Learning How to Play PC Games with Keyboard & Mouse


“This is embarrassing.”

I’m at the very beginning of Cyberpunk 2077 and the game wants me to pick a dialogue choice. I click on the line I want to say. Nothing happens. I start to hit a bunch of buttons with no luck. How hard can it be to select a line of dialogue?

Turns out, all I had to do was press F, which is the main interact button in the game. It even says it on the screen, though it’s faded into the background a bit and I wasn’t sure that this prompt was trying to tell me to press F.

Despite having used a keyboard and mouse for pretty much my whole life, using it within the context of gaming has been an uphill climb.

To me, controlling video games is something one does with a controller. The form-factor and number of buttons have evolved over time, but the framework is essentially the same since the NES days. Working my way around analog sticks, face buttons, shoulder buttons, and triggers doesn’t take any extra brainpower for me to do what I want. Not necessarily because the device is inherently more intuitive than a keyboard and mouse. I’ve simply grown accustomed to them through a lifetime of console gaming.

Adapting to keyboard and mouse has been a challenge. Hand placement is wildly different from what I’m used to for gaming. I’m comfortable enough with moving a cursor around the screen and clicking on stuff to shoot. Basic movement with WASD is…okay. But everything beyond that has proven tricky.

For example, in Overwatch, there are buttons mapped for your abilities, crouching, jumping, reload, and ultimate. In a jam, I have no idea where any individual button is. Even though I can touch type, asking me to hit Q on command isn’t the same thing. Furthermore, playing Rogue Company on PC adds to the confusion, as similar functions between it and Overwatch are mapped to different buttons on the keyboard.

Cyberpunk uses even more of the keyboard than the other two and I don’t understand the logic for why certain functions are mapped to certain buttons. On a controller, I have a lifetime of experience knowing what buttons certain functions are mapped to. As I figure out how to game on keyboard and mouse, it almost feels like I’m trying to learn how to walk again.

In certain cases, I’m quite literally learning how to walk again. Turning my character in a first-person shooter has proven oddly cumbersome, as I simply don’t understand how to maneuver my mouse and keys to quickly rotate. My character awkwardly shuffles in a wide radius before facing the right direction. With a controller, I don’t even think about the analog stick movements required to achieve that same feat and turn with ease.

This challenge is one I can adapt to. Many years ago, I overcame my insecurities with regards to using a fightstick and now it’s my preferred way to play fighting games. Doing so just takes a lot of practice.

Will I give myself that time to figure it out? Eventually. Now that I have a modern PC, I will have more opportunities to learn. Was really hoping that Cyberpunk 2077 would act as a tutorial of sorts, but we’re putting that on pause until more patches are released.

How did you learn to play with keyboard and mouse?


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