The Nintendo Switch is a wonderful piece of hardware, but it does leave some things to be desired. One of the areas in which the Switch could undoubtedly stand to improve is its controllers. Although the Joy-Cons are great in terms of convenience and functionality, they’re not appropriate for lengthy gaming sessions; when clipped to the grip, they don’t feel as good as a dedicated bespoke controller, so you’d be forgiven for wanting to get something just a little more traditional when you’re settling in for a multi-hour gaming marathon.
Of course, Nintendo offers its own Pro Controller to this end, but it’s eye-wateringly expensive, and the Joy-Cons themselves have been known to occasionally be beset by “drift”, where the sticks will start moving by themselves. To that end, there’s something of a gap in the market for a high-quality, low-cost Nintendo Switch wireless controller that does everything the standard Nintendo controllers do but that won’t cost you a second mortgage to pick up. That’s where the Gioteck WX4 is pitching itself, but does it succeed in this endeavour?
The first thing to note is that in build quality terms, the WX4 isn’t quite able to compete with the Nintendo Pro Controller. Of course, it isn’t trying to; it’s a fraction of the price. The build quality, however, is pretty impressive. The controller feels solid and well-built, like it’s not going to break if it gets a little mistreated during a heated gaming session (as all controllers inevitably and sadly end up being). Buttons and analogue sticks feel robust and sturdy, and while there’s a bit of a plasticky and light feel to the overall controller, it’s a satisfying enough thing to hold.
Comfort-wise, the WX4 feels great. It’s ergonomically-shaped to make sure that your hands don’t start cramping even if you’ve been gaming for a few hours, and it shows. During our time with it, we never felt like we needed to set it down or readjust our grip. The handles of the controller feel nice and grippy, so there’s not much chance you’ll drop it during a session. Larger-handed folks might find it a tad on the small side, but if you’re able to use an Xbox One or PS4 controller with ease, then you’re not going to have any difficulty wielding the WX4 either.
While we were using the WX4, we experienced no connection issues when the controller was connected, either wirelessly or via a Micro-USB cable. The Switch never dropped the connection with our controller once, which is more than we can say for some of the WX4’s more prestigious competition. Unfortunately, the controller did need to be reconnected every time we fired up the Switch, but that’s a small price to pay for a low-cost controller of this kind of quality. If your Switch is far away from your seating area, it might be a bit of a pain, though.
When it comes to functionality, the WX4 struggles a little bit more. Either to save on costs or space, the WX4 doesn’t have a dedicated Turbo button; instead, you’ll need to press and hold the Screenshot button, then hold the button to which you want to assign the Turbo function. Sadly, this means that every time you want to fire up Turbo, you’ll be taking a screenshot or a video as well. Given how infrequently we used Turbo, this didn’t end up being a huge issue for us, but if this is a feature you’re fond of, you’ll have to get used to that annoyance.
The placement of the Screenshot button itself is also a little bit of a shame. It’s situated underneath the Start and Select buttons, right between the D-pad and the right analogue stick. This makes it pretty awkward to reach during a frenetic gaming session, where the Switch’s key is within easy reach whether you’re using the Joy-Cons or the official Pro Controller. Again, this is a minor nitpick, because the Screenshot button isn’t conducive to core functionality. Still, it’s a bit of a shame that it’s so fiddly and tough to reach in a pinch.
The WX4 is hard to fault on basic functionality in all areas except one: the D-pad. This aspect of the controller feels unsatisfying and awkward. If you’re using it for menu functions, this won’t be a problem, but fighting game aficionados or those who like to use the D-pad for 2D platformers will feel shortchanged by the WX4. The analogue sticks feel great, but some quality compromise has definitely happened with the D-pad, which never sits well under the thumb and always feels just a little difficult to use. A better D-pad might have upped the cost, but it would have gone a long way.
In the end, though, the Gioteck WX4 is a great controller let down by just one or two minor design points. It’s an excellent budget option if you’re looking for a replacement or an alternative to Nintendo’s ridiculously expensive controllers. Given the general cost of the WX4 and the design skill evident in its construction, it feels almost churlish to pick out faults like the ones we have. The fact remains that the WX4 is a wonderful option for Switch owners looking to bolster their controller collection. As a bonus, it also works on PS3 and PC, although you won’t be able to use it wirelessly on those platforms.