Small and unassuming, you wouldn’t expect Nacon’s new Xbox controller, the Pro Compact, to be capable of anything special.
It’s a lightweight wired controller, marginally smaller than a standard Xbox controller. There’s all the buttons you’d expect on there, including the ‘share’ button found on Xbox Series X/S controllers. At a glance, then, it’s a perfectly fine third party controller. But it’s only when you download the controller’s dedicated app and start fiddling with its settings that you unlock its true potential.
Available on the Windows or Xbox store is an app called ‘Pro Compact’. It’s free to download, and it’s a must-have if you have Nacon’s new controller. Not only does it allow you to update the firmware of the controller, it allows you to tweak all kinds of settings. You can remap the buttons entirely, you can toggle on and off vibration, and you can even switch around your left and right analogue sticks if you so desire.
Better yet, there are options in there to change the sensitivity of the analogue sticks and the triggers so you can tailor them to suit the game you’re playing. It’s a level of customisation rarely seen in a controller – particularly on console, outside of the top-end ‘Elite’ type controllers – and sets it apart from its competition.
Even if you don’t want to use the advanced features that the Pro Compact app allows for, the controller is pleasant enough to use straight out of the box. Free of any batteries, it’s very light to hold; the heaviest part is its three-metre braided cable which does make it a little top-heavy. Still, a braided cable is a welcome addition as it adds quality and longevity. Some users may find the fact it needs a cable at all to be a disappointment – after all, official Xbox controllers are wireless. But when the cable is three metres long, it’s rarely an issue. And you don’t need to worry about charging or changing the batteries.
Despite its fairly small size, the Pro Compact is ergonomic and pleasant enough to hold for extended periods of time. If you have very large hands, however, you might find it’s not quite as comfortable to wrap your hands around; being slightly shorter than a standard Xbox controller means there’s slightly less room for your fingers to rest at the back.
It feels good quality in your hands, however. The face buttons are slightly larger than usual, and feel good to press. The ‘menu’ button is rather close to the face buttons though, so you might end up pressing it accidentally in the heat of the action. The analogue sticks are particularly nice, slightly concaved to allow your thumbs to sit neatly in them. The biggest disappointment is perhaps the triggers – they’re a different shape to a standard Xbox controller, and they’re not as comfortable to rest your fingers on thanks to the way they’re angled. They’re perfectly adequate though, and it’s hardly a deal breaker.
The bag of tricks that the Nacon Pro Compact controller has up its sleeve by far outweighs any niggles. The dedicated app allows an unrivalled amount of customisation. And even if an average user might never need to remap a button or change the sensitivity of an input, it’s nice those options are there. After all, it’s not unusual for a particular game’s controls to feel more or less sensitive than normal, and with the Nacon Pro Compact you have the option to adjust your controller to compensate.
The Nacon Pro Compact is available now in black and white with a suggested retail price of €49.90 (around £43/$60). For more information, and to purchase, visit the Nacon store.