If you’re going to play video games on a console, you’re going to need a controller (unless you’re sticking with Kinect games for the rest of your life). Over the years we’ve seen a whole host of different approaches, whether it’s the Dreamcast’s controller and its mini-console VMU memory cards (what an amazing series of words to stick together), or the DualSense’s incredible new adaptive triggers, but an underrated option is the notion of a compact controller. Perfect for smaller hands, or perhaps for those looking for a space-saving alternative, a compact controller might just be the answer to your prayers. Nacon, in their inimitable fashion, has heard your supplications, and here arrives the Pro Compact Controller for Xbox and PC gamers everywhere.
The Nacon Pro Compact Controller – or the RIG Pro Compact Controller if you’re in the US – is a wired USB-A option, meaning that you’re going to have to be plugged into your system to use it. With a 3-metre cable you’re getting a relatively decent amount of flexibility to do that, though it’s going to be worth bearing in mind where you normally sit to play your games. For Xbox gaming, I’ve had to find a spot on the sofa in order to get comfortable without also providing my children with an impromptu skipping rope. PC players meanwhile won’t have much to worry about.
As a compact controller, the Pro Compact is noticeably smaller and lighter than the official Series X|S controller, and a million miles away from the heft of Microsoft’s Elite offerings. That’s immediately a bonus for younger players, or if you’re in for the long haul, and I certainly felt no fatigue across a number of days playing Overwatch.
The key difference is the shorter arms of the controller body and it’s going to be down to personal taste if you think they fit comfortably into your palms. Personally, I found them a little too short, and the official controller to be considerably more comfortable, but your results will vary. If you find the official Xbox controller to be too big, the Nacon Pro Compact is likely to be perfect for you.
No matter the size of your hands, in use it feels taut and responsive. Nacon do a good job with analogue sticks across their various products, and that’s no different here, though the left analogue stick does feel a touch looser than the right. In action I found them precise, and while I can’t say my Overwatch gaming was any better than playing with the official Xbox controller, it certainly wasn’t any worse.
Strangely the face buttons are actually larger than those found on the regular controller, with the expected curvature to the B button keeping them pleasingly ergonomic. There’s an appealing weight needed to depress them, and they feel as though they’re going to stand up to many many presses. Stranger still, the Menu and Options buttons are positioned more like on a PS4/5 controller, close to the left stick and face buttons, leaving an acre of almost empty space in the middle of the controller. Throughout my time with it, the buttons were simply never where I expected them to be.
There’s a traditional plus-shaped D-pad here, and I found it nice and precise for both menu selection and a few rounds of Dragon Ball FighterZ. It lacks the digital click of the official Xbox pad, so that might be an improvement if such things annoy you.
The triggers are full-sized and boast the same degree of travel as an official controller. They lack the textured finish of the new Series X|S revision, so there may be a mildly increased chance of your finger slipping from them, if that was ever a problem during the Xbox One era. Their curved shape should prevent that in most situations though.
One of the key features that the Pro Compact offers is Dolby Atmos, and a lifetime subscription to the spatial audio format, no less! There’s no fussing with license key codes, you just download the Dolby Access app, connect the controller, and it will automatically give you the option to switch from Windows Sonic to the much more impressive Dolby Atmos.
There’s a good range of EQ options built into Dolby Access, so no matter what headset you have there should be something useable for you. The one negative was that I could hear a very light underlying hiss during quieter moments that I haven’t noticed using Atmos via the official controller, but it never caused gameplay to be affected. As a surprise bonus feature, it’s very welcome.