Review: PDP Afterglow Wave Controller for Xbox Series X|S & PC

Last month, ahead of PDP’s splash announcement of the Victrix Pro BFG controller, PDP announced a slew a gaming peripheral releases. One of those releases was the PDP Afterglow Wave Controller, a controller designed for the Xbox Series X|S that is packed with customizability options. The Afterglow Wave features eight RBG lighting zones, button remapping, analog dead zone control, and customizable profiles. The controller even has functionality for controlling the audio on connected wired headsets on the fly. Coming in both black and white models, the PDP Afterglow Wave Controller looks to bring both style and functionality to the table.

Let’s dive into the PDP Afterglow Wave Controller to see exactly what you get for $44.99.

Build, Looks and Feel

The PDP Afterglow Wave Controller comes with a removable 8-foot USB-C to USB-A cable.

The Afterglow Wave is a wired controller with a general silhouette closely resembling that of Xbox’s own Wireless Controller. It is compatible with the Xbox One family of consoles as well as PC. As you would expect, you have all the standard face buttons, dual analog sticks, d-pad, bumpers and triggers in the traditional Xbox layout. On the back you have two paddle buttons where each paddle can be remapped to any single controller button. On top, you have the USB-C port for the included removable cable while on the bottom you have a 3.5mm jack for connecting a wired headset.

Going beyond the basics, the PDP Afterglow Wave Controller also features a “Function”, which allows you to control various aspects of your connected wired headset. Double pressing the button toggles mic muting on and off. However, by holding this button and using presses of the d-pad, you can control the headset’s master volume as well as the game and chat balance of the incoming sound. The d-pad on the Afterglow Wave features symbols that help indicate what each direction controls.

Finally, you have the “glow” component of the Afterglow Wave controller, with its eight lighting zones. The controller has three lighting zones on each of the handles, going from top to bottom. The remaining two lighting zones sit mostly behind the rings around the analog sticks. The colors and lighting behaviors are easily customizable through the free PDP Control Hub App for Xbox. However, they can also be changed on the fly by holding the Function button and using the Left Analog Stick, bumpers, and left trigger to change the colors, brightness and effects.

On the surface, the PDP Afterglow Wave Controller has the look and feel of a standard Xbox controller, yet with obviously more visual flair. As the controller has such a close to home shape, it takes no time whatsoever to develop muscle memory for the placement of its various controls. The grip surface on the back also allows for a pretty solid grip while keeping your palms cool during long gaming sessions. The controller simply feels as familiar as Xbox controllers get, allowing for great ease of use and handling.

Being able to control the colors, behaviors and brightness of the lights allow for a good amount of creativity in the controller’s appearance. Whether you are using the black or white version of the Afterglow Wave, very little is keeping you from making the controller match your own particular style.  The PDP Afterglow Wave Controller gets solid marks in the build, looks and feel department.

Features and Performance

Through the PDP Control Hub App, you can experience all of the levels of customization that the PDP Afterglow Wave Controller has to offer.

Starting with what was mentioned already, here is where you can map the controller’s back paddles to the singular buttons of your choice or disable them altogether. You can even remap the face buttons if you choose. You can set the dead zones of the triggers and analog sticks as well as control the intensity of the controller’s vibration strength. There is also a screen for controlling all of the audio settings of your connected headset, which now includes Mic Monitoring (aka Side Tone).

In the Customize RBG screen, you can fine tune the behavior of the controller’s LEDs to match your personal tastes. Here, you control the LED’s directly by lighting zones, assigning specific colors to the zones of your choosing. There are also options for lighting effects such as static, breathing, cycle and stick. You can even go as far as determining what triggers said behaviors.

You edit the various lighting zones by selecting them and applying the options on the right. I only had two minor snags here. One was the inability of choosing “white” as a color, where it was either unavailable as a color choice or simply hard to figure out using this interface. The other was more of a personal preference issue. While I like how the three color zones on each of the handles overlap and blend into each other, I wish this was not the case with the analog stick rings. For example, see here how color zones 2 and 3 bleed into color zone 1 on the left, with a similar effect happening on the tight.

Nitpicky? Of course. I just would have loved the LED’s on the analog stick rings to be somewhat independent of the surrounding LEDs.

Going even deeper, the app has a diagnostic feature where you can test and recalibrate buttons and audio. You also update the controller’s firmware through this app. Lastly, all of the above settings can be saved into profiles that you can swap between as needed.

As far as features go, the PDP Afterglow Wave Controller offers a wide variety of lighting and effect customization options. The feature set on this controller is quite robust and the free companion app is pretty straightforward to use. Through the PDP Control Hub App, you can truly personalize this controller to match the kind of behavior you would want from any controller out today.

As for its performance, it is as straightforward an Xbox One controller as it gets. If you are good with a standard Xbox One or Xbox Series X|S controller, you will continue to perform well and feel right at home with the Afterglow Wave. With no muscle memory learning curve whatsoever, I easily bagged another flawless run in Trials of Osiris (Destiny 2) last week. Thanks to my golden LED color scheme on the Afterglow Wave, I went flawless in style.

Of course, that same ease of use was also present in Apex Legends. Here, I continued to collect wins in Battle Royal and carry teams in Arenas.

Interestingly enough, when I first saw and felt the d-pad on the Afterglow Wave, I thought that it would not handle well in fighting games. That is because the “plus sign” was not as pronounced as I would normally like when performing command inputs. Nevertheless, I took the Afterglow Wave into King of Fighters XV. Shockingly enough, I was still able to pull off all of the command inputs and combos that I was used to, despite my two month hiatus from the game.  

Overall, the controller handled well in all of the gaming genres that I usually dive into. Solid performance all around.

Final Thoughts

For $44.99, you get a wired Xbox and PC controller that plays just like any standard Xbox Series X|S controller. However, you also get a very nice amount of customizability and personalization options. For a price that is less than that of the standard wireless Xbox controller, you get considerably more functionality. Sure, it’s wired. However, eight feet of cabling should be more than enough to cover the distance of most console gaming arrangements. Not to mention, being wired makes any perceivable input latency a non-factor.

PDP did well with the PDP Afterglow Wave Controller. It is a solid controller at a reasonable price that gives you plenty of options to mess around with. If you are in the market for a very affordable controller with some flashy LED swag, check out the PDP Afterglow Wave Controller for yourself by clicking here.

If LEDs are not your style, PDP also has another collection of customizable wired Xbox controllers. You can check out the REMATCH Advanced Wired Controller for Xbox, priced at $37.99, by clicking here.

† As usual, there are no affiliate links contained within this post. We were provided a PDP Afterglow Wave Controller for review purposes and were not compensated for this review.