It wasn’t until I began playing Elite: Dangerous that I truly considered getting a flightstick. Never one for simulator games, it didn’t make sense to have one before. Whereas Speedlink’s Phantom Hawk is my first airstick, I have used joysticks in the past, but it was literally years ago back before analog sticks were a thing.
I was really excited to try it out, especially given the improvement I figured it would give my game in the aforementioned Elite: Dangerous. Flightsticks are the one reason I think that Frontier Developments doesn’t allow the console and computer universes to coexist.
The box comes with a quick install guide and a mini-CD with the drivers on. There’s no additional software supplied nor required, as you can configure everything inside Windows if needs be.
The Phantom Hawk itself has a plastic base, an integrated throttle and a total of nine physical buttons. It also has a hat switch and a directional pad within easy reach of your thumb. Those are joined by one of the buttons, with two triggers on the front of the stick -- one for the forefinger, the other for the little finger.
The throttle on the base is smooth, but a little stiffer than I’d like. The six buttons also on the base all click nicely, but one of them is pretty useless if you have a little finger. See, it doubles as the second trigger, meaning you only actually have eight useable buttons. There are also four suction cups on the underside of the base.
As a unit the Phantom Hawk feels quite solid with decent quality plastic and is well put together. The stick has a smooth, full range of motion and even when not secured to the table it remains stable during use. All of the buttons are useable with a single hand, but the ones on the base and the throttle of course are too far for the one hand.
I loaded up Elite: Dangerous and tried it out for a good several hours. It took some time to get used to, but that’s on me not the Phantom Hawk. I’ve played using gamepads as well as mouse & keyboard, and can honestly say that my piloting has improved. The throttle is a lot more sensitive than holding a button ever was and my landings could still use some work, but dogfights and flying around asteroid belts is much more accurate.
The limited amount of buttons is disappointing, but it’s meant that I have to be imaginative with my use of them. Using one as a ‘shift’ key allowed me to map the buttons for extra uses, for instance.
As an entry into flightsticks the Phantom Hawk is great. It’s easy to use, setup was painless and really my only issue is that the throttle seems to be a little out of alignment. Fully forwards doesn’t put my engines to full speed, and full reverse is a smidge too far forwards. There doesn’t appear to be a way to reset it either, which is a shame. It may be a one-off, or just a software issue, so as long as you’re not looking to do any racing, Phantom Hawk is a great stick for Elite: Dangerous.
Speedlink Phantom Hawk Flightstick Review
As an entry into flightsticks the Phantom Hawk is great. It’s easy to use, setup was painless and really my only issue is that the throttle seems to be a little out of alignment.