Good day everyone! Today we’ll be delving deeper into optimizing your hotkeys for combat classes. Simply put hotkeys allow you to quickly activate your actions without having to manually click them with your mouse saving both time and energy. Well… it may sound simple at first but setting up efficient hotkey layouts for battle classes can take a significant amount of work and planning and the results will vary based on each player’s preferences as well as the job they are playing.
Let’s start from the very beginning! In most cases our left hand is responsible for the character’s movement by using the default WASD keys a standard dating back to the early days of first person shooters. The farther we stray from WASD the more wrist movement will be required leading to unnecessary stress and fatigue buildup especially in the case of an MMO where repetition is the norm for the majority of the gameplay. To avoid this we look for nearby keys that would not require excessive wrist movement and would not impact our ability to move the character at the same time.
These are the keys we should strive to use for the majority of our keybinds as they require the least amount of effort to reach. But Graehl, are you suggesting 11 hotkeys would be enough? Not at all and this is where modifier keys come in. By using ALT, CTRL or SHIFT we gain access a total of 44 hotkeys without ever having to move our wrist from this location. That’s not to say you shouldn’t use the rest of the keyboard to bind your hotkeys to. The range of comfort will vary from person to person depending on the size of their hand, and the type of keyboard used. Binding situational abilities to farther keys is also perfectly acceptable it may, in fact, be necessary for certain jobs that sport a larger number of actions.
Now that we’ve established what keys to use the next step is to decide how to use them! This step is equally important as having a mixed salad of hotkeys will only serve to confuse you in the middle of battle no matter how close they are to your hand. To this end, it’s helpful to follow certain guidelines when deciding what actions to bind to each key. I’ll be using my personal Paladin hotkeys to help illustrate some of them. Firstly and most importantly the more often you use an action, the easier it should be to reach it. In this case, the perfect example would be your primary rotation normally bound to 1, 2 and 3, or the Rage of Halone combo. Secondly, strive to bind similar types of actions to the same keys by using modifiers. In this case, ALT + 1, 2 and 3 becomes my secondary rotation, or the Goring Blade combo.
The alphabetic keys surrounding WASD should also be used similarly as they are the easiest to reach without incurring wrist movement. In my case, Q has become the dedicated enmity button. On its own, it executes Flash and by using the ALT modifier, it becomes Provoke. Grouping up actions with similar functionalities under the same key greatly helps with memorization and should be done whenever possible. Another good example would be my F key. On its own, it triggers Shield Swipe and when combined with the ALT modifier, it becomes Sheltron. Both abilities interact with blocking and using Sheltron sets me up for an automatic Shield Swipe shortly after which can also be triggered using the same key. You can also extend this practice beyond job actions. Let’s take the R key for instance. R for running, easy to remember, right? On its own, it toggles my auto-run functionality and when combined with the ALT modifier, it executes Sprint.
Lastly, remember that you can also bind hotkeys to your mouse. This can work exceptionally well in certain cases especially when using a mouse with more than three buttons. In any case, take your time to experiment with different keys and do not worry about assigning hotkeys to all actions from the very beginning. Start with the basics, and slowly expand on it as you find a setup that suits your particular playstyle. In closing look for opportunities to merge similar or complimentary actions together and try to minimize the amount of hand movement required when planning your keybinds. Having an efficient and intuitive hotkey setup is crucial for improving your performance and it will also make the game far more enjoyable to play. .
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