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Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog Flight Stick Review

By: William Harmon | Game Controllers in Peripherals | Posted: Jul 25, 2014 2:02 pm
TweakTown Rating: 96%Manufacturer: Thrustmaster



Here in the Enterprise lab, we often run benchmarks that can take a long time to complete. During these times, we like to fire up some of our favorite games. Here are a few of those games we are using, and details on how we got the Warthog working with them.



Star Citizen Arena Commander


Star Citizen is one game we have a strong interest in, and we have pledged far more than we wish to admit. This game is looking to be one fantastic game, and we do love space simulators.


Currently, Star Citizen has released an alpha version of Arena Commander, which allows you to fly two different ships in free flight, or combat in the Vanduul Swarm. There is also a multiplayer feature just starting to come out. To learn more about Star Citizen, click here: Star Citizen




If you have pledged certain packages in Star Citizen, you can now jump into the Arena Commander, or AC. After you download and install AC, you will see a screen to login, and then this screen will show up.


Let us look at how to set up our Warthog flight stick. Please note that AC is still in alpha phase, and many features will be added soon. Right now, it has a somewhat limited ability to configure joysticks in-game. There are pros and cons to using a keyboard mouse setup, or a joystick. It's still debatable on which works the best, and we think it's really a matter of personal preference.




When you hit launch, you will find yourself in the hanger; at this point, hit the ESC key and head to your options. You can find the Thrustmaster HOTAS Warthog flight stick, but you need to do more than just select this. Hopefully this option will be set up later in the alpha phase.


We looked at many different ways to get the Warthog working, and we did have some good success with those, but in the end we were not happy with how everything was working.


After a fair amount of searching on the forums, we ran across a very helpful video made by Clifford Z. He does a great job at going into detail on how to get everything working and configured so you can use the Warthog in Arena Commander.



If you go to Clifford Z's YouTube, and click on the Show More button, you find he has included links to the files you will need to get started. We have watched his video and downloaded the files he provided, so let's start getting this all set up.




The first thing you want to do is fire up the T.A.R.G.E.T. GUI program.


Right under Fly Now, click the Add button, and the next screen will pop up. For Title, we named this Star Citizen. Path is the location of the Star Citizen Launcher; in our case, it is C:UsersXXXDocumentsStarCitizenLauncherStarCitizenLauncher.exe, where XXX is your user name.


Associate Configuration is the location of the Star Citizen Alpha.fcf file that we downloaded from Clifford Z's video. We had that on the desktop, so our location is C:UsersXXXDesktop Star Citizen Alpha.fcf, where XXX is your user name. You can use the Browse button to locate these files. When that is all completed, click the Add button.




Okay, great! We are all finished setting up the Warthog flight stick. To use this, double-click on Star Citizen, which we just created under the Fly Now section. This will bring up the Star Citizen Login screen; log-in now, and that will take you to the hanger.




We have now logged in and launched Star Citizen, and found ourselves sitting in the hanger.


When we looked at the options screen, and found the Warthog screen, it basically tells you to hit the command key, (which is "~") and we see this screen now. If you followed Clifford Z's instructions, you will have created a folder on your C: drive, and named it HOTAS. You put the Layout_hotas_warthog.xml file inside of that folder. We also created a notepad file that is on our desktop that has this command line saved into it. We open that file, and copy this command line:


pp_rebindkeys C:Hotaslayout_hotas_warthog


Now that we have returned to the screen showing us in the hanger (and hit the command key "~"), paste that command line, and hit return. When finished, close the command window by hitting "~" again. Alright, now walk over to your helmet, put it on, and head to the ship you will be flying; in our case we got into our Hornet.




Helmet is on, and we are sitting in our Hornets cockpit. We select the Vanduul Swarm, and get ready to hunt us some Vanduul.




Before you know it, you are in space blowing up Vanduul right and left. Get ready, because they come at you wave after wave. We found that by following Clifford Z's instructions, we were able to get the Warthog working just fine.


Our impressions of the HOTAS Warthog flight stick were very positive. It has a very fine adjustment rate, allowing us to stay on target, hold our own against the Vanduul, and rack up a fair amount of kills. The Warthog is very smooth in flying, and doesn't swing all over the place. Tracking with our gun sights to get the green diamond that shows when it's time to fire was still tricky, but with time and practice you can become very good at it.



Elite: Dangerous


Let's move on to the next game we have on our radar, which is Elite: Dangerous. This one is still in Beta phase, so there are plenty of things to add and look forward to.


To learn more about Elite: Dangerous, click here: Elite: Dangerous. You will need to Pre-Order Elite: Dangerous in order to play this game right now.




If you are in the Beta for Elite: Dangerous, and fire up the launcher, you will then log-in, and hit play to get started.


Elite: Dangerous has only a generic joystick setup in the options menu, so we will need to create our own. Everything you will need to map has a keyboard shortcut, and you can see what the generic joystick has predefined by scrolling through those.


We did search for preconfigured files to use with Elite: Dangerous, and we found this link that MikeyTT created over on the ED forums here: Elite: Dangerous Forums


Following this link, you will find MikeyTT has created a configuration file that we can use. Let's download that to our desktop.




Just like in Star Citizen, we need to set up the T.A.R.G.E.T. GUI to use this configuration file. When we have finished doing that, we just double-click Elite: Dangerous under Fly Now, and log into the game.




Here we are looking at the generic joystick settings in Elite: Dangerous. Most likely, we are going to have to go through all of these keyboard shorts, and double check these in MickyTT's configuration file.




We did get into the game using these settings, and found we could fly around just fine, but we did not go too far into testing to check how everything worked. Like we said before, we might have to go through and double check everything to make sure it all works okay.



Digital Combat Simulator


Thrustmaster's HOTAS Warthog flight stick was designed after the A10 control stick, so let us try this out in a simulator that can fly the A10.


We picked up DCS Flaming Cliffs on Steam, and set about getting everything working with that. This one is complex, and has a huge learning curve.




We found several good links to help us get started with DCS, which you can find here: Digital Combat Simulator, Eagle RU Forums. Some info in these links seemed to be outdated, but if you read through them, you can find files to get you started.




Again, just like in the other games, we loaded the configuration file into the T.A.R.G.E.T. GUI, and launched DCS.




Inside DCS now, we bring up the options for the A10 controls to see all of the command assignments. Yeah, there is a lot of them. Each plane has different assignments also, so you might need to make a configuration file for each plane.




Before too long, we are flying the A10. Everything seemed to work for basic flight, but we did not try all of the settings, as there is a huge number of those. It did seem to work okay, but we feel it needs some more work.


Using the Warthog flight stick in DCS was very smooth, and we felt like we were flying the real thing.

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