Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight Universal Control System Review
An enthusiast-grade experience for pros and first-timers
In just one year, Turtle Beach has established an impressively strong foothold in the gaming controller space. This past summer, they released the excellent Recon Controller (see my review), an Xbox-focused pad with a cool new set of headset output functions and an affordable price.
Now, they’re back with the massive, feature-packed, precision-tuned VelocityOne Flight Universal Control System. This is a premium controller targeted primarily at fans of Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 on PC or Xbox. Although its $379.95 price tag may seem daunting — it’s also quite affordable relative to the rest of this particular market. Flight simulation hardware is usually expensive, and usually built more for simulation enthusiasts than for casual flight flans. More mainstream options do pop up once in a great while from other gaming companies, but they often sacrifice build or features to get the price down. And they don’t typically receive ongoing support.
When you look at what the rest of the market offers for under $400, the VelocityOne Flight presents a great relative value, just like the Recon Controller. It has a large suite of customizable controls that rivals anything else out there, a built-in full color screen in the center of the yoke, and a setup process that’s so easy I was able to get it going in about ten minutes. And Turtle Beach seems earnestly dedicated to it for the proverbial long haul.
Whether you’ve got a full cockpit setup at home, you’re just dipping your toe into Flight Simulator for the first time, or you fondly remember the days of nineties computer hardware or the original Xbox’s Steel Battalion controller, then the VelocityOne Flight has so much to offer. I have no doubt it’ll become the default premium controller choice for Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020 going forward.
Note: Turtle Beach kindly sent me a final production unit of this control system to review alongside marketing assets and technical info. I don’t receive any sort of kick back or incentive if you decide to buy one. I had full editorial control over this article and wasn’t paid any money by Turtle Beach. I don’t use affiliate links in my stories. My full reviews policy is right here.
The Turtle Beach VelocityOne Flight Universal Control System sells for $379.95 (official site here), and comes with both a realistically-scaled yoke and a full throttle quadrant attachment. The box includes everything you’ll need for a fast and easy setup, including the two required USB-C cables, some different options for mounting it to your desk, and a set of well-written instructions. The quadrant snaps into place firmly against the yoke, or can be removed if you don’t want to use it, and connecting the cables is easy thanks to color coding.
Bonuses are numerous, befitting of the price. The throttle quadrant has different handle options for its levers that you can easily pop on and off. It comes with a set of decals for the bank of buttons on the quadrant module so you can label them with your customized controls. Finally, you can swap out the indicator panel on the base of the yoke with a different one that can also be customized with additional decals.
The first thing you’ll need to do after unpacking its immaculate box is mount the hardware. Mounting the VelocityOne couldn’t be simpler. Ideally, you’ll want to stick it to a desk, table, or other surface with a flat-facing front. You can pop open a sleek Turtle Beach-branded magnetic hatch on the top of the main yoke to access a tool and lower the integrated mounting clamp arms. This is so cool, and much better than having to attach some kind of awkward secondary clamp.
My main computer desk has a curved front edge, and I wanted to frequently move the system between my PC and Xbox setups for review testing — so I mounted it to an old TV tray table I had nearby.
I know it’s not the prettiest-looking setup, but I’m showing it here to prove how easy it is to set this up in a variety of different ways and locations. I counterbalanced the whole thing with some spare exercise weights, and now I can easily carry it between the different rooms in my house and plug it in instantly. You shouldn’t have any trouble finding a place for this system in your personal setup. If you don’t want to use the clamps, Turtle Beach also includes some special adhesive so it can adhere straight to your desk. If you’ve got a cockpit setup already, the yoke has mounting screws and holes for that as well.
Clamping it down is absolutely necessary, because the core yoke controller is an impressive beast and you don’t want it to slide around. The shaft uses Hall Effect magnetic sensing technology for extremely precise control in-game. The controller knows the exact location of the yoke at all times, and as such it provides a peerless flying experience unlike anything you can get with a regular game pad. It’s smooth and amazing, and just the step up that I expected from bespoke flying hardware. It reminds me of the purpose-built arcade machines that I grew up enjoying in the nineties.
In spite of the huge number of customizable buttons, the controller is very easy to learn. I’ll admit, I got a little too eager in my very first session last week — and promptly turned off my plane’s engine instead of deactivating the parking break. Once my giggling subsided, I made a quick run back through the handy included poster showing the control layout and I was flying in no time.
If reading a poster is too low-tech for you, the VelocityOne Flight also includes something I’ve never seen in a game controller before — a built-in manual. The center of the yoke features a vibrant color screen with handy physical control buttons for its UI. You can control all the functions of the system with this screen, and one of them is a tutorial mode. In this mode, you can press each of the buttons and see their default assignment right on the screen, and also view calibration data. Amazing!
As far as game support, on PC the controller shows up as a set of standard USB HID game controllers, so you can experiment to your heart’s content. Whether on PC or Xbox, the main targeted game right now is Microsoft Flight Simulator 2020. The game has native support for the controller, and it was recognized in-game instantly on my Xbox Series S. I didn’t have to do any additional fiddling other than to make sure that the system was set to Xbox mode via the screen. It’s similarly easy to setup with the PC version.
You can technically navigate the Xbox OS system menu and the game’s menus with the yoke’s buttons, but I decided to have a normal Xbox controller on hand just to make it a little quicker. That’s not at all a knock against the button layout on the VelocityOne Flight. In fact, its button clusters are beautifully ergonomic, and in spite of each side of the yoke containing a full trigger setup, two hat switches, and a button, it’s quite easy to reach everything with a natural hand position. You’ll be able to fly comfortably for hours.
The simulator's controls are mapped intuitively to the system. There aren’t any rudder pedals, but the excellent-feeling triggers on the yoke handles serve the function more than adequately. These triggers also seem like they’d be excellent for playing space simulator games with.
The throttle quadrant is just as fun to use as the yoke. I’ve seen some fans online complain that the levers don’t have the same friction that they’d have in a real plane, but I’ve been having a great time pulling and adjusting them. And the large panel of shortcut buttons convinced me within one day that it’s an absolute necessity. Sure, it’s a lot of different buttons to learn, but you can control and map so many functions of Flight Sim to this panel that it’s more than worth the learning curve.
Headset users don’t have to plug into a second controller or go wireless, as the VelocityOne Flight actually includes a headset jack on the side of its base. It offers all the same functions as a standard Xbox headset jack, and sounds great. As a lover of audio products, I appreciate this.
If you’re into RGB lights, the VelocityOne Flight has you covered. The indicator panel, yoke handles, and throttle quadrant are all vibrantly lit, and you can choose what color you’d like on the screen’s menu — or turn them off if they aren’t to your taste. As of right now, the indicator panel is largely cosmetic, but they’ve promised an update in the very near future to display information there from the game.
That’s the other thing you’re buying for the money here: continued support. Turtle Beach has done a great job with this so far. They’ve got a dedicated subreddit for the system right here, and they’re working directly with Microsoft to continue evolving and patching the support for this system in Flight Simulator.
The VelocityOne Flight Universal Control System is a phenomenal piece of technology. It’s a dramatic first entry into this peripheral space, with features that should keep even the most picky enthusiasts pleased. The full throttle quadrant and sharp color screen are both amazing extras that make it more than worth the price. I have full confidence in Turtle Beach’s continued support of the product given its early launch success and their earnest interactions with the community so far.
So yes, this is a premium control system that costs a little more than the Xbox Series S console, which is the bare minimum hardware needed to play Flight Simulator in the first place. But this is also a truly enthusiast-grade gaming/sim experience. When you look at everything this includes for the price (screen, throttle quadrant with full button panel, continued support from Turtle Beach, etc.) against the few other options out there it’s easy to see how strong of a contender it is.
I’ve never flown a real plane before but I have played a hilarious number of video games over the last 34 years. The VelocityOne Flight is the nicest-feeling controller I’ve ever used in my home environment, and an easy immediate “don’t hesitate” recommendation if you want a more realistic flight experience. It’s a brilliant thing, and an impressive package that’s priced at a level that normally only gets your foot in the door of the high- end sim hardware world.