I first encountered the Razer Raiju controllers at PAX Australia two years ago and I’ve been jonesing for one ever since. I was really impressed with how much better it felt in my hand to use compared to the DualShock 4. Even more so was how much my gameplay in shooters like Destiny 2 became.
The new Razer Raiju Ultimate takes all the goodness from the original and beefs it up, literally and technically. It’s now wireless and works with both Playstation 4 and PC. It’s modular so you can swap out the analogue sticks and it’s got four extra buttons that you can make do pretty much anything you want.
In every way, the Raiju Ultimate is bigger and badder than its predecessor. However, it might just be a bit too big and too pricey for most players.
Razer Raiju Ultimate Review
At $380, the Raiju Ultimate is a really expensive controller. For perspective, the exceptional Xbox Elite Controller Series 2 costs only $250 and while the PS4 focused Nacon Revolution Pro costs $350. Either way, compared to the $80 of the official Dualshock 4, these are all absurdly expensive controllers and one needs to be sure they are worthwhile.
From the moment you open the box, you know that you’ve bought something special. Once you take it out of its lovely carrying case, you’ll notice just how thick and heavy the Raiju is. It’s the polar opposite of the dainty DualShock 4 and even though I am accustomed to the bigger Xbox controllers, I was still surprised at how heavy the Raiju Ultimate is. It weighs 370g which is a massive 160g more than the DualShock 4.
While it didn’t detract from my gaming experience, the size and weight will definitely turn off a lot of PlayStation faithful. I suggest you try it in a store before buying. The upside of that weight is the excellent build and internal components. The Raiju Ultimate feels like a brick that you can use to bash zombie heads in. Materials are premium and everything just feels sturdy.
Razer deviated from the original Raiju’s more Xbox-like shape and went for a less curvy shape. Think more Russian Mil Mi-24 brutish helicopter than slick Comanche attack choppers. I’ll be honest, I’m not a fan. The Raiju looks stodgy, blocky, almost boring – its saving grace being the excellent Chroma lighting.
One more serious downside to this new shape is a loss in ergonomic comfort. The Raiju isn’t as comfortable in my hand as the Razer Wolverine for Xbox. The shape of the handgrips is the main problem. They don’t angle outwards enough and also lack the contouring that makes the Wolverine so comfortable to hold. Add in the weight of the Raiju Ultimate and it makes for an overall less than $400 experience. Many people will experience greater fatigue using Raiju for long periods.
As primarily a PS4 controller, the Raiju Ultimate has all the standard PS buttons and the touch pad. The key difference is in the actual buttons themselves. Razer uses its proprietary Mecha-Tactile switches which makes the buttons feel like mechanical switches including a satisfying click with each press. Additionally, the Raiju has trigger stops that allow you to shorten the time it takes to activate the left and right triggers.
The Raiju also has four extra buttons; two large ones on the underside and two smaller ones that sit on the top of the controller in between the triggers. I never liked the underside triggers on my Wolverine controller because they are awkwardly placed making it hard for my middle fingers to reach comfortably.
I’m pleased that with the Raiju, they are much easier to reach and I can now actually use them in my gaming. I mapped my jump and slide to them making it so much easier to pull off some of those pro moves dash, slide and shoot moves in Apex Legends.
The other important feature of the Raiju Ultimate is the interchangeable analogue sticks and D-pad. You get an extra D-pad and two analogue sticks, each with their own cubby holes in the carry case. And thanks to magnetic connectors, swapping out parts is really as effortless as gently pulling them off and then letting the magnets snap the replacement in its place. For example I prefer using a domed head for my left analogue stick because it makes movement in platformers and racer type games easier for me. I can easily change that with no fuss at any time depending on the game.
At the bottom of the Raiju is also a tool bar with four touch controls which are for Bluetooth pairing, profile selection and even cycling through your Chroma lighting effects. Each button has a small LED to indicate the status of your actions.
You got the Blues?
The Raiju Ultimate will work with your PlayStation 4, PC and theoretically mobile devices. It uses Bluetooth for the wireless connection. On the back of the Raiju is a toggle switch with three positions for PS4, PC and USB connection. Setting up on the PlayStation is relatively easy but also a little more convoluted than I’d like.
You need to use a standard DualShock to navigate the systems settings menu in order to pair with the Raiju. Why Razer couldn’t just get it to pair using the bundled cable the same way Sony does for the DualShock is beyond me. Anyways, once you’re connected, the Raiju Ultimate will display its gorgeous Chroma lighting to let you know that all is good.
On PC, connecting to Bluetooth is also very simple. Just add the Raiju Ultimate via Windows 10 Bluetooth settings and you are good to go. However, actually using the controller in Bluetooth mode on PC was a massive fail for me. It simply wouldn’t work in any of the games I tested.
Even after following Razer’s advice to activate the Playstation controller in Steam’s settings, wireless mode still didn’t work for me. I searched the dark web for solutions, updated the firmware, downloaded Windows drivers and even sprinkled fairy dust. Nothing worked.
The same was true for both Android and iPhones. Both phones could recognize the Raiju as a Bluetooth device but would not accept connections to it. This was disappointing as I’m sure there are plenty of people who would want to use the Raiju with their iPad as well.
However, using the Raiju in wired mode was mostly excellent. I say mostly because it often didn’t work with some of my Xbox for PC games like Metro Exodus. You will also need to manually install a Razer driver before Windows fully recognizes it as anything more than a ‘USB Audio Device’. Overall, the Raiju is fast and responsive but honestly, I can’t say I noticed any variance between the wired and wireless performance.
Customization? There’s an app for that
The Razer Wolverine line traditionally required Razer Synapse app for both Xbox and PC to customize the controller. For the Raiju, Razer decided to go for a standalone mobile app instead. You can get it on either Android or iOS. Once installed, connecting to the Raiju is pretty easy, with just a few taps and then you are ready to fiddle around.
The app has four preset profiles for Shooters, Racers, Fighting and Sports. You can tweak these or simply create your own profile. The app allows you to change button mapping for the four extra buttons, adjust the clutch sensitivity or fool around with the Chroma lighting.
It’s important to note that you can’t assign button combinations for macros; you can only reassign existing buttons to one of the programmable ones. I like to map the annoying analogue stick press function to the top two buttons and then assign jump to one of the underside buttons. Alternatively, you can turn off all the buttons if you don’t want them.
One very handy pro tool is the clutch sensitivity in which you can set the sensitivity of either analog sticks. Think of it as a shift key. For example you can set a different tighter sensitivity so that when you are sniping, aiming is more precise when you hold the clutch trigger button. It’s pretty cool but unless you are a pro player, you’ll likely never use this feature.
All your settings are saved directly on the Raiju’s on-board memory so you don’t have to worry about always jumping into the app to access your profiles. Simply hit the profile button on the Raijus toolbar to cycle through saved profiles. The LED light will then change color depending on the associated profile from the app. So if your preset is blue in the app, the Raiju will light up blue when that profile is active.
There’s also a manual way to reassign buttons directly on the controller itself using a combination of button presses but it’s just a whole lot easier to use the app.
The Raiju is rated for 11 hours of battery life and my experience doesn’t challenge this. This isn’t spectacular by any means but since I never game for 11 hours straight like some of you Twitch streamers, it’s perfectly fine. For me, this means charging once after every two or three days of use.
However, even if it does run out, the Raiju still has wired mode. Not only will you be able to continue playing but the Raiju will charge simultaneously. One disappointment is that the Raiju doesn’t have a nice charging dock like some of Razer’s premium gaming mice. Considering the price, it should be a no brainer.
One very important thing to note is that the bundled cable is a proprietary one USB to Micro-USB. Meaning, you can’t just use any old cable with the Raiju. This is problematic for practical reasons. Not only is Micro-USB pretty much ancient tech that you’re unlikely to have from your other devices. You can’t just use off the shelf cables, even just to charge it.
And if anything ever happens to your cable, you’re kinda screwed. My Wolverine’s cable died and it took me months to source a replacement. In fact, Razer doesn’t actually sell them on their web store. I’m not sure why Razer didn’t just use the more universal USB-C which would allow users to use the same cable they already have for their phone or laptop.
Verdict: Should you buy?
I love the idea of the Razer Raiju Ultimate. I find the DualShock 4 uncomfortably small and I dislike the analogue sticks. The Raiju addresses all those issues and then some. It gives me a bigger, grippier controller that’s built like a tank. The Chroma lighting never fails to make me smile and I can’t live without at least two mappable buttons. The intuitive mobile app is the cherry on top.
But overall, for the average gamer like me, the Raiju just doesn’t warrant its almost $400 price. This is a very premium controller that should be perfect in every way but it’s far from it. It doesn’t feel that great in hand. It’s got an odd, unattractive shape, it’s bulky and the heavyweight will likely turn off most DualShock diehards. And when you add the Bluetooth compatibility fails on PC and mobile devices, you’ve just lost the multiplatform controller schtick.
If you really need a PlayStation and PC controller with remappable buttons, and you aren’t a pro player, then you’d be better off with the $240 Raiju Tournament Edition. Yes, you do lose the swappable parts, Chroma lighting but you get a longer 19 hour battery, 50g less weight but it still costs four times what a DualShock does. A much more affordable option is to get the new DualShock 4 back button attachment which gives you some similar controls.
But if you are a pro who needs a flexible, customisable controller for PS4 and PC, the Raiju sits at the top of a very sparse hill.
The Razer Raiju Ultimate was provided to PowerUp! by Razer Australia for the purpose of this review.
Razer Raiju Ultimate Review
Product Name: Razer Raiju Ultimate
Product Description: Wireless gaming controller for PS4 and PC
Offer price: $380