MMO Hotkey BindingsOptimizing Your Gameplay
Whether you pvp in WvWvW, hot join or tournaments, using keybindings instead of clicking will drastically improve your speed. Binding all of your skills allows for much quicker reaction times. However, it takes time to build a decent hotkey layout. It can take days or even weeks to feel comfortable with a new set of bindings, but if you have a sound layout it will improve your performance in all aspects of pvp.
Most mmo players keep thier left hand on ASDF (home row) and use thier right hand on the mouse. This allows you to have access to the largest number of potential hotkeys and modifiers (shift, control, alt) with your left hand, while your right hand uses the mouse for forward movement (pressing the left & right mouse buttons together) and camera movement. This is the starting position you should build your layout from. If you haven’t used this in the past it’s time to switch. I recommend starting this cold turkey if it’s new to you. It will feel awkward for the first few days, but it will be one of the easiest ways for you to improve your pvp.
Unbinding Default Keybindings
By default a number of prime hotkeys are bound to something unnecessary. This allows new players to easily pull up UI panels, but for pvpers it’s just taking up keys that are in optimal positions. Once we rebind these we gain a ton of potential hotkeys.
Let’s start off with the movement keys. By default mmos have 6 movement keys.
Q – Strafe Left
W – Move Forward
E – Strafe Right
A – Rotate Left
S – Move Backward
D – Rotate Right
Essentially, you don’t need the rotate camera buttons or move backward. The mouse allows you to adjust your camera position much faster than keybindings, turning your camera 180 degrees and moving forward is also faster than backpedaling at a reduced speed with the S key and unbinding these will give you 3 more hotkeys. Personally I like to add the look behind camera option to the S key if the mmo supports it.
Other Default GW2 Keybings
F – Interact/Finish/Revive
V – Dodge
T – Take Target
Ctrl + T – Call Target
Ctrl + Left Mouse Button – Call Target
(Middle Mouse Button is ideal for rebinding – Call Target)
Above is an image of GW2 Default Skill Bar Bindings, personally I would rebind, 6, 7, 8, 9,and 0 to any of the keys listed below. Taking the time to reach 7, 8, 9, or 0 in competitive play would put you at a large disadvantage to players with proper bindings. Below is a list of keybindings you should consider unbinding. These are unnecessary and should be rebound to important skills and macros.
R – Auto Run
G – Guild Dialog
C – Unbound
X – Unbound
Z – Unbound
B – Scoreboard
Tab – Next Enemy (rebind this to Nearest Enemy)
All of these keys are within reach of your left hand, making them ideal for this hotkey layout. There are many other unnecessary bindings on the right home row, if you’re a lefty (and play with a left hand mouse) you may consider unbinding these instead and going with a reverse approach. Essentially, unbinding these hotkeys gives us many additional keys that we otherwise would not have. Also, it prevents you from having to use excessive modifier keys in order to accommodate all of your abilities and spells. Ideally, you want to build your keybindings in such a way that you never have to use a modifier. However, for some classes you have no other option than to break out the shift key. I suggest buying a gaming mouse similar to a naga razor, which has 12 extra hotkeys that can be pressed with your thumb.
Hotkeying for Speed
After you’ve rebound your hotkey layout you need to decide which skills go where. The skills you use most often should be bound to the keys that are the easiest for you to hit quickly on the keyboard. Everyone will vary on this, personally 2, 3, 4, 5, R, T, F, G, C, and V are my favorites. These keys can be hit very quickly regardless of what my movement and modifier finger is doing, allowing me to continue strafing and positioning while quickly hitting any hotkey I need too. If you play multiple alts or specs I would try to keep your hotkeys as similar to your main’s layout as possible. For example, always putting an interrupt skill on G, cc immunity skills on F, etc. The closer you can keep all your hotkeys, the easier it will be for your brain to switch between alts and specs.