FPV Freerider Recharged is the follow-up to the FPV sim classic, FPV Freerider.  Marketed as the deluxe version of FPV Freerider, Recharged offers a variety of larger and richer levels than its predecessor.  While the original Freerider entered the scene and captivated the FPV community in late 2015, Recharged was released in mid-2016 amidst much more competition.  We finally got a chance to put some hours into the game to see if it holds up against increasing competition in the FPV simulator market.  So, is Recharged worth $10 of your hard-earned money?  Read on to find out!

You can also check out our review of the original FPV Freerider here!

For those looking for a quick video view of our thoughts, you can watch that right here:

 

Initial Impressions

Those familiar with the original FPV Freerider will be right at home when opening Recharged.  The menu UI and customization options in Recharged remain pretty much the same as in the classic version of Freerider.

After testing the controller customization (more on that in the next section) and making sure all our settings were right, we launched into the Desert level and started to fly around.

I must say, I was impressed at the graphical improvement and size increase when zipping around Desert.  After playing around with more of the levels, I can see the time put into placing more ‘stuff’ around the levels compared to classic Freerider.  Every environment is populated with items to dive, fly through, or cruise around.

Multiple towers to dive and cut through in the Rocks level!

That said, I moved through all the levels fairly quickly.  Recharged offers a total of five maps, and one of those is a direct reskin of the Carpark level from the previous game.  While fun, the levels don’t add anything unique when compared to other simulators on the market.  No track building tools have been added, no multiplayer, and no quadcopter customization.  At a price point of $10, I must say I felt a little disappointed after closing the last level.  Looking at everything – the same UI, same settings, and same overall features – it felt like I purchased a map pack rather than a new game.

Now, this isn’t the fault of the creators of Recharged.  The store page for Recharged clearly states that it is the, “deluxe version of FPV Freerider.  It is focused on bigger and more detailed sceneries.”  That said, I immediately wondered why this wasn’t a map pack for the original, rather than an entire new download.

Similarly, some of the newer features are a huge setback when compared to Freerider classic.  The new racing system is extremely rough.  Gates have been abandoned in favor of winding courses marked by orbs of light.  Finding each checkpoint feels like hide and seek rather than racing.  Furthermore, these balls of light are very hard to see, as they blend in perfectly with the sky.

I did enjoy playing with the new flight recorder feature.  If you hit the “record” button before flight, it will record your flight until your next crash.  Pressing “play” on your next run will spawn your previous quad, and it will fly the path you recorded.  I found this to be extremely fun for testing my ability to follow a quad in freestyle and maintain my camera positioning.  Here is a clip of me following a recorded ghost – pretty nifty!

At the end of my first play session, I was left feeling a little empty.  I was, and remain, a huge fan of the original Freerider, but felt Recharged missed the mark.  After spending more hours in the levels, these feelings solidified.    I just could not shake the feeling that I was playing a map pack rather than a full game.  Considering the $5 price point of the original Freerider, the $10 price point for what amounts to four new levels, felt too high.

 

Control Options

Recharged carries forward the fantastic controller binding setup of its predecessor.  The original Freerider, and now Recharged, remains our favorite setup style for radio binding.  Simply follow the onscreen instructions to setup the axes, and adjust the trim in the final screen to your liking.

Freerider’s very intuitive binding screen. Clear details on which axes are bound. Love it!

We used multiple transmitters for binding in both versions of Freerider and continue to be impressed with how easy the setup has gone.   The biggest criticism we have for most of the competitors on the market is how unintuitive the binding setup is in their sims.  We love the simplicity, and simply have not had problems with the Freerider series.  This is a huge benefit to beginners who may be unfamiliar with the ins and outs of their transmitter and just want it to work out of the box.

On the other hand, Recharged hasn’t evolved from the sliding bar style of control settings.  Adjusting the quadcopter rates and general settings is controlled via sliders under each of the options.  To their credit, the default settings should work great for most beginners.  However, most other simulators have moved their control UI to align closer to Betaflight or Cleanflight.  This is extremely helpful for pilots learning to customize their digital quad before moving on to customizing their real quad.  This makes Recharged feel dated in comparison.

Compared to the competition, a slider screen looks out of date compared to more Betaflight or Clearflight style customization.

Unfortunately, most of the settings must be updated from the main menu.  This means you need to exit your flying session, enter the control options from the main menu, customize, and then start a new game.  Not the most efficient way to update things, but the game loads levels fast enough where it isn’t much of a problem.

As we mentioned before, beginners should get comfortable with the default setup, and simply switch to “High Rates” in the in-game UI as soon as they can.  This will give you a great learning setup that should allow for hours of practice.  Once you feel comfortable pushing yourself higher, increase the camera angle and up your rates every so often.  As we mentioned in our going advanced guide, continuously moving out of your comfort zone and upping your rates are key to becoming a better pilot.

 

FPV Freerider Recharged Levels

Recharged offers five levels, one of which will be very familiar to players of the original Freerider.  These levels are larger than those from the original game with a lot more environmental objects to fly around.

 

Track Picture Track Name Summary
  Desert A wide-open desert level with plenty of rock formations to race around and canyons to cruise through.
  Forest Tightly packed trees fill the Forest level with a ton of obstacles to dart through. This level will test your agility close to the ground.
  Factory Seemingly modeled out of a Charpu video, Factory has the look and feel of an abandoned warehouse you can rip up.  Lots of open windows, doors, and a slated roof to dive through.
  Rocks Overlooked by a diveable ranger’s tower, this level features a rock filled valley with plenty of obstacles.  Great for diving or hitting gaps in some of the prebuilt structures.
  Carpark Straight out of Freerider, the Carpark is a reskin of the classic level.  While still one of our favorite parking garage style levels, not much has changed from the original version.

 

Possible improvements for Recharged

While Recharged offers some larger levels over the original, there are a lot of things that could be improved to make the sim better.

Reimagined track layouts

The original Freerider offered basic tracks with easy to spot checkpoint markers.  While not all the levels were perfect, most tracks were very easy to navigate with the ‘lit gates’ the original game used.  On the flipside, Recharged’s tracks are very hard to follow, and basically require the user to memorize the layout.  This becomes an even bigger problem with the addition of the new checkpoint markers.  The new ‘sun orbs’ are very hard to see, and make navigating the track feel like a game of hide and seek rather than a race.  While these new orbs could be fun to fly around a level and collect, they are very cumbersome for navigating a race track.

Updated settings

Most newer simulators that we tried have embraced using control settings like those found in Betaflight or Cleanflight.  This furthers the learning process by treating PID / software control customization like that of a real multicopter.  While Recharged offers a great amount of customization, the control setting inputs feel very dated when compared to other simulators on the market.

The price point doesn’t make a whole lot of sense

This is the biggest detriment to the sim in my option.  Recharged feels like a map pack upgrade to Freerider rather than a sequel or new game.   I feel that if these maps were a $5 addition to FPV Freerider, many users would pick them up to add to their game.  While the levels are larger than those found in the original Freerider, Recharged only offers four levels (not including the reskinned Carpark level) to Freerider’s six.  Similarly, from a UI and overall feature perspective, the games really aren’t all that different.  Outside of the new maps, Recharged really only offers a new flight recorder feature.  While the recorder is fun, I doubt many players will get a ton of use out of it in the long term.  At a $10 price point, it’s a hard sell for existing Freerider users.

 

Overall Thoughts

Honestly, it is very hard to recommend Recharged in 2017.  While FPV Freerider is still a fantastic entry level learning tool, the $10 price point on Recharged doesn’t get you much more.  The game is more or less a map pack featuring larger maps with more environmental assets.  Furthermore, one of those maps is a direct remaster of a level from FPV Freerider.  Similarly, while the new maps are great for some freestyle action, they are a huge step back (in my opinion) from the simple race tracks in the original Freerider.  Tracks are poorly laid out and the ‘gate orbs’ are very hard to see in most levels.

Moreover, increasing competition in the simulator market makes Recharged look quite dated.  On the free side, you have simulators like HOTPROPS and DRL’s sim that feel much more modern than Freerider.  On the paid side, Liftoff offers tremendously more content (multiplayer, track builder, tons of maps) for $10 over Recharged’s price point.  Furthermore, while Recharged has a great feeling of flight, and plenty of tools for adjustment, most sims have converted to using graphs and settings like what you would find when setting up a real quad in Cleanflight or Betaflight.

Recharged isn’t a bad simulator, however it doesn’t offer much more than its $5 predecessor.    The flight recorder is probably the neatest addition unique to Recharged, but I doubt many people will actively use it. Interestingly, the original FPV Freerider has received updates alongside Recharged.  Newer features like 3d flight mode can be found in both versions of the game.  Similarly, a new map was added to Freerider, alongside some towers and assets in the original levels.  While this keeps Freerider a strong sim that we continue to recommend, it arguably hurts Recharged.

Our verdict – if you are looking for an entry level, tried and true simulator that is easy to setup, we still recommend the original FPV Freerider.  If you are looking for fancier levels and better graphics, check out some other newer simulators on the market.  To help you out, you can check out our comprehensive list of FPV simulators here.

 

Quick Stats

Price: $10

Levels: 5 (though one of the levels, Carpark, is a direct reskin from the original FPV Freerider)

Transmitter binding difficulty: Same as FPV Freerider: Easy. We could perform the transmitter setup and calibration on two different transmitters within a few minutes.

Multiplayer: No

Recommended for: Beginners new to quadcopters that want better graphics than the base FPV Freerider.  That said, we would recommend Freerider classic over Recharged.

Props: Similar look and feel to FPV Freerider (easy setup, settings carry over, great for learning). One of the few sims with the ability to fly 3d flight mode.  Flight recorder is a great way to practice following another pilot in freestyle or ghost race.

Slops: High price tag for what is basically a better graphic map pack for the original FPV Freerider.  Low amount of overall quad customization. UI design and user experience have fallen behind competitors.  No multiplayer.  Racing is unintuitive and a step back from the original Freerider.

 

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