Victrix Pro FS review: Top-tier fight stick has some quirks
For many, that will mean investing in some hardware to up their game. Fight sticks have been a staple of the fighting game community for decades now, and have become ubiquitous among the top players within them.
If you were to ask many of those pro players which fight stick is the top-tier, best-quality stick on the market in recent years, you would likely hear plenty mention the Victrix Pro FS. As a high-end controller for the most invested players, the Victrix Pro FS has been updated to bring the stick to the PlayStation 5 - so here's our review of how it runs.
The Victrix Pro FS is the Ferrari of fight sticks: top-of-the-line but not without strange quirks that might be off-putting to some.
It's tailor-made for fighting game pros travelling to tournaments on a regular basis, and while the price might make most average players wince, it can be a worthwhile investment for professionals.
With this newer PS5 model of the Victrix Pro FS, potential buyers have both two options for layout and colourway. The Pro FS comes in either white or purple - but arguably more importantly, you can have either a standard joystick lever or directional buttons.
Joining the latest trend of Hitbox-style controllers, you can get the FS-12 model, which features individual buttons for each of the cardinal directions.
The model we received was the more traditional joystick version. That said, the first hurdle upon opening the box was discovering that the fight stick actually had no stick at all. The lever was not connected, as it can be removed and swapped at will. While this is a wonderful feature which I'll circle back to, first, let's cover an unexpected issue that this raised.
With the previous Victrix Pro FS, a frankly gigantic instruction book was included. In this version, it was replaced by a small leaflet with a QR code that intends to bring you to the quick start guide, but for some reason instead brought me to the customer feedback page when scanning it.
As such, I was left to figure everything out on my own. Whether this was a one-time error or a general oversight is unknown, but an instruction booklet or a working QR code would have made this process a lot smoother.
After some trial and error, however, I was able to get one of the two included levers attached - and I was ready to fight.
- For more from Victrix, check out our Victrix Pro BFG controller review
At this point, I could start to take in all of what the Victrix Pro FS was putting in my lap. The chassis of the stick is weighty, due to it being made of a solid piece of aircraft-grade aluminium.
The top face is minimalist in a very appealing way, with a row of ancillary buttons across the top, the lever and main buttons in the middle, and ending in a gradual slope for your wrists to rest on.
The sides are hollow, with lights inside that can be customised with different colours and effects. Underneath, there are two cavities that create handles on either side of the unit. The centre opens up, meaning that altering and swapping out buttons or levers is a breeze.
Covering the entire underside is a rubbery grip, and while this is likely not a one-size-fits-all scenario, in my case, I didn't find this to be very effective. We are all built differently and play in different ways, but I found that the Victrix Pro FS, when placed on my lap while sitting in my chair, would begin to slide off pretty quickly.
This can be remedied by changing my lap height so the stick sits more flatly, but this is where I sit comfortably and other fight sticks I have used (like the Nacon Daija, for example) don't do this. This seems largely down to the grip being quite smooth and not having any texture to it. While it's an issue that can be worked around, it's still an issue nonetheless.
Another feature that took some research to understand is the pair of handles on the top of the Victrix Pro FS. Again, I was without any kind of instructions so I had to refer elsewhere to learn more. Seemingly, the purpose of these handles is to wrap your cable around, a feature considered mostly for professional, or at least tournament-frequenting players.
- If you want to take your fighting games on the go, check out our ASUS ROG Ally review
That design ethos runs throughout the Pro FS: The top handles for the wire, the side handles for carrying, the removable lever for flatter storage, and the almost over-the-top sturdiness of the build. Throughout, it is clear that Victrix has a specific market in mind, and that is the hardcore fighting game player.
This is not a product for the average consumer, instead geared towards the best players who want the best equipment - those who travel the world to attend tournaments and need a reliable, durable, top-tier fight stick. From that perspective, this controller starts to make a lot more sense.
It isn't the most user-friendly package, because the expected user is not someone buying a fight stick for the first time. This is a serious investment in fighting games, and I mean that financially as well as figuratively, with the Victrix Pro FS setting you back $399.99.
The price alone should tell you that this is not for everyone, and it's not trying to be. I'm only a fighting game enthusiast, and even with my years of knowledge and love of the genre, I felt a bit out of my depth handling this thing.
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Love of the game
That isn't to say I am not loving the experience, though. Aside from the grip issue which I have remedied with a footrest, I have really enjoyed playing games with the Pro FS. The included top-tier Sanwa buttons and levers are a dream to play with. The aluminium body does make the unit a little cold to the touch at first, but that quickly goes away with some use, and worth it for the sturdy weight.
The Victrix Pro FS does have its quirks and drawbacks, but this is often true of high-end products that are designed with dedicated users in mind. A new fighting game player might struggle with this fight stick in the way that a new driver might struggle with a supercar, but that does not diminish its value.
This might not be my favourite fight stick I have ever used, but it might just be the best. I can see the features that the Pro FS has that would be hugely beneficial to a more dedicated player than I am. Even still, for someone of middling skill like myself, this fight stick is a dream to play with.
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Under no circumstances could I recommend a new or casual player to hand out 400 bucks for a fight stick, regardless of how good it might be. Even a magic fight stick that won all your matches for you would be a reach at that price. For enthusiasts, this price is still quite the stretch. You might want a Pro FS in the same way you might want a fancy watch - just to have something nice.
That said, the target audience for this is the hardcore, dedicated players - professionals, or folks who dream of becoming them. While people may wince at the idea of spending $400 on a fight stick, I'm sure most would recoil in horror at the price of a professional football player's boots.
The point here is that the best players need the best equipment. When a single dropped input could be the difference between winning the big one or coming up short, then the price can absolutely be justified.
I cannot recommend it to everyone, but if you truly take fighting games seriously, or if you have to have the best of the best, I don't think there is a better fight stick on the market for you than the Victrix FS Pro.
Review unit provided by the manufacturer.