I have to confess something……I think that the PS4 controller is the worst of this generations’ consoles. Nothing innovative about it, and honestly, it just isn’t as comfortable to use as the Xbox One controllers. It’s a debate for another time, but adding a poorly utilized touchpad, and a speaker, do not count as a re-design.
With that said, I’m always in the market for something that gives me a better choice when playing on the Playstation. So I keep my eye on the third-party market quite keenly. One name that comes up over and over again, is Nacon.
When I got the opportunity to review the Nacon Compact Wired Controller in camo green, I jumped at the chance. Could I find a main-stay replacement for the standard controller? Would this be the controller I use for PC gaming?
No pressure Nacon, but I really have high hopes for this little green gem. How does the Nacon Compact Wired Controller hold up after a few hours of use?
Third-party pot luck
I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all had varied experiences when using third-party controllers. Usually, the cheap one that you let your little brother use when playing co-op. Mad Catz, 4Gamers, all the old, cheap and nasty little controllers that got the job done, but no way were you using it yourself!
It’s a testament then, to Nacon that the Nacon Compact Wired Controller is a pretty suitable replacement to the standard PS4 controller. I wouldn’t go out of my way to exclusively use, it. But I wouldn’t be bothered if it’s all I had to hand. In fact, if my standard one dies. I’ll not bother to replace it like for like, I’d use this, and perhaps buy another one. Job done.
That’s a really interesting thing to me. How often does a £25 controller actually stack-up to a £60 original one? Very very rarely in my experience. The Nacon Wired Compact Controller is an interesting one. It doesn’t have all the features of the original. Missing the frankly superfluous speaker and motion controls. But that’s fine, and it surely helps to reduce the manufacturing costs?
This isn’t your run-of-the-mill 3rd party “pass it to your mate” controller. This is a properly designed and manufactured bit of kit, officially licenced by PlayStation, and it shows. It’s not perfect, but for £25 it’s better than you’re going to get anywhere else.
Look and feel
I think that you can tell the quality of a controller the minute it sits in your hands. The weight, the texture, the fit in your palms. Nacon clearly understands this because the Nacon Wired Compact Controller ticks every box on those all-important first impressions.
My biggest surprise was the weight in my hands. I honestly expected it to be much lighter. But here you have something with a bit of substance, and that doesn’t feel like it’ll fall apart within a few hours. Add to that the soft texture of the plastic, and you have something that feels very reassuring in your hands.
Let’s not forget that it’s called the “compact” controller, and sure, it feels a touch smaller than the standard, but it’s not a substantial difference. It isn’t like getting those children’s controllers. The Nacon Wired Compact Controller is a proper, serious bit of kit, with a slightly smaller form factor.
In terms of the aesthetic, I think it looks great. There’s a bit where the paint doesn’t seem to have applied properly just above the left thumbstick, but it’s hardly detrimental the use of it. This is the green camo edition and I think it looks sweet!
Otherwise, the Nacon Wired Compact Controller looks great. Nice details on the thumbsticks that act as a grip, too. A nice finish with glossy buttons set against a matte paint finish. Good stuff!
Function is most important
It could look and feel like a sack of crap (it doesn’t, it feels excellent), but if the sticks and buttons are up to the job, how much does that matter? Luckily for me, the build quality extends to the actual functionality of the Nacon Wired Compact Controller. Responsive thumbsticks that snap back nicely. Tactile and responsive buttons for your core use and an all-in-one D-pad that does the job.
I played Injustice: Gods Among Us on PC as a test for the d-pad, and it held up. I’m no combo king, and it shows. But the response of each direction was excellent. Perhaps a little chunky, but not enough to cause me problems. I’d guess that a pro-fighting game player may take issue with it, but I got what I needed from it.
Shoulder buttons and triggers respond well enough. Although I do have to say that if there’s any part of the controller that feels like it’s a budget device, it’s on those four buttons. The press and return nicely, but they just feel a bit too plastic and chunky for me.
The Nacon Compact Wired Controller has the “Share” and “Home” buttons too which work perfectly. I’d suggest that they feel a touch lower than I’m used to, but I can’t really say it’s a major functional flaw. More a minor annoyance at the very worst. Seriously, look at the cost and then feel the quality here. Shoulder and trigger buttons aside, you’re getting serious bang for your buck here.
Buy cheap, buy twice?
Nope! Unless I was buying a second one to have two of them.
The old adage that you have to pay more money for better quality is generally true in my experience, but damn, every now and then someone bucks the trend. Nacon are doing that here. You’re paying for a low-end controller and getting a mid-high range return on our investment. The built-in headphone jack works perfectly, the build is premium, functionality is at the top-end of the scale for the most part.
I’ve been genuinely impressed by the Nacon Compact Wired Controller. Mostly because it’s made me enjoy using a Playstation controller, but also because the of the quality put into a relatively low-cost item. If this is how good their “cheap” controllers feel, I can only imagine how good their pro controllers feel (gotta start saving for one of those!!).
Minor blemish and slight budget feel on the shoulder buttons mean it’s not perfect, but for the price, it’s bloody close.
Nacon Compact Wired Controller overall thoughts
If you’re in the market for a new PS4 controller and baulking at the cost of the original ones, you’d not go far wrong to use the Nacon Wired Compact Controller as a replacement. Sure, a 3-meter cable might be a little more restrictive than going wireless, but 3 meters is plenty of distance to sit back, get comfy and just enjoy your game.
Excellent work here Nacon.