One of the most challenging aspects of getting into FPV drones would be learning how to fly. FPV drone simulators can help you practice and train without damaging your drone, even when the weather isn’t cooperating. In this article, we’ll explore all the available FPV Drone simulators and help you decide which is the best sim for you.
If you are new to FPV, here is a complete guide to FPV drones to get you started.
Table of Contents
- The best for total beginners: DRL
- The best for racing, and slow computers: VelociDrone
- The best for freestyle and cinematic: Tryp
- The jack of all trades: Liftoff
- The best Tiny Whoop sim: Tiny Whoop GO
- The best free sim, and best mobile sim (Android): SkyDive
Now let’s cover some of the basics before we go into each FPV simulator for more detail.
What is an FPV Drone Simulator?
Imagine being able to fly an FPV drone in a vividly realistic virtual world. That’s exactly what FPV drone simulators offer. These are not just games but sophisticated training tools designed to mimic the experience of flying a real FPV drone. While no simulator can replicate the thrill of real-life flying perfectly, they come incredibly close, enabling pilots to improve flying skills and learn freestyle tricks in a safe, crash-proof environment regardless the weather 24/7.
Only in simulators you can fearlessly perform tricks that feel almost impossible in the real world :D
What You Need to Fly FPV Simulators
Before picking an FPV simulator, you should get a radio controller first.
I don’t recommend using gaming console or keyboard, that’s pretty pointless as the skills won’t translate to a real radio controller. Using a proper radio is the best way to build up muscle memory, and get the most benefit out of training. You can continue to use the same radio to fly the real drones later, so it’s a worthy long term investment.
The radios I suggest are plug-and-play with the simulators discussed on this page – simply connect the USB cable and it will show up as gaming joystick on your computer. Then you should be able to use the radio in the simulator, it’s that simple.
If you have a radio that don’t support USB joystick, there are work-arounds, such as using a flight controller and radio receiver.
Most FPV drone simulators are available on Steam, a digital platform where you can buy, play, and update games. Steam simplifies game management and ensures you’re always up to date with the latest patches.
Plus, Steam offers a consumer-friendly return policy, allowing refunds for games played for less than two hours—perfect for testing out a simulator to see if it meets your expectations.
Released in 2022, Tryp is arguably one of the best freestyle sims with incredible graphics.
Being one of the latest FPV sim, Tryp FPV impresses with its fantastic graphics, map size and attention to detail. With its $17 price tag on STEAM, it offers a comprehensive sim experience. Despite its advanced graphics, the simulator’s performance on non-gaming computers can be a concern, limiting accessibility.
The training program unfortunately falls short of expectations, potentially hindering new pilots’ learning process. But for experience pilots, it’s a dream to play. It offers moving objects (such as race cars and skiers) that you can follow with your drone, improving your freestyle and cinematic skills. The quads feel slightly heavy in the sim, but the physics is reasonably close to real-life. You can also adjust many drone parameters to get it as close to real life as possible.
Tryp FPV is perhaps one of my favourite sims in 2023 thanks to its stunning graphics and freestyle/cinematic elements, appealing to those with powerful gaming PC seeking expansive flying environments. With good graphics settings, it would make you feel like you were actually flying in a real environment.
Here’s a summary of the features, pros and cons:
- Available on Steam, still in early access and regularly updated
- Built on Unreal 5 engine, great graphics quality and expansive maps
- Features: Immersive maps, chasing challenges, racing mode, learn how to fly mode
- Pros: Affordable, visually appealing, unique challenges, customizable drone settings
- Cons: Requires high-end gaming rig, limited to three maps, physics similar to Liftoff, not best for first-time users
Released in 2021, Uncrashed is a dream for experienced freestyle pilots with its stunning graphics and vast playgrounds.
Being a relatively new sim, Uncrashed raises the bar with its stunning graphics and smooth flying performance, setting a new standard for visual quality in FPV simulators. The physics is average, it doesn’t feel the most realistic compared to other sims, but decent enough for learning the sticks.
With 19 unique maps filled with engaging activities, such as chasing cars, it’s a dream for freestyle pilots. However, it lacks a bit in racing, and there’s no multiplayer races and map creation tools. The absence of a beginner training program is a missed opportunity for it to be the definitive FPV simulator experience.
In my opinion, Uncrashed is best suited for experienced pilots seeking visually immersive and enjoyable freestyle flying sessions. The vast playgrounds are so much fun, you get to fly in places that looks like the scene in the 5th Element with flying cars, I never get tired of that.
Released in 2018, Liffoff is one of the best all around simulators with rich content and a large online community.
Liftoff emerges as a well-rounded choice at $20, balancing ease of use with a rich feature set. Its user-friendly interface, solid physics, combined with a variety of gameplay options, makes it an attractive option for a broad audience.
The recently updated training program adds significant value, providing a structured learning path for newcomers. While it may not excel in any single aspect compared to niche simulators, Liftoff’s comprehensive offering and fair pricing position it as a top contender for the best overall FPV simulator experience.
Graphics might be lacking a bit compared to other newer sims, it’s still a solid choice today for what it offers.
Liftoff is one of the most mature FPV sims out there in terms of features and content. The amount of content is simply impressive, nothing comes close in terms of selection of hundreds of models and thousands of tracks created by the community. Liftoff is the first to implement a “parts system” that allows you to customize your drone by changing components just like in real life. It’s also one of the few sims that accounts for propeller damage (can be disabled too). It forces you to be more aware of obstacles and fly more carefully, hence offering a more realistic flying experience.
Here is a video I captured using the DVR in my FPV Goggles which I used as an external monitor with my computer via HDMI cable.
For those seeking the most authentic flight experience, VelociDrone stands out. Released in 2016, it offers simple graphics, which means it’s easy on computer specs.
Priced at $22, VelociDrone distinguishes itself as a racing-focused simulator with a strong racing community. Its dedication to racing is evident in its multiplayer interface and map-building capabilities. However, its specialization means it may not cater to pilots interested in other aspects of FPV flying. For those dedicated to improve their racing skills with realistic physics, VelociDrone presents itself as an unparalleled choice.
It offers one of the closest-to-reality physics with a high degree of customizability.
The graphics of Velocidrone is probably the most simple in ths list, but that means it’s not as demanding as other sims when it comes to computer specs. You can practice flying all the same, and the game runs well on slower machines.
It has a great selection of racing tracks and is an incredible tool for practice racing. In fact many MultiGP racers use Velocidrone exclusively for training and learn the courses, which can be made using the in-built track editor. You can also download more racing tracks from the website. There’s also multiplayer mode where you can jump between races and freestyle, have voice chats and changes courses, all in the same session.
However when it comes to drone choices, it’s pretty limited and not a lot of drone customization is available in Velocidrone. You can get access to more drone models but you need to purchase additional DLC (such as the freestyle DLC).
My last complaint would be the fact that it’s not on Steam, so updating the sim can take slightly more effort. For some people it might be a good thing because you are not forced to update if you don’t want to.
- Physics is very realistic
- Many different types of drone sizes, from 5″, to tiny whoops
- Different modes for fun flying, including combat mode where you can play first shooter and shoot other drones down with laser
- Low graphics requirement
- All the different game modes and drone classes mentioned have to be purchased separately
- Not necessarily the best looking sim but decent enough for practice, and that’s why it runs so smoothly on most computers
- You have to tweak the drone settings for each model to make it feel “real”
The DRL Simulator
Released in 2017, DRL offers an exceptional starting point for anyone new to FPV flying with its training program and it’s fun to play.
The DRL Simulator takes a significant leap forward in terms of features and quality, justified by its $10 price tag. It excels in providing a feature-rich environment with more than 20 diverse maps, extensive multiplayer options, and a variety of game modes, making it a standout choice for both beginners and seasoned pilots.
The comprehensive training program particularly stands out, offering a step-by-step guide from basics to advanced maneuvers.
Released back in 2017, it’s slightly lagging in graphics, however the depth of content makes it a top recommendation. Another fun fact – they use the sim to host online tryout events, top pilots get the opportunity to compete in real-life offline DRL events.
As a gamer, I find DRL one of the most additive.
The physics perhaps isn’t the best among the list, but the maps and scenery are extraordinary, for example, in one of the environment, you get tall buildings, abandoned factories and a shipyard, all in a single map!
I really like the new system where you can race with the ghosts of pilots similar to your ranking. This system can motivate you to play, improve and move up your racking too. DRL is the online simulator that allows pilots on different platform to play together which is fun.
Look here I was having fun diving buildings, and trying one of the race tracks…
Released in 2021, SkyDive is one of the best free FPV sims!
FPV Skydive is a commendable free-to-download FPV simulator, available on STEAM. It offers a gateway into the FPV world without the initial financial commitment.
It has a beginner training program, easy for new pilots to get into flying even without using a radio before.
Its inclusion of racing, challenges, freestyle, and multiplayer modes presents a solid foundation for an FPV simulator. However, this simulator doesn’t offer much at the moment in terms of levels, content and customization. There are in-game purchases to unlock additional content but somewhat limits accessibility for people who chose this sim just because it’s free.
Despite these drawbacks, FPV Skydive’s position as a free simulator makes it an attractive option for those curious about FPV flying but not ready to invest.
Update (Mar 2022): Orqa released an Android/iOS version of this sim! It might not have as much content as the Steam version, but it’s really convenient as it means you can take this FPV sim and practice on your smartphone!
Tiny Whoop Simulators
VelociDrone Micro DLC
VelociDrone has a pretty good Micro DLC that is designed for Tiny Whoops. Yea… it costs extra, but it’s worth considering especially if you are into participating in community events. Also the physics is one of the best in the whoop class sims, and it has a large multiplayer community you can race with.
Tiny Whoop GO
If you are looking for a free Tiny Whoop simulator, you have to try Tiny Whoop GO. It feels relatively realistic (except it feels a little too easy to fly than real life, for people who love challenges it could be a let down) and most importantly, it’s free!
Liftoff: Micro Drones
Talking about Tiny Whoop sims, you must check out Liftoff Micro Drones simulator. It’s a separate, brand new sim designed specifically for the tiny whoop class.
The physics is pretty good, if I have to be picky I would say the whoops seem to carry more momentum than the real thing, it’s harder to control and make accurate turns than a real whoop. When you try to make a turn it just “slides” which I feel I need to make more stick adjustments and also slow down to make it through a race gate.
Tiny Whoop GO feels more forgiving for beginners and definitely easier to control, but for some hardcore racers that might compromises the experience. If you are looking for a more challenging sim to level up your whoop piloting skills, Liftoff Micro Drone might be a better option.
The attention to detail is amazing in this sim. For example in the warehouse map, you have sound from the forklifts and people working in the background, makes you feel like you are really flying in a real warehouse. In the “Prom Night” map, there are many interactive elements, you can pop balloons, get soda from vending machines, play song on DJ’s laptop etc…
Other FPV Simulators
AI Drone Simulator
At $16, AI Drone Simulator promises a modern sim experience but falls short in delivering a standout feature set. While it offers high-detail maps and the option for community-made drone downloads, its lack of features and game modes compared to other popular sims place it in a challenging position. For those prioritizing community content and drone customization, AI Drone Simulator offers some appeal, but overall, it struggles to justify its place in a competitive market.
Flowstate is available on Steam, and it’s free. It’s tailored more towards racing, and lacking a lot of features on other paid sims.
Despite being fairly cheap at just $6, it’s kind of outdated and has a very limited map selection. Many aspects are falling behind today’s standard like game modes, graphics, physics and customization. Not recommended.
- Available on Steam
- One of the earliest FPV simulators
- Cheap with a free trial
- Basic physics adjustments available: gravity, drag, quadcopter power, camera tilt angle, FOV
- Free version has limited settings and only one map
- Outdated compared to other options
- Low graphics requirements suitable for slow PCs
FPV Air 2 Simulator
- Available on Steam
- FPV Air 2 costs $5, making it an affordable simulator option
- Decent physics for beginners learning FPV flying and tricks
- Dislikes: additional maps require separate purchase; limited track selection
- Graphics: decent, not the prettiest; offers ultra-low graphics mode for slow PCs
- Features: customizable physics, Betaflight-like GUI, multiplayer mode
- Early stage of development; future improvements expected
- Available on Steam for easy updates
- Review by Kaity: accurate physics, easy Taranis calibration, more racing-oriented tracks
- Sim can be tuned to closely match real-life drones, making transition to actual flights easier
- Crashing in sim is less costly than damaging real drones
How well these FPV sims runs all comes down to the GPU (graphics card) and CPU in your PC and the video resolution and settings you are on. If you have a really old and slow computer, some sims might not work right for you. If you lower the settings you might be able to make it work on an older rig.
My PC handles all these sims perfectly even with the highest image quality, but still I prefer to use low quality just to make sure it runs as smooth as possible with high frame rate which is more important IMO. If you plan to build a gaming PC this is also a pretty good specs even for 2023. Here’s the specifications of my computer used to play and rate these sims. (Amazon affiliate links):
- AMD Ryzen 7 5800X CPU: https://amzn.to/3setMFb
- NVidia GeForce RTX 3070 Ti (16GB VRAM): https://amzn.to/3MPy79Q
- Corsair Vengeance 16GB RAM x2 (32GB): https://amzn.to/38OotFC
- Samsung 980 PRO 1 TB SSD: https://amzn.to/3w7Tmwy
- MSI MAG B550M MORTAR Motherboard: https://amzn.to/3Fiu572
- Corsair RM750 Power Supply: https://amzn.to/3KG1vO9
Or just get a Macbook if you hate building your own computer. For me it’s been fantastic for editing FPV videos and practicing on simulators while I am travelling, and I can’t recommend it enough. I talked about why I prefer the M1 Pro over the M2 in this article: https://oscarliang.com/macbook-air-m2-pro-m1/.
Occasionally, you can find discounts of up to 10% on Amazon. I saved £164 (nearly $200) on my 14″ Pro M1. Check prices here: https://amzn.to/3CgxOTr
Best FPV Sim for Macs
Despite my initial fear that my non-gaming Macbook Pro (M1 14inch) would struggle, I was pleasantly surprised to find that I didn’t face any issues with the simulators I tested. It’s also compatible with common radios such as Radiomaster and Jumper.
Most sims should run smoothly on the latest Macs. However, for those who want to play safe, Velocidrone is an excellent choice. It has one of the lowest CPU and GPU requirements. Despite a lack of high-end graphics, it doesn’t skimp on features, ensuring a comprehensive training experience.
For those looking to explore other simulators on Steam, feel free to give them a go. Steam’s refund policy is there if they don’t perform well on your machine.
Does Physics Matter?
Yes, and no.
The physics of a drone simulator is highly subjective. They are getting closer and closer to real life, but it will probably never going to feel the same.
The point of a simulator is to help you learn how to fly and build up muscle memory. Just pick a simulator that feel real enough for you with graphics that you like (and runs smoothly on your computer).
Spend time on actually practicing rather than worrying about the physics.
If you are using an OpenTX radio, try to upgrade to EdgeTX (2.5 or later) for improvement in USB connection latency. It makes the physics in the sim feel more realistic. In this tutorial I will show you how to flash EdgeTX.
What to Practice
Maintaining proper posture and ergonomics while flying in simulators. If you normally stand while flying, do the same in your simulator practice. If you wear a neck strap in real life flying, wear one while simming.
If you are totally new, choose an open map with minimal obstacles.
- practice arming/disarming (make sure to practice disarm the drone when you crash before hitting the reset button, this is good practice)
- practice take off and fly in straight line, turning left and right, flying in circle etc…
- practice landing – hover close to ground before disarming to minimize impact
- practice flying through gaps
- practice doing rolls and flips
- practice doing split S
After years of flying sims, I can guarantee you that the default settings in simulators are usually not the best settings. You can make it feel more real by adjusting the settings.
In addition to real-quad-like settings such as PID, rates, you can also adjust the physics. The goal is to make the virtual drone perform more like the real thing. However for someone just starting out, you probably don’t have a good enough ideal how a real quad should fly like, in that case you can just fly with the default, or copy someone’s settings. The only thing you should change should be rates, which controls the sensitivity of your quadcopter. See this post to learn more about rates.
I usually use the lowest graphics settings and disable any grphics features that I don’t need to ensure I get the highest frame rate possible, this minimizes latency as well as maximizes smoothness, offering the most realistic experience.
Wearing FPV Goggles while Simming
FPV Goggles (such as the Walksnail Goggles X and HDZero Goggles) with HDMI input can be connected to the computer as an external monitor, and you can play FPV sim while wearing your goggles. This might help you get used to flying with your goggles earlier if you are just starting out.
If you have WTFOS installed on your DJI goggles (which doesn’t have HDMI input), you can use the WTFOS Moonlight Shim feature to stream the PC video to your goggles.
But to be honest I find using a monitor is way easier on the eyes, especially for long hour practice. Also gaming monitors can usually outperform the screens in FPV goggles in terms of frame rate and image quality, which offers more realistic experience.
Line of Sight Flying Simulators
Most pilots can fly FPV well but lack the skill to fly line of sight (LOS). While it might help practicing LOS skills in a sim, it’s probably not the best way.
First of all, you don’t get the depth perception in a simulator as you would normally get in real life – it’s very difficult to judge how far your quad really is on the screen. Also it’s harder to tell the orientation in a sim because of the low resolution.
If you want to give it a shot anyway, the following sims offers LOS feature:
- In Liftoff, press B to enter LOS mode
- In Velocidrone you can zoom into LOS mode by scrolling the mouse wheel
- In FPV Freerider, there is a LOS mode
Dedicated Radio Profile for Sims
Make sure to set up a profile in your radio dedicated to simulators: simply duplicate your existing profile for flying your drones, and turn off internal and external modules in Model setup. This will save your transmitter battery while practicing in sims.
Having Issues Connecting Radio to MacOS
If you tried connecting your radio to your Mac and nothing happens (no pop up on the radio asking if you want to select joystick), and the computer doesn’t detect the radio, it could be the cable.
I had this issue when I was using a USB-C to USB-C cable. This cable works with a Windows computer, but it just doesn’t work with my Macbook.
The solution is to use a USB type A to USB-C cable. If your MacOS machine doesn’t have a USB Type A connector, just get a usb-c male to usb-A female adapter, I tested this it also works. Get this adapter here: https://amzn.to/470TcYI
FPV drone simulators can’t replace real flying, but are extremely beneficial for improving your flying skills without breaking your real drone, or when you can’t fly outdoors. For a beginner, a simulator can be used almost entirely for practice to build up muscle memory and learning. As you progress however, real world practice becomes more and more important. While some simulators prioritize graphics and visuals, others focus on accurate flight physics and hardware compatibility. Ultimately, it’s crucial to choose a simulator that aligns with your needs and preferences. Happy flying!
- Mar 2015 – Article created
- Oct 2017 – Updated reviews
- Jun 2018 – Updated reviews
- May 2019 – Updated reviews, added “Wearing FPV Goggles in Sims”
- May 2021 – Shortened URL, updated my recommendations
- Feb 2022 – Updated list with new simulators
- Oct 2023 – Updated list with new sims
- Feb 2024 – Updated my reviews and recommendations