Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS Review
Published: 6th December 2016 | Source: Thrustmaster | Price: £175 |
There is an awful lot to like about the Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS. If you are wondering whether to take the plunge into the world of a HOTAS, enhancing your immersion whilst also improving your ability to control a flying vehicle, then the combination of features and pricing are competitive enough that we think you could definitely start here without feeling too disheartened if the flying life isn't the life for you. Certainly it is a massive improvement over using a pad, or even just using a stick on its own. There are, however, a few niggles. We'll try and cover everything.
The stick is a refresh of the already existing T.16000M joystick, and we think all of the changes are for the better. The use of orange lighting rather than searing green hues is obviously something that I prefer (as regular readers will know), but it's also subtler than the previous model, which means its less distracting. What isn't less distracting is the fact that the LED still does the annoying thing of lighting up when you move it and turning off when it is centred. Why on earth Thrustmaster haven't solved this by either giving us software control or just a switch on the base is madness. It's such a problem the internet is awash with guides on how to disable it, which we hope Thrustmaster would have done. It's not so bad when you're flying, as you need regular constant inputs, but in Elite it's particularly grating due to the stop-start nature of your inputs. Movements of the stick itself are excellent. It has a lovely resistance to it that beautifully straddles the middle ground between being so floppy it is useless and so hard you get arm ache. It's crisp, easily able to handle subtle movements, and feels like a quality item. The changes to the buttons to make them easier to feel for when compared to the earlier one are also a huge benefit. When you have twelve buttons it is necessary to be able to distinguish them in the heat of the moment, and the depressions and bumps all ensure you get your finger on the right one every time. It's such a shame that pressing them is such a squishy affair. There is no tactile feedback at all. We'd say it was a side effect of the price tag, except their own HOTAS X buttons have a nice click and that's only £40. Disappointing, but by no means a deal breaking problem.
The throttle is what will get a lot of people in through the door, as it's the new addition to the T.16000M and what brings it up to the FCS HOTAS designation. Thrustmaster have eschewed the more conventional pivot style and gone for a slide throttle. This gives you a much greater working range allowing for more subtle tuning of your thrust/RPM. As someone with a couple of thousand hours on a regular style throttle it takes some getting use to, but new people will be up and running instantly. If there is a slight issue with the throttle it is that the base is way too light and/or the throttle is slightly too sticky. I often lift it off the desk in moments of particularly frenetic manoeuvring. It needs either to be weighted more, or for more of the base to have friction pads on the bottom rather than the two 10p sized bits there currently, or you need to take advantage of its mounting capabilities. Again, like the stick, not a deal-breaker, a minor annoyance. Lastly because the majority of the buttons on the throttle are in the form of hat switches the squishy button problem doesn't apply to the throttle. They are all crisp and lovely, and the analogue elements (dial, paddle, stick) have a nice range of motion so that you can enjoy lots of subtle movements. Our only other issue is the same as we found with the HOTAS X hat switch, and we find with the joystick hat switch and bottom thumb hat on the T.16000M FCS. Whomever designed them clearly wears gloves when they are playing. They're just harsh and unnecessary. If this was our stick we'd purchased the first thing we'd do is take the Dremel and some sandpaper to it. Bits of hard plastic jabbing into the pads on our thumbs doth not a comfortable experience make.
If you're in the market for a HOTAS then you probably fall into one of three camps. Someone looking for their first HOTAS, unsure if flight/space sims are for you. If that's you, then Thrustmaster's own HOTAS X is cheap enough that you can dip your toe into the water without getting stung, but with the understanding that is only has a small amount of buttons. Secondly you're either an owner of a HOTAS X and looking to upgrade, or you know you want a good affordable HOTAS to enhance your gaming pleasure then the T.16000M FCS HOTAS is a great purchase. There are enough detail changes on the stick to make it worth owning over the original green one, and the TWCS and Joystick combination give you enough buttons and axes for all but the most hardcore flyboy. Because, finally, if you're already a hardcore flyboy then you own a Thrustmaster Warthog, so what are you doing here? With some stickier feet on the throttle base, a little sanding on a couple of the hat switches and a snipping of the LED wire inside, we'd happily use it for all our flying needs. The combination of plenty of buttons and axes to customise, alongside good build quality and a very affordable price tag mean that the Thrustmaster T.16000M FCS HOTAS wins our OC3D Gamers Choice Award.