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Warframe’s Major Console UI Overhaul Isn’t Exactly Great… Yet
Post by AdrianHaas @ 04:56pm 08/06/18 | Comments
With the first attempt to unify the UI across PC and Console, Warframe, things didn't go as well as hoped.

Warframe recently updated to version 22.20.6 on Xbox One and PlayStation 4, and with it came a major change to the User Interface or UI. The usual way a player navigates the Star Chart, using the controller left stick as a kind of mouse (which the devs call a Virtual Cursor), has now been expanded to include the entire UI. That is, every menu and screen you interact with. This is apparently in preparation for big UI changes due at an unspecified time in the future.


Unfortunately for console users this UI change seems like a rather large step backwards, made worse by the removal of almost all the button shortcuts previously used for simple menu navigation and selection. In addition there's been a rather odd visual change made to the button shortcuts that do remain, as they no longer hold to the universally accepted design for consoles. I don't mean A to Accept, B to Cancel etc. All the on-screen buttons are now monochrome instead of the usual blue X, yellow Y and so on. I can't think of many (if any) games that eschewed the old coloured-buttons routine, and the result in Warframe is weird to say the least.



It only really makes sense if you consider the people foregoing the traditional mouse/keyboard combo on PC for a more relaxed lounge-capable controller-only setup. But then again, that assumes the devs have placed a higher priority on those using third party controllers with non-traditional button setups. Over, say, the huge numbers of people playing Warframe across Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

In some areas of the game the new control scheme has become slow and painful to use. And it's especially unintuitive when it comes to modding weapons and frames. In the previous iteration of this interface you would simply click on a mod, then click the slot where you wanted it placed. Now you have to drag the cursor with the left stick to your mod, then hold A and simultaneously drag it to it's desired slot for placement. Talk about awkward. It feels like the idea came from that one person, who obviously doesn’t exist, that pauses a heated game of StarCraft to plug in an Xbox One controller so he can select units and micromanage ability use with an analogue stick and a couple of buttons.



Further complaints include, because hey after sinking hundreds of hours into Warframe - change can be a scary thing:
  • Having to hit A twice now to select a weapon, frame, or relic from their relevant lists.
  • The Loadout menu no longer displays the weapons and frame that comprise each loadout.
  • Leaving a squad is not the uber-quick process it used to be.
  • Using the Foundry seems to take longer when using the D-pad, as the cursor has to visibly snap to the center of each item as you scroll to it.
  • When scrolling through items using the D-pad and your selection scrolls off the screen, the screen doesn't catch up - you have to employ the right stick to scroll the screen manually.

In fairness I'd like to balance this mostly negative article with some words of hope for the future, like that wise old oracle Keanu Reeves visits whenever Hugo Weaving puts on a black suit and sunglasses. But as I'm not privy to the dev's plans in regards to the "big UI changes coming" (see earlier link) it's entirely possible this is just the teetering first steps on the way to a more robust, streamlined, intuitive user interface sometime in the near future.



I get that it's significantly easier and cheaper for the devs to maintain and mature just the one UI, but as someone who has no intention of playing the game with a keyboard and mouse plugged into my Xbox, I feel this distinct focus on PC-centric control schemes has resulted in thousands of console players suddenly crying out in terror, and I fear for the future of the lounge-bound console controller.

At the very least, reintroduce the button shortcuts.

Please.

UPDATE

The Tenno have spoken, and the developers have listened. Within a short time of the UI update change (and after this piece was originally written), a Warframe hotfix was applied that addresses some of the concerns raised.

From the Dev Workshop forum post:
  • Restored button shortcuts in the Arsenal.
  • Changed Relic selection windows to preview content on hover. To choose Relic simply select it.
  • Added the ability to auto-rotate your Warframe in the Arsenal (using the Right Trigger/R2) while browsing item grid.
  • Changed “preview” and “select” to be independent of one another in the Arsenal (separate bindings displayed in bottom right of screen in Arsenal).
  • Removed the need to hold down A/X + drag in order to select a Mod in the Modding UI. Instead, selecting a Mod will make it stick to your cursor like it used to, allowing you to move it with cursor control or D-Pad. Additionally, hitting “back” will deselect the Mod from your cursor without exiting the screen.
  • Fixed not being able to fish with Classic Controls.
  • Fixed LB/L1 prompt in Ability Menu appearing permanently after opening fishing gear wheel.

Obviously there are still issues with this update, the first of the big UI changes the developers have in store for Warframe, but I applaud the quick response and solutions to the overwhelming problems people have been facing in the latest update. While I may not be in favour of treating the controller as a mouse, I am quite relieved that the devs are not obstinately implementing their desired changes whilst ignoring the response of the community.
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