Thrustmaster Cougar MFDs with VR?

Flight sims like DCS and X-Plane are amazing in VR. But one problem with VR is that it makes it really hard to use your keyboard since you can’t see any of the buttons. There are a few solutions for this:

  • Firstly, you can put all the controls on your HOTAS. You need something with a lot of buttons, and you will need to add modifier keys as well. But then remembering all those modifier and key combos can be quite a pain.
  • The second option is to use the VR look feature to look at the button you want to press and then use a button to simulate a click. I find it the most cumbersome method of the three.
  • The best option though is to use something like the Thrustmaster Cougar MFDs which replicate the buttons on the actual MFDs in jets like the Viper and Hornet. But is this a workable solution?
Thrustmaster MFD Cougar Pack (PC)
  • 2 programmable LEDs per MFD, to identify the MFD during programming.
  • Multi-position, weighted, non-slip and detachable base

Mounting

The first thing you need to do is to mount the MFDs correctly. In VR, you will need your hands to instinctively be able to find the MFDs so it needs to be positioned perfectly. Some joystick desk mounts (like the one I reviewed here) have this option built in and that really helps.

You should also make sure that the MFDs stay at the same spot each time so that you don’t have to fumble around trying to find them.

Finding the right buttons

Overtime, you will build the muscle memory to automatically find the buttons. It took me only a few hours to train my mind to automatically reach for the right MFDs but it does take some practice to find the right button.

One solution that really helps is if you stick something on top of the middle buttons so that they feel different to the touch. A piece of Velcro or some tiny adhesive buttons etc. can all work.

How many MFDs do you need?

You need two at the minimum but three is ideal. The first two can go on either side with the third one at the centre and a bit lower. It can get a bit tricky to reach if you use a centre mounted joystick but it all depends on your individual setup.

The good thing is that you don’t need to buy displays for each of the MFDs since you have VR. That is just a lot of additional money saved.

Are the MFDs worth it in VR?

I think they are totally worth it given the modest cost of these MFDs. With full fidelity jets like the Viper and the Hornet, it can be quite a pain to remember all the keys or using the VR look feature to click buttons. I really did hate doing that.

So for me personally, the Cougar MFDs have been indispensable. Getting them for a monitor only setup has always been a no-brainer. And by using proper mounting options mixed with a bit of practice, you can use them just as intuitively in VR.

Grab yours here:

Thrustmaster MFD Cougar Pack (PC)
  • 2 programmable LEDs per MFD, to identify the MFD during programming.
  • Multi-position, weighted, non-slip and detachable base
About the Author

Gary (Flanker)

Gary has been "hard landing" into runways and driving his Mitsubishi Evo off of cliffs since the early 2000s. These days, he spends most of his precious hobby time with his favorite flight, racing and space simulations in VR. He also has an Engineering Degree in Computer Science which helps a lot with his obsession with optimizing PC hardware like CPUs, Graphics Cards, VR Headsets, HOTAS, Racing Wheels etc. for high end sims.