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How HUD Ruins Your Gaming Experience

Updated on March 12, 2013

There is an ongoing travesty within the mass majority of modern video games. The Heads-Up Display (HUD) and User Interface (UI) come standard, and the option to remove them are often non-existent. We hardcore gamers pay a huge price in the quality of our experience for this foolish practice of leaving no option as to how prevalent you would like your HUD and UI to be. When an objective marker on a map constantly points toward your destination, all the details of the game become obscure and secondary. In essence, the gamers main priority changes from understanding the story and admiring scenery, to a priority we have all focused on too much and across numerous games: Go to the dot on the map.

Many of us play “Go to the dot” and are oblivious to just how much this de-personalizes every run-through of nearly any game. When you have no HUD, you must rely on your understanding of the area and you must learn the names of the characters. Without the HUD, getting to a character requires more than running in a straight line across rivers and mountains to him. Having no HUD requires that you learn roads, buildings, landmarks, and forces you to rely on them as reference points as to how to get around. You’ll never have so much fun getting lost in a game again, because you don’t get stuck, you get lost. The experience (depending on the game) is unparalleled in gaming. Some games allow the removal of a good portion of your HUD. I would recommend re-playing Dishonored, Bioshock, and Skyrim with as little HUD as possible. (No Dark Vision on Dishonored….just don’t use it!) Lately, I have been playing Far Cry 3, it is an awesome game for many reasons, but loses so much potential by not allowing for complete HUD removal on Xbox360 or PS3. The game is beautiful, realistic, and riddled with visual training wheels to distract you from the artwork. I remove my HUD and UI as much as possible, and when the game won’t permit it, I use paper and tape to cover up the mini-map. I played the first few hours of Far Cry 3 with the mini-map. I couldn’t stand it; I got some paper and tape and covered the nuisance up. Now, I know where I am going, why I am doing it, and am able to enjoy the unfiltered beauty of the tropical island. There is a great deal of in-game UI that simply destroys a gaming experience. Perhaps the one I disdain most is Hit Markers. Not knowing whether you hit or miss your target is excitingly ambiguous. When shooting from far away or through walls the gunfight becomes creepy as hell. You don’t know if you hit him, if he ran, if he’s flanking you, or if he’s just sitting there dead around the corner. Combine this with multiple enemies and gunfights become more intense and immersive than ever before.

Some people may need a HUD, and that’s fine. I’m not arguing for taking it away, but rather, giving the player the option to remove it if they please. Many of us gamers like a challenge, and more than that, we like an experience. Go to the Dot is the most played game in single-player game history. It is time that game developers allow us to decide whether we would like training wheels installed rather than making them standard. When I re-played Dishonored with no HUD and no Dark Vision, I had my most enjoyable gaming experience this year. I learned roads, characters, motives, chose my own paths, created my own experience, and all without a shiny emblem pointing towards the end goal. I played go assassinate the Pendleton’s, not go to the dot.


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