since space flight offers you a very specific degree of freedom that more traditional simulators don’t.

The throttle felt smooth, and in my experience it was very easy to tell by feel how far I was goosing the throttle in either direction and never really had to look at it to make sure I had it where I wanted in terms of controlling thrust. The additional buttons meant I had dedicated inputs to do things like reverse my thrust, swap view between my in-cockpit UI panels and the like, which, while bothersome until I figured out what everything did, became incredibly useful once I was flying around and engaging with enemy fighters.

The flight stick itself possessed the same level of quality. Buttons were well placed and responsive, and the stick returned to center in a way that many of the more budget-minded flight sticks I’ve used didn’t do quite right.

2949297-001On the base of the stick there are two sets of six buttons each, which were used for things like deploying the ship’s hard points, toggling silent running and viewing the system map. The buttons were large enough and marked well enough to tell them apart by feel, but if you plan on playing in VR, you’d probably need to know your way around the stick real well to use it effectively.

Thrustmaster-T16000MWith a manufacturer’s suggested retail price of $129.99, it’s priced competitively with other popular HOTAS setups like Saitek’s X52, which haven’t really had much opposition up to this point, so having more options for an entry-mid level flight experience is a pretty great thing to see.

Overall I really liked the look and feel of the T.16000M FCS HOTAS. All components felt light, but still sturdy, which isn’t a combination I find myself coming by often. I wasn’t crazy about the trigger on the stick, as it felt just a bit too clicky for my liking, and I would have liked a bit of a rubberized coating, but overall it felt premium in a way I wasn’t quite expecting given the price. I look forward to seeing the final product when it releases later this year.