The basilisk is either a giant, fire-breathing serpent, or an easygoing little lizard that canrun on water as easily as it can run on a hard surface. Whether you favor the mythological or the biological interpretation, there’s no denying that the basilisk is a pretty cool animal and a worthy inspiration for Razer’s latest mouse. Razer claims that its Basilisk ($70) is the next major innovation in first-person-shooter gaming mice, featuring a novel new button and a way to adjust the scroll wheel’s sensitivity.
The mouse isn’t quite as revolutionary as Razer makes it out to be, but that does little to detract from its comfortable feel, intuitive software and reasonable price. Despite a veritable glut of gaming mice in the last few years, the Basilisk feels very different from the other accessories that Razer has put out recently. While I expect it to be a polarizing peripheral, the ergonomic Basilisk demonstrates that Razer hasn’t tried every shape and size for a mouse just yet, and a little more experimentation could be a very good thing, indeed.
The Basilisk resembles other Razer mice in that it has a sleek, black body with two slim, central buttons and a Razer logo on the palm. That’s where most of the similarities end. While few Razer mice are symmetrical, the bulk of them at least look that way, with restrained curves and no protrusions. The Basilisk emphasizes function over form, with a large, jutting thumb rest and a removable “clutch” handle right next to the thumb buttons. The Basilisk isn’t nearly as pretty as something like the DeathAdder Elite, but darned if it’s not twice as comfortable.
The clutch is easily the most interesting part of the Basilisk’s design, although I predict it will also be the most controversial. (It’s not the most useful part — that honor goes to the thumb rest, which is one of the more satisfying ones I’ve encountered in a gaming mouse lately.) In addition to two regular thumb buttons, the Basilisk has a small trigger that activates a DPI-lowering “sniper” mode. The Basilisk is hardly the only mouse with this feature, but it’s the first one to use a paddle instead of a button.
While the trigger doesn’t look pretty and juts out at a rather jarring angle, it’s incredibly simple to use. A light touch can activate or deactivate it, and you don’t need to move your thumb from its default spot. You can even switch out paddles, depending on where you like to keep your thumb, or cover it up with a piece of rubber if you prefer not to use it at all. The clutch isn’t pretty, but it gets the job done more efficiently than any sniper button I’ve ever used.
Otherwise, the Basilisk is a pretty standard gaming mouse, complete with a left button, a right button, a clickable scroll wheel, two buttons beneath the wheel and two thumb buttons. Each one is fully programmable, and each one is easy to reach. The only other unusual feature is a slider on the bottom of the mouse to adjust the resistance of the scroll wheel. It’s helpful and works as advertised, although I didn’t get much use out of it.
The only big drawback of the Basilisk is that there’s no option for left-handed players. Razer has been pretty good about catering to sinistral players, offering left-handed variations on the DeathAdder and the Naga, and creating ambidextrous mice like the Lancehead. Maybe lefties will see a Basilisk for them if the mouse really takes off; otherwise, it’s for righties only.
The Basilisk runs on the Razer Synapse 3.0 software — or at least the beta version thereof. The Synapse 3.0 gives Razer’s old warhorse a revamp, opting for a more approachable white-and-green color scheme and an inventive (sort of) new feature called HyperShift. This lets users program a whole new set of commands on the mouse, which become available when he or she holds down a given button — the clutch, for example.
Some of Razer’s older mice had this feature under other names, and Roccat has long made its Easy-Shift[+] a selling point, but it’s the first time Razer has put a feature like this front and center. Using it is as simple as it sounds. You program a button to enable the HyperShift, then map a second command to every other button on the mouse. The feature is admittedly niche, but it’s easy to program and works accurately.
Otherwise, the Synapse 3.0 software feels a bit unfinished. The light-green text on a white background is hard to read, and it’s a little hard to find all the profile, polling-rate and DPI options that are so central to the gaming mouse software experience. Still, this isn’t a problem with Razer — only with the reviewer, who has become very used to 2.0 over the last few years. For the moment, Synapse 3.0 does what it needs to do and syncs with other Razer products, and that’s enough.
Like other modern Razer mice, the Basilisk also features RGB backlighting. It’s all attractive and simple to program, although the colorful Razer logo will usually be hidden under your palm.
Razer is marketing the Basilisk as an FPS mouse, so I paid special attention to how the game performed in Overwatch. The clutch did indeed come in handy, especially when I needed to slow down my aiming process and line up a reticle. If you play characters where precision counts — Widowmaker, Ana, Soldier: 76, Reaper, even Mercy — both the thumb rest and the clutch demonstrate their utility pretty rapidly.
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The Basilisk is also fine for whatever other genre you want to throw at it, provided you find the design comfortable. I ran through StarCraft: Remastered, The Witcher 3: Blood and Wine, and Marvel Heroes Omega without issue, finding the mouse both responsive and accurate for each title. Thanks to the HyperShift technology, you could even make it into a pretty passable MMO mouse, considering that you could have about 16 different commands per profile, if you really wanted.
The Basilisk is the first mouse Razer has made in a while that really feels different. The mouse is extremely comfortable to hold, and while there’s no denying that the clutch is kind of an eyesore, it does exactly what it’s supposed to, and it works more effectively than a traditional sniper button. If the Basilisk is representative of what Razer can do when it uses its imagination, I’m eager to see what other genres the hardware veteran might tackle next.