The Nacon Pro Compact fits nicely into a niche in the current controller market. With the current generation only half a year behind us, there are few alternatives to the standard controller, and the Nacon Pro has more than enough selling points to stand out regardless. With chunky buttons, some very interesting software, and a very different design, this controller really stood out. That’s mostly a great thing, even if its cheaper price point is sometimes a little too obvious.
How Does it Look?
The Nacon Pro is a very light controller with oddly big buttons. Its larger triggers and prominent “A,B,X,Y” buttons jut out immediately from the toned-down design. It is a much smaller, much lighter controller than the hefty Series X controller, but this gives it its own charm. Without the need for batteries and without the overt flashiness many controllers go for, it's obvious where the market is for this controller.
I will admit, the Nacon Pro Compact was a controller that surprised me. Taking it out of the box, its large buttons and small frame led me to believe something about it that it wasn't. It looked a little cheap, to put it bluntly. Like the controller you give a friend when you’ve run out of real controllers. I was wrong. The host of great features it has added to a nice frame and light feel have left me rather surprised. That’s a great feeling. This being said, it still doesn’t feel as nice in the hands as the standard Series X controller, admittedly one of the nicest base controllers I’ve ever used. The weight and feel of the standard Xbox controller, added to slightly larger handles make a noticeable difference that I’m still not quite used to, weeks after trying it.
The Nacon Pro Compact looks underwhelming and light, much like an old-school PS2 controller. However, here’s more there than the eye originally picks up. Ridged thumbsticks are designed to hold your grip after long hours and so is the design on the back. Though, my controller came in a bright white so the textured back picks up dust just a little too easily and the bottom of the thumbsticks feel a little flimsy, making that precise grip a little pointless.
How Does it Work?
This is a small controller that allows for surprising amounts of precision. The smaller frame and weight is much more reminiscent of a PlayStation controller than one for the Xbox. It took a little while to get used to, but if you’re someone moving to the Xbox, you should feel at home. The wired design is purposeful to add quick responsiveness and consistency as you play and the nice breakaway cable function as it should. If it hadn't, my Xbox would be on the floor by now.
This moves us to the Nacon Pro Compact's best feature, its software. If you look in the store on Xbox or their site for PC, you can find a piece of companion software to give just a little more customization. You can change button mapping and things like that, but you can also change more in-depth things like the response curve or the dead zone. If you like to get specific with your controls, this is what you should use. Automatically set to the racing setting, you can change to FPS for a less gradual response curve or fighting for an instant one.
This essentially shapes the way that your thumbsticks react to your movements. If you like all movement to feel steady, racing should be your choice. If you want a more sharp reaction, the FPS pro or infiltration is where you should look. You can also change the way your triggers respond to serve a similar purpose. Alongside all of this, the controller comes with Dolby Atmos, a software that reshapes audio to fit around a 3D space, as opposed to the two-directional design that stereo offers. Plug your headset into the controller and you’re all set up. This is a great little perk and only adds to its great software choices.
Nacon Pro Compact — Verdict
It seems the Nacon Pro Compact was designed for a very specific purpose. It aims to give the benefits of an expensive controller from an attractive price range. It does so by feeling a little cheaper than the standard controller and being a good bit lighter but makes up for that difference in some great software and easy-to-use buttons. After weeks with this controller, I still prefer the standard Xbox Series X controller due to its great design and feel, but if you can stomach the feel in your hands, this is a really solid controller with plenty of unique perks.