One of the most challenging aspects of flying FPV drones is learning to fly. FPV drone simulators can help you practice and train, especially when the weather isn’t cooperating or it’s too windy. Building muscle memory on the sticks will give you confidence when flying outdoors. In this article, we’ll explore all the FPV Drone simulators and decide which is the best sim for you.
tldr: Here’re My Favourites
- The Best Racing Sim: VelociDrone
- The Best FPV Freestyle: Uncrashed
- The Most Fun Sim: The DRL Simulator
- The Richest in Content: Liftoff
- The Best Tiny Whoop Sim: Tiny Whoop GO
- The Best Free Sim: FPV SkyDive
- The Best Mobile Sim (Android/iOS): FPV SkyDive
Some of these simulators are on Steam (a video game platform). The best part about Steam is that, if you don’t like the sim you purchased for some reason (maybe your computer is too slow to run it), you might be able to get a refund if your play time is within 2 hours.
Now let’s cover some of the basics.
What’re FPV Drone Simulators?
An FPV simulator is basically a computer game that allows you to fly an FPV drone with a radio, as if you are flying one in real-life. It allows you to learn how to control an FPV drone. Simulators will never feel exactly like real life, but it gives you the sandbox to play in without worrying about crashes regardless the weather 24/7.
It’s the best way to get started for beginner, to learn how to fly and improve your skills. Whether you are totally new or someone experienced learning a challenging acrobatic trick, simulators can be highly effective for beginners and advanced pilots alike.
Only in simulators you are practice tricks that are almost impossible in real life :D
If you are new, here is an article to show you some insight of racing drones and how to get started.
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 from training. You can continue to use the same radio to fly the real drones later, so it’s a worthy long term investment.
All the radios I recommend are plug and play – just connect the USB cable and it will show up as a 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 that, there are work-arounds, such as using a flight controller and radio receiver.
Released in 2022, it’s arguably one of the best freestyle sims with incredible graphics
Here’s a summary of the features, pros and cons:
- Available on Steam, currently still in early release priced at $11.99, but already feels pretty well made
- 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
In conclusion, it’s a worth investment for capable gaming rigs, focused on chasing challenges and open-air flying, potential to become excellent FPV simulator with continued development.
Released in 2021, has the most fun maps
- Insane environment / maps – you can chase racing cars, and you can fly in places that looks like the scene in the 5th Element with flying cars
- Graphics looks amazing
- The physics is average, it doesn’t feel the most realistic compared to other sims, but decent enough to learn how to fly
- Doesn’t have multiplayer
Released in 2018, it’s one of the most complete simulators with regular content updates, has a large online community.
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 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.
Liftoff is also the most graphically intensive simulator in the list, it takes a decent spec gaming PC to run smoothly. Many people with slow computers complain about the performance being sluggish, floaty and choppy. Recent updates have made the game easier to run on older PC’s, so it’s worth a try.
Liftoff has a ‘Freestyle Mode’ which rates your moves and tricks as you was in a competition. That really shows some real consideration for those who just love the aerial ballet.
Liftoff is the only sim that supports 3D mode (reversing motors in flight).
It’s available on Steam – a platform where you can purchase and download games, it helps you manage games and makes updating much easier. Just google “download steam” and you will find it.
In my opinion, Liftoff is a great sim for both racing and freestyle. But it’s not necessarily the best in both of these categories, not to mention it costs a bit more than other sims at $20, still it’s a very solid sim.
There are currently 4 Liftoff products (available separately for purchase on Steam): the FPV Drone Racing for PC, Drone Racing for console, Liftoff Academy for industrial application, and Liftoff: Micro Drones, featuring indoors simulation with micro drones.
The sim starts off with 45 degree uptilt which is way too much for beginners (or some freestyle pilots for that matter). Simply press the down arrow key to lower the angle before taking off.
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.
Released in 2016, it has realistic physics, graphics doesn’t look the prettiest but runs better on slower PC’s. Racers love it.
If your PC or laptop isn’t great for gaming, consider Velocidrone.
The game has one of the best physics with a high degree of customizability. Through physics adjustments and rate tuning, you can tune Velocidrone to feel realistic like your own drone.
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.
According to the developers, Velocidrone uses Betaflight firmware codes, and just like Betaflight you can make adjustments to your PIDs and rates. The camera FOV and angle can be set to your preference, and that it uses your TX’s full range of motion without having to use offsets speaks volumes in my opinion.
Because this sim isn’t as graphically demanding as other sims, the graphics isn’t as good as other simulators as well. You can practice flying all the same, and the game runs well on slower machines as well. There is a great track editor, and multiplayer mode where you can jump between races and freestyle, have voice chats and changes courses, all in the same session.
There isn’t much that you can customize in Velocidrone, and the choices of drones you can use are rather limited, to get access to more quads you need to purchase additional DLC (such as the freestyle DLC). But you can download various tracks from the website though.
However it’s not on Steam, so updating takes slightly more effort, but it’s also a good thing at least 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, It’s one of the most fun sims
The DRL (Drone Racing League) simulator is interesting – they use the game to host online tryout events, and the top pilots can win a paid contract to race real quads professionally in the offline events.
As a gamer, I find DRL the most additive FPV sim of all.
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, it’s one of the best free sims!
- Physics feels above average
- Has a beginner training course, easy for new pilots to get into flying even without using a radio before
- The levels and content is being added, but at the moment it’s a bit limited compared to other more established sims (mostly because this sim is relatively new)
- The racing aspect is not as well designed as other sims
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 everywhere!
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
It takes your blackbox logs and try to emulate your drone in the real world.
There’s no multiplayer yet, and it’s $20… there are probably better value sims on the list.
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.
- Available on Steam
- One of the oldest 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
- Recommended for beginners learning basics on a slow PC
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
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.
Now let’s dive into each FPV simulator and talk about their features, pro’s and con’s.
After years of flying sims, I can guarantee you that the default settings in sims 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 for more detail.
I usually use the most simple, fastest quality just so the frame rate can be as high as possible to ensure the most realistic experience.
Good FPV Goggles for Sims
FPV Goggles (such as the Skyzone 04X 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 a good monitor 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
Make a Dedicated Model Profile in Your Radio
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.
FPV drone simulators can’t replace real flying, but are extremely beneficial for improving your flying skills without breaking your real quad, 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 to achieve peak performance. While some simulators prioritize graphics and visuals, others focus on accurate flight physics. Ultimately, it’s crucial to choose a simulator that aligns with your needs and preferences. Happy flying!
- Mar 2015 – Article created
- Feb 2017 – Updated, added Velocity Drone and FPV Event
- Jun 2017 – Updated and edited FPV Event name/price change
- Oct 2017 – Updated reviews
- Jun 2018 – Tried all sims again and updated reviews; Removed sims that are no longer relevant
- Sep 2018 – Added new sim – FPV Air 2 and DCL
- May 2019 – Updated reviews, added “Wearing FPV Goggles in Sims”
- May 2021 – Shortened URL, added Flow State, adjusted recommendations/reviews
- Feb 2022 – Updated list with new simulators