How do you feel about custom keybinds?

Muscle memory is a pretty big part of video games, and part of playing a new game is getting used to the control schemes and what’s different in the current game you’re playing in comparison to the last. Usually you get a lot of overlap when the genres are similar, such as with platformers or racing games. However, sometimes one video game does things a little differently. Maybe it changes a commonly used button scheme or has an ability that just doesn’t fit where it is. Whatever it does, it leaves you making a rookie mistake over and over again. There’s even a TV tropes page for this kind of thing!

Once I got used to using Q and E to strafe in FFXIV (since it’s usually the faster way to get out of AOEs), when I bought Dishonored 2, I kept looking around corners when I meant to move. Eventually, I just switched my movement scheme to WQSE and used the A and D keys to peek around corners. I use the same movement scheme in Overwatch, as well as using forward/back mouse buttons for my abilities and the scroll wheel click for my ult. Lúcio is a different story, where I’ve moved his alt-fire to D and his jump to RMB so I could wall-ride better. Some heroes have custom keys that specifically have their more costly abilities regulated to FMB, so I don’t hit them accidentally.


In HotS, things for me get a little more complicated. I don’t like pressing keys for most of my abilities, so I usually set most of them to mouse buttons. However, there’s a certain rhythm to abilities and how I use them that usually means I end up creating a lot of profiles for different Heroes depending on their play styles. Some of them overlap (e.g. Lúcio and Lt. Morales) but some are unique to the character (e.g. Kerrigan and Probius).

So here’s my question to y’all: Do you ever get to a point in a game where you’re like “fuck this” and change the control scheme to better suit you? What was the cause for the change? Did it work better for you? Do you sometimes just change keybinds because you don’t particularly like the feel of the defaults? Do your friends think it’s weird when you take a bit using new heroes in HotS and then make a keybind scheme for them instead of getting used to just using the defaults? Or is that last one just me?

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Often it’s about how long I’m going to be there and the complexity of the controls. Worst case, I’ll just grab a controller and play like that if that’s a good, considered mapping (and they basically always are today - the lack of flexibility forces standardisation on clever uses of press vs hold doubling up and mini-menus in complex games but also those lack of buttons mean almost everything now conforms to standards). When it comes to kb/mouse:

4 hour standard campaign FPS? Ye, I’ll WASD it and just rebind the sprint/reload to thumb mouse buttons and jump to middle mouse.

10+ hours in an immersive sim or (aiming critical so no controller) RPG? Yep, Give me RDFG for movement and let’s move all the rest of the key around based on how I think I’ll want to use them. Make choices about what goes onto the mouse buttons and then slowly iterate on that map while playing those opening hours until I’m really happy.

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It takes a lot of irritation for me to bother rebinding keys, or binding keys to the extra mouse buttons. I’m quick to adapt, and probably just lack the muscle memory needed (I suck at video games regardless of their controls) to really get screwed over by games changing their systems. A few serious oddities, like WASD games that bind ‘interact’ to something other than E, might draw me to the settings menu, but otherwise I just learn to play the way the game defaults to.

An exception is in-series changes, if I’m playing the games back-to-back. I think I had to do that for The Witcher, I played all three in a hellish one month marathon and I rebound 2 and 3 to match the controls of the first game just to keep the flow going.

It is usually one of the first things I do when I get a new game - if its something straightforward like an FPS without too many fancy special abilities, I just go in right away to the options before starting to make sure everything is to my liking.

If the game is more complex, with a bunch of mechanics that require me to push a bunch of different buttons then I play for a bit to get a feel for it, and then almost invariably change one or two things.

It’s not that I’m some sort of MLG pro, just that if I have to press G for something, it means that F, E, tab, C, Q, R, 1-4 must be already taken, since its easier for me to hit those. Once I set a control scheme though I’m usually pretty good at staying with that for a particular game and not mixing it up with other similar games I may be playing.

Also, if your game doesn’t have key rebindings on the PC… Its the current year, etc.

PS that’s a good question though, looking forward to see the rest of the answers, already an interesting mix of play styles here.

Considering I use ESDF instead of WASD to prevent my large hands getting cramped up and, over time, becoming quite painful, I think they’re pretty necessary.

Especially when you consider how much it improves my experience of playing games on a computer and I’m just an able bodied person with large hands. There are many people who wouldn’t be able to play games at all without it.


My preference would be for all games to let you rebind everything all the time (with exceptions for interfaces where this just wouldn’t be practical), on both console and PC.

But in practice, I rarely rebind anything myself. If I rest my hand on a normal sized keyboard and relax my hand, my fingers fall pretty naturally on Shift, A, W, D and Space, which I’m not sure whether is due to the natural shape of my hand, or the fact that I spend a lot of my teenage years playing first person shooter games on PC.


I only really started getting into games like a year ago, and Overwatch is the only FPS I play. I started off on bc I found her easy and enjoyable to play, and I’ve been guilty of sticking with her and not trying other heroes. I mean…look

So’s auto controls were muscle memory for me, and it totally threw me when trying other heroes to get used to the systems. It didn’t take long for me to say “fuck it” and after a bit of trial and error, basically map any other hero to mirror’s controls. Primary fire R2, secondary (if applicable) R1, anything that acts in place of shielding (i.e. Sombra going invisible) to L2, and any form of boost/transportation to L1 (translocating, Orisa’s fortify, etc).

I’m still totally guilty of being bad at Overwatch and so going back to my gal, but it’s definitely helping me at least -try- to diversify.


If you want to get out of playing one hero in Overwatch I highly recommend doing the arcade stuff - I don’t play anymore but at the end that was basically all I did, go into arcade and just play the random playlist.

There are a bunch of modes that only let you pick specific heroes or that pick heroes for you - I found that Torbjorn could actually be fun that way haha. Also almost no try hards, usually just people who want to have fun, which was perfect for me personally :slight_smile:


Yeah I actually played a lot of arcade stuff for a while - I feel like the only person who super liked capture the flag, that I know of - but my friends aren’t so keen on it, and with CtF I find people dick about, a lot, lately. Like, not having fun but just winding people up, getting the flag and then running around the point with it instead of actually scoring, and ending up losing games bc they’re faffing about, so I stick to quick play lately :frowning:

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While I don’t take advantage of it myself, every game should at least try to allow complete controller button and key re-mapping. Not having them is anti-disabled and just adds unnecessary difficulty to games for some people.

I’d probably do it more frequently if it was more of a standard on console games (which probably isn’t going to happen while Nintendo ignores it) since I often forget to look.

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@augmentalize oh geesh, that Overwatch keybinding scheme of yours making me a little anxious (but if you’re used to it of course it all makes sense ;)).

Speaking of Overwatch, I rebound melee to one of the extra buttons on my mouse and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I have bound my communication buttons (hello, thank you, emote, and voice line) to the arrow keys because priorities. It is always a risk reaching over from the WASD keys to the arrows to give a quick ‘thank you’ in combat, but it has worked out well for me so far.

I have found that sticking to the keybindings really depends on the layout of my keyboard. My laptop keyboard had a pretty large left-shift button, but the one I’m using now with my desktop has a small one and it’s more difficult to hit especially when I’m in games with a lot of action/combat. Of course a lot of older games usually do not have the more standard keybindings (the first Mass Effect being a notorious offender when it comes to - in my eyes - bad, or at least outdated keybindings), so I often end up rebinding in those games.

Oh there’s a good point - I never even try to use melee because I find R3 awkward on controllers, but maybe I could find something else for it and actually try to use it!

I love custom keybinds. I’ll always start with small changes, like assigning the middle mouse and my two thumb mouse buttons to commonly used buy awkwardly bound actions (grenade, reload, quick save/quick load for certain games). I used to use a Zboard Fang back in my WoW days. I really liked it because it used software to redefine the key bindings, and didn’t affect my main keyboard. The layout was very intuitive; you could quickly differentiate keys based on touch. Some keys were smaller than others, some were concave as opposed to convex. It came with a bunch of predefined keybindings for games, and updates added more. You could create fully custom ones and tie them to an .exe to be applied when a game launched, too. I lost it in a move about 5 years ago, but man did I love that thing.

The more customization the better.

In Quake 3 I had different mouse sensitivities, field of view settings, and crosshairs for different weapon binds. If a shooter has both hit scan weapons and projectile weapons, at the very least I should be able to have different look speeds depending on what I have equipped.

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I guess most games today expect users who want this to have a DPI-switch on their mouse (I don’t use mine, have the DPI fixed and get free extra keys from rebinding the mouse buttons that normally control it) but it would certainly be cool for games to support it in-game.

As you say, more flexible (can change based on game state). Although even when I’ve done variable DPI it’s only been holding down a “focus” key to give me more accuracy (for sniping/precision static shots etc) and I generally try to keep the sensitivity dialled so I can keep precise changes at the slow end and turn a 180 with a flick and no need to lift the mouse (mouse acceleration isn’t always the enemy people!).

I absolutely hate it when games don’t let you rebind keys. Usually it will end up preventing me from playing the game at all, and refunding it on steam if possible. I’m not particularly picky about WASD in first person games, I don’t mind reaching out for G or even H if it’s not something you’re using all the time. Back when I played LotRO I somehow managed to use WASD to move and the number keys 1-6 alone, combined with shift, and combined with alt, AND with shift and alt. Maybe those piano lessons as a kid helped.

There are some platformers, particularly from Japan it seems like, that default to the arrow keys and don’t let you rebind. Drives me nuts.

For most games, I’ll try to find the intended way to engage with the developer’s scheme. But, really, a lot of them just ape the paragon of whatever the genre is, so it’s rarely much of a deviation.

For M&K, I have some I always change, though. Crouch on C has never made any god damn sense, and is moved to Alt. Melee of any kind will probably find its way to a thumb button on the mouse. Too few games utilize Tab and Caps Lock, so those replace some frequently-used functions. If available, ‘Inventory’ is moved from I to B, and ‘Map’ is moved from M to X, so I don’t need to lift or contort my hand too much.

For gamepads, quite a few games recently have some form of dashing or evading on one of the triggers, and at least on my DS4, hitting R1/L1 makes a little more ergonomic sense for something I’ll be doing hundreds of times.

I’m a big fan of button remapping. I tend to always use WASD for movement but I’ll generally bind stuff around that about the same for every game that is similar. I’m totally okay with learning a new control scheme for a game that is distinct enough, on the other hand.

My best example would probably be when I made the switch to “tactical” back during the Modern Warfare 2 days (putting ‘crouch’ onto R3 and ‘melee’ onto Circle/B). Now it feels weird to me in a first-person game if I don’t have sprint on L3 and crouch on R3 - keeping all the movement-based controls on the sticks.

Also, it’s nice to have full customisation in any situation - because a) why not let the user have the experience they want, and b) it can be an easy accessibility improvement for people who can’t use controllers exactly as designed.

I almost always stick to default key mapping, if only because I want to have the designer’s preferences given to me wholesale and, unless they’re questionable, that should be fine for me. I can see the case for customisation, but the option for the user to change it shouldn’t take the onus off the developer to create a good-feeling ‘default’ control scheme.

With that said, I do have things rebound for Overwatch, such as having melee on F for ease-of-access and some hero-specific rebinds (e.g. Tracer) to consolidate the keys.

I’d love for devs to spend longer on mouse/keyboard controls but really they’re looking at the majority market being controllers and keyboards being some weird evolutionary things going back a long time and kinda changing but not but also a lot.

So the mouse has slowly grown a few buttons (at least a lot of gaming mice have them) but the keyboard really hasn’t changed at all. So it’s a platform where someone might have decided on space for jump in 1996 for Quake so that’s not something they can unlearn. I really have a hard time if I can’t bind middle mouse as jump because that’s been jump for twenty years for me. But that’s all been optional evolution and while standards have moved they’ve not been consistently moving, especially as rebindable keys are standard on PC. The two main buttons on my mouse are almost never rebound (baring really old games where right click is move forward and other weirdness) but the other 6 are more my personal standards than any global normal. So that’s 6 buttons moved off the default keyboard if that’s designed to work with 2-button mice.

It’s an interesting issue. I’d love it if games grouped their controls. I know some do it for modes (walking vs vehicle, stealth vs combat) but I want it for how core the developer thinks the thing is. Right now that’s almost always a case of reading the defaults and assuming why things are mapped as they are (what got the prime estate on space, what are Q and E bound to when the game doesn’t do leaning) but I’d love to load up the mapping and see the core functions the devs plan you to use highlighted, then less often used keys, and then menu shortcuts. Maybe a final section for non-game and weird shortcuts (F5/F8-9 as save load shortcuts, the screenshot button, boss mode combo, etc). Normally I have to feel that stuff out and sometimes juggle the controls around.

I’d also love to be able to shift the control block so a single press would move everything down from WASD to ESDF or RDFG and move everything at once for some quick sensible alternatives that mainly keep everything the same relative to each other. Just make it so I don’t need to wipe the binds by doing the basic movement of keys.