LiftOff drone simulator overview: Study & practice underneath lockdown
My son was only 4 years old when I started FirstQuadcopter.comSo he grew up with drones around him. Due to this fact, he did not lose or even develop an interest in RC toys. It’s kind of understandable when his 40-year-old father plays with drones for so long.
Now he’s 10 years old and a huge PlayStation game fan. So he was just looking for Valve Index glasses for Christmas. When I saw the first advertisements about the upcoming LiftOff, it occurred to me that it would be nice to review this PS4 drone simulator together. To be honest, I tend to like DJI style crossing drones, so some expert FPV training Joshua Bardwell is more than welcomed.
Before posting my LiftOff review, I decided to try it out for at least a week. The first lesson ended with my son screaming. He claimed that the LiftOff was not a real PlayStation game. I think the super-gentle stick control was unusual for him after so many RPG shooter games. In fact, the controls will also be new to experienced FPV drone pilots. While both sticks are centered on the Sony Dualshock gamepad, the racing drone transmitters have a non-self-centering stick (the throttle moves from bottom to top).
LiftOff drone racing game review
Disclosure: I received a redemption code from Take off to test their racing drone simulator. Although I received a free ticket to this game, all opinions and ideas are entirely my own.
The installation of the LiftOff went smoothly. You only need about 15 GB of free space. With the code I received, I was able to install the deluxe version.
As you can already find on Youtube Some excellent technical reviews of the liftoff simulator. I’ll try to focus more on things newbies should understand before they jump into this game.
Introduction – basic knowledge of FPV drones
Typically, racing drones have three flight modes: Angle, Horizon and Acro / Freestyle. Some models can also have altitude hold modes and position hold modes (optical / GPS), but these are intended for “children” as the experts say. In the liftoff simulator you can configure your drone with one of the following three modes.
Angle mode (fully assisted mode) – Suitable for newbies
- The aircraft remains level without sticking.
- Pitch and roll are limited to a certain angle (usually 50 °) and the drone cannot tip over.
Horizon mode (Self-level mode) – Suitable for advanced pilots
- Remains level without stick input;
- Pitch and roll are not completely limited and the drone can do side / front / back flips.
Acro mode (Freestyle mode) – For experienced pilots only
- Requires a stick input to manually bring the drone back to horizon height.
- Pitch and roll inputs determine how fast the drone rotates around the axis.
Transmitters (remote controls) have several stick configuration modes. Most of the commons are Mode1 and Mode2. Switching from one mode to another is difficult, even for experienced pilots. Personally, I use mode 2 transmitters with the following configuration: throttle and yaw on the left stick and pitch and roll on the right. Perhaps the word “throttle” is familiar to most of us, but what are “yaw”, “roll” and “pitch”?
- YAW is the rotation of the drone along a vertical axis, similar to turning your head – vertical central axis;
- ROLL is the rotation of the drone from front to back (nose to tail) – longitudinal axis;
- PITCH is the rotation of the drone between the axis from side to side – transverse / transverse axis.
The game controller’s self-centered throttle is likely beyond annoying for most old-school pilots, but first-time gamers will adjust to it quickly. When taking off, arm the engines by pulling down the throttle.
Other controls used in LiftOff
- L1 / L2 (shoulder buttons) – Navigate between tabs;
- L2 – switch view (FPV / LoS1 / LoS2);
- X – Enter / Select;
- ○ (circle key) – exit;
- Option button – options menu.
LiftOff test: main interface
As you can see in the image above, there are four important sections (tabs) on the main interface: Single Player, Multiplayer, Extras and Options.
Under the ‘ToolsOn the tab you can check the travel of your flights (Repetition) and customize your drone. By doing ‘WorkbenchYou can customize frame parameters, battery, motors, propellers, FPV camera, DVR camera and FPV antenna. With a real drone, the same process would take a few hours and a few hundred dollars. Experts can also set the PID rates. The BluePrints tab allows you to navigate through the available drone models. Details like thrust, weight, tob speed and control are shown at a glance.
By doing ‘possibilityMenu that you can customize Game parameters (God mode, OSD, battery simulation, etc.), Flight settings (Primary Assist Level, Throttle Allocation and Altitude Hold), graphic (FPV lens size and fisheye) and Audio (Volume).
LiftOff test: game modes
After you’ve completed your apprenticeship with Joshua Bardwell, you’re ready to begin your virtual career as a drone pilot. Completing new tasks is rewarded with bonus points. Sure, my son would appreciate if he could trade them in for V-Bucks to use in Fornite, his favorite game 🙂
During the game you can switch between three views: FPV (as in the drone), near vision from the drone and far vision from the drone.
LiftOff single player mode
You can play in single player mode Coincidentally Traces, Quick setup, and Career (Campaign).
Quick setup This option allows you to choose game mode, drone mode, level, track and race. You can even activate night fever mode. You can choose from one wide range of FPV drones and many levels. With so many options, you won’t get bored of this game!
Career mode Begins in 2015 at the very beginning of the young fascination of drone racing and offers players iconic moments in the history of FPV drone racing such as Paris or Hanover. During the campaign, the pilots unlock more and more drones
Parts with which you can improve your aircraft.
LiftOff multiplayer mode
In addition to the fascinating single player career mode, Liftoff also offers a challenging multiplayer mode in which up to six pilots can compete against each other in three different game modes. Unfortunately, multiplayer requires a paid PlayStation Plus subscription, which I don’t have. Therefore I will let you discover this mode in person.
Price and availability
Online purchases will be available from November 10, 2020 on Load game and Microsoft Xbox Store. While the “Deluxe Edition” is available for PlayStation®4 and Xbox One for $ 39.99, the “Standard Edition” costs $ 34.99. For the extra $ 5, you get four premium drone skins. There is also the option of upgrading from the standard to the delux edition later. In case you prefer the liftoff drone game, you can play it too steam after purchasing the app for $ 19.99. The minimum hardware requirement is an i5 CPU, 3 GB RAM and a dedicated 3D graphics card.
I started my LiftOff review by sharing about my son’s frustration when he crashed his drone above average on his first game. Think of the same situation but crash a real $ 200-300 racing drone. Now he’s still not LiftOfff’s best friend, but at least I caught him playing a few times and I’m even happy because the pilots’ skills have improved.
Chances are, the LiftOff or any other drone simulator won’t replace the fun of playing real quads, but it’s a great tool to practice during the COVID lockdown or in case the weather outside isn’t suitable for flying.
What i liked
- Single and multiplayer mode (tested for single player only);
- Training lessons with Joshua Bardwell;
- Multiple types of FPV drones;
- Lots of levels and tracks.
What I did not like
- Cannot be used with external radio receivers.
- Only works for PS4 and Xbox (for now).