Nacon Pro Compact Controller Review

The official Xbox Series X and S controller is a marvel of engineering, but it’s not the only option out there. If you don’t like that controller’s bulkier design or overall shape, you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of alternatives you can choose from. You don’t need to break the bank, either; as the Nacon Pro Compact controller proves, great peripheral options can be had at any budget, and you won’t need to sacrifice any functionality either.

Let’s back up a little. The Nacon Pro Compact is a wonderful little controller that’s compatible with the Xbox Series line (both X and S), as well as Xbox One and Windows. It’s probably best used with a PC, because there’s a companion app available that allows you to tweak various settings, but it’s equally at home on all of Microsoft’s consoles as well. You can check out the official page if you want more info, but don’t worry – we’ll be delving into its many virtues too. So, why should you pick one of these beauties up instead of an official Microsoft controller?

First, let’s talk about form factor. Personal experience has taught us that there are many people out there who just don’t like the shape and size of the official Xbox controller currently available on the market. It’s too bulky, too weighty, and everything is too far apart, say some. The Nacon Pro Compact Xbox controller is designed to rectify this issue. It’s got a much smaller form factor than the Xbox pad does, and its sizeable face buttons and analogue sticks are designed to appeal to a wide variety of hand shapes and sizes.

How does this work in practice? Pretty darn well, as it happens. To put it simply, this controller just feels great in your hands. It’s not weightless, but it’s not bulky or chunky either, so it should be fine for protracted gaming sessions. Everything feels like it’s within reaching distance, and we never felt ourselves struggling to find buttons or accidentally pressing one when we meant to press another. There are no problems whatsoever with the Pro Compact controller’s form.

This controller is completely wired and doesn’t have the option to detach the cable, so if that’s a dealbreaker for you, you might want to avoid it. However, the cable is 3 metres long, which should be more than enough give for most gaming environments. Given the overall build quality and presentation on display here, wireless functionality wouldn’t have gone amiss, but Nacon is focusing more on creating a really solid controller than making sure it does everything under the sun, and we respect that.

You’re going to get the best experience from this controller if you use it with Windows. Nacon has created a dedicated companion app that allows you to perform a bunch of advanced functions if you so desire. You can change and reprogram button functions, alter stick sensitivity, and change the way the triggers work, among other things. These are all great options not only for customising your gaming experience, but also for accessibility and inclusivity, which are still sadly rare considerations at the moment.

Hook the Pro Compact controller up to an Xbox, and you’re getting a great controller, plain and simple. It doesn’t have the same advanced functionality as it does on Windows, but that’s largely down to the Xbox ecosystem rather than anything else. All of the controller’s other functions – its tactile buttons, accessible form factor, and grippy texture – are all intact no matter what platform you’re using the Pro Controller on. Rest assured you’re getting a great controller here.

One of the most exciting features of the Nacon Pro Controller is undoubtedly its support for Dolby Atmos. If you plug your headphones into the controller and download the companion app, you’ll get access to Dolby Atmos-enhanced sound, which subtly shifts and changes the dynamics of the audio you’re listening to while gaming. While we were playing on PC, we noticed the Dolby Atmos functionality mostly in the more incidental sound effects – bullets ricocheting, environmental noises, et cetera – rather than in any big, flashy way.

Again, it’s a shame that the full functionality on offer here couldn’t extend to Xbox users as well. Nacon is promoting this controller as an officially-licensed Xbox pad, and rightfully so – it’s a great option for Xbox owners. It’s just a shame that its full power can only really be seen if you’re using it on PC. Still, if you’re an Xbox owner and you also like to regularly game on your desktop, the Pro Compact is a complete no-brainer; it’s a must-have addition to your peripheral arsenal.

We do have a few minor quibbles with the Pro Compact. It doesn’t feature reprogrammable hardware buttons, which is a shame, and there’s also no LED indicator to show which player is which if you’re hooking up multiple peripherals. The controller also doesn’t have a backlight, which can be a bit of a pain in low-light gaming situations. However, you probably shouldn’t be playing games without an ample light source nearby anyway, so it’s hard to complain about these things, especially at this price point.

The Nacon Pro Compact controller is, quite simply, a best-in-class controller option for Xbox and PC owners. It’s going to sing the loudest if you use it on a Windows PC, but it’s more than adequate for Xbox owners as well. While it can’t quite match the phenomenal build quality of the official option, it’s an excellent second controller choice, and may even overtake your official controller as your go-to option if you can overlook the very minor problems it has.

Thanks for supply of the gear: Virtual Comms.

 

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