Shooters are better with a mouse and keyboard. Sorry, console die-hards, it’s true. And while there are many reasons that I am bad at Fortnite when I play it on the Switch, that’s the one I’m going to blame. The GameSir VX2 AimSwitch is an expensive, complicated gadget that can fix that.
Both of those things aren’t working in its favor. The VX2 is very expensive and very complicated, and for both console and PC gamers, its application is niche at absolute best. But it works. And if you’re looking specifically for ways to play games with a mouse and keyboard, for games that are in no way designed or intended to be played that way, it’ll do it.
Great Keyboard, Crappy Mouse
The VX2 is three pieces: the main part is a big, beefy wireless half-keyboard covered in metal, a superfluous and almost vestigial wired gaming mouse (with faux lightweight holes and RGB, naturally), and a big unwieldy USB dongle. You plug the mouse into the keyboard (its USB-A port won’t work with anything else), plug the dongle into your console, also plug the dongle into a controller, and you can use mouse and keyboard controls in any game.
The way that works is, as you may have guessed, complicated. We’ll get to it later. For the moment, let’s talk about the hardware. To get it out of the way: the mouse is awful, lightweight, plasticky “gamer” material, something I suspect would go for about fifteen bucks on its own.
It has a two-thumb-button “shooter” layout and DPI adjustment, but you know what, don’t even worry about it. The mouse is only in this package to plug into the main keyboard, and any USB-based mouse (wired or wireless) will do. And I strongly encourage you to do, since I don’t enjoy watching rainbow colors flash across my lap.
Now, onto the keyboard: much, much better. This pad is about the size and weight of a kitchen scale, taking up the left half of a conventional keyboard. Just about every part of it is an improvement over the similar, but much clunkier GameSir VX: the keys are even, they use a linear instead of clicky mechanical switch, there’s a heavy and satisfying aluminum build, and it’s not covered in an obnoxious logo.
I waited for this generation of this gadget to review it because I wanted the D-pad (or more accurately, tiny joystick) beneath the main keys. I’d gotten used to it on similar PC accessories like the Razer Tartarus and the Logitech G13. And while I appreciate its inclusion, specifically for gamers that prefer a joystick for movement and still want a mouse for aiming, I can’t say it’s actually very good. It’s tiny, not well-positioned, and generally superfluous. I found it most useful for binding other non-essential stuff, which is definitely a disappointment.
If you care about such things, the keys light up with RGB LEDs. If you care about such things, no, you cannot program them. There are few different patterns and solid colors available via the hotkeys, and you can switch them off, but that’s about it. The keycaps are ABS plastic—not great at this price point—and extra-wide keys on F5, 6, T, and G mean that replacing them with customs is going to be a mess.
The keyboard has a big manual switch on the left side, though it can also go to sleep to save battery and wake up with a few button presses. Speaking of battery: it recharges via USB-C, something I wasn’t expecting to see on such a niche product. Kudos. A tiny LED screen above the keys will show a few icons for managing the connection and layout modes.
Overall, the interaction with the keyboard is pretty good, as these things go. It’s certainly more premium than the original VX, which had the same plasticky construction as dozens of similar whitebox half-keyboards on the market. The mouse is a shame, especially given the price, but it’s easy to plug any mouse you want in.
How Does This Thing Work Anyway?
To use the VX2 on the Switch, just make sure a wired Pro Controller connection is enabled in your Settings menu. Then plug in your receiver. Bam, you’re done. The same is true of the PC, if you want to use it that way.
To use the VX2 on an Xbox One or PS4, you’re going to have to do a little more legwork. Apparently the receiver is actually hijacking the input of a standard controller in order to get its input in properly. So you have to pop out the MicroUSB port that’s tucked away on the plastic receiver, plug that into either the PlayStation or Xbox controller, then plug the other end of the receiver into your console’s USB port.
So, for this entire messy conglomeration of gadgets, you have your wireless keyboard and attached mouse, your original Xbox or PlayStation controller, your wireless dongle, and finally the console itself. It’s a lot, but frankly, I don’t doubt that it’s necessary: getting mouse and keyboard input for the PlayStation isn’t officially supported in games, and on the Xbox it’s only supposed to be possible on games where it’s enabled by the developer.
I AM A GOD OF MULTIPLAYER
So once all that junk is set up, does the VX2 work? Yes. Very, very well.
Obviously the system is designed primarily for shooters, where mouse and keyboard input is the undisputed king. And the difference between floaty controller aiming and going after enemies with my mouse was night and day. I tested the setup with Fortnite on PC, Switch, and PS4 (I don’t have an Xbox One). While I was my usual fumbling, clunky self on the PC, I was able to dominate in matches consistently, almost literally running circles around the competition.
It took some acclimating. The default layout for each console is a little different, with things prioritized for easy shooter controls. WASD is obviously mapped to the left joystick input (though you can swap it with the arrow buttons and the keyboard’s mini-stick at any time), and the four primary face buttons are mapped to R, F, C, and Space to be easy to hit with your index finger. Over on the mouse (whichever one you plug in), R2 and L2 are mapped to the left and right buttons, respectively—usually these are “Fire” and “Iron sights” in most shooters.
The first few games I played took some getting used to—the generic layout isn’t exactly what you’d expect as a PC transfer, and I had to sit with the manual open until I’d trained myself on the various buttons. But once I got re-oriented, I was consistently landing in the top 10 or 5 players, where previously I’d been struggling to crack 30.
Frankly, I expected the end result of all this gadgety mish-mash to be awkward at best. But no, it works—after a few sessions I felt like I was playing on my PC. (With lower resolution and framerate, of course.) I can’t think of any higher praise.
Obviously this kind of setup isn’t ideal for a lot of games. Playing a third-person action game like Dark Souls with the VX2 would be strange, playing a platformer like Mario would be downright weird, and playing any racing game would be begging for a headache. But for the games for which a mouse and keyboard makes sense, it’s a transformative experience.
Are We the Baddies?
Which brings me to a minor point of sportsmanship. And that point is, I’m a dirty, dirty cheater. Multiplayer matches on consoles with the VX2 felt so one-sided that I can’t think of this as anything less than completely unfair.
The speed and accuracy I was able to achieve with the VX2 wasn’t anything beyond what I can do with a PC—perhaps less, since I didn’t have all the control options I usually do. And to be clear, I am an extremely average player of competitive shooters. But using those controls on a console put me so far above the level of the other players in terms of dexterity and speed that it felt like cheating. I cheated. I’m a cheater.
Actually winning at Fortnite, something I haven’t been able to do before, was undeniably fun. But I also can’t deny that I had an enormously unfair advantage. I think if anyone noticed the super-console speed and accuracy of my movements, they might report me and get me banned. And they would be justified in doing so.
So be aware: using this thing in multiplayer console shooters, strategy games, et cetera is just straight-up cheating. I’m not saying that’s a good or bad thing, just letting you know.
Programming Sucks on Your Phone
One of the biggest disappointments of the VX2 is that I can’t use the stand-alone controller as a wireless replacement for the Razer Tartarus. Oh, it works fine on the PC—it’s just a keyboard, after all. But there’s no way to program it or assign macros, a crucial portion of these kind of gadgets.
You can program it for consoles. But only for consoles, and only using GameSir’s pretty awful mobile app (iOS, Android side-load) paired via Bluetooth. This thing is functional, but only barely. Getting the keyboard paired with the app is a huge pain, and programming it for different consoles or game profiles takes forever.
To the manufacturer’s credit, you can store a few different profiles in the keyboard itself, enough for five games on each console. (Because the mouse and keyboard have many more buttons than a controller, you can double them up.) And you can download recommended game layouts from either GameSir or other users. But there’s no way to program macros, no way to change the layout for PC users, and no way to get past the awful, sluggish interface.
It works, at least once you’ve got it paired and connected. That’s the best I can say for it. Using a desktop program for this, a la 8BitDo’s Sn30+ Pro.
Cheating Is Fun
Woes with the mouse and app aside, not to mention its inability to be the PC accessory I want, the GameSir VX2 delivers what it promises: mouse and keyboard controls for any console game. It’s expensive, and you’ll want to bring your own mouse, but it’s extremely effective once you get its disparate parts working properly.
Is that worth $130? Not for me. But this is an extremely niche product, and that niche is “people who want to play shooters with mouse and keyboard and don’t want to do it on a gaming PC.” Or just, you know, cheaters. For those people, $130 seems like a small price to pay to maximize that K/D ratio.
Here’s What We Like
- Good, heavy keyboard
- Works with Xbox, PlayStation, and Switch
- USB-C for charging
And What We Don't
- The mouse sucks (but you can use any of them)
- The app is clunky
- No way to program PC controls