These days, I’ve been stumbling across more and more drone simulators. Personally, I think they’re quite cool! Do they portray a realistic flight experience? Yes and no.
Flying a drone in the real world is still way different than flying one in a simulation. With that said, if you’re a beginner, or if you’re bored and want to pass the time, a quadcopter simulator can be a good idea. In this post, I’ll show you some of the best ones I’ve found to date.
RealFlight Drone Flight Simulator
The RealFlight Drone Flight Simulator flight sim is among the best that you can buy today. Its super-detailed, powerful, and simply awesome. Just know- you get what you pay for, so it’s going to be more expensive than some of the other simulators on this list.
Depending on where you buy it, the game’s going to run you $100 to $200. It’s a lot, but trust me when I say that it’s worth every penny. It’s the epitome of what a quad simulator should be like. You’ll be able to practice your maneuvering and camera skills, as well as explore FPV flying.
Not only can you fly DJI’s famous Phantom models, but you’ll also be able to adjust factors like direction, windspeed, night/day, and many other conditions.
The game is challenging and the simulations are realistic, so chances are you won’t get bored of this game. I only recommend this software for flyers who are serious about mastering drone flight. If you’re just looking to get into it as a hobby, then any of the other options on this page will suffice.
FPV Free Rider
If you want to practice your drone-flying skills, then check out FPV Free Rider. The graphics are pretty good, the virtual landscape is vast, and the physics of the game (gravity, drag, etc.) are relatively accurate.
I also like the fact that you can adjust certain physical laws like gravity or drag to make your drone fly in strange ways. While there is a free version of the game, I highly recommend the paid version. The free version only offers a single map and doesn’t have all the settings unlocked either.
Phoenix Model Flight Simulator
The first thing you’ll notice about the Phoenix Model Flight Simulator is the graphics are good. In fact, they’re too good (almost realistic). That makes it worth every penny in my opinion. But the product isn’t perfect, and here’s why: the drone simulation just isn’t that realistic.
Sure, the graphics are nice, but the quadcopters don’t follow the same laws of physics in the game that they would in real life. Also, learning all the features of the game can take some time and can be quite confusing. It’s definitely one of the best drone simulators out there, but it’s not my #1 pick.
Aerofly RC 7
Aerofly RC 7 offers over 200 models and 50 sceneries to choose from. That’s quite a selection. The graphics are realistic, making you feel like you’re there. This will allow you to really become immersed in the game. I was surprised that the physics of the game are realistic.
It really does mimic what you would feel if you were flying a drone in the real world, which is exactly what a good simulator should accomplish. I like the fact that the allows you to adjust your FPV camera tilt angle. I like Aerofly RC 7 a lot, and could easily consider it one of the best quadcopter simulator games out there.
Simpro Drone Flight Simulator
Built for Mac or PC, the Simpro Drone Flight Simulator game does an excellent job at replicating real-world physics of drone flight. The scenarios are realistic, and there’s an accurate flight model of the Phantom 2 Vision+. I was also surprised by how realistic the lighting conditions were.
You can tell that the creators put a lot of effort into making the geological features and terrain look as realistic as possible. There’s also obstacle courses that you can use to hone your skills. There’s a demo of the game that you can try to see if it’s something you’re going to enjoy.
Helix X UAV Flight Simulator
Next on our list is the Heli X UAV Flight Simulator. This game uses accurate, real-time physics that will make for a very realistic flying experience. You can download the software on Mac or Windows, which is great. The cost of this game is competitive, and there are dozens of fun scenarios to choose from.
For example, there are rescue scenarios, reaction training, and more. There’s also hover training and autorotation training. Overall, I think it’s something that beginner and experience drone flyers will enjoy.
The final game/simulator that we’re going to mention is Liftoff by Immersion RC. This simulator is very niche-specific, meaning, only certain types of flyers will benefit from it. Those flyers are FPV racers. If you’re an FPV racer, then you’re going to love Liftoff.
You’ll be able to master your drone racing skills with this simulator. It’s relatively cheap, easy to learn, and the graphics are respectable. It’s not very useful if you’re into aerial photography. It’s geared towards flyers who want to master the intricate nature of drone racing.
4 Factors to Watch For
I do believe that a quality quadcopter simulator can make a difference in your skillset. However, you need to make sure you buy the right software, otherwise, it’s not going to help. Here are some factors to consider:
- Graphics: The graphics are one of the most important factors to look for in my opinion. If the graphics are bad, then it’s simply not going to be a great experience. For the best graphics possible, I recommend the RealFlight Drone Flight Simulator.
- Racing vs. Photography: What’s your goal? Are you trying to become a drone racer or are you interested in aerial photography? If it’s drone racing then buy Liftoff. If it’s aerial photography then consider the other options on this list.
- Price: If you’re just looking to get into drone flying as a hobby, then look to spend no more than $40-$50 on your simulator. However, if you’re very serious about flying and simulators, then look to spend over $100 for something truly amazing.
- Difficulty: Some simulators, like the Phoenix Model Flight Simulator for example, are simply too difficult to learn. The learning curve is way too high for the average person, which takes away from the fun you’ll experience.
Keep these four factors in mind and you should end up with a simulator that you really love.
If you found this guide useful, please consider sharing it with other flyers. If there’s a simulator I missed, then let me know by leaving a comment below. Good luck and fly safe everyone!