Unless you’re willing to drop more than a hundred quid, Sony’s DualShock is still the go-to PlayStation 4 pad, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t seen plenty of competitors released over the years.
Officially licensed or not, you don’t have to look very far to find a whole list of third party alternatives. What makes so many of these appealing to the casual market is their reduced price point, though paying less than the established £40-50 threshold typically comes with its risks.
The VX-4 – Gioteck’s latest PlayStation pad – isn’t about to topple the DualShock any time soon, yet easily ranks among the very best budget substitutes out there. We had very similar things to say about the Gioteck WX-4 for the Nintendo Switch, too.
For casual gamers or parents looking for an affordable replacement or back-up controller, the VX4 has you covered. With the wired version priced at £19.99 and its wireless counterpart only costing a fiver more, that’s half the price of an official Sony pad’s regular price. The wireless controller gets bonus points for connecting via Bluetooth.
Aside from a lack of heft and an overall lower quality feel than the standard DualShock, it’s a fairly robust piece of kit. Something we were particularly impressed by is how the VX-4 can power on your PS4 console, has an option to switch off the controller via the system menu and shows its battery level in the system software. You’d be surprised to see how many pro tier controllers offer none of these basic features.
The buttons, sticks, and d-pad are all correctly sized and placed to match Sony’s default pad, the VX-4 also having both motion sensors and rumble motors. There’s also a 3.5mm audio port for plugging in headsets or earphones. With an even tinnier than usual built-in speaker and squished trapezoid touchpad, it has almost everything you’d want from a DualShock 4 at a fraction of the price. The one real omission is a lightbar for PSVR support, but that’s to be expected from a third party controller and serves little purpose outside motion tracking.
In terms of the actual “feel” when playing, the VX-4 is shaped and scaled in a way that makes its very comfortable to use even if you have larger hands. The sticks have just the right amount of pull and grip while the triggers and shoulder buttons are slightly enlarged to better cradle those index and middle fingers.
Gioteck’s latest model isn’t the prettiest PS4 pad on the market with its utilitarian matte body. This is very easy to overlook when you consider the price, however. There’s no flashy pretence surrounding the VX-4, it does exactly what it says on the box and there’s a growing number of colours available which now include the “Fortnite-inspired” purple and digital camo.