Sony’s DualShock 4 controller is a good soldier, and does the job just fine for many. But if you’re wanting something more, Razer’s Raiju Ultimate brings it. Lots of it.
So, what do you get for the extra bucks? Quite a lot, actually.
Unpacking the Raiju Ultimate is quite an adventure. It comes housed in a protective, zip-up case, which is ideal for packing it up and chucking it in a handbag or backpack ready for your next gaming mission. Open the case and behold not just a very snazzy-looking controller, but extra parts. Prefer a D-pad to the standard style four button arrangement? Sure, they’re just plug and play, held in place with a solid magnet. The same goes for the thumbsticks, with the Raiju armed with standard length ones out of the box, but with elongated ones – complete with convex tops – ready to be called into action at the click of a magnet.
Picking the controller up, we were surprised at how hefty it is – this is a weighty beast (which we would never chuck about like those in the video below, because you’d likely cause significant damage – to your surroundings, not the controller), but in a built-to-last way, rather than any sort of “What, you expect me to put in a 12-hour session holding this bulky beast?!” way. The next thing we noticed was how perfectly it fell into our grasp, it’s rubbery feel a joy to experience. It’s like holding a little bit of ‘80s Batman in your hands… or perhaps not. It is also a tad larger than we’re used to with the DualShock, more akin to an Xbox One controller.
Next up, the buttons. All the buttons! All the standard Sony DualShock ones are present, however they have quite a bit of company. There are four extra buttons (labelled M1 to M4) on the back of the unit, two large paddle-like ones where your ring fingers naturally rest, and two smaller ones to the inside of the L1 and R1 buttons. These are fully assignable to any controller function that you wish. There are also two small trigger stop buttons which, when enabled, reduce the travel of the L2 and R2 buttons significantly for more twitch-happy play.
On the front there’s a group of touch switches, variously for configuration of the controller profiles, lighting and locking out some buttons that can tend to get in the way when play gets a tad more frenzied – we’re looking at you, OPTIONS.
As the paragraph above gave away, this puppy has programmable RGB lighting – surrounding the touchpad – for that extra bit of flair, complete with some wild and wacky presets. It isn’t really our thing – we found it rather distracting and battery draining – but, of course, your mileage may vary. You can at least vary the brightness of the effect if you’re sitting on the fence, but it can also be turned off.
Programming the extra buttons can be accomplished via the controller, in fact the four cyclable in-built profiles will cover most requirements, but if you want to get into the nitty-gritty of it all, there’s an easy-to-use companion app for Android and Apple.
The Raiju Ultimate can be used with or without cable – those to whom latency is everything will obviously prefer the former, although we noticed no discernible difference using it wirelessly. A nice, lengthy (3m) cable is included, but it’s only micro-USB when USB-C would have been preferable. Hey, even one with the lot can’t have it all! While advertised as a PS4 controller, it can be switched (on the back) to suit PC, once again useable wired or wireless. It should be noticed that we had to faff quote a bit to connect the Raiju Ultimate to our PS4 via Bluetooth, but once the two started talking to each other all functioned flawlessly.
So, how does it play? The first thing that we noticed once we got down to it was the brilliant shape buttons (you know – circle, square, triangle and cross/X). All four of them are “mecha-tactile”, but in our language they have more of an arcade-like, microswitched feel. We gave them a pounding and they never failed us. Meanwhile, the thumbsticks function as you’d expect. While some would have preferred them to be asymmetrical like the Xbox controller, they’ve stayed true to the PlayStation format of being beside each other. We like it like that, but it’s all down to personal taste.
Moving to the trigger buttons, the L2 and R2 in particular sit just right, and it doesn’t take long to get used to the extra ones, with the large, flat M3 and M4 buttons providing a notable advantage in some games, in our case those of a more rhythmic bent. They’re quite handy for remapping the L1 and R1 so as not to have to take your index fingers off L2 and R2.
The Raiju Ultimate is squarely aimed at the serious gamer – the price tag alone is enough to drive that point home. If you’ve never questioned your trusty DualShock then you’ll likely find the added goodness here overkill, but if you’re into competitive gaming or just really want the Ferrari of game controllers for your PS4, you just may find this a wise investment.