If you have even a passing interest in gaming then you're bound to have played Blizzard's excellent Diablo 2. A role-playing game distilled down to its essence, all about dungeon crawling and loot. We all like loot.
Considering that Diablo 2 is still played by large numbers of people it's not a great surprise to find that since the announcement of Diablo III back in 2008 the gaming community has been salivating in anticipation. Now with the release only a couple of months away it's time to get yourself kitted out in readiness.
Enter SteelSeries and their Diablo III Headset and Diablo III Mouse.
Are these enough to sate our impatience for the game itself? Will it hack and slash its way to the top of the pile? Read on.
The headset clearly takes its influence from the excellent Siberia V2 which is one of the most well-rounded and best value headsets on the market. If you're going to base your branded product upon anything then the V2 is a great choice.
The 7 button, 5700 DPI Diablo III mouse looks just like the SteelSeries Kai and Sensei, being a very sleek ambidextrous design. Despite the obvious design influence SteelSeries assure us that the hardware and firmware are all unique to the Diablo III. Even if it isn't that wouldn't be a bad thing given our love for the Sensei.
Headset Up Close
When you're basing you product on one of the most anticipated games on the planet, it's wise to write it large. The Diablo headset certainly ticks all the right boxes in grabbing your attention.
Flipping open the magnetic cover reveals some gorgeous Diablo III artwork as well as a sneak preview of the headset itself. On the inside we have the usual excellent SteelSeries quick-start guide as well as a very long USB extension cable to make sure you aren't forced to sit on top of your tower. If we were being extremely nit-picky we'd have liked to have seen a red variant of the standard SteelSeries sticker, just to tie in with the theme.
The demonic red theme extends to the furry plastic container for the headset. It's those little touches that really emphasise how this isn't just a V2 with some red trim but something that's had a lot of thought put into it.
The headband has the Diablo logo printed on the top. One of the things that demonstrates the design harmony is how this is an identical shade to that on the mouse (which we'll see soon). Harmonious.
The Diablo is a USB headset, so you can be sure it'll plug into anything handy and you'll be up and running in seconds. In keeping with the V2 base of the headset it is equipped with the excellent noise-cancelling flexible, retractable microphone.
The ear-pieces look about as demonic as possible without moving beyond stylish and into tacky territory. Around the edge is a ring of red that lights up, which we'll see in a bit, and the III part of the Diablo logo also lights up. It's nice to see that it looks good 'unplugged' as well. There is no doubt it has got evil covered.
Connectivity is a fairly long double-braided USB cable with the normal in-line remote we're used to from the V2 design. Should this prove too short for your needs SteelSeries provide a lengthy extension cable.
One touch that we like is how the SteelSeries Engine software has a Diablo III skin, and the ability to link profiles to exe's. It's also nice that you can control the lighting and even, if the mood takes you, have the red glow pulsating at various speeds to instil fear into your competitors.
Mouse Up Close
The Diablo Mouse beautifully apes the headset with the Diablo 3 logo writ large on the packaging. We're so used to the slate and white packaging on SteelSeries products that this really grabs your attention.
Flipping over the magnetic front flap we find the Tyrael concept artwork alongside the ever-handy cutout that allows you to test the mouse prior to purchase. With mice being plug-and-play hardware the accessories are limited to the standard quick-start guide and SteelSeries sticker.
The mouse itself has the same bodyshell as the ultra-comfortable Kai and Sensei designs. The whole thing is coated with a soft, grippy rubberised affair that ensures you maintain full control under even the most demanding circumstances. As well as the coating the mouse has the same artwork that we saw on the headband of the Diablo headset. It looks great even when it's off.
As an ambidextrous mouse we have buttons on both sides, all customisable in the software. The scroll-wheel falls onto the notchy side of scroll-wheels, making sure you can switch between weapons, or whatever else you desire, with accuracy. Behind the scroll-wheel is a button to toggle between two DPI profiles and the LED indicates if it's on or off.
The Diablo Mouse uses the same SteelSeries Engine software as the headset. A small touch but when so many companies provide different applications it's nice to have it all under one roof. The interface is drag and drop so it's very easy to bind the buttons to whatever action you design, and the software has a macro editor built in for those complex strings.
As well as per exe profiles one cool feature is the button count, which not only can count your button presses per session, but keeps a log of all your clicks throughout its lifespan. We imagine after a month or two this can give some startling numbers if, like us, you spend your lives in front of your rig.
Where would we be without lighting. Both the Diablo Mouse and Headset glow a demonic red that's obviously difficult to photograph. The image at the top of these pages is the lighting on the mouse and in real-life it's a more uniform and deeper red than even that shows.
On the mouse the lighting is around the scroll-wheel and where your palm sits. Just enough to look great without being distracting. For those of you wondering, blood red is the only colour available. But with Diablo III why would you want any other?
The headset is identically lit with a 'circle of hell' effect around the earpieces and the III logo on the hinges lights up beautifully too. This is very bright indeed on it's highest setting. You'll certainly stand out.
Branded products generally fall in to two categories. There are those items that are clearly using the logo solely to boost sales of an otherwise average to poor product simply on recognition value. On the flip side we have things that are so specialised they cost a fortune and aren't much use in anything else. The Sega Bass Fishing rod isn't much good in other games and we don't know any people who've tried to complete Mario using a dance mat. SteelSeries have hit the perfect sweet spot though with the Diablo headset and mouse that we have on test today.
The headset is very obviously based upon the excellent Siberia V2. It's a testament to how good the original design was that we've seen it in various guises and every time it never fails to impress. Big 50mm drivers have a wide range and allow for clear audio reproduction regardless of what you're using them for at the time. Whether it's music, pinpointing a sniper, some casual Youtube viewing, or going PvP in the depths of Diablo III the SteelSeries is capable of handling it with aplomb. It isn't just a case of slapping a Diablo III decal on either. The earpieces have been redesigned to echo our stylistic expectations of evil with gothic swirls and pointed bits. The red on the grills even looks great with the lights off. Turning the demonic red lighting on though really brings it all to life. With brightness being controllable, and a breathing effect should you desire it, the Diablo III headset stands out and gets you in the mood to fight your way to the depths of hell.
As for the mouse, it's everything you could want. With a very short lift-off distance, a sensor that is capable of tracking even the fastest movements and being as fast or slow as you are happy using, without resorting to software interpolation, it's a joy to use. The Kai/Sensei style body is very comfortable, all the buttons are in easy reach and the coating helps keep it exactly where you desire under even the most testing conditions. Thankfully the decision to utilise the Kai design template means that it's equally comfortable for left or right hand use, so the southpaws in the audience aren't stuck with yet another product they can't use. Coming in at the £45 mark it is very good value indeed.
Across both products the cabling is worthy of particular mention. It is double-braided, very smooth and robust and will withstand any amount of abuse you can give it. A vital addition given that Diablo III is almost built for LAN gaming conventions. The Diablo III skin on the SteelSeries Engine software is more than just a pretty coat, and the software itself is as good as ever, having a small footprint, regular updates, and it is very easy to use. Even better it's entirely optional so you can be up and running in moments.
Bad points are incredibly few and far between. The most obvious is that this is clearly Diablo III branded, so if you're not keen on dark red, satanic looking hardware, why are you here? The mouse is near flawless. The scroll-wheel feels a little too cheap and plastic and the notchiness that is a boon in gaming can be a little loud when just using the mouse normally. The headset is outstanding and the only real issue with it is the pricing. Standard Siberia V2s are about £50. USB ones around £70. This is pushing the £90 mark, which is expensive and equal to the SteelSeries 7H, which we prefer.
So all in all we have the rare combination of a branded item that has excellent hardware beneath it. The Diablo Mouse is the pick of the two and worthy of the OC3D Silver Award, with just the scroll-wheel letting things down. The Diablo Headset is up to the usual Siberia V2 standards with some excellent design touches too, but that price is a little hard to swallow and so it too receives the OC3D Silver Award.
Now we've got the hardware, bring on the game!
Diablo III Mouse
Diablo III Headset
Thanks to SteelSeries for supplying the Diablo III headset and mouse for review. Discuss in our forums.