First and foremost, that means that while the Evil Shift Controller supports on-the-fly button remapping, it doesn’t include software macro support. That means it won’t have a button pre-programmed to, for instance, making it easier to deliver drop shots — or laying flat on the ground at the same time as firing.
Instead, the company was focused on “solving the problems of the esports gamer.”
The Shift features overhauled, clicky face buttons, hair triggers that reduce the tension by more than 50 percent and don’t make use of trigger stops, and thumbsticks that come in three sizes.
The most noticeable improvement, though, is to the controller’s paddles. Previous versions of Evil Controller’s gamepads feature tiny buttons on the back which can be mapped to replicate any button press or even pre-programmed macros.
The Shift makes use of two sets of low-profile, over-sized buttons. Each set wraps neatly along the lines of the controller’s grips, where a player’s fingers naturally rest. Because the programmable buttons are so flat against the controller, they don’t get in the way of play, force the user to move their fingers to different positions or require much in the way of adjusting.
All four buttons are mapped by pressing the controller’s View button and the pro button you want to map to. Then you press the button you want it to mimic. So if you want the upper right pro button to be your B button, you hold in the View and that pro button until the left trigger vibrates, and then press the B button. The left trigger vibrates again to confirm it worked, and you’re good to go.
Both triggers can also be remapped the same way.
Evil sent a prototype of the controller to me earlier this month to test out, and while the thumbsticks and a few other aesthetic elements weren’t final, I was impressed overall with its design. In particular, the clicky buttons and the unique approach to the paddle placement and feel set the controller apart from the rest.
Evil started out with a standard original Xbox One controller, which is also compatible with Windows PC, and then dug into it to redesign some of the key elements, Adam Coe, founder of Evil, told me.
The group replaced the switches under the face buttons to give them a faster reaction time and more tactile feel. They also replaced the springs in the triggers to give them a lighter pull.
The retail version of the controller will come with three sets of thumbsticks, each set a different height. The thumbsticks themselves have a wider than standard pad on top and Coe told me the rubber used in the prototype isn’t the same as the final build.
The most important redesign for the controller is that it has those four button like “paddles” on the back of the controller.
Coe told me last week that the company planned to file a patent for the design early this week.
The company also hopes to come up with other designs for those pads on the back so customers can choose between a selection of different shapes and switch them on the fly.
The back buttons are designed in a way that they can register a button press from any angle, so it doesn’t really matter where on the pad the pressure is coming. This makes it a lot easier to use than some of the earlier versions of paddles currently on the market.
That was the intent, Coe said.
“The Elite’s paddles were designed outside the ergonomics they spent a million dollars designing,” he said. “We wanted to create something that stuck out as little as possible.”
No price has yet been set for the controller, but Coe said he expects it to line up with company’s other controllers, which run from $165 to $250, when it hits this summer. The company is likely to sell a version with a removable cable and one without one.
This latest controller is Evil trying to work its way into the lucrative esports market, Coe said.
“We want to be fully compatible for tournament play,” he said.
That means designing a new line of controllers that don’t and won’t ever offer any of the software modding found in Evil’s other controllers.
“We want a clear difference between the pro controller and the modded one,” he said. When asked if they may retire the modded line of controllers, Coe said he wasn’t sure yet.
“It will be interesting to see how the community responds to the esports controller,” he said. “We are considering continuing to sell it, but we’re also trying to transition into the esports market.”