Having already released pro-grade controllers for both PlayStation and Xbox, PowerA has finally released a customizable pro controller for Nintendo Switch. The PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller features four customizable rear paddles, a comfortable, rubberized grip, and over 20 hours of battery life on a single charge. But, with a console that generally skews towards a more casual audience, are the added “Pro” features really necessary?
PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller
PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller – Design and Features
Right off the bat, PowerA has outdone itself with the presentation of the Fusion Pro controller. Upon opening the zippered hardshell case, I couldn’t help but draw comparisons to the Xbox Elite Controller. Inside the case is the controller itself, with its customizable Pro Pack preinstalled, an interchangeable magnetic white faceplate, two different-sized thumbsticks, and a nearly 10-foot-long braided USB-C cable. For under $100, this truly feels like a bargain.
The first thing to note is that this controller is hefty. Not only is it heavier than Nintendo’s official Pro Controller, but it’s also noticeably thicker – something to keep in mind for younger players. The layout is nearly identical to Nintendo’s controller as well, with offset thumbsticks and the Switch’s Home and Screenshot buttons front and center. It connects via Bluetooth and is compatible with the Nintendo Switch in all modes, including the Nintendo Switch Lite.
Looking at what makes this controller a “Pro” option, the first thing to point out is the removable Pro Pack on the back. It includes four metal paddle-style buttons, each of which attach using a clever magnetic system that holds them in place. They don’t have much travel when pressed and definitely take some getting used to. Each paddle ends in a satisfying click, providing some tactile feedback to let you know it’s registered the button press. The Pro Pack can easily be removed and replaced with a flush back if you opt to play without the additional inputs, as well as the ability to remove individual paddles, providing you a truly customizable experience.
Another feature worth calling out is the anti-friction rings installed on each faceplate. These provide a buttery smooth experience when rotating the analog sticks and allow you to move them incredibly fast without getting stuck on the edges. There are also two additional analog sticks that you can swap between – a taller concave stick and a regular-sized convex stick. To replace any of the analog sticks, simply remove the faceplate and swap out the stick. It’s not as elegant of a solution as Microsoft has created with magnetic thumbstick attachments, but it works nonetheless.
The final component that sets this controller apart from others is the rubberized grips. While many controllers opt for smooth grips or subtle plastic textured grips, this grip is a noticeable step-up. Even during extended play sessions, I never felt like the controller was slipping and was very easy to hold.
Other notable features include a 3.5mm auxiliary port, allowing you to connect a pair of headphones directly to the Fusion Pro controller for audio out. As welcome as this feature is (especially for Switch owners), it only works in wired mode, which is a bit of a bummer. The Fusion Pro also features a USB-C port for charging and playing in wired mode. Its built-in rechargeable battery lasts for 20 hours on a single charge, which is a great battery life given the added components.
The four primary face buttons feel very similar to Nintendo’s Pro Controller. They feature a slightly convex shape with a very little wiggle in each slot, combined with a satisfying, clicky press. The D-Pad is also extremely well-designed. It’s very firm and extremely precise, and will be a welcome addition for fighting game fanatics or retro game enthusiasts. On the top of the controller are the L and R shoulder buttons as well as digital ZL and ZR triggers. Given their digital nature, the triggers don’t have much travel, but this is par for the course for most Nintendo Switch controllers.
Despite its added size and weight, the Fusion Pro controller does not include any rumble. For a “Pro” controller, this seems like a bit of an oversight, as the additional feedback in FPS games is extremely helpful.
PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller – Software
Instead of using software to customize and map the rear paddles, PowerA has created an intuitive system on the back of the controller that allows you to assign paddles on the fly. Simply press and hold the program button followed by the desired input before selecting the paddle you’d like to use. The simplicity of this system makes it extremely accessible and opens up “Pro” features for everyone to use. The best part is that you can change the controls for each game you play, or even mid-match if something isn’t working well. The only thing that would’ve been welcome is the option for saving a couple presets for easy switching, but given how quickly you can remap the controls it may have been overkill.
PowerA Fusion Pro Wireless Controller – Gaming
The idea of a pro-level controller is always exciting, as the added paddles allow you to cut down on unnecessary finger movement and stay locked into the action, theoretically giving you the edge over most players. However, this controller seems at odds with the system it’s designed for as the Nintendo Switch isn’t known for its pro gaming scene.
That being said, I booted up Apex Legends and took the Pro Fusion controller for a spin. As previously mentioned, mapping the controls to the rear paddles was a breeze, and after taking some time to retrain my brain, I was ready for showtime. Movement on the anti-friction analog sticks was smooth and responsive, and the addition of the rear paddles meant I could reload, swap weapons, heal, and chuck grenades, all without taking my fingers off the sticks. Using the paddles was easy enough and each one responded exactly as intended.
But, even with the minuscule advantage over other players, I’m sad to report that I did not perform much better than I would’ve without the paddles. As it turns out, using a “Pro” controller doesn’t instantly make you a pro. But, if this is your only console and you’re into competitive games like Apex Legends, Overwatch, or Fortnite, having customizable paddles is never a bad thing. All things considered, I still find it hard to recommend this over Nintendo’s own Pro Controller, as the lack of rumble and added heft seem to detract from the experience more than enhance it.