User Interfarce: Skyrim’s Silly Choices

Graphics are options are just behind that mountain.
Oh, Skyrim. I really am so enamoured by your peaks, and your misty valleys. Oh, what a beautiful world, filled with possibility and with cheese. Oh, Skyrim, let us bask in the the spook of your ghosts and squirm in the horror of your catacombs. Let us be gleefully smacked about by giants and devoured by dragons. Let us steal hats and trade them for unexpected potions. Oh, Skyrim. There’s so much to you that there are even ants crawling on this log! Blimey.

And then we bring up the menu. Oh, Skyrim.

UPDATE: Someone went to the trouble illustrating what I am talking about, here.

I’m embarrassed, basically. Embarrassed that I have to sit here writing about fucking interfaces and menus when I should be talking about the fascinating bigger picture of a broad, detailed, open-world RPG. Man, when there’s so much going on in this game, and so much to talk about, why did I have to be the one who put up his hand and said: “But what about that crappy interface?”

I know I signed up to be a dork for a living, but for fuck’s sake.

My plight is so: this is the first Bethesda game I’ve ever actually been able to spend serious time in without becoming fatally annoyed. Skyrim has done what their other games have not: it has managed to not eject me from its world through sheer frustration (as did Oblivion and Fallout 3) and I have begun to get lost in side-quests and exploration as I plod slowly through my career in professional dragon shouting. I like the world. I am enjoying the story. That’s quite the thing.

Then I hit tab, and I sigh. I rumble. Even when played with gamepad, as it is surely meant to be, the back end UI of Skyrim is a horrible clonky mess. Thoughtless, awkward, unhelpful. I don’t think it even tells you to hit tab to exit when you first encounter it. (In fact Kieron tells me he got stuck searching for the exit key the first time he tried to pick something up.) Sure, Fallout 3’s wrist-thing was crap, too, but I don’t care about that right now. I care about Skyrim. And it’s not good enough.

Skyrim’s menu, a huge, unwieldy thing that wants you to scroll from a menu on the left, and then takes over the rest of the screen with sparse “details”, is as cumbersome as any I can imagine, and that’s without the general issues of navigating it with a keyboard and mouse.

Hell, Oblivion’s awkward interface was bad enough, but at least it allowed you to see almost everything at a glance. And sure, Bethesda, take away my stats, but at least allow me to see what I am wearing and equipped with inside the menus? The bonuses I have? Anything? No? And so I have to exit the menu system to look at my character? And I also have scroll through everything just to see what I am carrying? And even when you are clicking about in the menu there’s a huge margin of error with a mouse, that most precise of pointing devices? Come on, Bethesda, this is not the future of RPG interface design we were promised.

And you want to use essentially the same menu for trading? Okay. No. This is not okay. It’s time consuming and opaque. I am a bold fantasy adventurer, not a guy browsing ostentatious Flash-driven websites circa 1999.

Ah, but then there are also the twin horrors of the perk screen and the map. Selecting what bonuses you are going to get is, for some reason, built into a carousel of star constellations… no, stop right there. You can see the problem right away: “a carousel of star constellations”. That is one of those ideas that surely a design team would react to with “yeah, nice idea Dave, but really we just need something that allows the player to see what they are choosing, and what result that will have in the game…” Instead it seems to have made it through to release, delivering a +40% increase to bafflement for anyone who tries to use it. I mean it: a carousel of star constellations. A what. Why.

The issue with that, and much else here is a lack of summary: I want to find what the fuck is going on with my dude! Why are people saying I look like I have the plague? Look under magic -> active affects. Oh, of course. Lucky you bothered to put it in there. I MIGHT NEVER HAVE FOUND IT WITHOUT GOOGLING THE RESULT…. OH.

Then there’s the map. A lovely 3D map. Swish! ZooM! And I can’t see anything because of clouds, and I can’t zoom out far enough to take it all in, or give myself a proper sense of place. Why bother with this at all? Give me a static 2D map, thanks.

There are other crimes, too: you can’t get at the settings – the basic settings of the game – from the main menu. These come when you are inside the game itself. Huh? I can’t get at the parameters for play until I am playing? It’s this sort of illogicality of nesting that makes me want to cry. It doesn’t take an exhaustive study of PC interfaces to see how this stuff can be done sensibly.

Amazingly, if you have a gamepad plugged in the some of keyboard and mouse short cuts fail to work at all. Why? Why not just leave the original binds active, too? Worse, once the gamepad is deactivated, you are faced with keybinds that may or may not rebind, depending on what it is you’ve decided to rebind. The failures seem arbitrary, but they also seem totally unacceptable in one of the biggest PC releases of the year.

It’s funny. I step back and look at this, with Bethesda clearly trying to do something new and slick with their interface, and then I look at the Diablo III beta. And I realise that RPG back-ends work in a certain way for a good reason: we need information. And we need it immediately. And we don’t want faff about scrolling, or getting full-screen renders of the apple in question. We just want the goddamn thing to work – to compare hammer stats, to show us what armour we have, or could have. Diablo III does little that is new with its menus and interface, but it is always RIGHT THERE, and you know what you need. Hit the key and read off the info. Simple! And as a result the experience is silky. The difference here seems to be that Blizzard actually pay attention to the fact that their games are going to come out on the PC. Sure, Bethesda have their hapless console chums to think about, but that should not be at the expense of their fiercest, most loyal, and most creative fanbase. We needed a PC interface. We did not get one.

In conclusion, here are some helpful (and fun!) rules of RPG interface design:

  • When designing a UI, try to design not only for the platform your game is on, but also for the type of game you are making!
  • If it is broken, fix it!
  • If it ain’t broke, please do not invent totally new forms of interface, like those based in stars. Instead: get something that works and polish the fuck out of it.

That’s better. Right, back to thieving more ale.


  1. Anubis666 says:

    I hope they fix this in a patch.

    • Tobisas says:

      I’d rather put my trust in the modding community.

    • sectR says:

      As the above reply states, probably won’t happen unless someone mods it

    • President Weasel says:

      this seems unlikely, because much of it appears to be the way it is on purpose because of deliberate (really poor, but deliberate) design choices.The first really poor choice clearly being to make one UI that rules them all, rather than making different UIs for PC and for console.

    • Gnoupi says:

      With all that time and amount of Bethesda games for which the community is actually fixing the UI…. Can’t they just hire one of these modders, at last? At least it would be done correctly, instead of trying and failing again and again..

    • Cooper says:

      Hopefully (I can’t find this out online) Skyrim uses very similar data setup to the older Gamebryo games (Oblivion, FO3 etc.) and the UI is largely a collection of easily edited textures and XML files.

      If so, I reckon some xml tweaks will be with us very soon. Hopefully.

    • Cooper says:

      Nope, just had a look. It’s scaleform. Which is flash middleware.

      Yuck. Yuck yuck yuck.

    • Cinek says:

      Scaleform is fine. I’ve seen fantastic interfaces made with it (and I mean: in matters of usability, not just looks).

      Problem is in the man who design UI – if you have terrible people making totally dumb decisions than even the best UI tool won’t help you.

    • Vayl says:

      The problems is that despite being a multi million dollar game it clearly does not have a UI designer, or someone who understands usability.

    • Adekan says:

      I hope the dominating Steam numbers (Skyrim had near 300,000 Steam users playing it simultaneously yesterday! MW3 had around 60,000) and the fact that they got slaughtered on console sales by MW3 will convince them to design PC first in their future TES games.

      The only flaws I can find with this game after spending nearly every waking hour during the weekend playing it are painfully obvious as designed for the consoles, the horrific UI amongst them. I’m sure the revolutionary enormous text and simple scroll function work fine with a gamepad, Mr.Howard. But I’m on a PC. I can handle a real UI.

    • vaatbak says:


      So young, so Naive…..

    • Lobotomist says:

      Dont think they will fix it for PC ever. And I dont think modding can go deep enough to change interface.

      And BTW

      Wasnt we promised way to 3D rotate each item in inventory ?

    • xavdeman says:

      @Lobotomist: I am playing with an XBOX360 controller and I can do that using my right analog stick. I’m sure you can do it with a mouse, too. Some puzzles depend on it so they wouldn’t be able to playtest the game if it wasn’t possible.

    • Schelome says:

      You can 3D rotate things in the inventory.
      I cannot tell you how right now, but I have done it.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      Reply failure.

    • tobias says:

      I’ve read, but am yet to test, that holding C should allow you to rotate inventory stuff. You are expected to figure this out for your damn self, apparently.

    • TooMiserable says:


      Now look here, in all the years I’ve spent looking for mods for various Elder Scrolls and Fallout games, I’ve come to the conclusion that, given enough time, there is NOTHING that can not be altered in these games, and now you’re telling me they probably can’t mod an overlay of clickable things that appears on your screen when you press a button? HAH. I laugh at you, good sir.

    • Petethegoat says:

      You just use the mouse to rotate stuff in your inventory.
      It’s very simple. Just click and drag around.

      That said, the UI annoys me most whenever I try to speak to someone.
      But yeah, it’s just generally bad.

    • Casimir's Blake says:

      It’s highly unlikely Bethesda will “fix” the UI.

      As unlikely as they will bother to fix their well-crafted but tremendously, frustratingly, and frankly fucking linear dungeons.

      Skyrim. A so-called modern RPG released in 2011, and it has not a shred of the spatial challenge that an RPG from 1994 provides. If it otherwise wasn’t such a… confident improvement over Oblivion, I probably would be selling my copy right now.

    • povu says:

      Any of you played with DarNified UI for Oblivion or FO3/NV? DarN’s currently looking at the Skyrim UI. There may yet be hope! :P

    • RedWurm says:

      DarNified UI was the first mod I downloaded when I reinstalled oblivion recently.

      Oh, and has anyone else figured out how to rename new, enchanted items? Half the time the keyboard won’t type, and any time I click anything it promptly dumps me back in another menu, decides my hat should be called “Petty Soul Gem (3)” then, perhaps fortunately, refuses to recognise its new name and resets to the old one.

    • psyk says:

      To view 3d view of items in your inventory press C while hovering over the picture of the item and it will open in a window and you can then spin it around. One problem with this is it really highlights the fact that anything wich is supposed to have holes dosen’t.

    • Ruffian says:

      I think that everyone is forgetting one very important life lesson about the human species. Most of us are quite dumb in comparison but we all like to think we’re geniuses. So, yeah the interface sucks, though I’m sure the guy who made it probably thought he was Einstein and it was the greatest thing since sliced bread, but the rest of the game is hands down amazing, so who cares? I really don’t think anyone can say that they really overlooked the pc as a platform, as the game was actually ready and polished on time for it at the same time as the console releases, looking significantly prettier to boot. Though I can’t deny that it’d always be nice to have the pc release get more attention.
      Anyway I’m sure someone will mod it away for those of you that can’t stand it. As for me, I can adapt.
      I was made to adapt.
      I can get used to a crappy menu for over 300 hours of monster bashing, looting, and thievery.

    • Thermal Ions says:

      But the guy who made it had one or more senior / lead developers reviewing his work and countless play testers who did/should have provided feedback on it’s crapness. Their collective smarts should have outweighed said individual UI designer’s Einstein complex.

    • Sinvoid says:

      I actually love the Skyrim UI. I feel its very intuitive and it works fine for me i actually haven’t run into any glitches or catch ups while playing or using it. Sometimes navigating the stars is a pain but it’s so much better than the forms of list and blocks that really pull me out of this fantastically immersive experience.

  2. ran93r says:

    Clicking with the moose works for the wife’s copy but not on my machine. Having to navigate using the keys is a bit of a ballache but I think I have the hang of it.

    The carousel is annoying as hell though, like something ripped straight from a Final Fantasy skill tree.

    • Dr. Heldenveldenstetzenberger says:

      Check to see if the xbox controller is enabled. Might fix that.

    • Llewyn says:

      Has very large hands, does she?

    • Craig Stern says:

      Try disabling the antlers.

    • ran93r says:

      Already tried switching off the controller options but no joy, I’m getting by but it’s annoying when I know that it does work, just not on my machine.

    • The Tupper says:

      I’ve only played the game for an hour or so. Fortunately for me I was planning to use an XBox controller from the outset (after reading comments made here last weekend), as the mouse cursor is entirely absent while the pad is plugged in. Shoddy to be sure.

    • aircool says:

      Funny thing is… it’s true. It is like navigating with a moose.

      Internet meme please :))

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      I had to physically unplug my pad, disabling in device manager and in-game wouldn’t work. Then things went “normal” as they could. I highly recommend using the ini settings previously posted that remove mouse acceleration. Navigating the skills constellations seems easier though with arrow keys frankly, that way you don’t end up sliding over into the next skill so easily when examining up the tree.

      Thankfully there are already several good UI mods in progress, but because of the different backend, it is going to be slower to come out then the previous xml based ones for FO3 and ES4.

    • Milky1985 says:

      “The carousel is annoying as hell though, like something ripped straight from a Final Fantasy skill tree.”

      I gues your thinking of the crystilium system from FF13 (spelling is wrong i know, cba to look it up), but thats not fair to the FF13 system.

      The stars are sodding awful i can’t see when i get a new perk where I can even apply it, theres a star light for on and not lit for off on the overview, its not until you zoom in that theres a difference (just the text), and then you have to sodding navigate to teh starts you can;t get to see why you can’t get them!!!!

      And then how do you get back? do you click back , because they sometimes takes you back tot he zoomed out view, sometimes to the level below, do you click right to scroll right, as that sometimes decides to go up or down as well.

      The crystal system had 6 trees that you swapped through with a button, and easy to see paths etc, betesha coudl LEARN from the sodding system

      And although i liked FF13 i know lots of people didn’t and hated the system, and it still UI wise works sodding better

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Try plugging your moose into a different USB port. Sometimes the antlers snag on parts of the case.

    • Skabooga says:

      Make sure the drivers for your moose are up to date. Moose jockeys benefit from having the latest knowledge and expertise in the field.

    • stele says:

      A Møøse once bit my sister…

    • Premium User Badge

      Ninja Dodo says:

      I love this site.

    • RakeShark says:

      Actually, it reminds me of Sword of the Stars’ tech tree, just with less navigation control.

  3. Joseph-Sulphur says:

    Well, someone had to say it.

  4. StevoIRE says:

    It’s actually not that bad. In fact if anything it’s much faster to navigate then it was in past iterations. It has it’s annoyances with inconsistent mouse actions but tbh im happy with it and id suspect the majority of gamers are too.

    Much ado about nothing

    • John Walker says:

      No, it IS actually that bad.

      You appear to have your standards maligned.

    • Dr. Heldenveldenstetzenberger says:

      Much ado abou- try the Witcher 2, there’s your informative interface.

    • Premium User Badge

      Earl-Grey says:

      I agree. I have been playing for 10-15 hours now and I’m quite happy with the menu system.
      Sure, I initially tore out a couple of hairs when I pressed esc in a futile atempt to exit my inventory.
      But I find it much faster and friendlier than any menu Oblivion and Morrowind ever chucked at my eyeballs.

    • President Weasel says:

      The UI causes me genuine irritation. In a poll of all the gamers in my house 100% of them thought the UI was the worst thing about the game (worse than the slightly floaty combat; worse than the inability to skip the opening epic cutscene if you’ve seen it before) and 100% of them thought the UI would lose the game points in any reviews they did.

      It’s not just that it keeps shouting “HELLO! I WAS DESIGNED FOR CONSOLES!” at me, and making me page through a list because why would I have any kind of pointing device, it’s also that it’s not even very well-designed as console UIs go. Not to mention sometimes it will pick up on mouse clicks and sometimes it won’t.
      Just the act of looting everything on a body, probably the single thing most players will do the most in this game, is unreasonably complicated.

    • Torn says:

      No, it is that bad. I was actually shocked, and I’ve got a pretty thick skin for consolised UIs (Borderlands, Deus Ex, etc).

      For a start, not using Esc to quit menus and dialogs? That’s been ingrained in everyone since, like, forever. We’re talking about an industry-wide paradigm used everywhere, regardless of OS. Instead, you press the same key (Tab) you used to bring up the menu.

      There’s also certain confirmation dialogs you CANNOT seem to close without clicking on [Ok] with the mouse (which is a syrupy mess by default, unless you hack a .ini file).

      Not to mention scrolling lists with the mouse seems to (most of the time) move the selected item index up / down one, instead of selecting what the cursor is above.

      The lack of information, comparing stats, seeing what you’ve got equipped, what’s worth upgrading to, etc. is all very laborious.

      This is really basic stuff. Their hands must have been tied for time/budget/whatever reasons and they ended up shipping a quick-and-broken console fudge. Whoever lead the UI design surely clearly cried himself to sleep each night.

      Is relying on the modding community to fix things the new ‘release it broken, patch it later’? …

    • Quine says:

      Even worse- we went through all this when Oblivion turned up with a clunky console-centric UI and everyone complained about it back then. To pull the same stunt once more looks like they’re trying to annoy on purpose.

      After three days of getting used to the interface I foolishly start dual wielding daggers for a more thiefy ambiance. Cue embarrassing scenes in a sewer as I entirely fail to manage to bind my dagger hotkeys to specific hands and have to manually equip on in each slot after I use a healing spell or whatever. That’s not even to mention the whole ‘L is right click’ confusion…

      EDIT: Actually this reminds me of the pain I went through recently when my Ubuntu box upgraded itself to use Unity- wherein some UI revolutionaries in their ivory towers have decided to inflict invisible scrollbars and immovable window handles on the proles with little choice to reconfigure it to be anywhere near what they’ve been used to for many years. Is there some sort of training facility that churns these people out?

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      I works. If you want to equip a pair of iron boots and eat cheese it lets you do that. That doesn’t mean that it’s not bad.

    • Eversor says:

      @Earl_Grey, come again? Morrowind showed you all you needed to know about your character in one screen. Grid inventories are simply more comfortable to look at and sort through, since they take up far less space. Just as an experiment, try Darnified UI mod for Oblivion and switch through list and grid inventory, you’ll see just how big a difference it makes.

      While you eventually get used to the fickle nature of Skyrim’s interface, it’s still pretty horrible.

    • Tyrmot says:

      It really is atrocious. I mean, I am also loving the actual game, but given the amount of inventory sorting/managing there is in a game like this it really does start to get quite tiresome and goes a long way to breaking the all-important sense of immersion. Most likely a revised pc-centric inventory will be the first mod I download.

    • StevoIRE says:

      @ John

      It really isn’t. It easy to navigate, quick and generally doesn’t get in the way.

      Name a interface from another game that you would want instead of it.

      Pointless rant when you could easily do a well written rant about the lack of any progression in melee combat.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      “Name a interface from another game that you would want instead of it.”

      Any Diablo clone? Hell, The Witcher 2’s menu was better.

    • Giaddon says:

      “Just the act of looting everything on a body, probably the single thing most players will do the most in this game, is unreasonably complicated.”

      Push “E” on a guy. Push “R.” Is that really unreasonable?

    • Blackberries says:


      I knew it was bad when I found myself yearning even for Oblivion’s UI. At least that was easier to sort through, easier to find the information you needed and easier to navigate with a mouse, for all its chunky, ungainly awkwardness.

      Please, please let us know when UI mods are released, RPS. You’ll be doing us a great service.

      After that, I hope it’s possible that the map be modded too. Why can’t I zoom out all the way? Why!?

    • Rich says:

      What’s your sample size President Weasel?

    • Torn says:

      @Quine’s “That’s not even to mention the whole ‘L is right click’ confusion…”

      Oh god, this. The first time I realised they’re using L and R to mean HANDS not mouse buttons I exploded with the rage of a thousand suns.

      LEFT MOUSE BUTTON SHOULD DO LEFT HAND AND VICE VERSA. Dark Messiah of Might & Magic got this right. If I was any-way modding inclined I’d fix this as a priority.

    • President Weasel says:

      @Rich: one. I was wondering if anyone would catch that.
      I still maintain that saying “Most games will think it’s a lovely UI and want to be friends with it”, or whatever the actual quote is, is well wide of the mark.

      @Giaddon: sure, if pressing R worked reliably. Sometimes it loots one thing then puts it back. It would actually be better if R didn’t work at all, rather than working just about often enough to make my try it, but still failing often enough to be annoying.

    • DigitalSignalX says:

      The UI from Two Worlds II was WORSE imo. At least here, everything can be done with Tab, WASD, and E keys once you get used to it. Not excusing Beth by any means, just saying, it’s bad but it’s still functional. I do miss on-screen status effects, coming soon to a mod near you.

    • Eolirin says:

      John, the UI is fairly brilliant, provided you’re using a gamepad. It’s beyond awful on a mouse and keyboard. Many of the things you’d do differently and better with a PC centric interface are pretty awkward when you have no precision pointing device; things like lists rather than grids, direction input sensitive sub menus, star maps and what not are about the thumbstick being the intended control method. The hold stick to scroll and change subscreen methodology makes a lot of sense there. You generally want to avoid anything that requires a complex motion on the thumbstick, trying to point at things is a pain in the ass, and it’s just generally more natural for push in a direction and hold for a second or two, especially given that you can transition in direction much more easily. It’s hold up or down and then slide right or left on many of the menu screens, and it feels very natural. You can get from any subscreen to any other subscreen just by moving the stick around, no button presses necessary. And the overall size and layout of the menus play out pretty well if you consider a TV that you’re sitting a number of feet away from as your primary display; big panels and fonts and easier to read lists work better if it’s difficult to pick out finer details. The UI is very well designed for a console.

      Now, it still does a really horrible job expressing certain types of information; active magic effects should not be so buried, especially when it covers things like conditions and negative magic effects, or how it provides you absolutely zero information about what blessings do. The lack of a “character sheet” frame is baffling. So it’s not perfect, but a lot of the flaws with the UI are because they actually sat down and thought hard about the console experience and made a UI that took that into account, and was custom tailored to the constraints of a gamepad + tv… and then put it in the PC release without any significant revision. Which was absolutely boneheaded to be sure, but the issue isn’t the original UI, so much as doing an absolutely shitty port.

    • Abundant_Suede says:

      It’s that bad. And I love this game dearly.

      For all the derision that was heaped on vanilla Oblivion’s PC interface, I think they’ve actually managed to make it even worse. What all this hype about an improved interface was based on, I can hardly say. And I really love this game. V-oblivion was scrolly and myopic in the most consoleized fashion imaginable, but it made a kind of intuitive sense, or if not, was at least familiar. It was created with CRPG paper doll precedents in mind, albeit in the most clumsy and circumspect way imaginable.

      With no exaggeration, it took me two minutes to figure out how to close a fucking chest in Skyrim, and continues to fight against my attempts to close menus with a counter-intuitive wrestling match between ESC and TAB. Figuring out what you have equipped requires mastery level in clairvoyancy. The skills menu is a bunch of fluffy nonsesne that feels like you’re stabbing at it with a ten foot pole. The player map marker refuses to go down within 3 miles of anywhere you might actually want to put it, and not at all on the local map. The on-screen quest compass is indecipherable without it.

      And do I even need to bring up that cross-mapped mouse button thing, where the default left mouse is for the right hand, and vice versa? Sure, you can remap it, but who the hell thought that was a good idea? How does that get out of internal QA? How?

      And yet, I hear from my friend who plays it on the PS3 for some inexplicable reason, that there’s no quick key to bring up the map…at all. The map is nested in another menu. And so, perhaps we have to thank the Deadra for small favors, while at the same time questioning why anyone would chose to play this game on a console.

      Love the game. Not the interface. The interface is like vandalism of a beautiful structure by thoughtless adolescents.

    • Eolirin says:

      With a gamepad you hit the menu button and then push down; simple and takes half a second. There are no free buttons to use for a map shortcut so that’s the best way to do it really.

    • Caileus says:

      It really is terrible, the mouse pointer is the worst of all – I am sick of hearing the character say the same thing 3 times because it hasn’t recognised I clicked another answer. Also given what you choose can affect story – this needs fixing asap.

      The other thing that bothers me is that there is no consistency… pressing E on an item when trying to transfer to a chest eats it… pressing R drops it in, but when transferring from a chest to your inventory R takes the whole lot and E is used to transfer – WTF!

      Finally if anyone has managed to navigate that constellation successfully without flying around all over the place or spending an hour to choose 1 perk I congratulate you. Sort it out Bethesda this is a truly awful UI experience.

    • Tmoore says:

      It could have been better – i find that hitting tab and getting to to the 4 way arrow screen is a waste of time. But the rest of it i actually like – mostly due to now just approaching it using the keyboard shortcuts. Works like a charm. I really enjoy the bookmarking / hotkeys as well.

      Could have been better, but could have been far far worse – in my mind it’s fine and the sheer awesomeness of the the rest of the game makes up for it.

    • ynamite says:


      Excuse the language, but you must seriously be fucking kidding me. I’m not going to go any further into this, but just to break it down for you, YOU’RE WRONG. Completely. The UI is utter chaos in its purest form and almost every other game with one has an inventory that is superior to Skyrims, like to the power of 10.


      The fact that pressing R grabs everything and closes the menu and that grabbing things manually with E until nothing is left to take, doesn’t, is pretty inconsistent and cumbersome. Apart from that, I can’t find a whole lot wrong with those two specific functions, but I can with the rest of the interface.

      I generally notice that the fingers on my left hand feel like they’ve been doing finger acrobatics for several days on end after a few hours of play. ‘Tis never a good sign when that happens and doesn’t speak for a games interface.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I agree with the points about the Skills menu (which seems like it would be more cumbersome with a gamepad, since with a mouse you can at least click on perks in the tree and jump to them rather than scrolling through each individually) the mouse fiddliness, and being unable to see your character outside of zooming around in third-person mode, but I don’t think anything else is worse off than Oblivion.

      Diseases and passive powers were listed in the same place in Oblivion (Magical Effects), so it wasn’t hard at all for me to figure out where to find that info. The items are arranged fairly sensibly (weapons, armor/clothing, potions/poisons, food, alchemical ingredients, vendor trash/crafting & enchanting materials/household stuff/anything else), and certainly easier to navigate than the Witcher 2’s at-launch inventory.

      And the map? I love the map! It’s so much easier to plot a route now that I can see the elevation differences. In Oblivion I would set off in a direction and often find myself blocked off by steep elevations that were resolutely not obvious on the map, and turn my little expedition into an exercise in frustration.

      Also, is no one going to mention the fact that the quest tracker can be turned off or track multiple quests simultaneously, or that the little gray icon is infinitely less intrusive than the huge green arrow of Oblivion?

    • iucounu says:


      LEFT MOUSE BUTTON SHOULD DO LEFT HAND AND VICE VERSA. Dark Messiah of Might & Magic got this right. If I was any-way modding inclined I’d fix this as a priority.

      I just rebound LMB to left hand, RMB to right hand. Works fine!

    • Tyrone Slothrop. says:

      I also add my voice to those who feels this is much ado about nothing. I mean, it’s far better than Morrowind (oh boy, dozens of identical icons to mouse over to find the scroll I want) or Oblivion (HUGE font and animated menu transitions).

      I mean to find an item in my inventory. I press ‘I’, click on the relevant category, scroll up or down and click on what I want. It takes 4 seconds. If I want to recall something quickly the favourite menu is great, I press ‘Q’ and scroll to what I want, press the mouse button for the relevant hand… takes 3 seconds. And if I wish to fiddle with finding the correct number on my keyboard in the dark I can still do that and have 1-5 hot-keyed for my most used weapons.

      As for the map, what precisely do you need to see under the rare tuft of cloud which is mostly transparent? The icons for discovered and heard-about locations and the player-pointer are stark.

      Sure it doesn’t explain some things, the quests really need to have a way to review message in stages and the item-rotation needs to be actually added in with a patch but it’s easily the best interface Bethesda have managed. Also are people here really complaining that the default key-bindings, key-bindings for dual-wielding is something they find counter-intuitive? That’s just looking for grievances than a sincere expression of legitimate ones.

    • Baka says:

      TAB -> D -> D -> S -> S -> D -> Multitudes of S -> T -> S -> E -> T -> ERROR! ALERT! You somehow targeted the Item besides the one you wanted, keyboard responses dead -> Mousehover, LMB -> !ALERT !ERROR You equipped the weapon, at least T works again -> T -> E
      Yay, my weapon is now recharged a bit, only to do it some couple times more and then having to do it again after 10-15 swings or so!
      Not to mention the amounts of spazzing out and mis-highlighting you get if you even dare to move your mouse in a conversation.
      No, it’s not okay at all.
      The interface is maybe managable, but it’s definitely horrible.

    • Eproxus says:


      I just rebound LMB to left hand, RMB to right hand. Works fine!

      ^ This.

    • President Weasel says:

      And I managed to sell my equipped armour by mistake last night (thanks for not making that difficult, UI) only to be unable to buy it back – I think I was able to sell it to the trapper guy because it was fur armour, but I couldn’t buy it back because he only sold furs and miscs.
      If only any game, ever, had invented something like a “buy back” tab. Sadly such a thing is beyond all game design possibility and will forever exceed our grasp.

    • Wulf says:

      Morrowind was still by far their best game AND menu design.

      When playing Skyrim the thing I kept thinking was how it wasn’t Morrowind. There are things from Morrowind, but that invites me to compare them with, and every time it’s lacking. If I saw any honest reviews out there, they’d end with:

      Well, it’s okay. But largely it’s soulless, it’s pedestrian, by the numbers, and it’s a horribly developed mess that doesn’t value PC gamers at all. If you haven’t played Morrowind yet, you should get the GOTY of that and ignore this. You’ll thank me later.

      Really. Every element of it is wanting when compared to Morrowind. Unless a person is a graphics whore and someone who needs voice-acting to live, you’re going to find better everything in Morrowind. And that includes the wonderfully designed windowed UI.

      (I have to note here, for the humour value, that even Champions Online has a buyback tab.)

    • RandomGameR says:

      Sorry John, but your article is definitely over-complainy, more-so than the UI deserves. I’m not saying that the UI is perfect but…

      The map damn-near-well is perfect. It’s pretty much spot on for what I’d want in a map system for this type of game. You pretty much lost me at that point. There are many valid complaints but the map system isn’t one of them. The clouds don’t cover up the icons you see and they go away as you clear out parts of the map (i.e. fog of war). You can zoom in/out reasonably well, and the 3D nature of it gives you a much better idea of how to navigate the world (which mountains do you want to run over and which should you go around, etc). A 2D map would not suffice with such jagged terrain.

      The perks menu is also not bad. It’s a pretty impressive bit of immersion, actually. I’ve never sat there thinking “I wish I could see all the lock picking perks while I’m leveling up my destruction skills.”

      Also… I don’t feel the need to see my character in the menu, that just seems like a completely arbitrary thing to complain about. Why not complain that you can’t see your house in the menu, too, as you do put items in your house. If you really want to see your character in your menu, press F before opening the menu, viola, you can still see him/her.

      I do think they made some baffling decisions, such as hiding all status effects, not providing any health indication of your companions, etc, but I think you’re being a bit unfair about a few just to overly emphasize a point.

      It is in every way better than the horrible menu system in Morrowind, for instance. IN EVERY WAY, sorry Wulf.

    • psyk says:

      How to loot
      point cursor at chest/body
      press E
      Want to take it all? press R
      Want only some items click on them with the mouse

      How to store
      point cursor at chest/body
      press E
      Press R on what you want to store

      Sometimes the mouse is a bit flakey but you can easily get it working again, your gamers work it out.

      Want to see what status effects you are rocking?
      Press P
      Click status(?)

      P might not be defualt, I did change some keys around.

      Want to skip that same bit of dialogue you’ve heard 20 times?
      Click the left mouse button

      Want to change weapon/use potions without going in to your inventory?
      Open your inventory (lol)
      press F on the items you want easy access to
      Leave the inventory
      Press Q

      This is one of the worst things i’ve found, at least it pauses when you press Q.

      “MrMud says:
      Use the number keys while hovering on a spell/item/whatever in the favourites popup”

      That I did not know cheers.

    • briktal says:

      Honestly, many of the problems with the UI are just bad UI and little if anything to do with console vs PC.

      The main problems I have are that sometimes the selected item and the item in the middle of the list with the fancy UI pointer don’t line up and that keyboard navigation of the perks menu is terrible (as far as what node left/right/up/down take you to).

      A take/give all by category button would be nice though.

    • DrGonzo says:

      No, the Witcher 2 interface is much worse than Skyrim’s. I understand peoples bother with it, it is annoying. But it doesn’t frustrate me as much as Oblivions did.

      The Witcher 2s on the other hand has made me quit a few times due to how god awful it is.

    • RakeShark says:

      Indeed, The Witcher 2’s interface/inventory screens were like squeezing between two fat men covered in crisco trying to get the bathroom. You felt dirty for going through that and swear you’d never do it again.

      Skyrim’s UI is more like a new plain-looking stripper that just started working the dance platform and doesn’t dance all that well, and it’s B squad night. You ignore her and drink your beer.

    • TheGameSquid says:

      @Tyrone Slothrop
      What are you talking about? The Morrowind interface was more than fine. It became a bit confusing when had a bunch of useless trinkets in your inventory, but beyond that it was the best interface in a Bethesda game and a pretty solid interface overall. I can’t for the life of me understand how you can choose Skyrim’s over Morrowind’s. Just WATCHING my brother navigate the menu makes me want to cry out in sheer pain!

    • McCool says:

      The UI really is abysmal. It’s the worst I’ve ever seen in a PC RPG, it almost manages to ruin an otherwise excellent game. It’s not only that it is terribly designed, with acres of wasted space, everything hidden behind different clicks in useless submenus and then organised in an alphabetical list written in a font so large hardly any of it fits on the screen (I’m getting a migraine just thinking about it), It’s not just that it is inconsistent, some parts using the keyboard other parts mysteriously not allowing you to (the Skills Menu, I’m looking at you; the only menu in the game where the keyboard would be easier than using the mouse, for switching between skills, and the only part of the menu that doesn’t allow you to use it), It’s that it doesn’t even work. Half the time clicking on something won’t register, and you are forced to resort to the keyboard (which either might not work for this menu or might have completely unexpected consequences). It’s just a hideous mess. It fails in every conceivable way an RPG menu could. You end up so blinded by all the obvious mistakes you forget that the UI isn’t even offering any of the basic information that would be shown in any other RPG. It refuses to do almost anything you’d want from an RPG menu, and what it does attempt to do it fails miserably at.

      Honestly, the person who was responsible for this menu should lose their job. It comes close to ruining the brilliant work by so many hands on this exceptional game. It’s not perfect but in many ways Skyrim is an astounding piece of work. Beth should get on this UI and fix it with an official patch soon, or this game is going to be remembered for some of the wrong reasons.

  5. Sweedums says:

    I’m really not finding the interface and menus an issue…. or maybe its just that I’m enjoying the game far too much to even care

    • starclaws says:

      Ya I am starting to think he was being sarcastic… I really like having everything quickly accessed with the keyboard as tab, e, and r. And I don’t see why anyone would want to change it actually! You can navigate with the keyboard incredibly quickly. The only issue I have seen is certain areas where the mouse has issues selecting the menu option. But that is why you use the keyboard. Tab is the menu button. WASD are the arrow keys and E and R are the two options. You can even scroll the slider with the arrow keys. You can scratch your ass while doing this with your other hand folks. And you don’t have to aim with the mouse!

      The only gripe I have is the simplification of the armor and wear-able system. I want more games where you can choose pauldrons, greaves, cloaks, underwear, thongs, bras, tunics, and whatever else in layers. They need 4 layers in armor and clothing structures. Underwear>Clothing>Armor>Outerwear. And if I want a chainmail thong. I better get the option to craft it in glass.

    • lasikbear says:

      Sometimes I start to think ‘Hey, this interface isn’t really that bad’ and I do really like the way it moves, even if it does move very slowly.

      But then I make a mistake like trying to buy things at a store and not clicking just right, causing it to exit the entire menu.

      Or I try to equip something with the weird left-right reversal that still confuses me.

      Or I want to use a new spell on a hot key so I hit Tab, move to the left, then move the mouse all the way to the right, then scroll a bit, then hit Q then hit tab twice, then hit Q then scroll through a new list, then hit a number.

    • Archonsod says:

      I still don’t get the mouse button thing, I mean to me LMB = primary and RMB = secondary is far more intuitive than having LMB = Left hand. Especially if the character is right handed. Chuck in that it’s virtually identical to the other TES games in that LMB = attack, RMB = Block and I really don’t get the problem. Unless you’re left handed of course, but then I assume a left-handed mouse reverses that anyway.

      As for the interface I like it. The only complaint with regards to effects not being displayed is the blessings (from the gods, not the stones) since it doesn’t actually tell you what effect they have. In fact really the issue there isn’t that I have to dig through the menu to find out, it’s that unlike the stones it doesn’t tell you what effect the blessing will have before you activate it, meaning it’s either a trip to google or a crapshoot on whether what you’re getting is going to be more useful than what you have (exacerbated by the fact there’s only one temple in each town for the main deities except Talos, so if you decide Mara’s blessing isn’t as useful as Kynareth’s you have to trek half way across the map to switch back).

      Not sure why I’d want a Diablo style interface here. Diablo is all about the numbers, TES since Oblivion has deliberately hidden the numbers. My Thieves Guild armour makes me 30% harder to detect, but since there’s no way of knowing how hard you are to detect in the first place, it’s all rather moot. I know it improves my stealth, I can see the effect in game since enemies fail to notice me slightly more often.

    • Saldek says:

      @starclaws: A glass thong sounds like a recipe for disaster – it could turn your warrior into a bit of a glass cannon.

    • etusa says:

      You can think what ever you want to of the UI (behind your pink heart-shaped glasses), but I need to address the mouse issue: dude:
      You have one spell on left hand and another on right hand. You think to your self, I’d really like to cast the spell on my right hand, and click your RMB.


      Thats no where near intuition for me.

      And just for the heck of it, you can’t say the UI is good when mouse clicking works like shit. And you’ll see how shitty the design also is when mods come out :P

    • JackShandy says:

      The crazy thing is that it actually does do this on the xbox. Left trigger is left hand, right trigger is right hand. Why did they change it?

    • ffordesoon says:

      I really like it on console. On PC, it’s, er… hmm.

      I just don’t understand how you make a PC interface that isn’t easily navigable with a mouse. I just don’t get it.

  6. Njordsk says:

    I’m alright with skyrim UI.

    Took me a few hour to get used to the favorites/numbered weapon/tab … but workes alright (read not excellent).

    The map is not that much effective, but it’s okay. My only big problem is the quest log, which doesn’t remind you what this quest is all about, so if you read “go to X” and forgot what it’s all about then sorry for you.

    • Sweedums says:

      “My only big problem is the quest log, which doesn’t remind you what this quest is all about, so if you read “go to X” and forgot what it’s all about then sorry for you.”

      ah yes this is actually something that has bugged me. All the quests in the miscellaneous section seem to have no explanation, just an objective, so i forget what they are even about

    • dix says:

      My other gripe with the quest menu would be, why the hell is it in the system ([esc]) menu? along with game settings and video options?

      That’s something belongs to the character ([tab]) menu, there’s no reason to place it “out of the game”… except that then you’d have five tabs in that menu, and the whole directional thing doesn’t work.

      That’s just lazy design.

    • HothMonster says:

      @dix, i think it is set up that way because it allows you to lay it over the map. Also if it was in the tab menu you would have 5 options which would just confuse people with joysticks :).

    • pauleyc says:


      In this case it would make even more sense to integrate it with the map – you could still benefit from the overlay *and* there’d be only four choices to select from to keep the console brethren happy.

    • Sweedums says:

      erm, you dont have to press esc to access the quests, you press J, and if you are looking at the map and press J, it comes up over it too.

  7. The Sombrero Kid says:

    OMFG YES! Bethesda have outdone themselves with totally fucking up the UI even more royally than ever before, just aswell it’s an amazing game despite the UI.

  8. Dr. Heldenveldenstetzenberger says:

    Speaking of xbox controllers and the lark, apparently turning off xbox controller support in the options menu, increasing performance ever so placebo-y slightly, and apparently making it easier to use the moose to select things.

    Then again, the internet may be full of shit.

    • TillEulenspiegel says:

      No, I’ve tried that and the mouse is still terrible. Especially for dialogue, it’s an unmitigated disaster.

      Stick to the keyboard. It’s the only way to maintain sanity.

    • gwathdring says:

      Ah. Perhaps, as per his suggestion, you’re not using the right animal. Mine’s coming in on order today … I hope it will fit in the dorm room. He did warn that the Internet can be full of it, but I’m willing to give it a try.

  9. thegooseking says:

    Even when played with gamepad, as it is surely meant to be, the back end UI of Skyrim is a horrible clonky mess.

    I said it on the forum, and I’ll say it here. The interface looks thoroughly as if it were designed for touchscreens. Is this the future? Instead of complaining about things being “obviously designed for console”, we’ll start complaining about them being “obviously designed for iPad” even if they aren’t even released on the iPad?

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I think you are absolutely correct. Apple’s approach to interfaces has so thoroughly infused our culture that it’s now wormed its way into software where it doesn’t really belong. Their shareholders must be pleased.

  10. nutterguy says:

    It is that bad. Its terrible. But its ok the modders will clean up the mess I am sure…

    • lunarplasma says:

      Modders will mod the UI in any case.

      The point is that the UI should be good from vanilla, and modding should just cater to people with different tastes in interface.

  11. MrMud says:

    Also: if you rebind your keys you are screwed.
    Changing keys wont change their tooltips in menus. Want to know what button to press to create an item at the smith? You have to guess!

    Even worse, some actions can not be rebound and when you bind another key to the button that used to perform this action, you are no longer able to perform it, ever…
    Case in point, I tried to rebind use to R as this is my standard for every game i ever play. This means that I can no longer rest or drop things into containers because both those actions can not be rebound and can not be performed when use has been bound to R.

    • ajoh198 says:

      Totally agree, and let’s not forget if you rebind the key for use you have to reset them all to the default settings to pick up a book – seriously did anyone test it? Or is everyone at Bethesda forced to use the exact same keyboard settings?

    • Gnoupi says:

      To compare, I was playing King Arthur’s Gold yesterday, trying the tutorial. I went to rebind keys during the tutorial when I realized I had the usual azerty issue (we poor chaps need zqsd instead of wasd).

      And when exiting the pause menu, the tutorial tooltip which was telling me the keys to move was already updated with the new keys.

      That’s this kind of detail which shows professionalism in your game. And you find it in a game made by one person, and not in the AAA title. Go figure.

    • dog says:

      yeah, i’m a lefty so i always rebind my keys to the right of the keyboard…. so i can activate items with ‘[‘ but have to click ‘r’ (the default) to close it again…. very sloppily integrated….. and obviously not tested at all…

    • Highstorm says:

      I literally lost minutes of my life as I went about tapping every key on the keyboard trying to figure out how to craft something. In the end I had to reset to defaults to check the key and ultimately had to leave R bound to the default function. Grrr…

      In addition, the map scrolling fails to realize my ESDF movement bindings and insists that I use WASD to pan around.

      It’s a good thing the game is so (so, so) good ’cause this stuff usually turns me right off.

    • Hallgrim says:

      @ajoh198: I ended up rebinding the key that is used to reset the keys to defaults! I shit you not, on like minute 5 I open a chest and can’t figure out how to close it, and find out I can’t reset the keybinds to default because I used ‘T’ for something. Luckily I had a gamepad so I could figure out which obscurely named button exits out from the looting interface.

  12. SupaDave says:

    I have clocked in nearly a full 24 hours on Skyrim and i really don’t mind the inventory menus, while i may be alone i don’t want to see ever little thing i have at anyone point since you end up with loads of crap in your inventory. They could use some improving but i never had any problems with my mouse being inaccurate. I do agree that your current diseases and other things should be in a more common place then the magic section since i mostly use just the favorites screen anyways. The map i like but i do wish to zoom out more. As for the skill tree’s they really aren’t that bad, like ya it’s aimed at more of a console control scheme but i still enjoy going through the stars looking at the different perks i could get.

  13. kyrieee says:

    The inventory is really quite bad. It’s a shame when you have to constantly wrestle with the UI. Why can’t I sort by weight, by price? Why can’t I get a list of just the items I have equipped? I also think it’s really weird how the inventory is on the left side of the screen, but when you press tab the option to open it is on the right side, same thing with the magic but opposite. It’s very counter intuitive; I think “left side” when I think inventory so I often open the wrong menu by mistake.

    Oh yeah and the mouse, it doesn’t work half of the time. Try clicking on a dialogue option and more often than not your character will say something else. And WHY does the vertical mouse sensitivity depend on frame rate??

  14. Dariune says:

    I find the Skyrim UI really bad.

    The fact that levelling up is only two steps away from being pointless due to so much being stripped down is a pain, but the UI makes me cringe everytime i need to interact with my character.

    Equipping my character is the worst thing IMO, choosing what spells im going to be using next, even with the Favorites menu the second worse. But i reckon the whole UI is a complete mess.

    Although designed solely for consoles with absolutely no thought (not even an after thought) put into PC’s i cant imagien the console players are finding the UI much better for them either.

    Having said that, Bethesda have syrpassed them selves with the world, characters and storyline. Just need to work on not dumbing down the leveling and making a better UI.

    • Eolirin says:

      Playing with a pad (on the PC) works pretty decently, so I think it’s mostly fine on the consoles. The set up with mouse and keyboard is *awful* though, yeah. To the point that I stopped playing the game with the mouse and the keyboard despite finding that more comfortable for everything else. Playing with a pad isn’t annoying enough to be a problem, but trying to use the menus with a mouse *is*.

      The UI works with a gamepad. Many of the weaknesses and what the fuck moments from a mouse/keyboard perspective suddenly make sense from a pad perspective. List versus grid for example: when you can easily point and click on an item, grid layout makes a lot more sense. But when your primary control method involves clunky thumbsticks, being able to use a pressure sensitive analog control to flip through a list works a lot better. Trying to select something on a grid is a lot harder than holding a stick down for 2 seconds. And all of the interface menus are clearly stick centric; you can quickly move around anywhere you want just by holding the stick in various directions for a second or two. This is a lot cleaner than trying to move a pointer around; the precision really isn’t there for it. It also removes unnecessary button presses by just letting you hold directions, but that doesn’t really feel right with a keyboard. So it really is a very good interface for gamepads. Too good of one in fact; it’s designed so much around how a gamepad functions that it works on nothing else.

  15. BurningPet says:

    It is horrible! and the fact that this is Scaleform only means that a quality mod fix will only come rather late.

  16. Nim says:

    Thank you for bringing this topic up. Thank you.

    • Network Crayon says:

      Yeah i second that, cant wait for a good mod.

      I actually love the design asthetic, but its totally un-useful.

      I dont like having to go into the menu to swap between a bow and a melee weapon, (i dont even know if i can quick set them). I also dont like that theres no real character status screen, I’ve ended up a vampire because the first time i got any information about having contracted the disease were when the words “you are a vampire now!” appeared… (Maybe i’ve missed a page or tab somewhere but even if i have thats the designs fault more than mine)

      People kept telling me I looked ill…

      Update: Ah Thank you!, Hardly straight forward though.

    • MrMud says:

      Use the number keys while hovering on a spell/item/whatever in the favourites popup

    • Quine says:

      Yes it’s unfortunate the numbered hotkeys weren’t mentioned in any of the tutorial popups. It does actually mention it in the sparse manual, but how many people, especially on Steam, have even looked at it?

    • Network Crayon says:

      …. There’s a manual?

    • Quine says:

      There is indeed. Steam users can right click on the game in the list and View Manual in PDF format.

      It’s not especially big or clever, though.

    • Nim says:

      I can map objects in the favorite menu to numbers? Thanks for the tip.

      Also, no FoV or mouse-smoothing settings in the in-game menu. Additionally my horisontal mouse sensitivity was set to roughly three times more than my vertical mouse sensitivity?! Only one CTD so far though.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I’ve been playing as a straight-up mage, and I absolutely love the combo of Favorites and hotkeys. By default, spells are equipped to the left hand (right mouse, which takes some getting used to), but pressing the hotkey twice will put the spell in both hands. It’s slightly odd to get used to, but since I figured it out I’ve been enjoying a very fun, fast-paced experience where I’m constantly swapping out spell combos, or pulling out a staff in one hand and a healing spell in the other (almost like invincibility mode if you invest in Restoration sufficiently). My eight hotkeys are for the things I use the most, while the Favorites menu is for those useful-but-not-really-important-enough-for-a-hotkey items. It’s kind of like V.A.T.S., but more versatile.

  17. Jams O'Donnell says:

    Though working with your inventory or skills is a pain with this UI, the thing I find most annoying is that the game will often decide that I meant to choose a conversation topic other than the one that I just clicked on.

  18. p0sitron says:

    No one has mentioned the ridiculous left-hand/right-hand mixup? Not only do you fire with your left hand on a right click and vice versa, if you swap the mouse buttons in the menu (Which is a nightmare as it is. Go on, try and set a button to left click), that change is not applied in the menu!

    And what’s worse is, I can’t unequip spells in my character’s right hand, without equipping a weapon to that hand, and unequipping. As a mage character, you can imagine how annoying that is.

    • malkav11 says:

      I dunno about the former, but that last thing you mention is almost certainly a bug. I’ve never had any problems unequipping spells.

    • briktal says:

      If you assign a hotkey to a weapon, if you press it once you equip the weapon and if you press it again you unequip the weapon. With magic, pressing the button again doesn’t unequip the magic (it dual wields the magic I think).

    • simonh says:

      I had an awful time until I discovered the old hotkey system still worked.

      In the favourites menu, just hover over an item and press a number key. Then you can switch spells and weapons easily. To dual-cast, just press the spell’s key twice. To put one spell in the right hand and another in the left hand, press the first spell’s key twice, then the second spell’s key once.

    • aircool says:

      You’ve got to admit though, running around after women with your two flaming, outstretched hands, is highly amusing.

      And why do NPC’s insist on talking over each other, especially when they’re so quiet.

      Ace game though.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      Yeah, it’s weird. However, I do kind of see how they arrived at it. For a PC gamer, the left mouse button is usually the primary button–the one used when you want to execute very specific actions–while the right is the secondary button–used for specific shortcuts, but not your most important interactive tool. If their going to treat one hand as being dominant–in this case, the right hand–then the dilemma crops up. Also, with hotkeys, it’s basically mandatory that there be specific rules about which hand an item goes to so that the player knows how the equipment change will manifest. Not saying that there weren’t better solutions, but I can’t think of any and I’m more sympathetic to this design choice than some of the others.

    • Metonymy says:

      I had to bust out my higher brain functions to swap left and right mouse.

      Assign random key to moveleft, swap that key with what mouse2 is bound to, click mouse2 on what mouse1 is bound to, and then click mouse2 again where i want it, then click the random key to where I want mouse1 bound to, then click the random key back on moveleft, then fix moveleft.

      Or at least, I think it works like that. The entire experience left me somewhat tired.

      But now I still have to assign weapons with left, and spells with right, even though they are activated by the correct buttons.

    • malkav11 says:

      Oh, hotkeys. I haven’t been using those, so I didn’t run into that problem. If you go to the menu to swap around spells, clicking once assigns a spell to that hand, clicking again unassigns it.

  19. sneetch says:

    It’s a stupid, clunky system that I’m now getting the hang of it but it should be better, a bit like a bad version of the (not terribly good) Fable II menu system.

    The “press Tab to exit” thing was fantastically unintuitive but perhaps I missed the “press Tab to exit” tutorial, regardless I spent some frustrating time while trying to “get out” of the first corpse (oo-er) hitting random keys, none of which seemed to work then doing a google search.

    Despite that I’m eagerly awaiting the chance to play the game again.

    Edit: the hotkeys are also somewhat confusing.

    Edit: and another thing, can you see your racial bonuses somewhere? I can’t remember what my dunmer gets.

    • TheLordMoosey says:

      As a fellow Dunmer, I can tell you that you get a 50% resistance to fire and some sort of racial spell that sets everyone around you on fire. It’s quite handy against trolls, I’ve found.

    • Nim says:

      It’s very handy with big melee groups too.

    • dix says:

      On the “Magic” tab, there’s an “active effects” item that lists racial bonuses, along with active spells, blessings and illnessess. Found it by chance :P

    • Zenicetus says:

      I actually like pressing Tab to exit a menu, because it can be done without taking my hand away from the WASD home keys. I think that was the point of the design, but of course they should have enabled Esc too.

      I’ve gotten used to mostly ignoring the mouse in the menus, and using that “up/down, then expand to the right” format with keys. There are still frustrations though; like what a pain it is to compare stats of inventory or store items with what you have equipped. That was a problem in Fallout 3 too. Whoever is in charge of UI design for these games just loves scrolling lists, and can’t seem to think outside that box, or learn from other game designs.

      One other thing… the star constellation screen for perks looks like it was designed for widescreen displays, which is frustrating when you’re trying to navigate the “stars” on a 4:3 monitor and can’t directly click on a star that’s out of view to the left or right. At least they do support that aspect ratio for the main game screen, which is more than Witcher 2 did on launch. Although, just about everything except the map was a much better UI design in Witcher 2.

    • sneetch says:


      Thanks for that, I’ll try to remember that if I’m unfortunate enough to run afoul of some trolls. Although if I do run into some trolls they’ll need to be pretty nippy to catch me! ;)


      Yeah, I’ve pretty much given up on the mouse too, I “drive” my way around using the WASD cluster; that’s one of the things I found wierd was that you can go through the UI’s levels using A and D but you can’t exit using A if you’re in the left-most level of the UI. That would be logical to me, to back all the way out of looting or whatever using A. D goes “in” A goes “out” but only so far. Wierd.

  20. WMain00 says:

    What I don’t understand is why they didn’t just revert back to Morrowind’s style of UI, or something akin to Deus Ex Human Revolution’s. Hell, even making something a bit like WoW’s UI (without the action bar obviously) would be welcomed.

    • Stevostin says:

      A lot of PC user would agree with you, but not me. Morrowind UI looked like an OS. The last thing I want when trying to immerse in a fantasy world is of the computer it’s running on. Let’s get practical : an OS explorer is already a very well optimised solution about managing, ordering and finding elements and a RPG UI aiming at efficiency has either to invent en new wheel or look like an OS. But I am behind Bethesda on this : immersion > inventory management efficiency, at least up to a certain point.

    • simonh says:

      The Morrowind UI was nice in that you could see everything at the same time. Since you’re sitting close to your monitor, text doesn’t have to be huge to read it. It had one big problem though: you had to hover over every item to see what it did. It’s wasn’t very fun when you had 20 different potions that all looked the same.

      Looking at Bethesda’s previous UIs, I think the best would be to take most of Morrowind’s interface, but use Oblivion’s item list which had key info like name, value, weight and damage immediately visible for easy comparison, and allowed you to sort items by different criteria.

    • StingingVelvet says:

      I would take Skyrim’s UI over the Morrowind AI every day and twice on Sunday. Morrowind was clunky, slow and immersion breaking. Skyrim’s UI is fast.

    • Pointless Puppies says:


      I take it you hate Skyrim’s UI then? Not because it looks like an OS, but because it doesn’t at all look like anything even remotely related to “fantasy”. Futuristic curvy fonts and copious use of plain, semi-transparent grey does not a fantasy UI make. That’s about as jarring to the “immersiveness” as it gets. At least Morrowind’s UI had a fantasy-esque color scheme.

    • JackShandy says:

      Would making the UI into some kind of wooden contraption that swings down over the screen really be more immersive? I mean, this menu doesn’t exist in the game world. The character does not allocate his stats like this. When you go into a menu you really are taking yourself out of the game.

  21. Richeh says:

    I’m going to post this and get the fuck out of here before you can all find your pitchforks.

    I’m playing it on XBox and the menu system’s great. Oblivion and Fallout’s subtab system was an atrocity when accessed through a gamepad. This is much, much much better.

    I’m going to start running now.

    • Dariune says:

      No need to run.

      It was designed for the XBox and thats not your fault.

      If any thing, thank god at least one of the platforms has got a UI which suits it :)

    • DeathBunny says:

      Well it might work great on the Console, but not on the PC.

    • JFS says:

      It’s okay on the PS3 just as well. Much better than Oblivion and Fallout. The map, though, the map sucks ass. I didn’t need it that much until now, and I hope I won’t, because I shall not be able to find anything. Zooming is a joke, the angle is strange.
      The skill menu is also somewhat unintuitive and not very practical. It’s beautiful, though. I mean, looking up at the stars for your skill horoscope… it’s cool, as is the subtle zoom-out effect when you open the map. I think those Bethesda folks had great ideas, but they thought of them so highly that they didn’t want to sacrifice them.

  22. malkav11 says:

    I dunno, I think it’s a significant improvement over the Oblivion UI and only the mouse inaccuracy thing (which is indeed frustrating) has felt out of place on a PC. There’s certainly no call to go running off to a gamepad. (Well, okay, I also felt it was incredibly unintuitive to assign left hand to RMB and vice versa. But that’s easily rebound.) Now, yes, the constellation thing is kinda dumb, and the full 3D renders of items in inventory is unnecessary most of the time and takes the place of more useful data, but that’s true on consoles as well and is something that I’d pegged as being an issue the moment they started talking about it.

    • asshibbitty says:

      I’ve successfully blocked out most of Oblivion, but I don’t think it had looped horizontally scrolling lists and multi-level nested menus that don’t even fit on the screen. IDK what else they could’ve put in there to make it more offensive. Widgets?

  23. SurprisedMan says:

    I can see how this would be annoying on a mouse. Totally get that. They should have tweaked it to work well with a mouse/keyboard combo.

    But having played with the pad from the start, I have to say that I’ve been really impressed with what they did. I’ve never felt lost in the menus, the favourites system makes everything so much easier, and as for the perk screen… I honestly don’t see the problem. Generally you’re only going in there to level up, you don’t really need that information, otherwise, and you’re only making one decision: where to place your next perk point. I thought it was pretty quick to navigate for that purpose (especially since this is a menu I’ll be using infrequently… I think I’ve been in there once per hour, on average, and that time is getting longer as I play.)

    The map… it would be quite nice to be able to zoom out and get more of a schematic view, but I can’t say that I’ve honestly ever been confused by it. I think the clouds are obscuring areas that you haven’t visited yet, possibly. Which makes sense.

    So yup. Bad Bethesda for not working on the PC controls for this enough, but as a gamepad-y type person, I’ve honestly been nothing but relieved about the UI implementation in this game.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Using a gamepad solves some problems, but it doesn’t do anything for the structural flaws, like not being able to compare gear stats. That’s basic functionality for any loot-collecting RPG, and they ignored it completely.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      I don’t think there’s any kind of indicator if you’re picking something off the ground–and maybe not from chests either, I don’t know–there is a damage indicator within the inventory itself, near the bottom. It’s green if the piece of equipment would increase your armor/damage and red if it decreases it.

    • Zenicetus says:

      Right, I just discovered the plus and minus sign indicator at the bottom. So they didn’t ignore it completely. But it’s still a half-assed implementation. It treats two bows with the same base damage rating as equivalent, even if they both have different magic enhancements. So you still have to manually flip back and forth to compare them, trying to remember what the descriptions are, because you only see one item at a time. Ugh.

      The UI elements like that plus-minus sign indicator feel like something that was designed for a much simpler game. Not that this is an especially complex game of its type. It’s really dumbed-down compared to a traditional D&D title. But the UI is even dumber, because it doesn’t clearly show what’s actually in the game, like comparing enhancements or showing speed stats for weapons.

      Edited to add: I guess it doesn’t really need speed stats, because weapons don’t vary in speed within their type (I think?). Just between types like daggers vs. single-handed swords. So, scratch that. But I still dislike not being able to compare objects more easily.

  24. Stevostin says:

    All of that sure is true but I don’t remember the same complaint about The Witcher 2 UI, which was (IMO) even more complex and cryptic and badly documented (but better for mouse and PC resolution, ok).

    • Andy_Panthro says:

      I share your hate for the Witcher 2 UI. It’s downright awful, in my opinion. I just can’t get used to it (and i’ve tried using a 360 controller instead, but that still feels wrong, just in different ways).

  25. cmi says:

    “I want to find what the fuck is going on with my dude! Why are people saying I look like I have the plague? Look under magic -> active affects. Oh, of course. Lucky you bothered to put it in there. I MIGHT NEVER HAVE FOUND IT WITHOUT GOOGLING THE RESULT…. OH.”

    ha! i didn’t have to google it! i found it by myself – by accident.

    i’m totally with you. the ui is one of the most shitty ui’s i’ve ever seen. and as you, this is (after FO:NV) the first bethesda game i actually enjoy. i mean: years ago, when morrowind came out, i went to local retail store and bought it. never finished it though – was so pissed of by the superstrong bandits/whatever in caves/dungeons when the actual wilderness was very, very easy (and empty). skyrim may (and probably will) be the first TES games i will actually finish i guess.

    i’m playing with gamepad (on pc) myself and it’s okish, but what i hate with a passion is this:

    you fight one of these fights were 1001 mob is hitting you, you go low on health pretty quick. then… you press (b), scroll to potions, switch to submenu, scroll through the potions, press (a) several times until your health is full, leave menu again and continue fighting. hooray.

    (p.s.: i’m glad i decided to play a axe + shield wielding warrior instead of a mage which have to switch spells like THIS)

    • reticulate says:

      You can favourite potions, just like swords or whatever.

  26. The Sombrero Kid says:


    The sun went down in my game & it said “you have a thirst” or something, so i reckon i’m infected with vamparism, but i couldn’t find a way to check, thanks for that man, also numbering the favorites is never described anywhere – almost certainly because you can’t on consoles and that’s clearly where the UI development effort went (understandably cause they’ve only got like 2 buttons to control this amazingly complex game)

    • Prime says:

      “also numbering the favorites is never described anywhere – almost certainly because you can’t on consoles and that’s clearly where the UI development effort went (understandably cause they’ve only got like 2 buttons to control this amazingly complex game)”

      I was about to snark at you for not Reading The Farking Manual (pg 7) but we really have become dependent on games explaining themselves to us, haven’t we? I learned about numbering the favourites through RPS comments.

      I found the diseases thing odd, too. The game did nothing to tell me I had it – I only noticed when an NPC commented. So now I don’t know how I got it or what to avoid. Frustrating.

    • Premium User Badge

      Bluerps says:

      Actually it does tell you. You get a message “you have contracted whatever”. Of course, that meassage is not terribly large and easily overlooked.

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      Yes, and that message usually appears during battle. Remembering and checking later is essential.

    • Quine says:

      While I approve of their attempts to hide all the numbers, I do sometimes wish there was a combat log to see what actually went down.

      I also really wish there was a ‘shot difficulty’ score like in Mount & Blade for when you pull off an unlikely instant kill at long range.

    • Drinking with Skeletons says:

      The way diseases are handled is no different than in Oblivion, to include where to find the information regarding the disease’s effect(s). In fact, it’s easier to spot the negative effects as they now appear in vivid red letters. As an Argonian, I found the resist disease effect more obvious than in Oblivion, as a brief magical effect occurs when a disease is resisted.

    • Matt_W says:

      Become a werewolf, then you don’t have to worry about it. Werewolves are 100% resistant to all diseases:)

  27. Lars Westergren says:

    I’m really annoyed that when there are more than 3 dialogue choices, mouse wheel scrolling down and mouse clicking on the last one more often than not selects the first one, which is very tedious if option one results in long exposition. Instead you have to use the WASD keys to scroll down.
    It’s like that bloody owl in Zelda.

    And the star constellations when leveling up… don’t you dare mouse click on skill to select it! WASD to move around, and Enter to select only.

    And if you are a magic user, having a “favourites” menu which is just about as long as you inventory…
    I would have liked to have “wielding sets” that could be toggled with the mouse scrollwheel. So I could have for instance
    Set one: Protection spell/activate dragonskin
    Set two: fireball/heal
    Set three: soultrap/summon

    By the way, is there any key to drag items around and rotate them so you can place items nicely in your home instead of just tossing them on the floor? There was one in Fallout: NV but I can’t seem to find it here.

    • pacificator says:

      You can move things around by holding the E key longer than usual. But i guess that this works only for dead bodies…I did not try it on “things” yet.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      except if your mouse is hovering over the option you wanted, pressing the arrow keys moves another option under it & pressing enter will make it select the option the mouse is over rather than the one selected by the arrow keys – so you end up scrolling the options trying to hover over it to select it – failing that use the arrow keys – realise the mouse has hover selected the wrong option so don’t press enter & instead have to go back to the mouse to select the option again – but it doesn’t work so you move the mouse away and use the keys and enter to select the correct option!

    • Lack_26 says:

      Holding down E works for items as well, although you’re still left with using table edges to rotate items (unless there is a key that does it that I’ve missed).

  28. Mormacil says:

    I want my grid inventory, loved that in Morrowind and modded Oblivion. Modding the UI will be hard, they changed from an accesible XML system to Flash, yes try to edit a flashfile…

  29. Commander Gun says:

    Out of curiosity, but this makes me think about something which i’m thinking about for some time (ehm, ok…).
    What about developpers make a game, publish the almost finished product for reviews to sites such as RPS, LET THEM GIVE INITIAL FEEDBACK, fix the (worst/most obvious) problems, and then release the game for real?
    I mean, lots of sites and players seem to agree the interface is horrible, so they would have proper warning that they need to fix it.
    Or, as an alternative, can a site such as RPS ask, as a matter of journalism, what the publisher thinks about their complaints? Maybe they actually thought about it and choose to do it this way for a reason (can’t think about anything, but who knows). Would be interesting to read that :)

    Ok, i probably realize these ideas are quite naieve, but just wondering.

    • The Sombrero Kid says:

      Ex-Journalists already command quite a hefty fee to do this for them – i’m sure it’s obvious why current journalists would see it as a conflict of interests to do it.

  30. epoc923 says:

    I tend to agree with what you say about the interface, its very minimal but at the cost of telling you really important things you need to know or that would make finding thngs easy and quick. For example i would love to be able to sort my items by cost or weight, or be able to organize my potions from my poisions (at a basic level, it would be even better to split the health potions up as well).

    Out of everything in the game, its the UI is what im really waiting for the modders to get there teeth into.

    I do like the navigation through the menus however and while the map is a little hard to read terrain wise, it still works for getting you from point A to B to dragon (imo ofc).

    • AmateurScience says:

      ^This^ sorting items by weight/value would be really useful – working out what to dump when you’re overencumbered would be a lot easier.

      It’s very much style over substance with the current UI. I do hope they fix it soon.

  31. clockwerkgoblin says:

    I’m checking twice a day for some early mods for that ui, nothing so far. First mod ever? Guess what. Nude females.

  32. alundra says:

    Really??? Actilizzard puts more PC care to their games?? after they’ve stated that Diablo 3 feels better with a gamepad?? Really???

    I don’t intend to defend bethesda, but skyrim feels like an improvement over the preceding games, deeper than oblivion and more stable than fallout 3, are we really going cling to to the shortcomings of it’s gui?? even when the ability to mod is there and the first mod for it will be out in a few months??

    Have we become that lazy that we no longer want to get around a learning curve?

    What you need to keep in perspective is Oblivion as a finished and modded product, not some other cash cow company that is only intending to milk from their customers every bit of cash they can.

    • pacificator says:

      Nope. In this case there is no learning curve. There is only getting used to the shittiness… I absolutely love this game, and i am a fan of the series, but let’s be honest. The interface is a horrific abomination FROM HELL.

  33. AMonkey says:

    When Bethesda were talking about how they were using Apple as a inspiration for UI I just facepalmed. This is the result, probably the worst RPG interface on PC in the last few years.

    • Stevostin says:

      I’d agree Bioware’s UI are better (but also deal with way less items). But certainly not the Witcher’s one, or Gothic’s one… etc.

    • InternetBatman says:

      Gothic’s was amazing once you got used to it. The major problem people had with it stemmed from the lack of explanation in game. If the developers had told people “hey, this is a keyboard game, not a mouse and keyboard game” or “this is how you select everything, and how you pick up things quickly” there wouldn’t have been so many problems.

  34. Surgeon says:

    Basically, the whole UI/controls combo is just a complete mess.

    I must have spent the first couple of hours trying to get the controls mapped properly, whilst trying to work out how the frig the UI actually worked.
    Or rather didn’t work, as it has a couple of really annoying problems.

    You can’t map specific things to do with the UI, ie, exiting the menu or conversations away from Tab.
    Even if I mapped my G13 to use Tab it wouldn’t work.

    The key it labels to drop items isn’t the key that works.

    I can’t seem to invoke a menu with one key, and then hide it again using the same key.

    After trying some new key binds, I actually ended up in the inventory at the screen where you can rotate an object, without being able to exit. I had to end the process and start again with new key maps.

    Clicking on the menu option to exit a conversation initiates the conversation option that you’ve got highlighted. Pressing tab is OK though.

    I had Brain Rot for a good few hours before I realised, and only by randonly browsing that area of the UI.
    Thanks for not telling me when I contracted it.

  35. AmateurScience says:

    The ‘active effects’ thing being buried is a bit annoying. But then you could argue that finding out you’re diseased by someone telling you that you look a bit peaky is kinda RP.

    But then you have to go and double check every time you try a new temple blessing because there’s no way of knowing what blessing you just asked for.

    Re: working out upgrades. It *does* tell you which items are the ‘best’ for a given slot, and lets you know the difference between something highlighted and what you have equipped. HOWEVER there’s no info on weapon speed despite loading screen tooltips telling you that a dagger might to more damage than a big ‘ol mace because it;s faster: thus irritating me.

    The map I actually really like, apart from I can’t click and drag it to move the viewpoint.

    Also this whole “L’ and ‘R’ thing where it’s the hand you’ve got the thing equipped in not the mouse button it’s bound to. Very confusing.

    Hopefully there will be an improvement soon. I imagine it’s an easier system to tweak than (eg) Fallout 3’s as it’s a true overlay rather than something nested within an object in the game world.

    Also: I have many keys with numbers on: please let me bind my orcish dagger of tricksy sneakiness to one of them. Please.

    • TheLordMoosey says:

      You can indeed hotkey that orcish dagger; put the dagger into your favourites, then when in the favourites menu, press a number key. Never really explained in game, but I guess they expected people to read the manual…

    • sneetch says:


      That’s a fair enough comment, I’ve been lamenting the lack of a useful manual in PC games for so long that I don’t bother reading them anymore. So used to PC games having “standard” or “logical” UIs I suppose that this one has thrown me.

  36. tinyGolem says:

    why is it when you have that 4 point thing to chose between Magic, Items, Map and “your lucky stars” that when you chose magic, which is on the left, that a menu opens on the right but when you go for Items, which is on the right, the choices are on the left ? *sigh*

    Still the game is awesome :)

    • 3lbFlax says:

      That one does actually work for me, because you push left and the menu slides in ‘leftward’ (forgiveness, please). It’s like swiping a touchscreen. Having said that, I can think of many, many better ways of doing it. But it doesn’t annoy me. What DOES annoy me is the Xbox (forgiveness, please) randomly seeming to freeze when the menu is brought up, while it autosaves. Sometimes there’s no pause at all, and other times there’s a long, unresponsive pause, and it’s highly annoying because you’re opening that menu an awful lot (because it’s either open the menu or do battle with the favourites menu).

  37. Prime says:

    I really really really really really really really really really really really really love this game, to little bits. I don’t want to speak harshly of it, not when it’s being so bloody amazing for me. It feels disloyal.

    BUT…you are correct, Mr Rossignol. The UI is a thing of wretched horribleness even when I’m finding myself enchanted by the constellations and their tinkly celestial sounds pf wonderment. Morrowind’s UI wasn’t perfect but by all the Daedra gods, and The Nine, it presented information quickly and without being overly fussy.

    Also: I’m STILL getting my left and right mouse buttons confused when selecting and activating spells, too. That guy, the guy who decided this was alright for the game, needs his testicles cut off, re-attached, then dissolved off again with acid. Dr Prime will happily volunteer to perform this little ball-ectomy.

  38. Prime says:

    [Double Post Redacted]

    I think I’ll write something nice in here about kittens. This thread is going to fill up quickly with lots of annoyed people, so they need something to keep them calm and smiling.

  39. quaunaut says:

    Most of your complaints, I totally agree with.

    However, as to the Star Constellation: The only part about it that sucks is that once you’re zoomed in on a specific tree, it won’t just let you see the overall tree. But the whole carousel of constellations thing? It’s badass. It’s got its feelings built right in- your destiny is etched into the stars. It even shows the same constellations lit up when you’re not in the menu, in the game world’s night sky.

    Just wanted to be sure and put this one out there- it’s a brilliant idea that while not executed perfectly, got really far and even included some roleplaying elements in it. I like it. Now, anything to do with items? Fuck that shit, wtf Bethesda?

    • haowan says:

      Yes but navigating amonst those stars with the mouse is totally random. Where you do click to go over to a different branch? What will happen if I click here, or over there? There is no indication. Sometimes it will go up, down or back. There are no rules. It is chaos, like unto the chaos of the stars and nebulae themselves.

    • etusa says:

      I also find it pretty easy to navigate the perks, though sure it sometimes doesn’t go to the wanted perk when navigating by mouse. Not saying its the best, but its smallest of the problems in my opinion. If I was to complain about the perks, I’d say there is not enough “cool” or “fun” perks. As someone said here, leveling up is not far from useless. They should have gotten a bit more creative with the skills and perks and spells. I love the game still!

  40. Squirrelfanatic says:

    I wonder how much of this actually can be changed through mods and how long it will take the fan scene to create such improvements with a certain level of quality (i.e. an UI mod that looks good an is serviceable). Seeing that Bethesda’s previous games have in major parts been improved not by the developers themselves (in substantial ways) but by crafty fans one shouldn’t have high hopes for amazing changes via patches.

    At the very least, things like this make it a bit easier for me to wait for the price to drop a bit lower.

  41. Someblokius says:

    I was expecting the UI on Skyrim to be gamepad-contered, but as you rightly point out its flaws are much bigger than that. Skyrim reminds me of one of those fancy active content type websites that hide stuff you actually want to know behind layer after layer of pointless bells and whistles out of fear of looking dated. Purely on UI the TES games are going the wrong way – Morrowind’s UI was great, let’s have that back.
    If there wasn’t a fantastic game in there I wouldn’t be nearly as annoyed. Let’s hope the modders do as good a job as they did on Oblivion’s UI. I imagine that it’ll be a non-trivial amount of work though.

    • snv says:

      The deeply layered interface is not a different thing as the gamepad centered design. It is a direct result of a gamepads limits

  42. Jacques says:

    How the hell did the UI get past Q&A? Maybe they didn’t bother to test with a mouse and keyboard, it’s a terrible broken mess, particularly when you’re using the mouse. It’s just about usable with keyboard.

    • Fox89 says:

      It’ll be infuriating to the QA guys as well, I guarantee it. Stuff like this will have been reported, and it all would have come back “Wont Fix” or, bewilderingly, “By Design”. The majority of bugs and badly optimized interface issues we’re all finding now is stuff that Bethesda have probably known about for months but didn’t have the time to fix.

      I expect some of the issues like precision problems with the mouse will be fixed in a patch, although they wont fix the design.

    • Jacques says:

      Hopefully. I’ve had weird stuff happen when navigating with the mouse, like closing the shop window when clicking on an item to try sell it.

    • snv says:

      Thats what we got for letting that design-for-console-first thing get out of hand, should have culled the herd. And you gamepad users are traitors!

  43. haowan says:

    I keep selecting the wrong fscking conversation message (or failing to realise that more invisible options exist hidden below the bottom of the tiny conversation options window which takes up about a fifth of the available space and that I had to scroll in order to see them).

  44. reticulate says:

    It’s very obviously designed for consoles, and I have no doubt it will be modded into something better.

    That said, my issue isn’t so much with the interface itself but rather that they do a pretty terrible job of explaining it to you. I went ages not knowing what the little up arrows meant next to certain items. Or that you can compare armour by looking at your Defense stat at the bottom of the screen, and same for the Attack stat when you’re comparing weapons.

    And yeah, totally didn’t figure out Active Powers for a good while there.

    A lot of the information is actually available, just not apparent or well explained. And bugger me if I know what even half of those compass icons are supposed to represent.

    Edit: Also, it needs Sort By Weight and categories for your chests. These things are not badly explained, just missing altogether.

    • haowan says:

      What DO the little up arrows mean?

    • reticulate says:

      It means they’re the best for a given class of weapon or armour.

      So if you’ve got a couple of daggers, and one has the arrow, it means that’s the best one.

    • haowan says:

      Right I suspected that but wasn’t sure. Thanks much!

    • reticulate says:

      No worries.

      I’m starting to think the complete lack of information regarding a bunch of UI elements is a cynical ploy to sell a relatively pricey official game guide.

    • aircool says:

      So how do I find out which armour is best for my wizzid? Is it really acceptable to be tramping around in robes, hood and Dwarven Platemail Boots?

      It’s a testament to the excellence of the game that we put up with such a moose of an interface, crosstalking NPC’s and RANDOM sound levels.

    • psyk says:

      “I’m starting to think the complete lack of information regarding a bunch of UI elements is a cynical ploy to sell a relatively pricey official game guide.”

      I’m thinking it’s a good way to show how gamers have devolved over the years to the point they now can’t work out simple things and need a tooltip to explain it to them.

  45. Starayo says:

    I rather like the constellations, if only they were easier to navigate. I don’t want to swap to the other one, I want that perk off in the corner that’s awkward to go to. Did you know when you activate a perk its star lights up in the night sky? You can light the constellations themselves.

    The rest of the UI is shite, though. Especially chests. Why does my home chest not have any categories?! It’s useless for storing things! I can’t wait for the modding kit to come out so I can remove the weights of ingredients and misc items so I don’t have to deal with the horrific inventory management.

    • Fox89 says:

      I didn’t know that!! That’s so cool!

    • Jim Rossignol says:

      That is pretty cool.

      Skyrim does have the best skies ever.

    • Lev Astov says:

      I agree. I like the carousel of constellations itself, but I hate having to zoom from single star to single star in order to pick my perks. Just zoom out on the whole constellation I’ve chosen and label each star in it for me to pick with my mouse!!!!

      Unfortunately, I never had a good time with any of the interface mods for Oblivion, so I’m not sure how much hope to hold for Skyrim’s mods. Removing the weights of bulk items is a good suggestion.

    • aircool says:

      I also like the star chart thing, but it is a pain to navigate.

  46. f1x says:

    Thats right, but you know favouriting items (and spells) helps a bit with the inventory, which dosnt really excuse its design, the thing I’m actually lacking the most is that you cant actually bind combinations to your numbers, like for example number 1 shield + 1handed, number 2 flames + 1 handed, number 3 heal + heal

    The “talent points” screen is probably the most awful thing of it all, specially because its poor designed indeed for mouse, navigating from one tree to a far one takes ages and a thousand clicks, plus then navigating through the tree itself is crappy

    About shopping…I myself went to a shop and bought a lot of crap thinking I was actually selling it,

    But about the map, its not that bad tbh, you can press L to go to the local map which is a 2D small map and overall its ok, I dont have troubles with the map and the compass so far

    • haowan says:

      Yes the favourites key binding is screwed – sometimes if I have a spell bound it will go to my shield hand and sometimes to my weapon hand. I want to be able to bind 2h-spells to one number.

    • Milky1985 says:

      If you bind a spell to a number and press the number twice you will duel cast it, just make sure you have a quick switch back to the offhand item you want.

  47. Fox89 says:

    I don’t mind the UI too much for the sole reason that after 40 hours of play I am used to it. Although having said that, it did take me 35 of those hours before I realized you could hotkey weapons and magic from your favourites menu.

    And I quite like the star carousel thing to be perfectly honest. Of course, I don’t like how difficult it is to navigate once you’re looking at a certain constellation, but I do enjoy the interface design there. Maybe I am too used to Sphere Grids and License Boards from FF so that kind of layout comes quite naturally to me.

    Looking forward to some proper interface mods though. By and large the current system is so abysmal it’ll be a pretty high priority.

  48. Kdansky says:

    It is better than Fallout 3. Which means, it manages to not make me quit the game (like FA3). Otherwise? Skyrim’s UI is about on par with Dwarf Fortress, and only usable because there is not much complexity to the game (three stats, one perk per level and four armor slots is all).

    Did you know:

    – If you want the right mouse button to use the right hand, and the left button for the left hand (for obvious reasons), then that works, except for this horrible quick-menu, where you can then assign your right hand with E, and your other right hand with the right mouse button.
    – The menus take up only parts of the screen height, and fade out. Why? It would be much easier to find stuff if I could see more than 10 lines.
    – In addition: Why can’t I click on menu items? I am currently using WASD to navigate the menu. Dwarf Fortress at least has unintuitive shortcuts! If the details would work on mouse-over, and the clicking would select, it would be acceptable.
    – Don’t move the whole list! Place a clear marker, then move that! That way, we mouse-users can muscle-memory the place the menu entries are, and everything becomes really fast.
    – Summon Bound Weapon has an average duration of three seconds. That is the time it takes a mage to accidentally sheathe the bloody sword because one wants to switch a spell in the other hand.

    Can we have a decent favourite menu and hotkeys please?

    • psyk says:

      You can click menu items the input is just a little flakey at times

  49. Kdansky says:


  50. Aska says:

    So, related question. What arcane magicks (or shortcut keys) do I need to just be able to stand around for a couple of hours until it is dark??

    I’ve found no way of making time pass, save finding a bed to sleep in.

    Anyone know?

    • Kdansky says:

      T. Because that’s the button for it in all other Bethesda games.

    • Fox89 says:

      ‘T’. T for Time! Or something. Anyway, press that and you’ll bring up the Wait screen.

      Edit: Unless you’ve rebound any of your keys. In which case it might not even work anymore

    • TheLordMoosey says:

      Assuming you haven’t rebound everything, it’s T.

    • Aska says:

      Wow, well, there you go! Thanks.

      I only played the older games on console, so I didn’t have to worry about that – but that would be another gripe with the UI, it’s not mentioned in any tutorial or help text that I could find!

    • psyk says:

      Press escape
      click on controls
      Look at all the controls