Weekend Question: What are the worst mouse-and-keyboard control sins?

PCG Jody

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Dec 9, 2019
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I ask the PCG staff a regular Weekend Question and post the answers on the site. If you'd like to throw in an answer here, I'll squeeze the best into the finished article!

This week's question is: What are the worst mouse-and-keyboard control sins?

Elden Ring's a recent example, but there are plenty of other games with mouse-and-keyboard controls that are lacking. Games that don't let you rebind keys; that use double-tap for dodge; that bind the map to something other than M or tab; that bind multiple, contradictory things to the same keys so you end up jumping when you're trying to open doors or skipping dialogue when you mean to crouch; that don't let you use the mouse in menus—shout out to Killer is Dead, where you left-click to select menu items, but have no cursor and so have to highlight them with the arrow keys first like some kind of savage.

What's the m+k control scheme sin that bugs you?
 
In MMOs it's keyboard turning/clicking. The former is where you use the A/D or Q/E keys to turn left/right on the spot (as opposed to strafing), respectively, where a mouse should be used for movement to free up keys and fingers for abilities. Clicking is somewhat related to that previous point, in that clicking is dragging your mouse cursor over your on-screen ability buttons instead of using their designated keys, meaning less time is spent moving and firing off abilities. It even happened at the high end of World of Warcraft, where top players were being laughed out of their 15-FPS 360p FRAPS recordings for doing keyboard turning and clicking.

In terms of game design though, not being able to press up at the highest point of a menu to go straight to the bottom, and vice versa. It's even worse on controllers where 1) you have to remember if it's the thumbstick or directional pad that only works in menus, and 2) neither are better than a keyboard or mouse for menus. >.<
 
Not being able to rebind keys is obviously the worst one, but not being able to use hotkeys is almost as bad. Total War: Warhammer 2 for example just doesn't have a hotkey to toggle guard mode or the fire at will stance. It's not something you need to toggle very often in a battle, but it would still be nice if I had the option to just use the keyboard.

Another example is Skyrim. I would have loved it if you could cast certain spells with just one button press, instead of having to equip them, cast them and unequip them. I like the idea of using the spells for setting traps, but the hassle of switching back and forth just doesn't make it worth it. And I know you can use the numbered keys, but there's only 8 of them available, which isn't enough.

Actually, now that I think about it, I would love for games to just let me set macro's.
 
The first that comes to mind is not being able to bind the enter key to something else. When I played Forza Horizon 5 and tried to snipe cars at the auction house it was almost impossible to snipe cars fast enough because of how slow it took when using the enter key. So to combat this problem I had to use Microsoft PowerToys to be able to remap the key. Such an easy thing to fix, makes you wonder why not just make it possible to do in-game.
 
that bind multiple, contradictory things to the same keys
That's my pet peeve in the Far Cry games. I haven't played 6, and don't remember 1 & 2, but 3 to New Dawn all have the E key for looting corpses and also for swapping your weapon for one on the ground. The number of times I've discovered a bit later that my tasty upgraded AR had become a basic AK47…

The FC UI has improved immensely from the abysmal 3 to the pretty good ND, but that multi-action farce has never been touched.
 
Rebinding keys has never been a huge deal for me. Oh, I change a few here and there, especially If I'm using some mods that add some new game play mechanics that have their own key controls. Sometimes those key functions overlap what the game already uses, so some keys will need to be changed. I greatly appreciate it when a developer allows changing the bindings (or at least most of them).

As far as games that had specific control schemes that bothered me, I know there've been a few, but the one that always sticks in my mind is the mouse controls for combat in the Witcher 1. Left click to attack, timed left clicks to chain attacks, double left click on the ground (but not too far away!) for an evasive maneuver, right click to dodge or duck, right click to cast a sign. The cursor would also change depending upon where your cursor was and what your were supposed to be doing. Most of the time I ended up flopping around like a fish out of water while getting stabbed in the face and clicking all over the screen.

Keeping track of the cursor changes, the types of clicks, and where to click was one of the strangest control schemes I've come across. Thankfully, a lot changed for the better between Wichter 1 and Witcher 3.
 

Zloth

Community Contributor
Did you ever play Die by the Sword back in the 90's, @mainer? If I remember right, you actually had to control a set of muscles in the arm to make your swing.

I don't re-bind keys much but, when I need to, I really need to! Still, even though it doesn't cause as much proper harm, I think making the main menu not work with the mouse is the bigger sin. You've just gotten yourself ready to go, you're all hyped up to play the game, and you immediately get let down because they couldn't be bothered to make the mouse work there. I know it's only going to be a couple of minutes out of dozens of hours of gameplay, but the psychological effect is really nasty.
 
Having to press 2 keys to go in one direction! A game called "Oxen free" did this when you had to walk down diagonal paths. It was mind numbing and nearly ruined the game. A game that could easily be played with just mouse clicking you had to press multiple keys far to often just to move. It doesn't sound like a big deal, but in a game where all your doing is try to move across the screen it was completely unnecessary. If i had to guess the designers used a controller and a keyboard+mouse was an afterthought.

I will give them a lot of credit though, they updated the game to work with just a mouse which is fantastic. I know I made a post requesting it and I'm guessing others did to because they added it. It was one of those games that I loved and hated. Loved, the story, the music, the theme, but the controls were a mess. How do you make a point 2D point and click with no click to move? With that little change it became a game that I trudged through, to an instant classic and a must replay!

So Not enough mouse support is my biggest pet peeve games that could easily be played with just a mouse needing a Keyboard+mouse. Now if i can only get Concered Ape to add Click to move in Stardew valley i would be happy.
 
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As far as games that had specific control schemes that bothered me, I know there've been a few, but the one that always sticks in my mind is the mouse controls for combat in the Witcher 1. Left click to attack, timed left clicks to chain attacks, double left click on the ground (but not too far away!) for an evasive maneuver, right click to dodge or duck, right click to cast a sign. The cursor would also change depending upon where your cursor was and what your were supposed to be doing. Most of the time I ended up flopping around like a fish out of water while getting stabbed in the face and clicking all over the screen.

Keeping track of the cursor changes, the types of clicks, and where to click was one of the strangest control schemes I've come across. Thankfully, a lot changed for the better between Wichter 1 and Witcher 3.

Heh, and that's why i never got into W2 because they changed it, and still haven't tried W3. Zoom out and click away. Was easily the most fun click to fight game I've played since diablo. I thought the sword play was great, click to spin, click to do a flip over someone, click to attack, switch targets and click to chain, was one of the most unique games i've ever played. Had they kept that i would of loved the next ones, but sadly it wasn't even an option.

But thanks, i didn't even know there as a click to duck! For me right click was sign use. I'll have to check the contorls tree and see about rebinding it to middle or maybe button 4. I'm in the early stages of a replay, I only have a 100+ hours playing that game and never knew lol
 
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So Not enough mouse support is my biggest pet peeve games that could easily be played with just a mouse needing a Keyboard+mouse. Now if i can only get Concered Ape to add Click to move in Stardew valley i would be happy.

I have a pet peeve with not enough keyboard support in Stardew Valley. As far as I'm aware, you have to click to confirm going to bed, there is no button for it on the keyboard. If there is one, it isn't an intuitive one.
 
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Dying Light 2 won't let you rebind everything, so I have to take my hand off the mouse to open my inventory and the map, but last night we unlocked the paraglider, and you are supposed to jump off something high and press the "z" key. That seemed a little too iffy for me, so I changed it to a mouse button. I sometimes have problems finding "z" in emergency situations (like I just jumped off a 20 story building).
 
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I think this applies for either K&M or controller. But when you play a game series when they always set up the key/button bindings the same way, and then they come out with a new game in the series where they change everything, and it's not really any better than it was. Then you have to relearn all of the controls, and it's not even worth it.
 
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Did you ever play Die by the Sword back in the 90's, @mainer? If I remember right, you actually had to control a set of muscles in the arm to make your swing.
It sounds vaguely familiar, though I know I've never played a game with that name. Controlling arm muscles to swing a sword seems like I'd probably stab myself in the foot more often than not.

But thanks, i didn't even know there as a click to duck! For me right click was sign use. I'll have to check the contorls tree and see about rebinding it to middle or maybe button 4. I'm in the early stages of a replay, I only have a 100+ hours playing that game and never knew lol
There's a whole Wiki page dedicated to just the KB&M controls for Witcher 1 if you're interested:
The Witcher controls | Witcher Wiki | Fandom
I loved the game overall, but the combat controls were awkward for me, I finally had to turn the difficulty down to finish, and that was years & years ago.
 
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This might also apply to controllers, but it's especially egregious when you have an entire keyboard at your disposal, and that's context-based controls. I don't like it when games decide the spacebar is both Jump and Hide Behind Cover, depending on how close you're standing to something. It's frustrating to think you're about to protect yourself and hide, but instead you leap straight up in the air as if to say "Woohoo! Look at me!" (I think at least one of the Mass Effect games was guilty of this.) The reverse is also annoying, when you're trying to jump out but instead your character clings for dear life up against a wall.

Edit: I just realized that this was already mentioned in the OP, my apologies. But seriously though. We've got over a hundred buttons to choose from. There's no need for them to double up. At the very least, give us the option to enable or disable context-based buttons. Make it a toggle. Can't be that hard, can it?
 
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Dec 23, 2022
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Late to the party here.

Hard coded key binds. They can be remapped, but still perform the hard coded action in addition to yourt bind.

Perhaps just as bad, partial hard coded ala GTA IV / V , Fallout 3 where a remapped key works except in contexual situations where you must use the default key

no remap of course. Scarface the World is Yours.

This may be the granddaddy of all, drumroll please: controller only required on a PC game.
 

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