There are some great games out there, but arguably some of the most impressive are those very niche little titles known as simulators - the proper ones I mean (like 2020's Microsoft Flight Simulator). There’s just something about trying to replicate the feel of a certain system; whether that be flying a plane, driving a car, or operating a steam train, it’s always quite impressive how well some developers can emulate that system and feeling so naturally.
Because video games are about immersion - most of the time at least - and there are many ways that they can achieve this. But there’s only so much a game developer can do on a flat screen. Thankfully, there's a way for us, the audience, to further enhance that level of immersion ourselves through the use of PC peripherals.
The Thrustmaster T16000M FCS flight stick is a great mid-range tool to do just that. The T.16000M is a joystick mainly used for simulated flying games, and includes 16 action buttons that you can program to any command in-game that you like, a fully ambidextrous joystick so you can switch from right-handed to left-handed with ease, plus loads of other features that can really enhance gameplay.
With the release of Star Wars: Squadrons recently, we wanted to test out the T.16000M flight stick to see if it's really as good as it says on the box, and yeah, it's pretty damn good.
We've already covered setting up the T.16000M flight stick in a previous article, but just to quickly summarize: all you need to do is connect the USB connector into your PC and you're good to go, Windows will automatically download the latest drivers and you can start playing with your new joystick in seconds.
If you want the more detailed route however, you can download the Thrustmaster T.A.R.G.E.T (Thrustmaster Advanced pRogramming Graphical EdiTor) software which will allow you to fully customize the joystick's button configurations yourself and create profiles for various different games as well.
Thrustmaster also provides some ready-to-go mapping settings on their site, so you can just load them up quickly and get playing straight away without much hassle. Its not a huge selection of games, but it covers some big HOTAS-supported titles like Elite Dangerous, War Thunder, Everspace, MechWarrior, Redout and Star Citizen.
Next up, we have the joystick itself - the big wobbly thing on top of the base. In my time playing with it I was consistently surprised as to how smooth it felt, as the magnetic sensors not only give the flight stick more accuracy, but also helps to reduce friction whilst moving it around. It’s no wonder then that the stick boasts a whopping resolution of 16000 x 16000 values.
It also just feels great, everything feels weighty and ergonomic in all the right ways. There’s a convenient hand rest at the bottom of the joystick for reducing stress whilst playing for a long period of time, and the ergonomic design just makes it comfortable to use.
And the great part is that this is a fully ambidextrous joystick which provides 2 benefits: the first of which allows you to easily switch the controller around for whichever hand, so that all you left-hand folks have nothing to worry about at least. The second great thing about this is that you can then pair it up with another joystick to have a dual flight stick setup for supported games.
There’s 4 buttons on the joystick, plus a dedicated 8-way hat switch, and they’re all really easy to get to, requiring little movement or force to activate them. The hat switch rests where your thumb normally would, with 3 of the 4 buttons located to the sides and below the hat switch itself. The 4th button is the trigger, and protrudes out from the joystick itself to allow for comfortable resting of your index finger if you don’t want to keep it on the trigger all the time.
Then there’s the base of the flight stick, which is really hefty. I mean this thing weighs a lot which gives it some serious stability whilst gaming, and that’s really great when I’m going for long sessions and start to get really into it.
There’s 12 buttons located on the base, which in combination with the 4 buttons on the joystick, brings the entire system to a total of 16 buttons. However, you can actually turn these into modifiers which effectively multiplies the available buttons, so that you can program even more actions. Plus some of the buttons on the base have braille-style physical identification, which I found to be more useful when gaming in VR.
Finally, there’s a small little throttle switch at the front of the base, which negates the need for a dedicated throttle controller. Obviously having a dedicated one is really good, but this at least means the T.16000M is effectively an all-in-one package, which is great for beginners who are just getting started in the world of PC peripherals and flight sticks.
Overall, the entire package of the T.16000M is a great deal, and for around $70-$80 this is ideal for a mid-range setup, or beginners who are just getting into it.
Okay so we’ve talked about the flight stick itself and how it feels, but what about gameplay? Well I was able to get it working in Star Wars: Squadrons without any real hassle, apart from the fact that Squadrons seems to have a bug right now that can’t recognize 2 independent joysticks when they’re both connected, but even with 1 joystick I found the experience to be quite pleasant.
Pretty much everything I needed was located and already programmed on the controller in SW Squadrons, so I rarely felt myself pining for another joystick to be honest. The only other problem I found was the implementation of joystick dead zones and sensitivity in Squadrons, but this wasn’t a problem from the joystick but rather the game itself, and will hopefully be fixed in a later update.
Apart from that, the controller felt great and was all I needed. As a beginner though I can see the 12 buttons becoming pretty intimidating, as there’s quite a lot to learn and when the game says “press button 9 to activate boost” it can take a couple seconds to get yourself reacquainted with the layout. Not a huge deal, but worth noting for newcomers at least.
I think the best part about the T.16000M FCS HOTAS is that this is a great low cost option that works just as well as anything 4 times the price, which is really saying something in terms of value-for-money. I would also argue that this is the perfect first-timer joystick, as it's comfortable and easy to use, which is just great for getting you introduced into the world of flight sticks.
The level of customization available with the 16 total buttons allows for a good degree of adjustability for games that support HOTAS, plus the ability to change any of these buttons into modifiers effectively multiplies the available actions at any given time. It's also fully ambidextrous, which allows players to change from right-handed to left-handed setups and vice versa with ease, and also gives the option to pair it with another joystick for a dual-stick setup.
If you want to bag yourself your own T.16000M FCS HOTAS, you can get one today for around $70 (£59.99 or €69.99) depending on where you buy. Or if you want a dual-stick setup straight away, Thrustmaster also offers a great bundle of 2 joysticks in one package for around $129.99 (£109.99 or €119.99).
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