RIG Pro Compact Controller Review: Elite Features Without the Sticker Shock

Nacon's new Rig Pro Compact controller is built for the Xbox player who wants to enjoy premium features without the premium pricing so often entagled with them.

For all the talk about the PS5 DualSense following its launch with the console last fall, the new-gen Xbox controller didn't earn much buzz itself.

It's a great controller in its own right, and it enjoyed some minor improvements alongside the Xbox Series X|S, but most major innovations were stuck behind the paywall of the Elite Controller, which retails for well over $100. That's where Nacon's new RIG Pro Compact controller comes in.

For the competitive-minded players who want some of the high-end features without the high-end price tag, the RIG Pro Compact controller is a one-size-fits-most option.

RIG Pro Compact Controller Review: Elite Features Without the Sticker Shock

The first thing you'll notice about the Pro Compact controller is its smaller size. While it's not built gimmickly small like some third-party controllers found on shelves 10 years ago, the Pro Compact earns its name because it feels more like a PS3 controller. It still features Xbox's offset analog sticks, but wrapped in one's palms, the Pro Compact takes some getting used to.

I wasn't even sure I would get used to it when I first started playing with it, but after about two weeks of extensive use across RPGs, sports, competitive multiplayer, and other games, I can honestly say I've grown accustomed to the Pro Compact and appreciate the many features that make its form more forgivable.

At the forefront of these features is the Pro Compact's lifetime access to Dolby Atmos 3D audio. Nacon claims it's the first Xbox controller in the world to offer Dolby Atmos, and it works with any headset. In the past, I've reviewed 3D headsets and found the feature to be the most important one a modern headset can have, so it's fascinating to see and use a controller that bestows any paired headset with the feature.

To activate it, you need only to enter the accompanied code inserted with the headset, then download the Dolby Atmos app on PC or Xbox. As Dolby Atmos access is usually $15 per license, the lifetime access with the controller is a huge benefit, provided the controller proves its worth in other ways. Thankfully, it usually does. 

With its own app also on Xbox and PC, the Pro Compact features complete button remapping, room for multiple user profiles (including two that can be assigned to the controller itself), and dead zone customization. While more casual players won't care much for these next-level features, the Pro Compact is unabashedly targeted at competitive players, and for that crowd, such features at the controller's pricetag of $50 are unheard of. 

While face buttons are bigger and flatter here than on the standard Xbox controller, I didn't come away thinking they were any better or worse than the usual counterparts. However, the shoulder buttons, including the bumpers and especially the triggers, are fantastic.

The LT/RT buttons provide the perfect amount of resistance and snap back into place reliably. Internal haptics make for a more nuanced rumble feature too. While nothing here is on the DualSense's level, it was great to feel the slight trigger rumbles when I'd place building materials in Fortnite. It was a feature that snuck up on me and I still love today, dozens of hours later.

I was also happy to find the dedicated share button, something that keeps the RIG Pro Compact in step with the Xbox's first-party controller, which just added it last fall. But moving the start and menu buttons to the outside middle of the controller is one aspect I simply couldn't get used to or see the reason for.

While these buttons hover beside the Xbox button on a first-party controller, grouped together in a trio, these buttons have been moved next to the Y button and to the northeast corner of the left analog stick on the Pro Compact. This not only moves them too close to other functions, but it also makes finding them less intuitive.

Unfortunately, I could never get used to these buttons being spread so far apart. For multiplayer games, where the left menu button so often opens a map or other crucial features, its placement on the Pro Compact only ever slowed me down, which flies in the face of so much else that seems thoughtfully designed.

The controller is always wired, which Nacon says is to decrease latency. I think the primary reason is because Microsoft doesn't allow third parties to create wireless controllers for Xbox, but I don't mind the wire anyway. Thickly braided, it feels very sturdy and comes in just under 10 feet long, which is likely plenty for most players.

The concave analog sticks feel great, and offer a smoothness during rotations more like the DualSense, all while being snappier than even an out-of-the-box first-party controller. The downside to the sticks is their asymmetrical thumbpads. The left stick features a grid-like design, but the right just includes a brand logo, which either suggests the logo is just as helpful as a genuine grip or admits this one piece of the controller went for fashion over function. 

Capping it all off is a D-Pad that feels closer to that of Xbox One controllers rather than Series X|S controllers. Improvements in this area were one of the aforementioned first-party fixes Microsoft introduced with its new controller last fall, but the Pro Compact falls somewhere in between the first-party offerings, offering neither the super satisfying click of the new one nor the imprecision of the old one. In this regard, it's good, not great, though it should be clear by now other parts of it are indeed great.

RIG Pro Compact Controller Review — The Bottom Line

Pros

  • Superb shoulder buttons
  • Included-in-box lifetime access to Dolby Atmos 3D audio
  • Smooth, snappy analog sticks
  • Long, nearly 10-foot cord

Cons

  • D-Pad takes a step back from the first-party counterpart
  • Movement of the menu buttons feels annoying and unjustified
  • Smaller frame makes it one-size-fits-most

The most important barrier one must cross to playing with the RIG Pro Compact is its form factor. It takes getting used to and feels almost nostalgically like the PS3 controller, but its smallness means not everyone will find it comfortable. Some other changes are a bit frustrating too, but not unforgivable if you can get comfy with it in your palms.

If it does fit, you'll unlock some high-end features for about a third of the price of its competitors, which is an impressive proposition. Getting button and dead zone remapping is a great start but mostly suited for the top 1% of players. Meanwhile, the excellent triggers and, most of all, the inclusion of lifetime Dolby Atmos 3D audio really delivers on the promise of the Pro Compact and enhances games of everyone.

It's not perfect, but for players who want something a step above the standard Xbox controller, the Pro Compact is hard to ignore.

[Note: Nacon provided the RIG Pro Compact controller used for this review.]

Our Rating
8
Nacon's new Rig Pro Compact controller is built for the Xbox player who wants to enjoy premium features without the premium pricing so often entagled with them.

Contributor

Mark is a dad, husband, bicyclist, animal rights activist, and a gamer, of course. You can find him on all platforms covering co-op, indies, horror, battle royale, or whatever else he's obsessing over right now. In addition to GameSkinny, he's been published on GameSpot, IGN, GamesRadar, EGM, Escapist, Official Xbox Magazine, and a bunch of other great outlets.

Platforms Peripherals
Published May. 26th 2021

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