The VKB Gladiator is one of my favourite joysticks. Supply, however, has dried up for the venerable Mark II edition of the stick and it’s clear now just why that has happened as VKB-Sim has been busy working on a successor. Gladiator NXT and its peripherals seems to be tailor made for this moment in flight sim history too! Here’s what we know about the newly announced VKB Gladiator NXT.
It’s what’s NXT
Available in just days from now, the Gladiator NXT uses VKB’s relatively new all-purpose grip that can be connected with their high end Gunfighter series or into the new Gladiator NXT base. Available in left or right hand and in ‘standard’ or ‘premium’ editions, the package is being sold for just $150-170 (standard vs premium) for the base and grip. It’s a good mid-price point and, as you’ll see in a moment, seems tailor made for this moment in sim history. But first, the basic features starting with the NXT base:
- 2 Contactless MaRS sensors on X and Y axes
- 2 Rotary encoders
- 1 Throttle wheel
- 3 buttons
- 2 Programmable single color LEDs
And the grip:
- Left- or Right-hand versions
- Compact grip design – Perfect for tabletop joysticks
- Lockable Twist axis with contactless MaRS sensor
- Dual Action Trigger
- Rapid Fire Trigger (only on the Premium)
- 3 Hat switches with center push (4-way)
- 4 Buttons or 3 Buttons and 1 analog ministick with center push (8-way) (on the Premium)
- Programmable red color LED
- Programmable RGB LED
For the extra $20, I think the extra analog mini-stick and rapid fire trigger is probably worth it especially if you’re into space sims or modern jet combat sims.
More than just a base
First, it’s clear that this base and grip are meant to cover a wide range of uses. From the Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous pilots who want to have left and right sticks (the base is symmetrical) to air combat and civil aviation folks, this seems ready for just about anything and VKB is doing that by making several modules that will support the base and grip.
There’s several configurations coming soon:
- SEM – A side extension module with a variety of switches and analog controls.
- THQ – A throttle quad with throttle, prop and mixture levers.
- FSM – Front switchboard module with a -GA version intended for general aviation users (X-Plane and Microsoft Flight Sim enthusiasts take note) as well as a DIY version with support for up to 32 switches and encoders.
Additional FSM modules are planned for Commercial Aviation, WWII Piston Airplanes, Modern Combat Aviation, and Space Sims.
If we go by the slick new video they released, this system is truly modular with the ability to string together multiple throttle quadrants to simulate an airliner configuration or a complex GA aircraft if you wanted that kind of setup.
As I said in the lede, this whole setup seems to be well positioned for VKB-Sim to cater to a wide variety of sim interests and particularly in this moment as Microsoft Flight Simulator goes to market with a huge burst in interest for new gear. This is also well positioned to capture a middle ground in the market looking for something in the $100-200 price range (for the base setup of course) with the modularity allowing for people to customize to their potentially varied interests.
Stock has historically been an issue and in this unique moment in time it seems that stock for ANY flight sim gear seems to be in short supply. If you’re interested in owning one, place your order soon!
If you’re interested, check out the VKB-Sim Gladiator NXT announcement on their forums, and look for orders to start shipping on August 17th.