It was hope at first sight.
There I was, simply browsing at the local big box electronics store, when I looked up and saw the PowerA Fusion Pro sitting on a shelf.
Give credit to the marketing team — the box for the product is ginormous and attractive. I picked it up, gave it a once-over and started searching for reviews.
Having been frustrated with the lack of a quality controller that wouldn’t break for simply being used — see my past review on the Microsoft Elite 2 — all I needed was an excuse to try something new. And with a few thousand positive reviews on Amazon, I decided to give it a chance.
Was my quest to find the ultimate paddle finally coming to an end? Was the PowerA Fusion Pro destined to be the ultimate controller or a dud right out of the box? Would it be capable of handling hours upon hours of first-person shooters, RPGs, and puzzle games without succumbing to drift? Would its buttons work the first, second, and 100th time?
Feats of strength
At first glance, the Fusion Pro looks like a standard Xbox One controller with a few mods. The satin-white face looks and feels expensive when you first take it out of the box, and the controller feels weighted and solid in your hands.
Though the controller is sold as an Xbox One controller, I’ve used it exclusively with my Xbox Series X console. It’s also plug-in-play compatible with a PC if you’re looking for an alternative to your keyboard and mouse setup.
It must be stated that the Fusion Pro is a wired controller, which might be bad news for some and good news for others. Being wired actually reduces the controller’s price, and competitive players will tell you there are a lot of benefits to having something plugged in — less input lag, no need for a battery, and very little chance of a random disconnect.
The braided 9.8-foot micro-USB to USB cable is plenty long, and it connects to your controller with a locking mechanism. I’ve never felt the need to unplug the cable from the gamepad, but seeing as how PowerA sells replacement cables, I’m guessing it might come in handy if my cat ever decided to chew through the cord.
At the bottom of the controller, a 3.5mm audio plug lets you connect a wired headset.
The faceplate is removable and held tightly in place by magnets located at various pressure points. I haven’t had a single problem with the controller’s faceplate rattling or sliding around, and I’m impressed at how permanent it feels. To remove the faceplate, you just need to slide your fingernail or something thin into the slot at the base. The plate lifts up giving you access to the plastic thumb sticks which can be pulled out and replaced with another set of taller sticks, one of which has a convex top.
You can also change the colored friction rings in the faceplate with other colors included in the box.
Flipping the controller over, there’s a noticeable difference between the face of the controller and its backside. The front is polished and face forward, but the back looks like the battery compartment from a 1980’s Teddy Ruxpin. It’s brown and industrial, which is fine for a controller that’s packing a lot of features for a low price.
There are trigger stops with three adjustable levels. Simply move the switch for each trigger to one of the three positions, and you’re set.
The triggers themselves are smooth and don’t crunch when they’re pulled. They’re thicker with an angled edge, and they’re pretty snappy. The bumpers are clicky, but after several months and a few hundred hours of playing, the left one has started to rattle a bit. It isn’t that noticeable when I’ve got my headset on, but today I had my volume on really low and it was very noticeable.
In between the trigger stops, there’s a button that lets you program the four buttons on the mappable control box. The option lets players work with on-the-fly programming that doesn’t require an app or a settings screen. It simply lets players choose a new button layout in real-time without having to exit their game.
As for the control box itself, it can be removed completely from the controller. There are four levers that can be taken out, which gives players the freedom to work with one, two, three, or all four of them. And for players who don’t want to fiddle with an extra set of controls, the box can be left off the controller. Just slide the included cover over the compartment, and no one will know anything is missing.
On the grips of the controller, a no-slip texture pattern is stamped into the injected rubber, keeping the gamepad stuck to your palms.
And when the controller isn’t in use, it can be stored within a hard-shell carrying case that comes included.
The nitty and gritty
I’ve had the controller now for almost five months, and I haven’t experienced any drift with the sticks, and I haven’t had any issues with stuck or non-responsive buttons. From day one until now, I haven’t seen any serious degradation in performance or function, except for a rattle in the left bumper.
I’m going out on a limb here, but I think the drift is mitigated by a deadzone built into the controller. When I switched to the Xbox Series X controller for a session with Apex Legends, my aim was a little tighter and more precise, which leaves me thinking the Microsoft controller is a bit more sensitive.
Another thing I’ve noticed, and this is after years of using Microsoft controllers, my right hand has started cramping up. with the Fusion Pro. Sometimes, it feels as if my right thumb is overextending when I move the stick to the left, and it starts to feel uncomfortable. This could be in part due to my playing a lot more first-person shooters now that I have a controller that’s yet to show real signs of breaking in its first six months.
As for the aesthetics of the controller, the beautiful white has started to show a bit of discoloration. I can clearly see where my hands hold the controller, and I’ve got pretty dry hands.
The PowerA Fusion Pro controller works.
It works on my Xbox One, Xbox Series X, and my PC.
The sticks don’t show any drift, and its buttons work every single time.
Though I’d like a little more sensitivity and some refinement — metal sticks would be nice — it’s also been said that beggars can’t be choosers and you get what you pay for. With a price tag of $79.99, the Fusion Pro is only $20 more than Microsoft’s standard Core controller offerings, and it comes with a lot of features, accessories, and the sort of quality that will put more money back into your video game budget rather than your gamepad one.
They say beggars can’t be choosers, and you get what you pay for.
In the case of the Fusion Pro, neither of those are true. PowerA has given more power to the players with a custom controller that one-ups the very pricey Elite Series 2 by stealing several of its numerous features and putting them into a very affordable package. If you were ever tempted into buying an Elite controller by the sheer amount of features and using that as rationale to justify the high price, think about the PowerA as an alternative.
You might have found yourself a keeper.
Fusion Pro Wired Controller