Getting a competitive edge is everything in a MOBA, so much like a good workman needs the right tools for the job, a decent mouse can make all the difference. With a reputation for quality and monumentally badass design, in steps Razer with a new proposition for League Of Legends fans. The Razer Naga Hex has been off for a refit in the Razer skunkworks, re-emerging as a black and gold-tinted contender aimed squarely at the burgeoning MOBA market.
Razer recently sent us a Razer Naga Hex League Of Legends Collector's Edition on loan, which I'm going to need to abbreviate as we explore its design and features over the course of this review. And just because I'm feeling generous, I'm also going to throw in a bonus review for the collector's edition Goliathus mouse mat at the end.
Much like the original Naga Hex, the LoL Collector's Edition is an absolute beast on paper. Its 5,600 dpi sensor gives you more precision and customisable sensitivity than you'll rightly ever need (but it's nice to have), while its 6-foot long braided USB 2.0 cable grants you an enormous reach without any latency whatsoever. Make no mistake: this is a serious piece of gaming kit with specs to match the premium price. However, I'm delighted to report that this new version actually improves on its predecessor in a number of welcome ways.
As you sensuously unbox it, the first thing you'll notice (apart from a backlit League Of Legends logo and mousewheel piping that makes you feel like a total pro) is the matte finish. In marked contrast to the slippery and shiny vanilla Naga Hex, the LoL Edition favours a grippy dorsal surface that's much more comfortable for sweaty palms and long gameplay sessions. Not only is this a marked step up in terms of usability, but it also lends the peripheral an extra feeling of quality and substance. Even the rubberised wheel is embossed with rubber runes that impart a chunky, hardwearing vibe. The LoL Edition looks and feels like a genuine piece of gaming kit rather than a shiny toy, even if it pales in comparison to the pants-moistening Mamba 4G 2012 Edition.
Then, of course, you'll notice the thumb buttons.
Those buttons. Much like the original Hex, the LoL Edition Naga Hex features six hyper-responsive mechanical thumb buttons arranged in a hexagonal pattern around a comfortable rubber nubbin, which your thumb naturally gravitates to as your ring finger or pinkie rests effortlessly on a slanted ledge on the right hand side of the device. It's a subtle and ergonomic shape that's a delight to hold, though those with bigger hands may find themselves slightly dwarfing the smaller peripheral.
This might sound hyperbolic, but those six buttons are an absolute revelation, and an utter joy to press. Instantly-responsive, springing back into position within miliseconds, they're unbelievably sensitive and satisfying to manipulate, registering each press with a satisfying click. The hexagonal layout is intuitive to reach after a little practice (more on that later), though in fairness, the high sensitivity can cause you to accidentally tap them during normal operation. Should you find this happening, it's possible to increase the size of the rubber thumb rest by switching it out with some of the included alternatives.
As you'd expect, Razer's Synapse software is fully supported, allowing you to set up your own custom bindings for each game and store them server-side, letting you share profiles between multiple devices. It's a simple yet powerful system that's perfect for LAN parties and gaming events.
So how does the LoL Edition Naga Hex improve the MOBA experience? To find out, I loaded up League Of Legends (obviously), DOTA 2 and Stellar Impact for variety. Though it took me the best part of an hour to acclimatise to the new setup and not mash two buttons simultaneously, the hexagonal button arrangement is an absolutely perfect fit for intuitively accessing your spells and abilities, especially if you map your two most-used skills to the immediately-accessible 2 and 5 postions (12 and 6 o'clock). I'm not convinced that it will necessarily you a better player, since truly great players would utterly dominate a relative novice like me even if they were forced to use a Dreamcast controller, but the LoL Edition Naga Hex will make your gameplay experience more comfortable - and with it, more productive in the long term.
Naturally you'll only start to notice a difference once you've committed your new mouse to muscle memory and reflex. Expect to lose the occasional early engagement because you accidentally triggered a spell too early, or selected the wrong one. Practice makes perfect, but I daresay that some players may end up creating alts for the sole purpose of getting in the extra experience without hurting their stats, and facing off against lower-level characters.
The LoL Edition Naga Hex also commits itself well to other genres. Though MMO fiends will likely find themselves missing the Naga's six extra thumb buttons (Neverwinter's relatively streamlined take on skill slots work well enough), first person shooters benefit from the smaller number of more accessible commands, allowing you to conveniently switch between weapons, push to talk or map some of the more esoteric keyboard commands within easy reach. I personally found that more complex shooters like PlanetSide 2 benefited most from the extra buttons; with active skills, grenades, vehicle deployment and squad chat now coming instantly to hand. The extra buttons also made light work of Strike Suit Zero, The Incredible Adventures Of Van Helsing and Torchlight II. Of course, it's worth noting that more versatile peripherals like the R.A.T. series are on hand for a wider audience, but don't worry, your new Naga Hex will continue to earn its USB slot while you're not playing League Of Legends or DOTA 2.
In terms of flaws, the LoL Edition Naga Hex' most glaring fault is its two extra dorsal buttons. Mounted below the mousewheel, they're practically impossible to reach unless you possess a prehensile middle finger. I can only assume that they were added to bulk out the button count, as I have little idea how they can add anything worthwhile to any gameplay experience unless you mash them with the underside of your knuckle. Voice chat, at a pinch, might be helpful (or any skill with an enormous cooldown) - if you know better, do enlighten me, dear reader.
Otherwise, its asymmetrical right-handed design leaves lefties out in the cold, while those graced with larger mitts will likely favour a meatier peripheral and find the button position slightly less intuitive. Unless you're a diehard MOBA fanatic, much more multifaceted peripherals are out there.
- Sensuously responsive thumb buttons, 5600 DPI sensor and incredibly long latency-free cabling
- Comfortable and grippy matte finish, solid build quality
- Devastatingly attractive and relatively professional aesthetics
- More suitable for other genres than the original Naga
- Hyper-sensitive thumb buttons can be pushed accidentally (practice makes perfect)
- The two dorsal buttons are impossible to press without breaking your fingers
- Less useful for southpaws or those with bigger hands
- More versatile peripherals are available for non-LoL fantatics
The Short Version: The Razer Naga Hex League Of Legends Collector's Edition may be a mouthful, but it's also a much-improved peripheral that turns the flawed original Hex into a serious piece of gaming kit. Though arguably niche in appeal, its utility and comfort for MOBAs and other genres cannot be denied.
Plus, it looks the business. You already know whether or not you're going to buy one.
Goliathus Mouse Mat (Bonus Review!)
The Goliathus Mouse Mat offers unbridled precision and an unprecedented advantage for pro gamers. Its advanced cloth weave is optimised for any sensor type and sensitivity, while the rubberised ventral surface grips tightly to your desk. The high-resolution printed image instils bravery and honour in its owner, allowing you to turn the darkest moments into an impressive eleventh-hour victory...
No, sorry, I can't do this. The Razer Goliathus may be well-made, comfortable and features a tight weave, but it's ultimately just another cloth mouse mat that costs £17.99. Razer sensors are impressive enough to grant you accurate, precise control even if you're using your jeans or even your cat (no cats were harmed in the writing of this review) as a makeshift gaming surface, making this branded merch little more than a way of showing your allegiance to the cause.
I know, I know, a quality gaming surface is important. But to be honest, I'm not convinced that it's worth spending serious money on a cloth mouse mat without considering the smoother hybrid or aluminium options out there.
- Advanced Cloth Weave For Unbridled Speed And Effortless Control
- Pixel-Precise Targeting And Tracking
- Rubber Base For A Secure Grip On Smooth Surfaces
- Epic League Of Legends portrait
- Ultimately just a mouse mat
The Short Version: A decent cloth mouse mat with a silly name.