While I recently contemplated leaving my daily desk job to be a Monster Truck Championship jockey, I will in no way be contemplating the same thing when it comes to drone racing. Fast paced, wicked sharp turns and velocities making me wonder how such a tiny machine can move so fast, there’s a lot to do and even more to learn.
Liftoff Drone Racing finds itself in somewhat of a middle ground between pure racing adrenaline and a much more casual open space “fly at your own pace” with either the sun or the moon in the sky. Having those two modes I thought was a great touch as it’s going to allow a lot more people to get what they want out of drone flying without the sheer crazy investments to do so in real life.
In either case, flying through an obstacle course or free floating your way through various locations, you’ll have access to four different control types. This, the control types, will be the high bar for entry into flying drones around as in all four cases? I found that none of them suited my personal “play” styles, none of them were really customizable, and none of them actually let me properly smooth into the experience even hours into it.
Ranging from Full Assist to full manual with Acro (Acrobatic) the controls allow for different methods of controlling the throttle (speed), the altitude, the yaw (horizontally moving left or right), and the roll (tilting the wings either left or right in order to move in a 360 degree motion). Sounding simple enough in concept, in practice? I constantly felt like something was missing and that there should have been many more aspects than simply two thumbsticks to pull this all off.
Now, the above could very well be that I was not the target audience that the developers had in mind when they built the control schemes to fly drones. That said, the other part of me wonders how were some of these a good idea? In concept, the idea of tilting forward in order to move forward makes sense especially when you’ve got four propellers pointing in that direction, however, you should have been able to control just how much power was going into that as tilt just a little too fast and you’ve gone from stationary to at least 60km/h in two seconds and smashed into something whether it be a house, tree or some fence.
The other issue with this is that once you’ve taken off, your drone just keeps going up without a real way in order to stop it. You want to come back down? You’ve got to find a way to ease power out of the engines but just a slight twitch of rolling and then bam, you’ve crashed into something again. There are options in order to automatically level off which helps when trying to fly close to the ground or trying to race around the course markers, but if you’re wanting to really take off it makes it a bit awkward. I would have loved to have options to increase or decrease the power to the engines for speed, a way to increase or decrease the altitude alongside the rest of the controls. Without those two, it just felt wrong half the time as while your tutorial guide made it look smooth, my experience was often anything but.
From a visual standpoint though, Liftoff Drone Racing is pretty as long as you don’t smash into something and then have your drone belly up and flop around like a fish out of water at 90km/h making the screen a really hard thing to look at. From people’s backyards, to a golf course, to a construction zone for new high rises, the views are something else especially from very high up.
Adding to the visuals are the music tracks which I believe nowadays is called Electronic Dance Music? I’m dating myself but back in my day it was either Techno or Trance… regardless, the tracks were great to listen to for long durations whether I was crashing into things trying to properly learn the ropes or simply enjoying a slow fly by on my own time.