Getting my binoculars out to read text

My flat is set up with my TV several meters away from my sofa.  It is a reasonably large TV and being much closer isn’t entirely desirable when viewing shows. However with games I often have a reoccurring issue. I can’t read the bloody text.

I recently got Plants Vs Zombies Garden Warfare 2 to play with my partner. It is pretty fun with some quirky and enjoyable gameplay but we both concluded the game wasn’t very good for the same reason… we can’t bloody see anything.

The zombies are a bit small, but that can be viewed as a skill to see and shoot them, however the text is tiny. From more than a couple of foot away it is completely unreadable. When the game messages you, shows a counter or gives a description of items you just can’t read them. For example have a look at the below screenshot. I’ve highlighted several items in purple. Can you read them close up? Probably. How about several meters away.

Plants vs. Zombies Garden Warfare 2 - highlighted planting

 

This isn’t an issue that is unique to PvZ GW2. So many, too many, games have this issue. I recall my first PS3 experience was struggling to read the text in Grand Theft Auto IV. Since then I’ve played countless games that have used small fonts in their messaging. This is all fine and well in a PC game where the player is positioned right by the screen but not in console games.

I find it quite alarming how many developers of console games don’t factor in the playing environment. The UI needs to be as simple and clean as possible and importantly, the text needs to be readable from several meters. If fitting readable text in the screen is too much of a challenge, don’t make it small – cut it.

APB Reloaded teamAnother recent (for me) example is a game that I’ve played a lot of late – APB Reloaded on Xbox One. When I originally played the game the font size was fine. Playing the original on a PC right by my monitors was fine. Playing on my console several meters away means that I can barely read most text and the mission summary is unreadable. The thing is… this text is not important. Users could live without the wordy descriptions if you make it clear what the objectives are. APB makes a good use of colour for objectives making the text relatively redundant, just adding some context, but being unreadable means it would be better removed than wasting space.

So yeah, in summary – teeny tiny fonts annoy me in console games.

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