Milliseconds count in competitive gaming; they mean the difference between outgunning an opponent or missing your window for a combo. As a result, Razer’s Raiju Tournament Edition does its best to trim any fat from the already-excellent DualShock 4. With programmable buttons and a smart layout that minimises finger travel, it can noticeably improve performance - even if only a little.
Thanks to excellent build quality, this is also the Formula 1 car of game controllers. Finely tuned, expensive, and precise, it’s a handset designed to perform. However, the asking price (roughly $160/£149.99) is arguably too high for anyone but the most dedicated eSports player.
Because it’s primarily geared toward shooters and fighting games, the Raiju Tournament Edition is optimised with four extra, programmable buttons. Humble though they may seem, these buttons are the controller’s secret weapon. Capable of becoming any input you choose, they’re strategically placed so you don’t have to waste precious moments reaching for anything. Specifically, two are positioned at the back of the handset where your middle fingers sit (replacing X and O on default mode) while two more are nestled within easy reach of the L2 and R2 triggers (defaulting to ∆ and ⃞ respectively). These remove the need for face buttons altogether; users are able to keep their thumbs on the sticks and their index fingers on the triggers at all times to increase response time. It’s a similar story with the much-touted ‘Hair Trigger Mode’. Two switches lock L2 and R2 so you don’t have to press as hard to get a response.
It’s easy to change what these buttons do, too. The companion app syncs to your controller via Bluetooth and provides a simple, user-friendly interface to swap things around. What’s more, you can set up quick-select profiles and even alter the level of rumble on each side of the controller. When combined with wired or wireless play on both PS4 and PC, the Raiju Tournament Edition is a simple yet versatile piece of kit.
Rather than following the DualShock 4’s example or that of its more expensive counterpart, the Raiju Ultimate, this controller seems to have been inspired by the Xbox One. Blending asymmetric joysticks, a thicker body, and chunky shoulder buttons, it wouldn’t look out of place beside Microsoft’s console. Longtime PS4 fans may find this difficult to adjust to, but it’s a small complaint in the grand scheme of things: the Raiju Tournament brings to the table a comforting weight, textured grips, and deeply satisfying, tactile buttons that click with each press. Meanwhile, there’s a pleasant bounce to the triggers as the controller gently pushes back against your fingers. The Raiju Tournament’s a premium product, and you’re reminded of that fact every time you use it.
This is the case with its smooth, responsive sticks as well. While the concave tops aren’t as grippy as they should be, it’s not a failing that’ll bother you much when playing. I quickly forgot about the issue because it didn’t negatively impact on performance.
Luckily, the quality of the Raiju Tournament Edition’s hardware extends to its effect on gameplay. Its ready to respond at the slightest input, and those extra buttons really do give a split-second advantage over other players. Rather than reaching for X, O, ∆, or ⃞ , whatever you need is instantly accessible. This allows you to respond to threats ever so slightly faster. You can also do more simultaneously. For example, you can still aim with the right stick while jumping out of danger or hitting the crouch button. Even though it’s not going to revolutionise how you play, it’ll give you a welcome edge all the same. We’re talking a hair’s breadth of difference here, but in a firefight that’s what separates diving behind cover and being turned into a human pincushion.
This is true of Hair Trigger Mode as well, albeit to a less noticeable degree. Pro players will appreciate it in the same way they’ll enjoy the ease of programming new layouts via the companion app.
Unfortunately, the Raiju Tournament Edition’s biggest strength moonlights as its greatest weakness. Those rear buttons are large and, by virtue of where they are, too easily pressed in error. Pros will adapt quickly. Everyone else faces a learning curve in which they’re accidentally bouncing around or exiting menus when they don’t mean to. As you’d expect, that can be pretty frustrating. Accordingly, the Tournament Edition isn’t ideal as a controller for single player games. It wasn’t designed to play them, sure, but this reduces the handset’s appeal nonetheless. $150+ is an awful lot of money to spend on something with such a specific focus. Unless you’re a dedicated competitive player who specialises in eSports, it’s therefore hard to justify - especially when the standard DualShock 4 is already so fantastic.
Generally speaking, this duality sums up the Razer Raiju Tournament Edition. If you’re a competitive player looking for an edge in Overwatch or Fortnite, it’s an excellent controller that’ll deliver with a premium sheen. In fact, there’s an argument to be made that it’s better than the Raiju Ultimate, its more expensive cousin. Despite lacking the interchangeable sticks and chroma effects of the latter, it’s essentially the same product for less.
For everyone else, though? It’s probably not worth the price of admittance. Although it’s a good controller, I’m not convinced it’s enough to warrant shelling out so much cash if you’re just looking for a new pad.