Shoryuken review: The PowerA FUSION Pro Wired Controller for Xbox One brings premium features at a solid price

By on July 25, 2020 at 3:05 pm
PowerA FUSION Pro Wired Controller Featured Image 2

If you’re cool with a cable, it might just be the best option out there

If you’ve been around the site for a bit, you might have seen my earlier takes on how pro-style controllers offer pad players unique benefits like mappable additional inputs, swappable parts, and adjustable triggers. These controllers are great for those who prefer something a bit more familiar than a FightPad but still want that extra functionality. An investment in a pro controller is also a bit easier to justify if you play titles across genres alongside fighting games since, unlike an arcade stick, it has universal compatibility.

Curious about the capabilities of a pro controller but not wanting to break the bank to see what they are all about? Well, PowerA has just the thing for you. Their FUSION Pro Wired Controller for Xbox One is a fantastic rendition of the enhanced controller design and does just about everything other controllers in the market can at nearly half the price. There are a few consolations of course, like being wired only and not having any swappable d-pad designs, but its premium build and included features make it more than worth its respectable asking price.

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Design:

The PowerA FUSION Pro Controller takes the standard Xbox One controller design and makes it more rounded and sophisticated. Any sharp edge is replaced by a smooth curve and the faceplate is made of soft matte plastic making it very comfortable to hold. The rubberized grips hold well and are feel much more premium than textured plastic.

Metallic accents are found throughout. The buttons pop against the stark white with a khaki kind of gray and a third accent of brown being found in the core-shell of the controller. The black model, which we didn’t review, balances silver metallic accents with dark gray and a black frame similar to the original black Xbox 360 controllers.

Overall the buttons are well placed and are easy to reach but I am not the biggest fan of the design of the bumpers. While they follow the controller’s design conventions, they could use a little more arc for practicality’s sake, but more on that later. The triggers have a great curve and their draw distance can be adjusted with three different settings that are easily adjustable through switches dedicated to each side.

The home button is a protruded clear button as opposed to the flat one placed in the standard Xbox design. While the FUSION Pro controller’s home button doesn’t illuminate, there is a program indicator light beneath it that shines solid when plugged in and flashes whenever the program button on the back is held and it enters customization mode.

I do wish there was a bit more unification with the color choices though, particularly between the copper-gold controller sections and the rose-gold paddles on the Pro Pack that attaches to the back for additional inputs. It is a bit odd to use two shades of gold that are so different. At the end of the day though, the paddles are on the back of the controller and the color difference isn’t terribly noticeable, so it shouldn’t matter too much.

The metallic green anti-friction rings probably go better with the black model, but they’ve grown on me throughout my review. They pop nicely against the gold and white and give off a vibe that matches the PowerA FUSION branding quite nicely. You can catch a glimpse of the branding above and view the slideshow highlighting the packaging in its entirety at the end of the review.

While you can remove the faceplate to swap out the thumbsticks for taller ones provided in your carrying case, there aren’t any additional faceplates or accessory packs for purchase on PowerA’s website. Also, even if there were some available, you would have to keep in mind that the metallic accents are a part of the controller, not the faceplate, so whatever you’d swap out would have to either match or complement the permanently golden hues. I am a sucker for white and gold, so what’s provided by default is an ideal choice for me anyway, but I can’t say I wouldn’t love something just as colorful and crazy as the PowerA FUSION’s branding.

The way a product is marketed can be just as important as the product itself and I’ve got to give it to the PowerA branding design team. The PowerA FUSION line has some incredible art on its boxes and instruction manuals. Due to the branding restrictions made by PlayStation and Nintendo, you don’t really get to see the design come out in full force, but with Xbox, the designers are given free rein, and you’ve just got to admire how cool it looks. PowerA even commissioned artist, Molly Schwartz, to create a mural to show off how awesome their branding is.

It would have been easy to just come up with a logo, put some pictures of the controller on all sides of the box, and make it whatever color matches the console’s branding, but PowerA didn’t do that. Great packaging deserves credit when its due and the PowerA FUSION line definitely delivers in making your experience feel one-of-a-kind from the moment you look at the box.

Overall the PowerA FUSION Pro controller looks very elegant and refined. Its design is every bit as premium as its higher-priced cousins and feels just as good to boot. The entire build feels solid and it has a great weight that brings the entire experience together.

Function:

The PowerA FUSION Pro Controller works like a charm. It essentially takes what makes the original Xbox One controller great and enhances it in most respects through its customizable features. There are a few things that you can’t change that you will either love or won’t be crazy about, but the controller is a very solid offering overall.

The controller has a great weight to it, making it even heavier than a traditional Xbox One controller which is quite the feat regarding the fact that this is a wired-only controller with no battery to add any heft. There isn’t any way to adjust the weight though. Other controllers in the market like the SCUF Vantage have removable rumble modules to reduce weight and distractions. I personally like how heavy the controller is, it gives it a very premium feel that lighter controllers tend not to have, but it is something to note.

As I mentioned earlier, I am not the biggest fan of how the bumpers are implemented, especially in comparison to the first-party Xbox One controller bumpers that have a more dynamic arc. Those bumpers fit your finger as you press down on them whereas the FUSION Pro controller’s bumpers only offer a slight curve before straightening out. They work perfectly fine and activate wherever they are pressed, but if they had a bit more of an arc, I think they could be even better.

The directional pad is fairly responsive and has a nice gloss to it that allows your finger to glide between inputs. Instead of giving a solid click like the original Xbox One controller, it feels a bit chunkier, like a disc with a + shaped piece on top. Whenever you press on it, the disc shifts and stops whenever it hits the metallic rim as opposed to using four dedicated input buttons underneath a + shaped piece of plastic.

This design works fairly well, especially for swooping motions like quarter circles, full circles, and the like. There are also slightly raised edges on the ends of the d-pad that help keep your thumb for overreaching in any particular direction. Instead of giving multiple directional pad options like the SCUF Vantage or the Xbox Elite Controller that include disc-like parts to swap out the original + shaped, the FUSION Pro seems to blend the two ideas into one d-pad design. This is effective but doesn’t give the player choice like most other aspects of the controller’s design.

Instead of making the paddles connect directly to the controller itself, PowerA designed a Pro Pack that attaches them to the controller through a locking mechanism. This makes it really easy to remove and store the Pro Pack in case you are traveling or you are playing a game that doesn’t necessarily need the additional inputs. Removing individual paddles is super easy as well, only requiring them to be lifted from underneath to take off.

This is great in comparison to controllers that either don’t let you remove the additional buttons or have paddles that are difficult to remove and replace. It doesn’t take a lot of effort to lift a paddle out of place, however, so just be aware that if your finger slips underneath them, you could accidentally remove one. This isn’t super easy to do, but it is something to pay attention to.

The Pro Pack and its paddles work well for a variety of titles and are easy enough to press but not so sensitive that they will take accidental inputs lightly. Mapping the buttons is super quick and easy too and doesn’t require any software. All you need to do is hold the program button on the back for a couple of seconds, wait for the program light on the front to flash, press whatever input you want to map, then click the paddle of your choice. The whole premise of these paddles is to allow you to move your hands as little as possible by taking advantage of the additional inputs placed where your hands rest naturally.

The Pro Pack essentially gives you access to more convenient bumper and trigger inputs along with better button combo shortcuts that you traditionally have an easier time doing on an arcade stick than a typical controller. For a few examples of how to map your Pro Pack, in Dragon Ball FighterZ you can map Dragon Rush and Super Dash to the right two paddles, and both assists to the left two paddles. This allows you to access those functions without having to move your hands to switch between the buttons and triggers. Other inputs that can work great here are ones that require multiple button presses. For example, in Street Fighter V (if you are playing on PC) whenever you want to activate your V-Trigger, all you need to do is hit the two paddles of your choice, no need to move your hand positioning. The same thing goes for FighterZ’ Sparking mechanic.

The three-way trigger locks are a really nice addition and are incredibly simple to adjust. All you need to do is toggle the switch next to the trigger you want to adjust and you are good to go. The draw distance is measured in three different modes. T1 has the shortest distance, T3 has the furthest, matching the traditional Xbox One controller, and T2 fits somewhere in between. For fighting games, you are going to want to use T1 so you can utilize the trigger inputs as quickly as possible. For other games that use the full range of the trigger, like a racing title, you will probably want to go with something like T3. At the end of the day though, it is up to your preference, and that’s the great thing about the PowerA FUSION Pro controller.

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It being wired only might be a deal-breaker for some, but if you are looking for the lowest latency possible, a wired connection is the best way to go anyway and the savings made by omitting the wireless feature more than makeup for not being able to be cable-free. The 3-meter braided cable has a similar snap-lock function as what’s found in the PowerA FUSION FightPad, but it works even better. It also features the breakaway function, so both your console and controller should be safe in the case of an untimely trip.

By being wired-only, you never have to worry about carrying an extra set of batteries or running low on a charge. It’s plug and play so it’ll always work on console and PC. Speaking of PC, the wonderful thing about it being an Xbox controller means it works perfectly on Steam, the Epic Games Store, and any other gaming platform where controllers are supported. No additional drivers are necessary, and the included cable tie makes it easy to shorten the wire’s length if you’re playing close to your computer.

I mentioned in my PowerA FUSION Wired FightPad that the headphone jack for that controller was a little loose. I had no issue with the FUSION Pro controller and my headset locks in nicely offering crisp audio to both the headset and the microphone. It appears that either PowerA used a stronger locking component for the FUSION Pro controller or perhaps the headphone jack port on the specific FightPad that I reviewed was not indicative of the rest of PowerA’s offerings. I will reach out to PowerA for feedback regarding the jack in the near future.

Final Thoughts:

The PowerA FUSION Pro Wired Controller is an elegant and effective controller that optimizes the way you play games across all genres and has its benefits that are unique when used in fighting games when compared to FightPads or arcade sticks. While it might not have all of the features that other controllers in the market have, like exchangeable d-pads, customization apps, and wireless functionality, the core of the “Pro” experience is maintained and executed beautifully.

Players wanting to take full advantage of a controller that offers a variety of customizable features without costing up to three times more than a regular controller can feel at ease knowing that PowerA offers something so premium at such a fair price. Throw in the included travel case, additional tall thumbsticks, and alternate colored anti-friction rings, and you are getting more than your money’s worth.

The PowerA FUSION Pro controller can be purchased directly through PowerA’s website or their retail partners for $79.99 in both white and black models.

Pros:

  • Extremely comfortable build with rubberized grips, a solid weight, and three-way trigger locks for various input speeds.
  • Easily customizable Pro Pack requires just the right amount of force to limit accidental inputs.
  • Strong dedication to style, with the white model being particularly unique and elegant.
  • Includes additional accessories like a travel case, an extra pair of anti-friction rings, and short and tall thumbsticks.
  • Incredibly low-cost pro controller option.

Cons:

  • Wired only.
  • No replacement or customization accessories for sale.
  • No directional pad alternative.
  • The paddles can be a bit too easy to remove during play.
  • The rose gold paddles don’t match the copper-gold accents on the front of the controller.


PowerA provided Shoryuken with a review sample of the FUSION Pro Wired Controller for Xbox One for the purpose of this review.


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Shoryuken.com Associate Editor. Austyn James Roney began his gaming journey with Super Smash Bros. on the N64 but learned the ways of the fighting game genre with Marvel vs. Capcom 3. Loves all fighters, regardless of dimension or playstyle.