The Week in Review

Video Game UI Has Gotten So Bad – The Week in Review

The Week in Review at The Escapist: Plague Tale rules, and Video game UI & UX has become terrible in games like COD Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II.

I finally got some gaming done this week. I wrapped up A Plague Tale: Requiem, and it’s now my second favorite game of this year right behind Elden Ring. I’m a sucker for good action-adventure games, and A Plague Tale just hits all the right marks for me with its historical setting that is both beautiful and horrific, the great characters in Amicia and Hugo, and the soundtrack that is amongst my favorite of the last few years.

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Both of the Plague Tale games do a really great job of pacing, and they remind me so much of the Uncharted games, which consistently take you through peaks and valleys of calm serene moments and then ratchet up the action as you go, crescendoing in incredible set pieces that stick with you long after finishing the game.

A Plague Tale: Requiem specifically has a moment towards the end of the game with a spiraling staircase in a really dark section of the game that honestly just blew me away with its music and atmosphere. There were actually a lot of those moments in Requiem, but this one specifically, which I will not spoil, has some of the most striking imagery I think I’ve seen in an action-adventure game. Once more people have played the game, I’ll certainly be writing more about it because I loved it that much and just need some space to gush about it.

I’ve also been playing Gotham Knights, and… well, I just don’t have much to say about it other than I’m really disappointed with it. Everything about it is just generic. The story is weirdly paced thanks to bad design centered around completing objectives around a lifeless open-world Gotham. The combat, while I’ve said I enjoy it a bit, is quickly showing that it will not evolve beyond mashing X and then clicking some buttons to do “special” moves, and the mission structure is just nonexistent.

You enter a location for a story mission, you run through and beat everyone up, you click or hold A to complete an objective, and then you’re done. Gotham Knights is one of those games that just screams that it was once a games-as-a-service title, decided halfway through not to be that, and then shoehorned in a story campaign at the last minute to say, “We’re not a games-as-a-service.”


Why Has Video Game UI Gotten So Bad?

I already wrote this week about the annoying trend of gear scores and loot in what we would typically consider action-adventure games. Now I need a minute to just scream about the horrendous UI we’ve gotten in video games lately.

If you don’t know what “UI” is, that stands for user interface. Now that you know that, you should also know that “UX” stands for user experience. When both of those are working together in tandem, you don’t notice it. When they are not, it drives you nuts.

I don’t know (excuse my language) which asshole designer decided that horizontal menus in video games is a good idea, but whoever you are, stop it. The recent UI in games like Battlefield 2042 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare II feel like they were designed by the same person, and that person wants you to have a really bad day. They control poorly, they make you click through multiple extra screens just to add an attachment to your weapon… It drives me absolutely nuts, and anyone that’s played these games knows exactly what I’m talking about.

Hell, people are even making their own mock-ups of better UI on Reddit.

I don’t think I need to write any more on this beyond sharing these comparison screenshots below of Modern Warfare 2‘s menu from 2009 and Modern Warfare II‘s menu from 2022. On the first image, you can do everything on this one screen. In the second image, each option takes you to another screen to do the same thing you wanted to do in 2009, only slower and more confusing. Oh, and more horizontal menus.

Modern Warfare 2 from 2009

Modern Warfare II from 2022

What’s Happening at The Escapist?

Lots of work behind the scenes this week. We’re wrapping up production on a new pilot for a potential series from Sebastian Ruiz (Frost), and we’ve also finished scripting the pilot for “Weeb Shit,” which means editing will finally be starting next week on that video.

The Gamurs (our parent company) team is also taking our feedback on the website for IT to start looking into fixes and updates to the website, so that should be starting soon as well.

The Adventure Is Nigh Season 3 on-location funding goal has been met, which means we are officially going to Milwaukee in spring 2023 to film the third season of Adventure Is Nigh in person. We’re super excited about this and super thankful to the community for the support they’ve shown the show by getting this funded in just a month, which is incredible to see.

Lastly, we’ve been pushing out a lot of great original content on the site this week and are continuing to onboard new freelancers to reach our goal of hitting two original pieces of content per day on the site.

About the author

Nick Calandra
Nick Calandra has been covering video games for over 14 years, holds a bachelor’s degree in Multimedia Journalism and now leads the team at The Escapist. Previously Nick created and led teams at TitanReviews, Velocity Gamer, OnlySP and Gameumentary, before becoming Editor-in-Chief of The Escapist in 2019. He has done everything from covering the smallest of indie games to creating documentaries on some of the most well-known video game franchises in the industry such as Darksiders, Divinity: Original Sin, EVE and more. While his favorite games right now include Rainbow Six Siege and Elden Ring, Nick is constantly experimenting with new genres to expand his gaming tastes and knowledge of the industry.