There is a post from a few days ago little further down about using a 360 controller on pc. I used my ps3 control so I am no help there.
Key map? Not sure, think config, in game, has a way to setup what keys perform what action.
Basicly solo to 10-15 and join a book burn in Gusgen, 30-35 head to Crawlers Nest, 60-65 to Bostaunieux Oubliette until 75, or can continue to 99. At 75 head to Abyssea. Get stones building at level 30 in Port Jueno, look up what you need to do.
Linkshells are the guild/clan in this game. You can be member of more then on. Do a shout/yell in Jueno asking for a ls for new player. Someone will hook you up.
Pick a server. They are mostly the same popluation-wise.