I like what Razer's Meka gaming headset is going for, even though I don't think it lives up to its full potential. At the same time, I have to realize that I'm not its target audience. No, the Meka headset ($80) is for all of the female D.Va aficionados out there — and that's actually pretty cool.
I spent an afternoon with the Meka, running it through the same battery of tests I'd give a regular headset. However, I wasn't sure I wanted to write a traditional review, since it doesn't fulfill the same purpose as, say, a Razer ManO'War or Kraken headset. The Meka isn't aiming to be the very best sub-$100 headset out there (although, for what it's worth, it's pretty good); it's about selling a fantasy.
The fantasy, specifically, is about stepping into Overwatch heroine D.Va's stylish combat boots. Ever since Blizzard's colorful multiplayer shooter launched, players have been wild about D.Va: a 19-year-old pro gamer from Busan, South Korea. Armed with a giant mech, a laser pistol and an iconic pink-and-blue jumpsuit (complete with a very fierce-looking bunny on the chest), this defensive character is equally good at deflecting fire from her teammates and inspiring some very detailed cosplay.
Enter the Meka headset, named after D.Va's army unit and designed to look just like the headgear she sports in-game. The Meka is a stylish combination of a black chassis with green, yellow and pink highlights, with plenty of angular edges and cool, triangular ear cups. There are even some very subtle silver highlights, which make it look even truer to the game than I thought at first.
There's a rich depth to the sound, whether you're rocketing around an Overwatch map as D.Va (naturally), or giving orders to Terran troops in StarCraft: Remastered.
However, the design also brings up one of my big criticisms about the product: Why isn't the 3.5-millimeter audio cable removable? This would be a beautiful cosplay accessory — except that if you really want to incorporate it into a costume, there's no way to hide the cord. I understand why Razer didn't make a wireless headset — as cool as that would be, the Meka is niche enough as-is without upping the price by another $50 or so. But a removable cord would have helped the product thrive as both a gaming headset and a costume headpiece.
Still, judged as a headset, the Meka performs much better than I expected it to. There's a rich depth to the sound, whether you're rocketing around an Overwatch map as D.Va (naturally), or giving orders to Terran troops in StarCraft: Remastered. I was even impressed with the way it handled music, making individual instruments sound distinct, and providing a respectable balance with vocals and percussion.
The sound isn't as nuanced as something you'd get from a fancier, more expensive headset, true. But I have used $100 headsets that didn't sound as good as the Meka, to say nothing of others in the $80 range.
In fact, the only major criticism I have of the Meka's performance may not really be a criticism at all. When I put on the headset, it felt like a very tight fit, even after I brushed back my massive Jewfro. I handed it off to a co-worker with shorter hair, who agreed with my assessment. Figuring out why the Meka didn't fit us wasn't hard, though — it seems like Razer made the device primarily with women in mind. And neither one of us could think of the last time a gaming company did that.
The Meka would be a beautiful cosplay accessory — except that if you really want to incorporate it into a costume, there's no way to hide the cord.
The Meka seems to be geared mostly toward female gamers, and that's honestly pretty cool. This is a full-featured gaming headset, celebrating a female character, designed to fit on a woman's head. (It's not coincidental that Overwatch boasts about twice as many female players as the average FPS.)
Is it cynical of a company to celebrate women's involvement in a popular game by trying to sell them something? Maybe, but there's nothing halfhearted about the Meka. One look at the peripheral tells you how much care went into its production, and its performance is beyond reproach. (Provided it fits.)
Is the Meka considerably better than Razer's other headsets? Not really. But it is a little cheaper, and a whole lot more stylish. The Meka is a no-brainer for women who stream Overwatch as D.Va (I imagine this is a relatively small market), but worth considering for other women who want something a little more off the beaten path than the unwieldy Kraken or ManO'War.
Besides, who knows if Razer will ever make a peripheral like this again? (Well, aside from the company's D.Va Abyssus Elite mouse and D.Va Goliathus mouse pad — which are also pretty good, but just pretty skins, not total redesigns.)
As D.Va herself would say, "I play to win!"