The PlayStation 5 may be where it’s at right now, but there are still plenty of gamers who swear by their trusty PS4s. This is aided in no small part by just how darn difficult it is to get hold of a PS5 right now, leaving many PlayStation fans relying on their PS4s to give them a great gaming experience while they wait. With that in mind, there’s still plenty of reason to pick up another PS4 controller, especially if you’re lucky enough to live with someone else who loves to game with you. Unfortunately, DualShock 4 controllers can still be pretty pricey, even if you pick them up second-hand.
Gioteck has already established itself as a top-notch purveyor of alternative controller solutions, producing many peripherals for other platforms like the Nintendo Switch or the Xbox One. With the VW4, Gioteck is hoping to slot a new wireless DualShock 4 alternative right alongside Sony’s official controllers. Does the VW4 succeed in knocking the PS4 controller off its perch? Well, that might be the wrong question to ask; Gioteck is positioning this controller more as a budget accompaniment to the DualShock 4 than as an outright replacement.
Like many other Gioteck peripherals, however, the VW4 – which is the wireless version of the wired VX4 – does not compromise on quality. Despite being a significantly cheaper option than the DualShock 4, it feels robust, if a little lightweight. Even though it has rumble motors and motion sensors, the VW4 still manages to feel light, which works both in its favour and to its detriment. It lacks the heavy feeling of a premium product, but it’s also ghost-light, making it perfect for lengthy gaming sessions or games heavy on motion controls.
The shape of the VW4 might polarise some gamers, but we liked it a lot. It’s got a curvature and a chunkiness to it that reminds us of the Xbox One controller, which, to our minds, is still the perfect gaming peripheral. It eschews Sony’s cleaner and more basic lines for something a little more fun and rounded, which feels great to hold across longer gaming sessions or for short bursts. In many ways, it’s reminiscent of the original PS3 “Boomerang” prototype, and although it’s not quite as out there as that controller was, it’s certainly got something more mischievous than the PS4’s standard DualShock 4.
Visually, the Gioteck VW4 is also a rather impressive beast. It’s slick and smooth, without any of the overdesigned “gamer” paraphernalia you might expect from a peripheral like this. The face buttons have undergone something of a “facelift” (ho ho ho), so they don’t quite have the iconic PS4 circle-cross-square-triangle design Sony’s controllers usually sport. However, if you’re anything like us, then those symbols are burned into your memory anyway, so you probably remember where they are without needing to actually see them on the controller.
Despite its budget price point, the buttons on the VW4 look and feel great. Many controllers in this price range can have a plasticky feel to them, and while the VW4 does feel like plastic, the buttons are responsive and smooth, and travel well. We didn’t feel like we needed to press them too hard during gaming sessions, but we also didn’t feel like they were responding without us touching them. Sensitivity can often be a problem for lower-cost controllers, so it’s very impressive indeed that Gioteck has tamed this problem in the VW4.
Unfortunately, the same courtesy can’t be extended to the rear triggers. The R2 and L2 buttons just don’t feel right on the VW4. They’re a little more raised than the standard DualShock 4 equivalents, which makes pressing them down a little more difficult. Again, for first-person shooters where you’ll only need to press them once and keep them held down, this won’t be a problem. However, Dark Souls 3’s heavy attacks proved difficult with this controller. They also don’t feel particularly sturdy, which sets them apart from the rest of the controller.
These issues aside, the VW4 does have a lot going for it. The battery life is absolutely stellar; we managed to get around 13 hours of gaming out of a single charge, and once we’d hooked it up to the PS4 with a Micro USB cable (shame there’s no USB-C, but that feels more like a PS4 limitation), it charged quickly and without fuss. The VW4 will be able to handle the longest gaming session you can throw at it, so you don’t need to worry about it dying halfway through a session.
The VW4 has everything you could possibly want from a PlayStation 4 controller. It has a design reminiscent of the standard DualShock 4, complete with touchpad, 3.5mm audio jack, rumble motors, and motion sensors. While you’re using it, you won’t feel quite like you’re holding a DualShock 4 in your hands, but you also won’t notice the budget nature of the controller because the construction is rock-solid and reliable. All too often, the old adage is “give the third-party controller to a second player”, but you won’t need to consider that here.
Minor gripes aside, the VW4 is a fine addition to any PS4 gamer’s controller lineup. While it lacks the premium feel of the DualShock 4, you can also get it for much cheaper than Sony’s official options, so that alone makes it well worth your while. At this price point, you won’t find better.