As gamers, our controllers are an indispensable piece of equipment for us – almost as important as the consoles themselves. They allow us to guide our characters through virtual worlds full of engaging battles, launch devastating attacks, and navigate complex landscapes where accurate platforming is an absolute must. There’s nothing more annoying than controller drift, sticking joysticks, or general unresponsiveness that makes you fall too short or too far off a landing platform or take a hit when you know you pressed the button to block.
That’s why most of us choose to stick with the official controllers that come bundled with our consoles. And why wouldn’t we when their official branding promises quality and reliability? There are lots of alternatives though, some with a more traditional design whilst others boast a range of advanced features to enhance performance. There is something out there to cater to each individual’s needs and price range.
Nacon is a provider of such controllers, and they specialise in delivering high-quality gaming peripherals for multiple platforms at a reasonable price. Last year, I had the opportunity to review their MG-X Pro Controller – a pro controller designed exclusively for mobile gaming. I was beyond impressed, so much so that Nacon has become a brand that I trust. When the chance arose to try out its Pro Compact Controller, I jumped at it.
Before I get into this review, it is worth noting that the Pro Compact Controller is compatible with both Xbox and PC. A compact equivalent is available for the PS4, but there wasn’t a pro version when writing this article.
The Pro Compact resembles the standard Xbox controller, but it’s 15% smaller, meaning it’s a good choice for a wide range of hand sizes. I find Xbox controllers to be a bit bulky, so this was a huge selling point for me. I’d say it’s closer in size to the DualShock or DualSense than the standard Xbox controller, so it was a lot more comfortable for me to hold for extended periods of time.
Due to the size difference, some buttons like View, Menu, and Share are positioned slightly differently, but there wasn’t anything so drastically different that it would throw off your trusty muscle memory. Like the standard controller, it also features a headphone jack at the bottom, so you don’t have to worry about the decrease in size, meaning you’ll lose out on any important features.
I know not everyone’s a fan of wired controllers. Being tethered to your console can feel restrictive, and it can also be a tripping hazard, but there are benefits. A wired controller eliminates both connectivity issues and the hassle of keeping it charged, which is one of the main issues with wireless controllers if you don’t have a spare or multiple rechargeable battery packs to alternate between. With its 3-meter braided cord, I could comfortably play in both my bedroom and living room, but it was a bit of a stretch.
In terms of build quality, the Pro Compact feels robust and matches up nicely with the standard Xbox controller. It’s lightweight but doesn’t feel cheap, and the textured back meant I had a good grip during even the most intense of boss fights in Wo Long: Fallen Dynasty. While the action buttons lack the glossy finish of the standard controller, I quite enjoyed the more matte feel, so it’s a matter of personal preference.
Aesthetics are important when coming to choosing a new controller, and the Pro Compact comes in a range of colours. You have the classic black and white models that are compatible with Dolby Atmos. Then you have the vibrant blue, energetic red, and the model I received: a lovely pastel blue.
Features and Functionality
As expected of a pro controller, the Pro Compact boasts customisable buttons that you can program through the companion app. Through it you can program its buttons, stick settings, and trigger sensitivity controls with specific presets for racing, fighting, FPS, and stealth games, but you might find these customisation options a little limited. It also doesn’t have the additional buttons that you’d expect to find on a higher-end pro controller. A little disappointing but something that is reflected in the price. At around £40, it’s an affordable alternative to the standard controller that still provides some customisation and a competitive edge.
One of my favourite things was the convenient toggle on the back that allows you to switch between standard controls and your personalised settings without having to go back into the app to make changes. It’s a time-saving addition but could definitely have benefitted from some sort of marking so I could tell whether I was turning my personalised settings on or off, because unless you’ve remapped any buttons, it’s quite hard to tell.
I tested the Pro Compact Controller across a couple of different genres, including racing, fighting, and Souls-like, and I found absolutely no issues with the controller’s responsiveness. It it allowed for precise control and smooth gameplay, and its ergonomic design impressed during extended gaming sessions with its textured back ensuring I could maintain a secure but comfortable grip.
My main complaint was that the vibration feedback in certain games felt slightly sharper and less refined compared to the standard controller, but this was a minor issue compared to all the positives. It was something that didn’t impact my overall gaming experience, but if it does bother you, you can turn vibration off entirely in the companion app.
When it comes to budget-friendly gaming peripherals, Nacon’s Pro Compact Controller is undoubtedly a strong contender. Its compact design prioritises comfort, and it does boast a degree of customisability with a convenient toggle to switch between standard and personalised options, so it’s an excellent choice for those seeking enhanced control and a competitive edge without breaking the bank. It might be lacking some of the premium features found in higher-end pro controllers, but it compensates with its affordability and generally solid performance.
Whether you’re looking for a controller that offers a bit of personalisation, or its more compact size appeals to you, the Pro Compact Controller is worth considering.