Last year, PowerA launched the Fusion Pro Controller for Xbox One, an Elite-style controller. Its successor, the Fusion Controller, has just arrived with a lower price and new visual design. How does the Fusion Controller stack up against other Elite-style Xbox controllers? Read on to find out!
The Fusion Controller is a black, wired controller for Xbox One and PC. It features the same basic shape and layout as a standard Xbox One controller. The USB cable is non-detachable, features an attractive gray and black fabric, and includes a Velcro cord wrap. The wrap is nicer than the old Fusion Pro Controller's weird rubber one.
Another big difference between this one and its predecessor is that of textures. This one has notches molded all the way around the hand grips, with a PowerA logo on the front of each grip. These don't feel nearly as nice as the real Elite controller's soft textured grips. But they should improve grip all the same. The non-grip portion of the controller back bears a unique hexagonal texture that primarily serves an aesthetic function.
The Fusion Controller's D-Pad and Triggers have a striking gold chrome finish. This goes a long way towards prettying up the controller without veering into gaudiness. I fear the chrome will eventually show wear, especially given the low price of the controller.
The D-Pad itself is nice and clicky. Although it doesn't feel as perfect as that of the Hori Pad Pro, it's still one of the better directional pads you'll find on a third-party controller. The Triggers have a great level of resistance too, making them a pleasure to use. One of the triggers on my Fusion Pro Controller eventually lost some of its responsiveness, but hopefully that won't happen here.
As for lighting, a white LED below the Xbox button lights up during use. An orange PowerA logo located at the top of the controller face lights up as well – a unique touch.
The bottom of the controller has a 3.5mm headset jack. As with all third party controllers, there is no data port, so you can't use the Chatpad accessory with this controller.
The Fusion Controller brings a significant feature to the table that its predecessor lacked: swappable analog sticks. Three sets of sticks are included: sticks with oversized tops, sticks shaped like a standard Xbox controller's, and PlayStation-style convex sticks. Whichever sticks you prefer, they perform excellently. PowerA sticks always have the right amount of resistance.
The swappable sticks come housed in a small disposable plastic tray — there's no carrying case like you get with the the Elite controller. When swapping them out, be sure you push them in until they make an audible click. Otherwise, the sticks might fall off unexpectedly.
Note that the Fusion Controller's sticks have a different internal shape from the Elite's. That means you can't use Elite sticks with this controller, which is a bit of a shame. Maybe Microsoft imposed the restriction; who knows?
Programmable buttons and trigger locks
The Elite and most similar Xbox One controllers feature four programmable buttons, allowing players to perform various functions without removing their thumbs from the analog sticks. The Fusion Controller bucks the trend slightly by including only two programmable buttons, both on the rear side of the controller near the grips. A button on the top rear of the controller handles programming tasks.
Two buttons might seem like a downgrade from four, but think of how often you'd actually use more than two extra buttons. Two is fine for my needs, and most players get by with standard controllers that have no rear buttons anyway.
You'll also find a lock switch for each trigger on the back of the controller. Activating these switches limits how far the trigger can be depressed. The benefit is that players can potentially shoot more rapidly in some games, especially those that don't rely on the analog nature of the triggers. I rarely use trigger locks, but it's nice to have them.
The bottom line
The PowerA Fusion Controller offers some compelling features and performance at the low price point of $49.99. You get swappable analog stick, two programmable buttons, and trigger locks – all with a superior aesthetic design compared to the more expensive Fusion Pro Controller.
The choice between this one and the similarly priced Hori Pad Pro won't be tough for most users. The Fusion Controller's sticks and triggers are far superior, even if its D-Pad can't compete. You might buy the Hori for fighting and 2D games, but most games will play better with the Fusion. It's a strong affordable alternative to the much more expensive Elite Controller.
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