Prior to attending meeting with Evil Controllers, the idea of putting paddles on the back of a controller was something I had never once considered. Apparently this is a thing, since while traversing the convention center I encountered a couple companies that employ this input method. Evil Controllers is a company that specializes in this and after wandering around a deserted village in a first-person shooter getting headshot after headshot in various mannequins with their Evil Shift Controller, I decided I like the back of the controller as a placement for paddles.
Evil Shift Controllers are designed with highly-competitive eSports in mind. Their paddles are easy to install with no extra tools required or bulky battery pack that can interfere with reaching the paddles. These controllers also have three different heights to use for the thumbsticks, so players can choose whichever height level is the most comfortable for them to use and best fit for their playstyle. From what I understand the higher thumbsticks increase the analog turn radius which can be used to increase finesse. Some people swear by them, others utterly despise them, so having the options available that can easily and quickly be switched can help players figure out if this is something for them or not. The paddles have an “instant touch technology,” so the paddles can be tapped, pressed, or shifted with any desired force to have an immediate impact on gameplay.
The four paddles are affixed to the back of the control pad, and can easily be pressed by the fingers that are holding the back of the controller. I had the triggers and bumpers mapped to the paddles when I was playing it and that felt pretty natural and probably the most logical use of the paddles, but any button configuration can be mapped to them. Mapping the paddles is an extremely quick process that can be done on a whim without having to stop the game. Even though the process is quick and easy, multiple configuration profiles can be saved to the controller so if someone has different preferred setups for different games so swapping a control scheme is as easy as swapping the game.
These paddles are designed to be hairpin triggers, meaning that tension is reduced by fifty percent to allow quick firing without reducing the trigger’s range of motion. The paddles are comprised of switches that are rated to take ten million presses before they go south, which claims to be ten times more durability than other controllers on the market. The Evil Shift Controller will be available this fall, and its creators are confident that it will dominate the competition. Having spent some time playing with the controller, it does seem like a quality product, but we will have to wait a bit to see if it can live up to its claims.
Evil Controllers have been customizing controllers for ten years, but going beyond making devices that are meant to dominate eSports, they do something I consider more interesting with their Evil Controller’s Accessibility Division, which includes a partnership with the AbleGamers Foundation and is focused on creating custom controllers for people who have physical barriers that prevent them from gaming with traditional controllers.