UI/UX Redesign

Mass Effect I (2007) is a cult favorite for it’s immersive narrative and expansive universe. However, many critics and players have criticized the confusing user interface for its complexity. Mass Effect I was included in Mass Effect: Legendary Edition (2021), a comprehensive remaster of the series. While some UX was improved, most menus were kept true to the original experience.

In this case study, I explored the process of redesigning some of Mass Effect I: Legendary Edition ‘s (Xbox) screens to improve clarity and reduce information overload.

Mass Effect’s character customization menus contain a lot of information, and does not communicate this information efficiently to the user. This case study aims to resolve the following issues:

Character customization occurs in two completely different places, the Equipment screen, and the Squad screen.

The equipment screens fail to show all items available in the players inventory. Only the items that the current character can equip are displayed.

All categories of equipment are shown on a wheel, making it hard for the player to see all categories available to them. There are nine categories total, 6 of them are traditional weapons, and then Armor, Omni-tools, and Biotic amps are listed.

The equipment screens only show five items at once, making navigating a 250 item list incredibly tedious.

Duplicate items are listed individually, inefficiently using screen space.

The effect of equipment bonuses to the players stats are never displayed.

The effect of upgrade bonuses to equipment stats are never displayed.

Game menu. Character customization occurs in Squad and Equipment screens.
Equipment Screen
Squad Screen

I organized a user survey to develop player personas and collect insights on the favorite games of Mass Effect players. Using the player insights, I then completed a competitive analysis comparing the top three played RPG video games inventory screens.

Competitive Analysis

Using the data from the user survey, I found the top three RPG games played by the sample group. Then, I analyzed the inventory menus of each game to help decide on the UX direction for Mass Effect.

Baldurs Gate 3

The newest game in this comparison, Baldurs Gate 3 showcases a large grid system to organize inventory.

Numbers are used in grid panels to indicate multiples of the same item.

Character selection is available on the far left of the screen for the player to easily switch between character inventories.

Dragon Age: Origins

Also a Bioware game, Dragon Age: Origins inventory has a similar cluttered feeling when compared to the Mass Effect inventory menu.

Square panels to the left of the weapons list help the user see what is equipped.

A high level menu allows the player to leave the equipment screen and customize other features.

Player stats are displayed to the left of the menu.

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim

The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim is a cult classic, and has a very clean and minimal UI setup.

Inventory is managed through scrolling lists. On a category selection, a child menu appears listing all the items the player has obtained.

The bottom right of the screen has an indicator of how the users stats change depending on the item shown.

I explored multiple avenues of displaying these menus through rough sketches and low fidelity wireframes. Information architecture trees were also created to discover an appropriate hierarchy for the player.

Skip to content