What HOTAS to buy for SIM and some more questions

Hello there, I am about to buy my first HOTAS and I need some help for what to buy. I am gonna use it for air SIM and some DCS. My budget is 240€. I also do not have VR goggles but I dont know how to look around with a button. I already have car sim pedals, so could I use them for rudder? Thanks in advance.

you can try to find the IR HMD device like IR head tracker or something else to slove this problem, its much cheaper than VR

Thank you

Yeah I’d highly recommend Track IR. I haven’t played War Thunder sim much but I’ve played plenty of other sims both with and without Track IR.

War Thunder doesn’t have any kind of padlock view like older flight sims (for obvious reasons), so spotting the enemy requires either using the hat switch or having to take your hand off the stick or throttle to mouse around while still controlling the plane, which is kind of a nightmare either way, especially in some planes that have particularly awful cockpit visibility.

I’d be curious to hear about the camera control settings used by sim players who don’t have headtracking. I’m sure there are many of you who do well without it, but I can’t go back.

You have 4 options for head movement control

  1. VR
  2. Track IR

As others have pointed out

Though they do come with an inherrent cost

  1. Open Track + Ai Track turns your webcam (and it works quite well with even very cheap webcams) into Track IR and those are free software
  2. (and this is what I use usually) Some joysticks have a thumb stick that can be quite good for head look, like the X-56 which is what I have currently
1 Like

I use the thumb stick on the X-56 Joystick for head movement normally. It serves me quite well. Though I do also spend quite a lot of time in BVR trucks and mud movers. So I dont really spend a huge amount of time dogfighting. So I have begun getting use to Ai Track/Open Track for head movement control when dogfighting in things like the Gripen

VKB or Win-Wing, whichever is cheaper. Botha re excellent options, especially since you already have pedals. Gladiator NXT is the gold standard for flight sticks above the absolute budget level. Well worth its price and will last a long time. The STECS throttle pairs nicely with it, or an Omni-throttle(sideways NXT) is also a good value. Win-Wing is just as good of quality, but has only recently started being available in more places. On sale, some of their stuff can be cheaper than VKB’s, but it is not a step down in quality at all.

Does the x52 pro also have this? Thank you for replying

An amazing starter set would be the Saitek X56, though just know that it is a mid-range HOTAS. Its build quality is mediocre, its capabilities are what you’d expect from a HOTAS in the $100-150 USD range.


All in all, it’s surprisingly customizable. It has a 3 axis stick that uses a spring for tension, and there are multiple different springs you can swap out.
I personally had to disassemble my throttle, though, as since it’s mostly plastic they use a lot of grease. It made the movement feel insanely sluggish, and even when I had loosened the tension all the way on the throttle it still had an egregious amount of friction. I wiped pretty much all of the grease away, replaced it with something a little thinner and a LOT less of it, and it’s now fluid as hell.

I’ve been using this and some pedals for quite a while in DCS, as I’m still waiting for the money to buy a full Virpil HOTAS set.

If you do feel like pushing the extra money, get TrackIR. Currently TrackIR 5 is somewhat cheap for what it is, and it’s the equivalent to VR.
If you want cheaper and non-modular, AimXY also works great. The issue with this is that you need proper lighting to use it, and glasses interfere slightly with its capabilities.

Most low/mid-end sticks you’ll find are 3 axis anyway, meaning you can twist left/right for rudder.

You’re really testing the limits of HOTAS, huh?
I get the point of it is to have control while flying, but that doesn’t mean control everything xD

Outch, very bold statement…

I used TrackIR for years before getting an Oculus 2 about 1.5 years ago, and you just can’t compare the two. Immersion of headtracker via no tracker is already much better, but only with a VR headset you feel completely immersed.

But the logical sequence I recommend for people wanting to grow with the hobby and invest gradually is this:

  1. HOTAS Joystick with rudder axis
  2. Pedals
  3. Multi-button mouse
  4. TrackIR (or similar)
  5. VR headset

Note that VR will need a relatively powerful PC, all other hardware is light on the requirements.

Note also that maybe the step 4 (headtracker) may be skipped easily, if funds and system allow to get a VR headset: A Quest 2 only should cost about 200 EUR /USD more, a Quest 3 300 EUR / USD…

1 Like

I’m not saying it’s like VR, but that it’s the monetary counterpart and gameplay-equivalent system.

I have a Pimax 8k, TrackIR5, and the AimXY camera (mainly for eye tracking). I’d much rather use TrackIR 5 for stuff like DCS and WT.
The VR experience seems to do much better with VR-exclusive games, like VTOL.

That’s the counterpoint of VR, immersion. You have depth to the scene. That’s… Pretty much it. The screen moves with your head, which is great in comparison to most head-tracking platforms, but they both serve the same purpose while VR pulls a much larger hardware load.

I’d say a mouse with multiple buttons is #1… You need 2 at the minimum for a game like WT, though some mouse like the Logitech G602 is a bit overkill.
HOTAS and TrackIR / VR are #2 and #3. Most HOTAS sets already give you 3 axis controls, so to invest in something that simply sidegrades this capability instead of a much needed mechanic like head tracking is a waste imo.

The issue comes with game compatibility. WT is horrible optimized for VR, as well as having horrible button mapping availability. It runs terribly, it looks cartoonish and flat even with 3d rendering, and visual acuity is already bad enough without VR.

The beverage I was sipping came out my nose when I read that… lol

(I presume Schindibee was meaning one of those mice with 4 or 5+ buttons, but the literal meaning of the text is anything more than 1)

(also wouldn’t surprise me if someone invents a mouse with basically a full keyboard on the side)

1 Like

I’ve never quite seen the reason behind that. My G502 has 3 configurable buttons on the side, 3 on top. It technically has MMB L/R functions, though most games never recognize that as an input.

If you don’t have a 100% keyboard, you’re 100% at a disadvantage to those that do. Some aircraft like the Spitfire or C.202/205 require 24/7 radiator control, whereas 60/70% don’t have the space to map MEC buttons. If you don’t have that, you’re either cooking your engine or flying around at 50% throttle.
Or there’s the BF-109, with a prop-brake. Or there’s fine-tuning your supercharger gear switches… The list of uses is endless, and this is ignoring its ability to easily map radar buttons or suspension control.

Hm, In my opinion you “undersell” VR quite a bit, ha ha!

Yes, it’s implementation in WT could be better (especially for tanks, and for naval it’s completely useless), but nothing else comes even close to VR when it comes to a natural, immersive feeling of flying. That’s THE gamechanger for flight simulation.

Lemme count…

I got at least 10 functions assigned to my mouse. And the functions vary between vehicle type. = )

Thank you very much! But i have one last question: x52 pro or x56?

Don’t waste money on an x52 or x56. They are decades old pieces of E-junk. The only reason people recommend them is because they were good 10 years ago when nothing else was in the price point. Nowadays they are just an extreme 3D Pro with more buttons. Get a Gladiator NXT, just the stick is better than an x52 or x56 HOTAS.

Personally, I found VR to be more of a hindrance than anything else. I spent about 6 months with a Reverb G2 as my go to. The performance changed every other update but it consistently made finding ground targets a pain. It basically made playing Air in GSB impossible and the view not following the turret made tanks a pain as well. I think it’s worth it if your only interested in Prop or Early jet A2A stuff, but as a whole for WT, VR is overrated. I went back to TrackIR and haven’t felt like I’m missing anything since.

The x56 is not worth its weight in plastic in 2024. It was fine a decade ago when there was nothing else, but nowadays it’s E-junk that only gets sold because people know the Logitech name.