Console gamers have been forced to slum it for years.
They’ve watched on with envy, regular joypads in hand, while the PC master race constantly upgrades their mice and keyboards for newer, l33t-er hardware.
The Xbox One Elite controller provided a first taste of upgrade fever, and now it’s Sony’s turn to get in on the action. PS4 gamers get a choice of two controllers, though – even if neither of them are actually made by Sony.
The Raiju comes from Razer, purveyor of all things black and LED-illuminated – at least where gaming hardware is concerned. It’s a serious upgrade over the standard DualShock 4, but it’s got a seriously high price to match: £150.
Will paying a small fortune for one of these really catapult you to the top of the online leaderboards? Not quite, but it’s packing a feature list guaranteed to make it the weapon of choice for dedicated gamers.
GET A GRIP
On the surface, the Raiju isn’t all that different from a regular PS4 controller. Just a whole lot bigger. Honestly, this thing is a beast, with a similar chunky shape to Microsoft’s Xbox One controllers.
Xbox fans complaining that Razer has been copying Microsoft’s homework, and that the Raiju is nothing short of an Xbox One Elite knock-off should learn their controller history, though. Razer first tried the whole “pro-grade controller” thing with the Sabretooth back in 2013, before the Xbox One even arrived.
The Raiju is an evolution of that, ditching the superfluous screen under the thumbsticks and replacing it with some handy shortcut buttons.
These let you mute your microphone and change your headset volume without having to dive into the PS4’s settings screen, and more importantly, let you customise the Raiju’s four extra buttons.
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PUSH THE BUTTON
Taking your thumbs off the thumbsticks at the wrong moment usually gets you killed – that’s just a fact of life when you’re chasing your third Prestige in Call of Duty, or schooling newbie Guardians in the ways of Destiny’s Trials of Osiris.
The Raiju adds a pair of triggers to the underside of the controller, right where your ring fingers rest naturally, and the two buttons next to the triggers are also within easy reach. With all four set up, you shouldn’t need to give up control and reach for the D-Pad or face buttons at all.
I set them up for jumping, switching weapons and calling in killstreaks, but you can bind them to any of the controller’s regular buttons or triggers – just hold down the function key on the front and tap the button you want mapped. The controller vibrates once it’s done.
Don’t go thinking you can set up one of these extra triggers to pull off some fancy combination of button presses, though – it’s a one for one kind of deal. That’ll keep tournament organisers happy that you aren’t cheating by using rapid fire.
You get two profiles, so you can toggle between games without having to re-bind everything. If they’re getting in your way, you can even unscrew the rear triggers altogether.
They make a massive difference in first- and third-person shooters, where movement and aiming separate the wheat from the chaff.
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Customisation isn’t king here; there aren’t any interchangeable thumbsticks or D-pads to mess about with. Instead, Razer has focused on performance, shaving off fractions of a second every time you squeeze a trigger or press a button.
The Square, Circle, Cross and Triangle buttons are all incredibly shallow, taking just a tiny prod to activate. Each one clicks audibly whenever you press it, just like a mechanical keyboard.
You can lock the triggers too, reducing the amount you have to squeeze each one, rather than pushing them all the way down.
It might not sound like much, but compared to a regular DualShock 4, these little changes add up over the course of a multiplayer match.
My only problem was that some games just didn’t like me using them. Call of Duty? No problem at all. Destiny, though? The triggers don’t dip down enough to actually fire your guns when the locks are in place.
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WIRE ME UP
The Raiju might look all-singing, all-dancing, but it’s missing a few features compared to the standard DualShock 4. There’s no light bar, for starters.
You get a 3m cable instead of Bluetooth, because a wireless connection would add input lag. Wireless controllers also verboten at most gaming tournaments, so I’m not too worried about having a cable trailing over to my console.
For some bizarre reason, Sony won’t let you turn on your PS4 with a third party controller, so you’ve got to get up off the sofa and actually press the power button – it’s like being back in the 90s. This isn’t Razer’s fault, but it’s still annoying.
The USB cable is detachable, but clips into the controller securely so it won’t pop out just as you’re lining up that crucial headshot.
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Razer Raiju verdict
Unless you’re regularly in podium position when you play online, the Raiju isn’t enough of a leap from the standard PS4 controller to justify spending £150 on one. That’s the same amount of cash as three full games!
It’s not the perfect controller, either. The D-Pad is made up of four separate buttons, rather than one single pad – which makes it tricky for fighting games.
Still, seriously dedicated first person shooter fans will see the appeal. The Raiju is filled with neat little touches, like the replaceable thumbstick covers that’ll stop your sticks getting worn from constant use, and volume controls that won’t force you away from your game and into a menu.
If a DualShock 4 just isn’t cutting it anymore, this could give you the edge you’ve been waiting for – but don’t expect it to turn you into a gaming god overnight.
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Dedicated gamers and pros will appreciate the tweaks Razer has made to Sony’s DualShock 4 design, but the high price and bulky shape mean the Raiju won’t be for everyone
Customisable controls, without needing a PC
Pro-friendly features like hair triggers, sensitive buttons
Great ergonomics for lengthy play sessions
Wired-only approach is great for pros, but less so for sofa-surfing gamers
Not as physically customisable as other controllers