Knowing how to control your own character is obviously an important aspect of the game. So, let's take a look to the control system.


These are default base controls:

  • To move forward: W
  • to move back: S
  • to move to the right (strafing, not turning): D
  • to move to the left (strafing, not turning): A
  • to jump (and to swim upwards): Space Bar
  • to crouch (and to swim downwards): C[1]
  • to shoot: left mouse click or CTRL
  • to use "holdable items" (for example Portable Medkit): Enter
  • to switch weapon: mouse wheel or [ and ] keys[2]
  • to look around/turn just simply move the mouse around[3]

You can customize your controls as you wish, from SETUP --> CONTROLS menu. This menu is divided into look, shoot, move, misc sections. You should give a rapid look to all of them. Some mods may include some more options.

Some options can simply be turned on or off, few have a sliding selector, and most need that you click them and then push the button you want to "bind" to them. Please be careful: if you click the wrong option, press "escape" key before any other key to avoid update. Using this menu, you can bind up to two keys to a single function, and you cannot assign two different functions to a single key (old function will "lose" that key, and there is no warning this happens).

You probably may want to select your favorite "autoswitch weapons" mode (or completely disable it, please read below) from "shoot" screen and to bind a key for "chat - team" function (say_team is an useful feature to write messages to your teammates only) from "misc" screen. Generic "chat" (say) feature, to write text to all people in the server, is binded to "T" key by default.

You can also use \bind command from command console to bind keys, and few other commands to manage bindings (see key binding).

Run: by default, "always run" option is enabled (and it is highly suggested to keep it enabled!), thus, pushing the "run/walk" button ("shift" key by default) will make you walk slowly. This is a fast-paced shooting game, that mainly focuses on quick roaming around arenas and shooting at everything that moves... hiding and "camping" should be only a little part... in this game you should almost always run, and staying still may easily cause your death... but sometimes you may want to move silently anyway: while walking, enemies will not be able to hear your footsteps.
"Normal" running speed depends from g_speed server-side variable[4] (however it's possible to reach much higher speeds through strafe jumping), while walking is about half that speed, and moving crouched is about a quarter of running speed.

Advanced techniques: to learn about advanced techniques, some of which can be very useful (most notably, strafe jumping and rocket jumping), take a look to Manual/Techniques page.

Autoswitch weaponsEdit

The "autoswitch weapons" feature causes your character to automatically change weapon when picking up one (a weapon, not an ammo box). It is placed in SETUP -> CONTROLS -> SHOOT menu and corresponds to the cg_autoswitch <number> variable in console.
Note: in any case, the game will automatically switch to another weapon when you run out of ammo with the current one and try to shoot again.

It is important to say that since the original Quake 3 Arena and up to OpenArena 0.8.5, the only supported modes were "off" and "on" (and it is still true while playing with old mods!): you were able to choose if you wanted to change weapon only manually (cg_autoswitch 0, advisable value) or if your character had to immediately select the weapon he just runned over (cg_autoswitch 1, was default value at the time) -of course, you are able to change it again immediately after if you wish, but it takes a little time and may be a problem if this happens during a gunfight-.

Since OpenArena 0.8.8, new values are supported, thus you can now choose:

  • NEVER - cg_autoswitch 0 - Never autoswitch weapons (change weapons manually only, when you really want to). Advisable for players who want complete control. It used to be known as "off" or "disabled".
  • ALWAYS - cg_autoswitch 1 - Always chooses the weapon you just picked up (even if you already had it). It does not care about the "better weapons list" variable (any kind of weapon can trigger the switch). It used to be known as "on" or "enabled" (nowadays more autoswitch modes may fit the "enabled" definition, so it is better to use the proper names instead... except while using old mods, where everything different than 0 will "always" cause weapon change, so still using generic "enabled" term may still have sense there).
  • NEW - cg_autoswitch 2 - Automatically selects the weapon you just picked up, but only if you didn't have it before. It does not care about the "better weapons list" variable (any kind of weapon can trigger the switch). Default value since OA 0.8.8 binaries.
  • BETTER - cg_autoswitch 3 - Automatically selects the the weapon you just picked up, but only if it is "better" than the one you are currently using (even if you already had it). The switch is triggered only if both currently used and picked up weapon are listed in the "better weapons" list variable.
  • NEW&BETTER - cg_autoswitch 4 - Automatically selects the weapon you just picked up, but only if it is "better" than the one you are currently using and (at the same time) you didn't have it before. The switch is triggered only if both currently used and picked up weapon are listed in the "better weapons" list variable.

"Better weapons" list (a.k.a. "weapon order" list) is customizable, being defined by cg_weaponOrder variable. Its default value, in 0.8.8 (it may change in future versions), is "/1/2/4/3/6/7/8/9/5/" (meaning gauntlet/machinegun/grenade/shotgun/lightning/rail/plasma/BFG/rocket, see Weapon numbers section).
You can change the order as you wish, keeping the same format (using slashes as shown; numbers on the right are those considered "better" by the autoswitch feature), e.g. you may enter /cg_weaponOrder /1/2/4/12/3/11/8/6/13/7/5/9/ as a nice order (please remember that both currently used and picked up weapon have to appear in the list, or the switch will not occur in cg_autoswitch mode 3 or 4, as the function would lack the data required for comparison).
Taking in account that removing a weapon from the list disables both switching FROM and TO that weapon -in modes 3 and 4-, you may probably want to keep all weapons in your list (except weapon 10, the grappling hook, that is not exacly a weapon): to prevent autoswitch TO a specific weapon you don't like, but allowing autoswitch FROM that weapon, just place it on the left, giving it a lower priority than gauntlet or machinegun (note: machinegun and gauntlet are very unlikely to be found in the maps, because you usually spawn with them already in your inventory).

While using old mods, any cg_autoswitch value different than 0 will have the same result as 1 (always autoswitch weapon), except in the case where the mod itself included its own extra autoswitch options, but it's quite unlikely. Therefore, you may want to completely disable autoswitch at least while playing old mods, by setting the variable to 0 (after its initial creation, your configuration file in each mod will be mostly independent from your configuration file in baseoa -see also Manual/Using mods-).

Weapon numbersEdit

See also: Manual/Weapons

This may be useful for both manually binding keys to directly recall each weapon (/bind <key> weapon <weapon_number>, e.g. /bind 1 weapon 1) -altough it may be more comfortable to use the SETUP -> CONTROLS -> SHOOT menu- and to customize the "better weapons" list for the autoswitch weapons feature (/cg_weaponOrder, used when /cg_autoswitch is set to 3 or 4) in OpenArena 0.8.8 or later.

Weapons are numbered as follows:

  • Weapon 1: gauntlet
  • Weapon 2: machinegun
  • Weapon 3: shotgun
  • Weapon 4: grenade launcher
  • Weapon 5: rocket launcher
  • Weapon 6: lightning gun
  • Weapon 7: railgun
  • Weapon 8: plasma gun
  • Weapon 9: BFG
  • Weapon 10: offhand grapple (not exactly a weapon, therefore it would have very little sense placing it in the "better weapons order" list)
  • Weapon 11: nailgun
  • Weapon 12: proximity mines
  • Weapon 13: chaingun

Please refer to Manual/Weapons for more infos about weapons.

See alsoEdit


  1. Crouching (also known as "ducking") is NOT recommended while falling down: landing while crouching would make it more probable to get damage, and to get more than usual; however, the maximum falling damage is still 10 health points (except the case you fall in purposely designed "deadly pits", but this is a different story). Be aware that crouching makes you move silently, but slower than walking.
  2. The gauntlet (melee weapon that does not require ammo) is not selectable by using the previous/next weapon commands (mouse wheel or [ and ] keys, by default), but requires to use its specific key (1 by default) instead.
  3. To look around with the keyboard, instead, you can turn left/right with left and right arrows, and look up/down with PageDown and Del keys by default (while End centers view). However, using the mouse is better.
  4. G_speed default value is 320.
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