Hardware Review: PowerA's FUSION Pro 2 Controller - An Affordable Alternative To Xbox's Elite Series

The Xbox Elite Series controller is an impressive piece of kit, but it's certainly expensive, and it's also been faced with some users reporting stick drift issues - something which caused Microsoft to actually increase the warranty. In comparison, PowerA's FUSION Pro 2 Controller, which manages to make a more affordable dent in your wallet, comes with features that rival even the Xbox Elite in terms of usability. If you're looking to dip your toe into more advanced gaming controllers but you're unsure of their benefits, this acts as a good stepping stone.

Firstly, the price. Currently, the FUSION Pro 2 Controller sits at £79.99/$79.99 on Amazon. Comparing this to the Xbox Elite, which comes in at around £159.99/$179.99, you're looking at upwards of 50% off in certain territories. It's a huge saving, one of which is likely to sway many adopters. The main caveat is that you're losing the wireless capabilities of the Xbox Elite controllers for a wired connection, which obviously isn't always a popular choice. If you can live with that switch-up though, then in our eyes it's definitely worth considering.

So, what exactly does the FUSION Pro 2 Controller do? The short answer is it offers you more options in terms of gaming. You can adjust the triggers, switch out the thumbsticks, program different buttons, and choose between one of two interchangeable faceplates. Possibly the best feature is a simple one - rubberised grips. This seemingly simple inclusion is a huge gamechanger, adding something that ordinary Xbox controller users aren't privy too (unless buying an Xbox Design Lab controller). While the Xbox Series X|S saw textured grips come into play, we can't overstate how much more comfortable holding rubberised handles feels. This is also an upgrade over the original FUSION Pro Controller, and one that is very much welcomed.

The faceplates also have a lovely matte finish, although the texture can prove to show up thumbprints and other marks relatively easy. The triggers don't feel quite as nice as we would like either, as the plastic feels quite cheap, but they do the job. The Xbox Guide button also doesn't light up which looks very odd - especially in darker situations. Compared to PowerA's much more affordable and more basic Spectra Infinity Enhanced Controller, which has LED lighting to compliment it throughout, it can make the FUSION Pro 2 Controller seem lifeless in some ways.

Of course, one of the main reasons for purchasing the FUSION Pro 2 Controller is for the customisation, and while it doesn't possess anywhere near the complexity of the Xbox Elite controllers, it does manage to be a worthy entry point for those looking to level up their gaming experience. It all comes nicely packaged in a carrying case, complete with the alternative white faceplate, two changeable thumbsticks, a cover for the back of the controller (if you wish to remove the programmable buttons) and the wire.

Swapping around any of these features couldn't be more simple. Everything clicks off with ease and has a handy compartment within the case. As we've previously mentioned, it's not exactly a deep set of changes, but it allows you to tinker enough to see some improvements in gameplay. However, there are some drawbacks, mainly with the thumbsticks. The package comes with some extra variants - two which are similar to the standard Xbox thumbsticks, and the other which is more in-line with a classic PlayStation DualShock controller. You only get one of the latter, meaning you can't swap both with the same style. This isn't something we would personally use, but we imagine anyone out there with this preference would be disappointed.

There's also a bit of an issue in terms of the controller's weight. It's a pretty heavy beast, much more so than a standard controller. Luckily, the rubberised grips provide some excellent comfort in the hand, but swapping from the original to this can take some getting used to. The programable buttons on the back, while a handy little feature, often get in the way. Unlike the Xbox Elite controllers, they stick out and are fairly intrusive, meaning you can easily accidentally tap one of the flaps at any given moment. Of course, the buttons can be removed completely and replaced with a cover, but those looking to create some new button layouts may run into a few problems.

Everywhere else the FUSION Pro 2 Controller sings. The triggers have a three-lock mechanic to easily choose how far you want them to go down, and they work great in practice. Forza Horizon 4 boasted incredible results in terms of acceleration and braking feedback in our tests, whilst a quick dive into Death's Door allowed us to fire projectiles at a much faster rate - something that is very much needed for the fast-paced combat in the game.

Overall we've been left pretty impressed with our experience of the FUSION Pro 2 Controller. Personally, we wouldn't benefit over some of the more intricate design choices of the Xbox Elite controllers, so this does the job for us, but anyone in the market for something more technical may not find what they're looking for here. That said, with the lower price point, comfortable feel and small but beneficial customisation options, we found the FUSION Pro 2 Controller to be a good alternative to Xbox's own branded goliath that is the Elite series.

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Have you picked up PowerA's FUSION Pro 2 Controller? Let us know in the comments below.