Alongside the recently reviewed Nacon Revolution Pro, Razer’s Raiju is the second officially licensed PlayStation 4 controller to touch down in 2017. With a wide range of gaming mice, high end keyboards, and other premium PC accessories, Razer has recently made moves into the console space with products such as the Xbox One Atrox arcade stick and Wildcat controller.
The Wildcat is a good reference point as many of its features carry over to the Raiju and then some. Pegged slightly higher at an RRP of £149.99, the Raiju brings some additional functionality to the table, with the controller naturally geared towards those who take competitive play seriously.
Before we dig into any of the advanced features, let’s first talk about the Raiju shape and form. At first glance the pad’s design seems at odds with what PlayStation gamers are traditionally used to. The main body of the controller is larger and less rounded, housing both sticks and other thumb inputs on a single flat panel. Aesthetically, it clashes with the DualShock 4, but the shape sits comfortably in-hand. Those gamers who much prefer Microsoft’s meatier Xbox One pads will definitely agree and I have to admit I found my monstrously sized mitts reaching for the Raiju when anticipating longer gaming sessions.
This comfort is galvanised by simple button placement that doesn’t force awkward finger movements, helping to avoid any hand cramps. One thing I will say about the four face buttons – which may sound like a strange thing to mention – is that there’s an unusually mechanical clicky-ness to them, similar to pressing a mouse button. Given the relative quietness of the DualShock 4 and other pads we’ve reviewed, it seems odd though fails to detract from the Raiju in any way.
Removable blue grips help to beef up the twin sticks by just a fraction. They effectively give the sticks a bit more surface area, allowing for slower, more precise movements when needed. This same beefiness also comes into play with the trigger design. Compared to your standard DualShock 4 triggers, they’re wider with a little more plastic to wrap your index finger around. Again, it feels very much like the Xbox One pad.
Of course, where basic design is important, it’s the raft of advanced features that make the Raiju an appealing option for the aspiring esports gamer. Briefly going back to the triggers, players can switch on a hairline setting and separately alter how far they will travel, reducing the response time when aiming down sights and/or shooting.
On the reverse side of the pad, you’ll also notice two triggers towards the bottom, within easy reach of your middle fingers. These can be reprogrammed on the fly and especially come in hand for shooters if you want an even quicker way to reload, crouch, weapon swap, or jump without needing face buttons.
Unless you’re willing to commit to the Raiju (or most premium pads for that matter) then remembering to use these shortcuts won’t come naturally. To get the most out of them, there needs to be an almost subconscious response that’s tricky to learn if you cycle between genres and controller layouts. It’s not a feature everyone will use and there’s an option to remove these triggers completely using the guide and screwdriver provided.
Two more reprogrammable buttons can found at the top, acting as a second set of bumpers. Again, the placement feels natural but, at the same time, I never found myself pressing them by accident.
Out of the three licensed PlayStation 4 controllers we’ve reviewed, the Raiju offers the simplest solution when reprogramming buttons. From looking at the design, you’ll have noticed a small control deck bolted onto the bottom. By holding the remap button, you can then hold a your desired trigger and button to link the two, with the Raiju vibrating in confirmation. It takes a little time getting used to, but is more convenient than the Scuf Infinity’s key system or the Nacon Revolution’s need for a PC client. This deck also has buttons allowing for easy volume adjustment when playing with a headset.
The Raiju is a great piece of kit and lives up to its name as a dedicated esports controller. Razer has carefully fitted its premium pad with a range of nifty features that can be adjusted without headache or confusion. As touched on before, that hefty, high quality feel is also there, making for a great premium alternative to the DualShock 4.
Of course there are caveats, though hardcore competitive gamers have already learned to live with the cost of these controllers and the slight inconvenience of needing a wired connection. Without putting it in the hands of a professional there’s no way of proving just how much of an advantage the Raiju offers during online play. That said, having field tested it for the past fortnight, the combination of easy-to-use features and great comfort put Razer’s PS4 pad on the highest tier.