When it was first announced by Razer, the Raiju controller managed to turn quite a few heads and sparked many comments from people across the world. A lot of the comments discussed the fact that it seemed to be aping the physical design of the Xbox One controllers, and some of the other comments discussed more specifically the Xbox One Elite Controller with its similar functionality, but most of the comments asked if it was going to be any good for general PS4 users, or if it was strictly for the hardcore ‘professional’ gamers amongst us. Well, today the question is answered with a resounding… sort of.
The Raiju is a controller split across two fronts: the e-sports/professional gamer front and the hardcore regular gamer front, and as such this review shall examine it from both perspectives; firstly as a controller for e-sports ‘athletes’ and secondly as a controller for the person who plays their PS4 every single day on a variety of different game types. But before that let us discuss the package as it arrived.
The controller is packaged in a nice little carry case that comes inclusive with a tiny screwdriver so you can remove the completely customizable buttons, as well as remove the patches that are stuck over the analogue sticks to give your thumbs more friction and control. Also included is a very thick and strong looking cable to attach the controller to your PS4, as well as a couple of stickers and the user manual. The final thing included in the box was a strange piece of semi-transparent paper that has a lot of pseudo-philosophical ramblings about winning and beating your enemy. This is clearly intended to get people in the right mood to compete in a gaming tournament, but it’s actually only good at giving a normal person a very good laugh.
The carry case that the controller comes with is very hardy and strong and feels like it’s unlikely to scratch or break in any way, even under high stress and lots of travelling. It also comes with space for everything that is included in the package, sparing the manual and cover letter. The cable that connects the controller to your console is very stiff, however, and can be a little bit of a tight fit for the pouch designed to hold it.
It is clear that the Raiju was designed with comfort and ergonomics in mind, and it shows. The controller feels incredibly comfortable and satisfying to hold in your hands, and the buttons feel more like solidly clickable buttons than the soft padded versions found on most controllers these days. This may mean that they are more prone to breaking earlier in the controller’s life, or it may not. It is impossible to know at first, but the button actions more than make up for any problems that might crop up in the future. As previously mentioned, the analogue sticks have extra pads on top of them which increase the grip your thumbs find on the analogue sticks, which also feel very good to play with and give you a higher degree of control, and the touch pad is a lot smaller but still just as sensitive, which is a nice decision on the part of Razer.
The extra buttons on the bottom of the controller have a variety of functions, but the most interesting is the ability to map the extra buttons to any of the other pre-existing buttons on the controller. The first button is how you map the buttons, the second button controls which of the two mapping profiles you’ve made that you wish to use at any given time, the third button can be used to mute your own headset mic and the other is to control the headset volume in which holding it down and using the d-pad finely tunes it.
There are limited gamers out there who consider themselves professional e-sports athletes, but most gamers will have at least dabbled with an e-sports style game before, whether that’s lane control in an MOBA or just trying hard to play football with a car in Rocket League. So to test the controller’s suitability for e-sports, I tried out a few different games that have thriving e-sports communities.
The first game we tried was Rocket League and we found that the controller performed excellently in its minute perfect control and detail. Never once did it feel like the controller was causing a loss, it did everything it was told to do with practically no difference in time between the button press and the action happening on screen.
Secondly, we tested out the controller on something a bit more aggressive and action packed, PlanetSide 2. Once again, the controller performed beautifully, responding immediately to any and all commands put into it with almost instant speed, and the button mapping came in useful for keeping fingers hovering over the triggers while still being able to use those commands mapped to the face buttons, which is the real advantage of the map-able triggers and buttons. However, this is where the glaring issue with the controller started to rear its ugly head, and rear it high.
The problem with the hyper sensitive map-able buttons is that it is all too easy to accidentally press them in the heat of the moment. Many times during the course of playtesting, a gun was reloaded or a jump was attempted when a grenade was actually called for, causing no end of embarrassment (there is no social faux-pas bigger than jumping at someone instead of grenading them). Fortunately, it is completely possible to remove the extra trigger, so if you found yourself pressing them too much, they can be dealt with, although at that point one has to wonder what the point of the extra buttons is.
As a regular controller you might be surprised to hear that the Raiju functions exceptionally well. As was stated earlier in the e-sports section of the review, the controller has a high sensitivity which means an excellent level of minute control can be obtained by careful use of the device, and this translates well to pretty much any action game you might care to mention. It should be noted that the controller also works perfectly well for slower games like RPGs or strategy games, it’s just that the advantages are not as noticeable in those kinds of games.
The issue with the extra buttons being easy to accidentally press also had a tendency to show itself in these action games, particularly if you set a very disruptive command to the customizable buttons. Once again, these issues can be easily dealt with by removing the extra buttons, but as was said earlier, what’s the point of the buttons if they have to mainly be kept off of the controller?
The final point against the controller for the casual user is the price. Unless you’re a professional gamer, it is hardly going to be worth shelling out for the controller, as the benefits are so heavily aimed at e-sports athletes. Yes, the controller feels nice to hold, yes, the buttons have a good action on them, but unless you really, really want a PS4 controller that’s shaped like an Xbox One controller, there’s no reason to spend £150+ on this fancy controller.
Release Date: 9th December 2016