Razer Raiju Ultimate 2
Reviewed: 12th February 2020 - 15:00
As an avid gamer, I am continuously searching for improvements that could enhance my gaming experience, bringing it to the next level. Whether it's for PC or console, if I can find something that makes the whole experience a tad better, I'll happily go for it, if the price is right. With that in mind, I bought myself an Xbox Elite Wireless controller last year, and I haven't regretted it once. After having used that controller a lot in the past year, it made me realise that the PlayStation 4 might be missing out on a similar version of that controller.
Alas, it's not an option to connect the Elite controller to my PlayStation 4 (for obvious reasons). I decided to search for what could be an equal counter of the Elite controller, hoping that it will give me a similar experience and so I purchased the Razer Raiju Ultimate. Can I recommend other players to buy this controller, or is it nothing more than intriguing marketing?
Let's start by having a look at what you get when you purchase this controller. Inside the box, we have a carrying case, a USB to Micro-USB cable and a little booklet including instructions and important information. Inside the carrying case, we can find the controller itself, alongside two extra thumbsticks and a variant of the D-pad. Upon unpacking, there were a few pointers that stood out to me immediately; firstly, I noticed the controller's weight. It feels a bit on the heavy side but in a comfortable way.
Per comparison: the Raiju clocks in at 370 grams (0.82 pounds), which is slightly more than the Xbox Elite controller, which comes in at about 322 grams (0.77 pounds). The next noticeable thing is that the controller feels good in your hands. It might feel too heavy for some people, but I prefer a heavier controller myself. It looks bulkier than the standard DualShock 4 as well, but I have to say it still feels very comfortable to hold.
Next on the list is the grip. When holding the DS4, you can feel an ever so slightly textured grip on the back of the controller to provide some grip, where on the top part, it's entirely smooth. The Raiju, on the other hand, is equipped with a textured rubber back grip, and on the front, it has another textured layer that provides more grip (although there is no mention on Razer's website about this). The thumbsticks, however, were contradictory; the sticks on the Raiju have less grip to me than the original DS4 thumbsticks.
One thing I do have to mention is that Razer's official website shows you images on the page of their controller with different thumbsticks (they seem to resemble the old DS1 thumbsticks, actually). Strangely enough, inside the package, there's only one thumbstick of each version; there is only one version of both the short convex thumbstick and the long concave thumbstick. Not two of each? Strange choice.
The last noteworthy thing that stands out to me is the four programmable buttons that they have added. On the back, you can find two buttons where your middle fingers will be resting when holding the controller. On the top, you can find an additional two buttons, although these feel unnecessary for me. They seem to be just out of reach for your index fingers, which to me feels like an uncomfortable stretch when you want to reach them.
The controller brings along a few features; let's list them out and go through them one by one.
- Customisation via their mobile app
- Switching between profiles (of which four are onboard the controller)
- Razer's trademark Chroma lighting
- Four function buttons
- Interchangeable thumbsticks and D-pad
- 'Hair Trigger' mode
- Four MFB (Multi-Function Buttons)
- 'Mecha-tactile' action buttons
- Switch between wired and wireless connections for PS4 and PC
- Up to 11 hours of battery life on a single charge
The mobile app
The controller can be customised entirely using the application, which you can download from the Google Play Store and the Apple Store. Let me start by saying that it took me quite a while to get the controller to connect with the application. There is a button on the bottom of the controller (the second function button, with a cogwheel icon) that you have to press for two seconds to open the controller up to Bluetooth connections.
My phone recognised the controller; not just in the Bluetooth settings but the application itself also clearly stated that it found the controller. Upon trying to connect, it took half a minute of waiting before the app prompted me with a warning that "something went wrong". After troubleshooting and trying many more times to try and get it to work, somehow, the controller managed to connect to my phone after all. It is a strange process that took a lot longer than it should, including fruitless troubleshooting efforts.
Reconnecting the app and the controller afterwards was considerably unreliable for me, as nine out of ten times it just blatantly refused to connect anymore. After connecting, you can start customising your controller to your heart's content. I will go in-depth about most features and customisable options later in the review with the corresponding section.
Before I go to the next point, I want to mention that the set-up process of changing settings on your controller is relatively easy and straight-forward. The front page allows you to create and switch between profiles. After selecting a profile or creating one, you can choose between key mapping, vibration settings and on the bottom of the page, the Chroma effects.
Upon connecting your controller, the first view you will see is a screen that shows you the four profiles currently in the onboard memory of the controller, as well as a list underneath with all your profiles. Alongside the four built-in profiles, you can create an additional 500 profiles in the application.There is only one downside to this system; you must create or log in with a Razer account before you can create other profiles. Other than that, when changing settings within the currently active profile, it will automatically be applied and work in-game straight away without needing to switch back and forth or applying it manually. Changes automatically are saved and will work right away.
Razer's trademark Chroma lighting
By now, I'm sure we are all familiar with the RGB-craze that's going on. Seemingly, Razer is trying to bring some of it to consoles now too, as the Raiju Ultimate has a LED-strip around the touchpad that will light up with their trademark Chroma lighting. Just like their PC gear, the Raiju supports the main Chroma effects that you can find in the settings on the mobile app, where you can change to various cycle options and configure most of them individually. I say most, as some specific effects don't have any settings to them. You can easily change these using the application, though it isn't mandatory to do so.
If you want to change them on the fly, without using the app, you can use the lighting button on the bottom of the controller. That button itself will cycle between the various Chroma effects. Holding down that button, together with left or right on the D-pad, will also allow you to precisely select the desired effect. You can set the brightness as well, by holding down the lighting button together with D-pad up or down.
While on the fly is an option, using the application makes it a lot easier and offers more customisation options as well. For some effects, you can choose any colour you like from a colour chart or by typing in the hex code of said colour; you can also change the duration of an effect and the brightness.
While these effects can be beautiful to look at and all, two questions sprung to mind when I was playing around with the lighting options. First of all; why is there no actual support for the PlayStation's function, where it will correspond to whatever is happening in the game? When I play The Last of Us Remastered, the colour of the bar on my DS4 will change according to how much health I have left. This feature is completely missing from the Raiju.
My second question is about mobile support. Why not give people an option to light up the controller if a specific notification comes in on your phone however they like? It would be useful to see the controller switch to a particular effect when I get a phone call or when a message comes in from a specific app.
The function buttons
The controller has four buttons on the bottom underneath the thumbsticks. These are the function buttons, which each hold a different function.
From left to right, we first have the profile button, which allows you to switch between the four onboard profiles and also allows you to remap buttons on-the-go, which is easy to do; hold down the profile button until the little light blinks. Keep holding it down, press the MFB you like to remap and then the actual button you want to use. If you did it correctly, the controller will vibrate and confirm that the remapping is complete.
The second button on the function strip is called the configure button, and its sole purpose is enabling a connection with your mobile phone. Third, we have the lighting button, which I explained in the previous paragraph about the Chroma lighting, where it allows you to cycle between the lighting effects. Lastly, we have a lock button, which locks the other function buttons, the PS button, the share button and the option button, to ensure that you cannot accidentally activate these while playing a game.
Interchangeable thumbsticks and D-pad
Included within the package are an extra set of thumbsticks and an extra D-pad. As mentioned before; the set of thumbsticks are separate ones and are not the same; there is one short convex thumbstick and one long concave thumbstick included, but not two of each. I am not sure why they did not include a pair of each instead, as I imagine that people might want to have two of the same thumbsticks to use. There is also another D-pad inside the case, which is a tilting D-pad, which for me offers a more comfortable way of using the D-pad.
One point I have to mention with the thumbsticks that were already installed by default is that I felt them click a little sometimes as if they aren't correctly locked in place at all times. Overall, neither of the included thumbsticks gave me the same amount of grip as the DualShock 4 gives me.
'Hair Trigger' mode
What sounds like a very nifty feature, honestly doesn't represent much. It is nothing more than flicking a switch on the back that makes the L2/R2 triggers travel half the distance than usual to "enabling quick-firing action to deliver a competitive edge", as Razer explains on their website. I do not feel like this enhanced my gaming in any way, allowing me to be better because my triggers have to travel less distance.
Alternatively, you can map the L2/R2 triggers to an MFB, which seems to defeat the purpose of 'Hair Trigger' mode altogether.
Four Multi-Function buttons (MFB)
Razer added four programmable buttons on the controller; two on the back, where your middle fingers tend to rest, and two on the top, next to the left and right trigger. As explained earlier, you can easily program these on-the-fly by using the profile button but are also programmable by using the application. Within the app, you get another option that you won't get when you do so on-the-fly; you can map a button to apply a different sensitivity to either thumbstick or both temporarily.
After assigning the action, once you hold down that button, the sensitivity you programmed will be active on the thumbstick you chose until you release the button. The sensitivity is changeable via a slider, where the default setting is halfway down the slider, meaning it will reduce the movement speed in half. It is a surprisingly exciting feature that can be useful for people who play a lot of shooter games. I tested it out myself while playing The Last of Us, where slow movement is crucial to get past certain enemies.
It made me notice that there is a benefit there; the only issue I have is that I could not move forward once it was on a specific setting and any lower than that. Once I set it to the fourth bubble setting (which is in between 'very slow' and 'slow), I cannot move forward anymore. I could move in all directions, except straight forward, as that was non-responsive.
Should you wonder if you can record macros; the answer is no - and rightfully so. Razer created this controller with competitive gaming in mind and macros would be considered cheating in such a situation and aren't fair play.
'Mecha-tactile' action buttons
The action buttons on the DualShock 4 feel comfortable for your fingers, ever so slightly rounded off but you can still fully feel the button on your finger. When comparing that to the Raiju controller, it is noticeable that the 'Mecha-tactile' buttons feel smaller, and they also feel more pointy. After having a little measure, I can confirm that the action buttons on the Raiju are a little bit smaller than the ones on the DS4. That, together with the fact that they are even more rounded-off, makes for an uncomfortable feeling. It is where it's almost as if I am barely touching the buttons.
While playing, I had a ridiculous amount of non-registered presses; I pressed the button and felt the 'crisp tactile feedback' (as Razer likes to call it), but, the game did not register the action. Other times I felt like I did not press it enough, where I did not get feedback, but the character responded to the corresponding action regardless - these for me are a no-go. They are uncomfortable buttons, the input feels very strange coming from a basic DS4, and they feel more like something that would work on an actual keyboard, but not on a controller.
Switch between wired and wireless connections for PS4 and PC
On the back of the controller is a slider that has three options; PC Bluetooth, Wired, and PS4 Bluetooth. This button allows you to switch between the devices without having to re-pair every time. Sadly enough, my PC does not support Bluetooth (and there was no Bluetooth dongle included), so I could not test that out, nor could I test the Bluetooth connection on my PC in general. Wired mode on my PC worked out fine without any issues.
I played the Crash Bandicoot remaster on Steam without any problems and did not notice any significant lagging or complaints as long as you remember to enable the PS4 controller support in Steam's options. After that, I tried out a quick match on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare as a non-steam game, after installing the drivers that can be found on Razer's website and had no issues, except, it did mess with my PS4 controller option in Steam for a moment. I had to refer to a guide on their website to fix it, so I could play both Steam and non-Steam games without issues or without having to re-install drivers or re-enable options.
On my PS4, I used both wired mode for a brief period, as well as Bluetooth and again, I can't say that I noticed any issues. I had no trouble pairing with my PS4, and there weren't any noticeable lags when playing a game either.
Up to 11 hours of battery life on a single charge
About the battery, I can't complain. As mentioned on the website and in the informational booklet that comes with the controller, charging takes about 4 hours to charge the Raiju fully. Razer promises up to 11 hours of battery life on a single charge. Per my experience, it clocked in at a solid 8 to 9 hours. Per comparison; the DualShock 4 offers between four to eight hours per charge and takes about two hours to charge from an empty battery.
Some extra thoughts I have not mentioned above
Not mentioned as a specific feature, but still noteworthy, is the touchpad. On the DualShock 4, the touchpad acts as one big button, although it responds to two buttons underneath, determined by what side you click. It does not matter what side you click on; the whole touchpad will feel like one big button.
With the Raiju, my experience is that the button felt more like separate buttons, where it still acted like one touchpad. Pressing the left side or right side felt like I was pressing down that side alone and not the whole button, which was honestly a comfortable feeling, although I won't complain about the DS4's handling of the touchpad.
Another pointer I have to mention is the missing option of connecting wired headphones to your controller while you are in Bluetooth mode. I frequently use this feature on my DualShock 4, so I noticed the absence of this feature immediately. It works perfectly fine when you connect your controller in wired mode, but wirelessly, the option to do so is absent.
Two other missing features from the Raiju are the motion controls and the onboard speaker that the DS4 has. The motion sensor is not a must, but the built-in speaker is a welcome feature that adds to immersive gameplay. However, when it comes to competitive gaming, I can see why the feature is absent. However, I would rather see them add the option to turn it off using the mobile application instead of completely removing it.
+ Comfortable to hold
+ The heavy weight is welcome
+ Changes apply instantly and work right away
+ Touchpad looks like one button but feels like two buttons
+ Platform switching with a flick of a switch, no re-pairing process
- Incredibly expensive
- Poor connectivity with the app
- Some basic DS4 features missing
- No game/light response (like the DS4)
- Headphone support only in wired mode
- Mecha-tactile buttons rough to get used to
- Sensitivity clutch doesn't always work properly