Unpacking Returnal’s UX design: Gameplay-first UI, retro-futuristic tech, and accessibility

1 : Anonymous2021/05/11 14:01 ID: n9xo8x
Unpacking Returnal’s UX design: Gameplay-first UI, retro-futuristic tech, and accessibility
2 : Anonymous2021/05/11 14:32 ID: gxqehpr

Can any or all of the UI be turned off or be dynamic (say, only appear when you aim your gun or enemies appear)?

ID: gxqfk6h

Yeah you can toggle all that stuff in the settings.

Or have it be dynamic.

ID: gxqpebf

Only thing that is dynamic (at least when I tried it last week) is the objective and ethe

/obolite counter. Then you hit down on the dpad to bring them back up

ID: gxrc2pr


ID: gxs64td

It doesn't really make sense in this game. You're constantly picking up items that can influence your stats so everything is needed on screen. The minimap is essential to find your way and see where items are. The only thing that isn't really important to always have visibility on are the amount of "currency" you have, which is basically the only thing that disappears in the dynamic HUD mode.

3 : Anonymous2021/05/11 16:57 ID: gxqz83r

Dude this game is awesome

4 : Anonymous2021/05/11 15:30 ID: gxqmnxx

For everything they got right theres a couple of glaring pet peeves I found.

The whole screen flashing red when you get an adrenaline up is counter intuitive. Red we associate with taking damage.

The fact that we can't tell what item in the database has been updated with new lore, because the marker indicating new lore to read disappears immediately when scrolling down the menu to new database options. Makes the whole "new lore to read" feedback loop useless.

ID: gxr52ef

Control also has this problem with the new lore marker issue and they both have the inability to play audio logs while unpaused. Two of my biggest pet peeves in UI design.

ID: gxqppct

Agreed, also would add the confusing minimap markers and the biome map not showing items.

ID: gxqq9sl

Confusing minimap markers? What’s confusing about it?

Biome map not showing items would be to cluttered. But that’s just personal opinion. Maybe adding an option to turn it on or off on the map would be okay.

ID: gxqpz8e

I'd also like the ability to make the minimap/other HUD elements bigger.

ID: gxsha6u

i’ll also throw in the coding of some enemy blood as green

because of the acid de-perk, i always think to avoid green but it’s actually purple that’s acid here

ID: gxs0xob

My peeve is the HP bar being all the way down there. Looking at my health for a second can cost me.

I always thought GoldenEye 64's health bar was great. It appears right where you're already looking.

The UI looks good, but I don't really think they should be showing it off this much.

ID: gxqz0wn

Yeah I genuinely laughed at the headline, there’s lots of bad UX in Returnal

ID: gxrmezw

It's an advertisement basically

ID: gxqs78x

Ive beat it twice and it’s a 6.5 for me due to the glaring annoyances and it’s price.

For it to be procedurally generated, it’s very limited, there’s not much coherent story, having a cool break in the maps like the house in the jungle that is it’s sole example and the game needed more, once you get to biome 4 it’s best to avoid the gold spot rooms as they are mostly trash and have a tough mid boss that’s made harder to to the small room size, the perks/parasites are mostly crap that don’t change up the runs, consumable drops don’t include life enough, no one time use save and quit option, they nerfed the ship and many more.

I love playing aggressive and using the sword but this game makes me wish it was more similar to Doom in that it would have been nice to refill a little health on a melee kill.

If this game had been 40 or 50 it would have been a 7.5 for me but currently it’s a 6.5. It’s fun, but very aggravating. This game has more aggravating aspects than any other game I’ve played in the last 15 years.

Edit: I’ve got it up on EBay for 44.99. Buy it now at 60. US only.

ID: gxqtw2t

So… you didn’t like the game… but not only finished it… but beat it twice?

Surely your time and energy is more valuable than hate-playing a game… games should entertain!

ID: gxr7dpr

Oof I payed 80 for it. Couldn't find it at any Keystore

5 : Anonymous2021/05/11 16:39 ID: gxqwlx9

My only complaint from UI is that the whole screen gets taken up by a new weapon when you walk by one. If I’m running around a map doing my best to not get slammed by 45044940 bullets, it is super not helpful to have a weapons details take up the whole screen lol.

ID: gxr08ds

Completely agree. Also when you use random fabricator and it spawns a consumable and it's hard to use it again

ID: gxrzp3a

Yeah I’ve run into this issue a few times. Especially frustrating if a weapon is near a door that your using to funnel enemies through

ID: gxs0kr7

I’d like a little more information about what the individual modular things do. You can scroll to see what most of the things do, like with weapon variants, but there are elements of your own stats and some items that I still am not quite sure what they actually mean. I’d love a breakdown of how much of a chance “moderate” is vs. “high” or “very high” when it comes to malignancy for example.

If a parasite takes away 10% protection, I’m assuming that means that incoming projectiles and melee attacks will do 10% more damage but is separate from taking away or adding 10% to your suit integrity (health bar). But to the best of my knowledge, you can’t hover over some things where it would be nice to get more information. I’ve been playing for 20 hours and don’t have any idea what some stuff does still. If I get “overload projectiles” on my gun, does that mean I get an additional projectile fired when I do a successful overload? Does it only last for that clip, and then go away? If I have three points into it, is that 3 projectiles for a successful overloaded reload? Just a lot of stuff like that, where I’m making assumptions or just ignoring it entirely.

That said, I’m having an awesome time with the game and am incredibly impressed by how well integrated the haptics and adaptive triggers are to the overall experience. In the blog, where they talk about going from a minimalist UX to the near death state and all the things they add...

Then we have the most important scenarios like near-death, low-health situations, where we throw everything we have at the player’s senses: HUD visor glass cracks and digital glitch animations, threatening vignettes, flashing warning icons, diegetic warning lights in player’s space suit, game world post-processing, health gauge color coding, player character animation, voice-over, VFX, emergency audio signals, and engaging haptic feedback.

...it’s something you don’t notice all the individual factors in the moment but they add up to make that near death state absolutely terrifying on top of the knowledge that your run could end at any moment.

6 : Anonymous2021/05/11 18:29 ID: gxrcpdy

The UI is definitely one of the best things about this game.

Not just because it's dynamic, but because it's just aesthetically pleasing.

7 : Anonymous2021/05/11 20:51 ID: gxrxejo

Just started this last night. It's an AMAZING game, seriously top to bottom polish. The DualSense is wicked, too.

ID: gxrzv88

The L2 alt fire is a nice touch

8 : Anonymous2021/05/11 20:56 ID: gxry7hc

I actually really love the color blind mode for the UI and items. This is the first time I've actually used a colorblind mode in a game

9 : Anonymous2021/05/11 17:49 ID: gxr6x54

I'm glad I didn't pull the trigger on this title initially. After reading reviews and complaints I have no doubt it is a good game, but I'm not a fan of torture games(demons souls, sekiro etc.) Maybe if they add a save and quit option I'll bite.

ID: gxs2ect

There’s a fundamental misunderstanding about the mechanics of this game and how you play it, among the community of people that “haven’t pulled the trigger on it yet”, I think in part due to the roguelike genre being relatively new and this being the first AAA of it’s kind. I do hope that Housemarque adds a Dead Cells style single use save that is instantly deleted when you load it (to prevent save scumming) to allow people to boot up other games and come back to continue their progress. But there are already so many things in the game.

There’s a single use cloning machine that you can use as a checkpoint of sorts, so when you die you come back to there instead of the beginning. If you die in the first three biomes, you come back to the ship, but if you die in the second three, you return to biome 4... and it’s not a linear game like GTAV or RDR2 where you start from the beginning and it’s a direct journey to the end. The entire design principle and genre of this game is centered around the concept of Live, Die, Repeat.

You’re always unlocking new items, making progress on weapon variants, adding new artifacts and parasites and consumables and weapons and variants to the drop table, collecting ether that carries over to future rounds, you have the option of trading currency for ether for the express purpose of making a future round easier, or to spend on unlocking new items. Once you beat a boss, you don’t have to fight that boss again. You can entirely skip biomes that you’ve cleared, so once you find the path you can skip from 1 to 3 for example. It’s not a game requiring you to beat biomes 1 thru 6 consecutively in a single session. It’s about eroding a path through time, in which Selene is growing more powerful and collecting the tools she needs in order to help her break the cycle.

I fully expect that they’ll take player feedback into account in adding something to better suspend a player save state, but I think a lot of people just fundamentally don’t understand the roguelike/roguelite genre and that the core gameplay loop involves you repeatedly starting over new runs and making different choices on the path towards escaping Groundhog Day.

ID: gxrab4l

If it helps, I'm not a fan of souls games and really enjoyed returnal. I like difficulty in a game, but how it's done is important to me. With roguelikes I can tell when I screwed up and I can learn from it. When I tried Bloodborne it personally felt janky and not very enjoyable. I'm expecting people to downvote since they like Bloodborne so much, but it just wasn't for me.

ID: gxrrdq5

"Torture" games? You mean challenging games? I'm not sure why people think that fans if these games enjoy "torture".

ID: gxs2c9v

I didn't insult anyone. Every person has their own preference. I play games to unwind, not to stress myself out. Simply not the title for me. To each their own. I simply expressed what I like.

ID: gxrasi5

As hyped as both my girlfriend and I were for this, you made the right move. Blasted through the first three biomes and had fun doing so, but it didn't hold enough excitement to warrant repeated runs - which is what it's designed for. Neither of us have picked it up since RE8 came out.

ID: gxrer76

Agreed. It’s definitely not worth the $70 considering how little Housemarque values their customers’ time:

No way to save & quit to play something else. Telling everyone to just put the PS5 in rest mode to resume later (because no one owns any other games on PS5 I guess). Updates pushed out overnight without warning, ruining countless runs. New patches causing more crashes and ruining more runs. Snarky Twitter posts from the devs telling upset players to just try again. Etcetera…

Do I enjoy it? Yeah sure, but I only paid $30 for it. Have I played it since I got Nier a few days after buying this and then RE Village? Nope.

ID: gxrmnr7

Yeah, $70 is a big ask for a game that might not be the right genre for someone, or the time constraints matter.

If there were a way to play it without putting $70 up front, like a demo or some sort of pass for games, then maybe people could be more comfortable spending money. Or maybe fewer people would have bought if they found out it wasn't for them, who knows

10 : Anonymous2021/05/11 14:05 ID: gxqathd

Accessibility would have been to add an easy mode lol.

ID: gxqefkd

No, accessibility means giving people with certain (not all) handicaps ways to play a game. The balancing of a game is not part of accessibility. This game is about dying over and over, if that’s not an experience you want then you just don’t play this game. A game for everyone is a game for no one.

ID: gxqhy5e

What kind of miyamoto type quote is that? A game for everyone IS a game for everyone? If there was a game that was universally enjoyed by everyone, why would they suddenly dislike it?

Also im not trying to be an ass here, but how does a difficulty slider in a video game hurt you or the game in any shape or form? You have the final choice. Wanna experience the game the devs intended you to play? Play normal. Wanna enjoy the story and gameplay without worrying about the constant resetting? Play easy. Plenty of games do this, and ive never heard a single arguement on why it was "bad" for the game. Games like Dark Souls dont have a difficulty slider because you BUY the game for the difficult gameplay. They have nothing else to offer, whereas someone could have bought Returnal for the story, or the fun combat

ID: gxqe210

And save functionality akin to what Hades and Dead Cells use.

ID: gxqv1i4


11 : Anonymous2021/05/11 23:56 ID: gxsln06

My main complaint is that it’s damn hard. I’m getting wrecked in biome 3. I never get good consumables for health.


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