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Can You Play Dark Souls 3 Without a Controller? 5 Tips

Can You Play Dark Souls 3 Without a Controller? 5 Tips

Dark Souls 3 is an objectively hard game with tons of controls and options to choose from. The game’s mechanics are more suited towards the controller because of the lack of multi-key movements that are otherwise a staple in an adventure game of this scale. Dark Souls 3 counters its lack of movement complexity beautifully by raising the difficulty of its boss fights to the extreme. 

This move might be concerning since it essentially limits the game’s scalability with anything other than a controller. Unlike its predecessor, Dark Souls 3 is perfectly playable with a Keyboard and a Mouse and that is not all. The game is compatible with virtually any kind of controlling equipment as long as you know how to get it up and running!

Playing Dark Souls 3 with anything other than a controller can raise the already exceptional difficulty of the game. But with some tips and tricks, you should be ready to take the bosses down. 

From its earliest days, the Dark Souls series asked players to prepare to die. We’ve done that plenty. We suspect you will, too. But with the relevant information by your side, you can be dying a lot less than you otherwise would have without a controller. This article will be talking about some tips and tricks you can use to find success in Dark Souls 3 without a controller. 

How to Set Up a Mouse & Keyboard in Dark Souls 3

In order to play Dark Souls 3 with PC controls, you will need to change the default settings inside your game. This can be particularly useful when you are having difficulty in getting your controller to work with Steam. The setup process is fairly simple and it should take you no more than 5 or 6 steps to get started.

Do keep in mind that the developers did not intend this game to be players with a keyboard and a mouse. So there is a quick workaround you can use instead. With that said, here is how you can set up a Mouse & Keyboard in Dark Souls 3:

  • From the Start Menu, search for Device Manager in the bar and click open.
  • Locate and open the Human Interface Devices menu in your Device Manager and press the drop down arrow. A list of devices will drop down. 
  • Right click on any HID-Compliant game controller and select Disable. Restart Dark Souls 3 and you are good to go.

Keyboard Controls for Dark Souls 3

Since you are now ready to play Dark Souls 3 with a Keyboard, it will be a good idea to understand the controls. Once you are in the game then the usual “learn as you go” might not work due to the game’s high difficulty level.

Similar to any other game, the controls are pretty easy to understand and memorize. So with that said, here is the complete list of preset keyboard controls you should master for Dark Souls 3.

Controls Action
WASDMove
Left ClickNormal Attack
Right ClickBlock
Shift + Left ClickStrong Attack
W + Shift + Left Mouse Button (Need to be pressed simultaneously)Jump Attack
W + Left Mouse Button (Need to be pressed simultaneously)Kick (a.k.a. Guard Break)
QCamera reset / Target lock
EInteract / Pickup
RUse Item
FTwo-hand right weapon
Hold FTwo-hand left weapon
Press and Hold (W, A, S, D, W+A, W+D, S+A or S+D) + SpaceDodge
Press and Hold one of the directions and then Hold Space Run
Press and Hold one of the directions + Hold Space + Press Space againJump
Left CtrlParry / Weapon Art
Left Shift + Right Mouse ButtonWeapon Art
Left AltWalk
Left Ctrl + Right Mouse Button + Left Mouse ButtonBow Weapon Art with Zoom
Left Shift + Right Mouse Button + Left Mouse ButtonBow Weapon Art without Zoom

Dark Souls 3 Keyboard and Mouse Playthrough Tips 

There is a good chance that you will die about 20-30 times clearing the very first phase. Most of these deaths will be due to your unfamiliarity with the controls and keybinds. While the reason is perfectly just, the process is still the same. You will need to familiarise yourself with the controls as soon as possible so they don’t hinder you on your path to success. 

Here are some tips that you can use to make your Controller to Keyboard transition smoother:

Tip #1 Mess with the Keybinds

People have different hand sizes and while the preset controls given by FromSoftware are good, they are certainly not the very best. Try to optimize your controls according to your hands. Your main goal should be to have everything within reach. Keep changing your keybinds till you are happy with your setup. 

You might end up with your dodge on a spacebar or your jump on V but it’s well worth it. As long as you have a control setup that compliments your playstyle, nothing else matters. This will not only help you min/max your DPS and dodge chances but will also give you an insight into the controls.

Tip #2 Ramp Up the Mouse Sensitivity

Another great way of getting better with the controls is by ramping up the mouse sensitivity. There should never be a reason to keep it that low in the first place. You need to be able to turn your character fast in order to keep track of the boss’s attacks.

Dodging is a hard skill to master so any kind of aid for that is always going to be helpful. You do not need precise aiming (unless you are using bows a lot), Just make sure you can check around at a moment’s notice. 

Do make sure that your existing mouse is customizable in this regard. Here is how you can change your mouse sensitivity:

If your mouse has DPI on-the-fly buttons:

  • Press one of the DPI On-the-fly buttons to create new settings for each DPI button. The mouse LCD will briefly display the new DPI setting.

If your mouse doesn’t have DPI on-the-fly buttons:

  • From the Start Menu, search Mouse settings and click the open button.
  • From there, select the mouse you are using, Locate the Cursor speed bar and make your desired changes.

Tip #3 Get Familiar With How it Feels

This might sound obvious but the only way to get better with something is to get to know it better. Be prepared to lose a lot when you first make the change. You might have an understanding of the game, but not the muscle memory to back it up. 

Even scouring the ends of the Kingdom of Lothric might not be enough. Don’t feel too bad about the mistakes, they are only temporary. Believe in yourself and keep up the grind. 

Related: Ultimate Beginner’s Guide to Herald in Dark Souls 3

Tip #4 Use Your Mouse Buttons Wherever Possible

You need to keep your controls as close to the hand as possible. While the keyboard houses enough key choices to accommodate everything, it is a good idea to take advantage of your mouse as well. 

This is only applicable if your mouse has mappable keys. Experiment with it to see where your comfort lies. Try to keep your immediate actions as close to your fingers as possible. Do note that sometimes, specific alternate mouse buttons aren’t picked up by the game. Make sure to rebind those keys so they don’t put a barrier to your progress.

Tip #5 Make Sure to Have a Good Surface For the Mouse

Controllers can be great in the aspect that they need nothing else to function. Keyboard and Mouse can also be fun if you get used to them fast. But if the mouse is getting stuck, not registering, or just doesn’t have the space to move, you can have a pretty bad time. 

Dark Souls 3 is not as forgiving as a game like Minecraft or Terraria, every action has consequences. Losing control of your mouse in such an intense game can be your one-way ticket to tilt town. Make sure your mouse is working as intended and keep it on a stable surface at all times. A mousepad on a flat surface should do the trick just fine. 

All in all, Dark Souls 3 can be played with keyboard and mouse but the transition is a journey to take. You can find it really hard to dodge projectiles or simply parry in time. The change is new and you will get better with time so don’t worry too much about it. 

A controller is still the best to play Dark Souls with. But a mouse and keyboard combo can also be really good once you get more familiar. The start is gonna be rough and you will probably die a lot but it’s only a part of the process to help you improve. Keep trying your best and you will succeed.