Starfield, a vast universe of astronomically small text?

Marijn / ActiveB1t3 minute read

Starfield Direct has shown about an hour of gameplay and behind-the-scenes footage of Starfield. The Direct has been very effective at getting people, including myself, excited to play it. The customizing and exploration looks impressive. Until you take a closer look at the UI that is, and you will need to take a close look to read Starfield’s small text. It was also disappointing and concerning that no accessibility info was shared, something many potential players were hoping for.

Small text is hard to read

After last year’s Xbox Bethesda Showcase, Ben Bayliss already noted several accessibility concerns for Starfield. These were mostly about the small and often unreadable text. Now a year later and getting close to release, it does not seem like these concerns have been addressed.

Looting a science crate in Starfield. legendary. Several elements with text overlap and show small text and in some cases low contrast.

In many screens the text size isn’t just small, it’s tiny. There are occasions where legibility isn’t crucial, such as the “health” label on the health bar; once you know what it is you don’t need that label. But text showing objectives or stats need to be easily readable. Especially when that text is only visible for a few seconds. Not helping this issue is the contrast between the text and the background often seeming very low.

Starfield screenshot looking at a star system. An objective is shown near a planet in small white text on a light background. It overlaps the star making it even harder to see.

Reactions on social media

On Twitter reactions to the Starfield Direct were positive, but several people noted the small text. Steve Saylor, who was watching the Starfield Direct live at the event voiced his concerns.

I have MAJOR concerns about the abysmally small text in the UI for #Starfield. I have desperately wanted an accessible Bethesda experience so I can see what everyone loves so much about their games. But I may not be able to see to play.

Steve Saylor on Twitter

In another set of tweets, accessibility consultant Arevya noted the text and UI size. She also mentioned the lack of accessibility information, something others missed as well.

Tsk tsk such a long showcase of “everything” in #StarfieldDirect but not one single mention about accessibility…
Come on… Sorry to say, but us gamers aren’t getting younger, and with that comes the need for basic accessibility like text size, HUD size and so on!

Arevya on Twitter

Knowing Xbox’s track record with accessibility, many people were expecting to see at least some information about this aspect. It is one of the publishers that has often spoiled us with accessibility information well before launch of its games.

As Bethesda Game Studios joined Xbox years into production of Starfield, accessibility might not have been a priority back then. In that case I’m afraid many players are left to hope for post-launch updates. Font size adjustments through patches for The Outer Worlds show it is not impossible. But it really shouldn’t be left this late in production. Especially considering the time and cost involved with fixing text size in a game as ambitious as Starfield.

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(ActiveB1t)Website operationsHe/They

CIPT's resident one-person IT crew responsible for the looks, functionality, and accessibility of the site. Inclusion and accessibility troublemaker and creator of the Alt Or Not browser plugin for Twitter. Child of the 80's without an intention of growing up.

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