If you’ve spent any time on the internet over the past week, you’ve probably seen a number of intense debates unfolding over Ring of Elden. The usual talk of accessibility and difficulty still permeates much of the conversation around the game, but the final point of contention was actually Ring of Eldenthe user interface of. You know, the menus and on-screen items that give you information about your health pool and rune count.
Like the soul-loves before her, Ring of Elden has a sparse UI design. The HUD displays the most relevant information, including your stamina bar and equipped items, and that’s about it. The user experience isn’t particularly intuitive at first, especially considering how many options the game offers without stopping to break down each individual bit. Doing things like using your cover art or peeking at the map is also a pain in the ass to do while exploring the Lands Between or in a tense battle, but compared to the course of a FromSoftware game. Yet that hasn’t stopped people from theorizing about a more “mainstream” approach. Ring of Elden in place.
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A Reddit user named gamboozino posted a heavily photoshopped image on March 5 of what Ubisoft Ring of Elden might look like. You can imagine how cluttered the screen is, with button prompts for “Tarnished Sense” (lol) and obnoxious notifications about the next boss to defeat. Admittedly, this seems like an over-exaggeration of Ubisoft’s design, but the image was painted in the spirit, and it totally contradicts Ring of Eldenthe atmosphere.
The photo moved from Reddit to Twitter and has since been memmified, serving as one of the ancestors of the ongoing UI debate. Since then, several people, including apparently developers from Guerrilla Games, Nixxes Software and Ubisoft– waded in with hearty hot takes. Many have argued that Ring of EldenThe user interface of (and by extension, its user experience) sucksespecially because he does a poor job of communicating the meaning of certain icons if you do not read the equipment descriptions first or how they affect you while you play. Others praised FromSoft’s minimal UI design for his simplicity and franchise.
Ring of EldenThe UI of is just different, something some developers could ideally learn by considering how success the game has been for FromSoft since its launch. A senior UI engineer at Blizzard Entertainment named Valentine Powell pretty much echoes that sentiment in a short Twitter thread. Powell said features, such as intrusive UI elements, don’t have to be in every game just because they work well in other games. Instead, what Ring of Elden is doing could and should be a teachable moment for Western developers.
Bruno Dias, designer and writer at sunless sky developer Failbetter Games, said Kotaku on Twitter DM that the heated debate shows that some people don’t understand what FromSoft is trying to do with Ring of Elden.
“It’s quite easy to criticize Ring of Elden‘s UI/UX but it seems uncurious to me to just proclaim that it’s bad in a general sense,” Dias said. “It’s… well, certainly livable for most people playing the game. And there’s definitely some level of not trying to figure out why certain things are the way they are.
Dias pointed out that, unlike other open-world games, the Ring of Elden map doesn’t always update to represent your most recent developments, although it does offer tools to let you mark it up by hand.
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However, the pared back ui compliments Ring of Eldenis the strength of an open-world exploration game. The minimal HUD lets you navigate the Lands Between without being hindered by superfluous objective markers or icons. You can just get lost without feeling the pressure to complete this task of defeating this boss. It’s soothing and, more specifically, invigorating, as the game is confident that you’ll find your way, whether through intuition, guides, observation, or all three.
“I don’t think every decision [FromSoft] fact is perfectly intentional and objectively correct, but it [are] a few things where Ring of Elden seems to do things a certain way for a reason,” Dias said.