I do love me some PC games. I never quite got into consoles as I was that odd generation where I sort of bypassed the old NES systems and instead was doing PC gaming. By the time consoles were really taking off, I was playing stuff like Wolfenstein 3D, Red Baron, Doom and the like on PCs and never looked back. So over the years I sort of languished with odd keyboard handling as a left handed player.
For a long time it seemed that old trend was dead. Publishers and game developers made sure to add the ability to remap keys as you saw fit. As a left-handed person for PC gaming, this meant I could finally alter basic movement keys away from your customary WASD to something more comfortable for me. Typically that meant using the arrow keys instead. Fast forward almost 20 years and it seems like we’ve gone a complete reversion with efforts of some game designers regarding including key binding customization.
I recently picked up the Flame and the Flood, expecting as a PC title the simple aspect of being able to remap keys would be an included feature. Nope. I am locked into using WASD. While not completely unplayable, I tend to accidentally jump back onto my raft a lot when trying to navigate back and forth from the docks and island screens.
Controlling the raft using the mouse is also a challenge. So I’m trying to use the WASD keys, all the while frantically moving over to also right click any salvage that pops up on passing islands. As for attempting some quick maneuvering to dodge a boar, or a quick swing of a staff to shoo some wolves, good luck with me doing that with deft control using with just a mouse. I purposely play these types of games on a PC over a console for the functionality of being able to use a keyboard and mouse. When I am locked into a right-handed control scheme, it’s disappointing.
There are a surprising number of popular titles popping up lately that don’t bother with the ability to remap keys (or at least include it as a feature at launch). State of Decay seemed like a great little zombie action title, but after playing the demo I waited and was hopeful at launch rebinding of control keys would be implemented. Quick maneuvers, dodges, and attacks are key to that game. Sadly, at launch it didn’t have that feature and I had to wait for nearly a month for that to be finally patched in.
Some games don’t even bother. Telltale Game’s Walking Dead series had limited key mapping. Fortunately movement was both arrow and WASD keys. Unfortunately there were some critical time tasks where you had to quickly mash the E or Q keys. That meant I ended up scrambling to fumble around the keyboard while doing them.
Bethesda Fallout 4 is another culprit with limited keyboard mapping. Throughout the Fallout games and Skyrim I was happy to see I could alter just about any key wanted. I was expecting the same with Fallout 4. I found lock-picking was locked into using WASD to force the lock left or right (completely different from previous games where they were remapped to whatever movement keys you changed). I also found the settlement portion extremely frustrating.
I never understood how people were able to get all the minute control needed to place and move objects for settlements. After seeing some tutorial videos I realized there was some other keyboard functionality with the settlement workshop screens that I was missing. Sure enough, when I had bound the arrow keys for movement, I ended up disabling them for the workshop menu. My workaround was having to rebind the character movement keys back to WASD so that I could use the arrow keys for settlement construction. Now for working on settlements I end up rebinding keys, and do this…every…single…time. Needless to say, I haven’t bothered getting into the settlement feature much.
I realize that left handed players are a minority, and making games that we can easily enjoy is a low priority for PC video game developers. It just stings some, especially as this trend of not incorporating complete remapping of controls seemed to have been buried in the past. Now it looks like making games more accessible to left handed PC users isn’t a worthwhile endeavor for some game studios anymore and we are dumped to the wayside.