The standard PS4 DualShock controller is very good, but if you’re a dedicated fighting game player then you may have found it wanting. Enter the Razer Raion.
The classic arcade brawlers almost all had one thing in common beyond bringing the biff, and that was a six button layout. With their four face buttons, standard controllers left fighters reaching for shoulder buttons to access the functions of the other two. Alternatively, they had to schlep a massive arcade stick about that looked like it had been chainsawed out of an actual coin-gobbling cabinet and had the weight to prove it. Not always the most convenient.
Razer’s Raion has now arrived to fill this specialised space, delivering a no-lag wired controller with six slightly enlarged face buttons and a circular D-pad, and ditching those unnecessary analogue sticks. We tried it out on two faves in Street Fighter V and Injustice 2.
The eight-way D-pad is a dream to use, with pleasingly clicky microswitches and easy application of diagonal moves. However, it behaves more like an arcade stick than a classic D-pad, meaning those who jam their thumb resolutely in the middle and rock will find some moves not happening as they’d like. You need to actually slide your thumb towards the point that you wish to move in to achieve accurate results.
Meanwhile, the six face buttons have mechanical switches underneath them rather than membrane bubbles, and their feel can take a little getting used to compared to those of the DualShock. But, once acclimatised, they do their job – and actually they do it well.
We tested the Raion out both in the standard hold-it-in-the-air way of using controllers, as well as leaning it on one knee. The contoured grip sat nicely, and this method did allow for more spirited button mashin – uh, carefully planned button pressing strategies. We wouldn’t mind if the Raion had a little more heft to it though, as it is quite light.
While the analogue sticks are gone, the four regular shoulder buttons, touchpad, share, options and PlayStation buttons are all present and accounted for. Plus… bonus buttons! The two that are most obvious at first are at the bottom of the Raion’s face. These allow mic mute and volume control, or press the two together to enter ‘Competition mode’, which locks out all unnecessary buttons that could interfere with your game if accidentally pressed.
Further to the above collection of buttons, there are switches either side of the headset socket on the bottom of the Raion. The one on the left allows users to switch the D-pad’s functionality from its native state to that of the left or right analogue stick, while the righthand one switches bumper button selections.
While the Raion bears PlayStation markings, PC fight fans will likely be pleased to learn that the Raion is also compatible with their rigs. Just flick the switch on the underbelly of the controller.
Being designed to fill a specific niche market, obviously this isn’t suitable for everybody, and is no substitute for a DualShock when it comes to general gaming due to the lack of analogue sticks. However, if you’re after a solid, reliable and incredibly portable dedicated fight stick then you’ll likely find the Razer Raion hard to beat.