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Force Feedback

Like nearly any other parameter, force feedback has both highs and lows. You can easily name a few even if you don't know much about joysticks. Force feedback adds realism but makes the joystick more expensive and calls for external power (the USB bus cannot power two electronic motors necessary to implement it). There are other, more subtle, factors, though. Force feedback is a dramatic improvement on your perception of the machine under your control. It won't let you miss the moment your angle of attack gets too close to falling into a spin. You can roughly estimate your speed without looking at the instruments by feeling the force in the handle. You can also accurately trim your machine with force feedback. Unfortunately, there are more downsides to it than just the higher price and the extra power consumption of your joystick. The force feedback mechanics with its gear transmissions and electronic motors worsens the accuracy of control. The whole arrangement is going to break down sooner, especially if you use the force feedback effect to its full extent. The motor-enabled handle can get you in trouble in situations where you wouldn't have any problems with an ordinary joystick: you can apply too much or too little effort after being jerked by the force feedback. This annoying effect shows up differently in different FFB joysticks, from being a slight nuisance to downright preventing you from controlling the machine normally, but it shows up in any case.

So, you have to make a choice between a higher accuracy of control (coupled with certain money savings) and improved realism thanks to an additional channel of communication with the machine under your control. The majority of experienced virtual pilots prefer joysticks without force feedback but there are some people who can't play without it. So again, the choice is up to you.

Joysticks (and other gaming peripherals) with the so-called vibration feedback seem useless to me. This kind of feedback does not change the resistance of the handle. Such devices react in exactly the same way - using a low-power integrated electromotor to make the handle vibrate - irrespective of the in-game action (shooting, your plane being hit by bullets, your plane’s wheel diving in between the runway slabs while taking off or landing, etc). And this utterly useless addition to your joystick has to be paid for, even though it doesn't increase the product price much. I guess these are the reasons why such models have never been popular among top-tier brands (the single attempt to introduce one was Thrustmaster’s Top Gun Fox 2 Pro which was never much of a success).

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