Evil Shift Xbox One Custom Controller Review: Better Than Microsoft's Controllers

The Evil Shift controller can be very expensive, but takes the best controller in gaming and makes it even better Evil Controllers

When it comes to video game controllers, everyone has their own preferences. For example, I personally love the Xbox One controller, and don’t care for the PS4’s in-line sticks and mushy triggers. But can the Xbox One controller be improved on? That’s what Evil Shift is hoping to answer. After using a custom Evil Shift controller for a few weeks now I can say they do accomplish some of their goals.

The Evil Shift controller looks nice, but doesn’t do much to the overall top layout that makes it dramatically stand out to other controllers. The one sent to me has a lovely purple design on it, and is a bit on the reflective side. However, the bottom of the controller is where things start to get interesting.

An Evil controller compared to a standard Xbox One controller Photo: Bob Fekete

Those who buy Evil Shift controllers have the opportunity to truly customize them with custom images and phrases. These get applied to the battery casing, meaning you’ll definitely be able to identify your controller, but it won’t be immediately in your face with your memes and jokes. 

The bottom side of the controller is also where the Evil Shift stands apart from the competitors in terms of new features. The Evil Shift includes four small buttons on the arms of the controllers that naturally fall under your fingertips when grabbing the controller. By default, these buttons are mapped to the four face buttons, but can be easily reprogrammed through the controller itself to any other button input. I haven’t mastered these back buttons yet, but if you’re hardcore about playing first-person shooters, these buttons allow you to keep your thumbs on the joysticks for an entire match.

These toggles are great, and conform to your hands quite naturally. I’ve used other high-end controllers that have back paddles similar to the ones on the Evil Shift, but none have fit as seamlessly into the overall design as Evil’s. That said, it’s easy to accidentally press one when picking the controller up, so don’t be surprised if you put the controller down and come back to your game with your character crouched or having just reloaded.

The back of the Evil controller, complete with custom message and Shift paddles Photo: Bob Fekete

Additionally, the Evil Shift’s triggers have been modified to be more responsive and to take less time to pull. Instead of the triggers sliding all the way back against the body of the controller, like a traditional Xbox One controller, the Evil Shift’s triggers click back oh so slightly, but still register as a full press. This tactile trigger system allows you to snap off a few shots way quicker than with a traditional controller if you’re playing a shooter.

Those aren’t the only modifications, either. The top half features control sticks that have been tuned to be more resistant. This helps you have more control over what’s happening on-screen, as you can move the sticks around more precisely. 

That said, you can also set up the controller to be the exact device you want. Going through the custom order form on the Evil website shows that you can swap out different parts, make the control sticks more or less resistant, replace the tactile trigger system with the standard hairpin style, and even build in mods for specific games like Fortnite and Apex Legends. These will make the controller ineligible for use during tournaments, but it will help you get an advantage when playing more casually.

Another look at the Shift paddles on the underside of the controller Photo: Evil Controllers

All these modifications do not come cheap, however. Evil controllers start at a base price of $70, and that doesn’t include any changes over a standard controller from Microsoft. Adding each change means you’re adding an additional cost, and building a controller that is comparable to the one sent to me for the review will run you over $250. If you really want all the bells and whistles, a fully built out Evil controller easily will run you over $400. For reference, the Xbox One Elite Series 2 controller, which has some similar features, but no customization options, is $180.

At the end of the day, did using an Evil Shift controller make me a better player? I could tell I had quicker reaction times thanks to the tactile trigger system, and think that if I can overcome decades of conditioning to not use the face buttons, the back toggles can come in really handy. However, I don’t think I gained any significant advantage over the competition when playing things like Overwatch

The Evil Shift controller does the impossible and improves on the standard Xbox One controller Photo: Bob Fekete

The Evil Shift controller is a great piece of hardware. It improves on what I already consider to be the best controller out there, can be modified to your exact specifications, and even has Bluetooth built in if you want to use it with a PC or mobile phone. This luxury does come at a steep price, and depending on how you modify the controller, can make it illegal for certain esports competitions. However, if you want the best, look no further.

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