So, you may have seen me raving about Ace Combat 7’s PSVR support already. It’s an explosive thrill-ride let down only by its short length. But that’s not the end of the story. You can also play the VR campaign with a Thrustmaster HOTAS 4 flight stick. I did just that and found one of PSVR’s most essential experiences.
Thrustmaster’s controller provides a transformative change here. It’s got all the bells and whistles including a flight stick with a full range of movement and a throttle for acceleration. There’s also a dual rudder system to help with turning and an army of buttons and triggers to replace your DualShock 4. The main components also detach, so I was able to mimic the setup seen in my virtual cockpit pretty easily.
As something of a flying game newbie, it took me a little while to adjust to the controls, though this was true playing on DualShock too. There is intuition here but you’ll have to put the work in to find it.
Once you’re all settled in, though, there’s nothing quite like this on PSVR. The HOTAS 4 allows you to slip into character just a little more, biting your lip and cursing under your breath as you wrestle with the stick to line up a good shot. There’s heft and physicality to every move you make, from the sudden loops you’ll throw yourself into to keep track of an enemy to the flurry of corkscrews you’ll execute when a missile locks on. It’s the last-moment dodges and spills that are the most exciting, like emerging from the clouds and having to suddenly jam the stick back in hopes of narrowly missing a mountain range.
Combat feels great, too. Machine guns are largely ineffective but pulling the trigger to fire feels so good you’ll use them all the time. Spamming the missile button as you wait for them to reload only adds to the tension. Put simply, I was having so much fun playing the game this way I was going back to replay missions. Superhot is the only other VR game I’ve done that with so far.
Though the form factor is mostly perfect the somewhat toy-ish feel of the plastic cover can be jarring. It’s strange to find yourself in a multi-billion dollar jet and wrap your hands around a plastic shell.
Of course, the real kicker is the price. The $59.99 price tag for the game alone is steep to justify 30 – 90 minutes of VR gameplay. Adding another $69.99 on top of that for the stick is tough to recommend. It’ll all come down to personal preference; if you think you might play the rest of the game with the stick then it’s absolutely worth it. Plus you can play other PSVR games like Ultrawings, EVE: Valkyrie and Starblood Arena. It’s also PC compatible so Rift and Vive owners can get some mileage out of it too.
There is reason to splash out, then. With the addition of Ace Combat 7, the Thrustmaster HOTAS 4 earns its place among other PSVR peripherals like the Aim controller. If you’re the kind of PSVR owner that will stop at nothing max out on immersion then I can’t recommend this experience enough.