Elden Ring is the biggest game launch of the year, if not the last five years. It's currently sitting with a score of 97% on reviews aggregate site Metacritic. But some have been put off by the game's sparse UI and limited UX; you're not taught anything, there are no quest logs, there is no guidance or onboarding… Of course, the game is meant to be like this, that's part of its charm.
But those scamps over on Reddit have posted a mock-up of Elden Ring, imagining the game if it were in the hands of Assassin's Creed developer Ubisoft. Elden Ring would now have 'good UX'… and it's hideous. Of course it's a wind-up, the Reddit user-created screen (above) is cluttered shouty messages, button prompts and a map dotted with check-list objectives – it's everything Elden Ring isn't. (If you want to learn more about good UX, sign up for our UX design foundations course.)
Elden Ring's developer FromSoftware is a master at creating incredibly tough games, and has transferred this approach to its new open world game. There are no tutorials, mission objectives aren't pinged over the map, and there's no quest log to track progress. Gamers are left alone in the world to explore at leisure, and die a lot. It's why fans love it, and why Elden Ring's approach to open world design feels so uncomfortable… but in a good way.
What Reddit started, Twitter finished. The fake screen has become a meme and taken over, with some even adding more junk to the UX to really make the joke land. Twitter user @Jeebz3000 joked, "The saddest part is there are people who unironically want the game to look like this and tell you exactly where to go". We think Twitter may have gone a bit too far, take a look at this mess below.
added another health bar just incase you can't see the top left one pic.twitter.com/UmewC956khMarch 6, 2022
There's been a trend in video games to hand-hold the player. As world's and games become more complex, developers have created UX and UI that over-explains and hand-holds players. Elden Ring's sparse, limited approach to UX and UI design goes against the grain, but this hasn't prevented it being a major hit. It seems gamers have moved on and want a bit of mystery in their open worlds.
@Murkmann on Twitter says: "We don't want any games to hold our hands. We want the possibility to customize out experience of the game to better suit our needs. You might enjoy replaying one boss for hours without raging. That doesn't mean others do."
The success of Elden Ring comes as no surprise, we put the game at No.1 in our best Xbox Series X games. Our list of the best PS5 games escaped Elden Ring's grasp because PlayStation gamers have their own platform-exclusive hit, Horizon Forbidden West.