Decisive for the game rivalry “Elden Ring” and “Horizon Forbidden West”

There is a big gap in the development of open-world video games. It’s been a long time.

The good old fight with sales between two big names is still going on: The horizon is forbidden westcontinued Horizon Zero Dawnreleased February 18, and Elden’s Ringthe long – awaited collaboration of Hidetaki Miyazaki and Game of Thrones author George R. R. Martin, who arrived a week later, February 25th. The West is forbidden sold well in pre-orders and launch weeks – this is the third largest launch to date for the PlayStation 5. But the sales and hype on The West is forbidden rather abruptly stopped amid vague success Elden’s Ringnow the best-selling game of the year, the most popular game developed by FromSoftware to date, one of the most popular games since Red Dead Redemption 2and perhaps the most influential game since 2017 The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild.

The West is forbidden and Elden’s Ring share some similarities of the top. They’re both big-budget, open-world adventure role-playing games deployed in a ruined landscape. Otherwise these are very different names at the molecular level. The West is forbidden, developed by the Dutch studio Guerrilla Games, is a drama for all ages, in which friendly characters work together to save post-apocalyptic civilization. The hero Eloi is waging a war of humanity against mechanized dinosaurs, high-tech people and detractors. She is a smart but reluctant leader, and The West is forbidden it is both a story about her quest to save humanity from a second extinction, and a story about her self-propagation and self-knowledge.

In contrast, Elden’s Ring it is a grim, exhausting, and incomprehensible ordeal. The main character is a silent outcast, known only as Stained. Frozen collects runes and kills the demigods to become the next Lord of the Elders and thus bring order to the amazing medieval domain known as the Land Between. There is no self-examination Elden’s Ring, just a struggle. For more than a decade, Miyazaki has cultivated a reputation for exceptional sophistication in his games as a director of FromSoftware. Huge popularity in Elden’s Ringwith its bosses breaking controllers, comes as a shock to the system.

This time, however, FromSoftware is leading the conversation about something other than simple accessibility modes and features. Rather, Elden’s Ring and The West is forbidden now represent a great collision of user interface (UI) and user experience (UX). These terms include many components: a visual display (HUD) in the player’s main view, an in-game menu, a world map with legend and various markers, and tutorials on various mechanics. These systems mediate the player’s interaction with the characters and the landscape.

У The West is forbidden, Aloe may stand in the middle of the settlement and it will be surrounded by several beacons that direct the player to various interesting places: here is a dealer selling weapons, here is a dealer selling clothes, here is a current destination for a side quest, here is a current destination for the main quest. She also wears a headphone called a Focus that illuminates in her field of vision items of interest, such as an unsuspecting machine monster. Aloe also talks to herself – in fact to the player – about clues, resources, road signs and threats in her immediate environment. У Elden’s Ring, stained lacks such tools. At the fast-moving checkpoints known as “places of grace,” there’s a map with markers you’ve discovered so far. But that’s all. Otherwise you are left with your own intuition in exploring Between the Lands.

Different games use different tools for different effects. At best, I would say Breath of the wild does it pretty well – these hints and markers guide the player while retaining some sense of open exploration. At worst, let’s say Cyberpunk 2077– The “organization” creates a hectic HUD, obsessive hints, excessive textbooks and countless markers. It was this latter approach that began to dominate high-budget role-playing games as the world grew larger and subsystems — alignment, crafting, side quests — became increasingly complex. This culminates in a general frustration with the UI and UX in modern open world games. The West is forbiddenwith its dense interface and its tireless clues, represents the status quo. Elden’s Ringwith its sparse interface and its direction of content, is a unique challenge.

A month ago, video game developer Ahmed Salama worked on it Horizon Zero Dawn and now working at Ubisoft, expressed his disappointment Elden’s Ring. “The fact that #ELDENRING scored 97 metacritical points is proof that reviewers don’t care about Game UX,” Salama tweeted (and later deleted). He was joined by several industry colleagues who wrote additional complaints about the quest’s design. Elden’s Ring and the technical performance of the PC game. Salama and his peers quickly met a hostile online brigade defending themselves Elden’s Ring while insulting other titles mostly Horizon, but also Assassin’s Creed, Skyrimand The Witcher. The backlash hit the headlines. The developers have blocked their Twitter accounts. The pile-up was ugly, but the essence of the disagreement was still interesting to consider. I’ve seen one really devastating critique in the form of a viral screenshot from Elden’s Ring refined to rethink the game with a cluttered conventional interface dotted with nasty gameplay prompts.

But it was in many ways a bad and unkind discourse around. Yes, it was unpleasant to watch video game developers demonstrate complete unfamiliarity with such widespread, constant criticism of open-world games. It was also unpleasant to watch such a stormy reaction to the scattered criticism of the game, which was otherwise met with universal acclaim. Elden’s Ring actually has its share of obsessive clues, and The West is forbidden actually allows players to toggle some in-game path search features; no game is pure caricature that you will find in discourse. Indeed, these arguments do not apply to the troublesome card button Elden’s Ring or many quest markers in Forbidden West, rather rather about the last decade of single-player gaming in general.

It’s a matter of storytelling, but it’s also a matter of trust. In the beginning, Elden’s Ring throws Tarnished into a remote chapel and trusts the player to navigate the world only with such explicit instructions from other characters. This works because Lands Between is designed to encourage this open style of study. This actually has nothing to do with HUD. Rather, the interface is simply a reflection of the design of the levels and the narrative structure Elden’s Ring. On the reverse side, The West is forbidden throws Aloe into the middle of a civilizational conflict with complex political dynamics. The world is not created for pure discovery. It is designed to host an ensemble drama about humanity recovering from self-destruction. The world – and the interfaces – are designed to emphasize these social imperatives.

The West is forbidden with UI and UX Elden’s Ring would feel a little funny for the same reason that Elden’s Ring looks ridiculous when you impose HUD out The Witcher III. In fact, these arguments seem to depend on the underlying styles. Are we tired of blockbusters? Are we more open to the story of the environment than ever before? The success of both games, commercially and critically, indicates a bright future for both approaches, but only if we honestly talk about the benefits and limitations of each.

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