While it may not always seem like it, a lot of hard work and creativity goes into making the best video game HUDs of all time.
For some titles, the best option may be a minimal HUD with very few on-screen elements or even in-universe indicators to maximize immersion.
However, other games may opt for highly visible HUDs that can be read quickly and efficiently during a heated battle or boss fight.
In this list, we’ll showcase the best video game HUDs of all time, including a few notable recent releases that feature impressive UI designs.
With that out of the way, let’s dive right in!
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Release Date: February 25, 2022
Platforms: Windows, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One
If you pay close attention you’ll realize that most Soulslikes, particularly those made by FromSoftware, do little to differentiate their HUDs from each other, and for good reason.
These games are tough and require you to see your character’s health, stamina, and equipment quickly without too much of a fuss, resulting in a simple yet serviceable UI design.
Elden Ring is a great recent example that maintains the classic Dark Souls HUD layout while adding more detailed elements for your character’s equipped items.
This is further complemented by bars displaying HP, FP, and Stamina gauges, as well as status icons and a compass to help you navigate the world.
Release Date: February 15, 2019
Platforms: Windows, PS5, PS4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Mac, Linux
The Metro series HUD has evolved over the years but has always maintained a focus on keeping players immersed using in-universe UI elements, otherwise known as diegetic design.
Metro Exodus is a solid execution of this approach that leverages physical objects in the environment to convey information rather than defaulting to graphic overlays.
For example, Artyom’s wristwatch displays how much time is left for his gas mask filter along with red, yellow, and green lights to indicate his current visibility.
Of course, players who crave a bit more context can toggle on additional on-screen elements such as a cross-bar that assigns various actions to different inputs.
Release Date: September 15, 2016
Platforms: Windows, PS5, PS4, PS3, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Switch
Operating in stark contrast to Metro, the Persona series has always prominently featured large HUD elements reflective of the JRPG genre.
Persona 5 is by far the best iteration to date and makes some bold choices in regard to UI font, colors, and overall layout.
This coupled with highly-stylized visuals gives the HUD a cartoony look while still being functional and readable at a glance.
Information regarding characters’ health and status are tucked away neatly in the corner while gameplay actions are represented by a high-contrast on-screen button map layout.
Horizon Zero Dawn
Release Date: February 28, 2017
Platforms: Windows, PS4
What makes this HUD so great is that it manages to convey a ton of info using minimal elements, all while having a futuristic look that stands apart from the game’s post-apocalyptic setting.
Some highlights include a path marker that proves useful for tracking machine footsteps as well as a scan effect that outlines enemies to indicate potential weak spots.
Aside from that, you have your standard HP and XP meters along with indicators for your compass and icons detailing consumables, weapons, ammo, and quest markers.
Release Date: February 23, 2017
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One, Switch
This is achieved using minimal UI elements that only appear when necessary before quickly disappearing into the background.
Furthermore, NieR: Automata’s HUD relies on simple colors with flat graphics and subtle music cues that give it an analog feel while connecting back to the series’ fantasy roots.
There are a ton of other small, tucked-away secrets you can discover by experimenting with different chips, letting your character’s HP drop, or triggering an in-game self-destruct sequence.
Tom Clancy’s The Division
Release Date: March 8, 2016
Platforms: Windows, PS4, Xbox One
To solve this design challenge, the game takes an interesting approach in which certain HUD elements will latch onto your character and move with them.
This is further complemented by high-contrasting menus that appear in the actual game world with their positions tilted at a slight angle.
All of this comes together to create an easily readable UI that feels both tactical and tailored for combat and exploration.
Release Date: September 9, 2014
Platforms: PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360
Both Destiny and Destiny 2 are responsible for popularizing what’s become arguably the worst trend in video game UI: having to use a mouse cursor to navigate menus.
While this feels natural when playing on PC, things become a lot more cumbersome when trying to use a gamepad joystick like you would a mouse.
With that said, Destiny is probably the best implementation of this design to date, and limits the feature to just its menus, with the in-game HUD employing a more conventional design.
Info regarding cooldowns, weapon ammo, and super meter are all organized neatly in the lower left corner while your guardian’s health is kept hidden at the top until you start taking damage.
Release Date: October 7, 2014
Platforms: Windows, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Switch, Mac, Linux
Alien: Isolation has one of the more unique video game HUDs that combines both diegetic and non-diegetic elements.
On the non-diegetic side, you can see objectives, timers, and other relevant quest information displayed on-screen in simple white text.
However, when it comes to monitoring enemy movement and hacking devices, your character has a physical device with a live readout of the surrounding area.
The game manages to marry the two by applying a distinctly analog look and feel to both the HUD text and tracking tool.
Release Date: November 11, 2008
Platforms: Windows, PS3, Xbox 360
If you prefer more minimalist video game HUDs, you’ll find Mirror’s Edge takes this to the extreme.
Practically no sensitive information is displayed on-screen aside from a small dot in the center, with the player having to rely on subtle context clues to figure out the rest.
This isn’t too much of an issue considering the game is primarily focused on parkour platforming and actively avoiding any combat.
To this point, the color red is used to indicate interactable objects but can be switched off for a more immersive experience.
Fallout: New Vegas
Release Date: October 19, 2010
Platforms: Windows, PS3, Xbox 360
Here you’ll find useful info like your character’s health, enemy health, a compass for your map, your AP bar, and a few context-sensitive actions.
During combat, players can lock onto enemies to trigger V.A.T.S., which has a satisfying slow-mo lock-on effect that highlights targets and displays shot percentages above each body part.
By default, the HUD’s color scheme has a warm tan hue to reflect the game’s desert setting but can be adjusted to a different color of your choosing.
Assassin’s Creed II
Release Date: November 17, 2009
Platforms: Windows, PS4, PS3, Xbox One, Xbox 360, Switch, Mac
Assassin’s Creed is another video game series that has iterated on its UI design throughout the years.
However, many still consider Assassin’s Creed II to have been the peak of the series’ HUD layout.
At the top, you have Ezio’s health bar and key action buttons while the bottom displays your weapon, money, and map.
Tying it all together is the use of white and gray colors, which are associated with the Animus and therefore a constant reminder that you’re inside a simulation.
Halo 3: ODST
Release Date: September 22, 2009
Platforms: Windows, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, Xbox 360
For one, the HUD itself is designed to reflect the shape of your character’s helmet using visor lines that stand out from the game’s environments.
This is most evident when activating night vision, which assigns an outline effect to surrounding objects in various colors based on their importance.
All of these elements are meant to remind you that you’re not the all-powerful Master Chief but rather an ordinary soldier relying on technology for survival.
Release Date: October 13, 2008
Platforms: Windows, PS5, PS3, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox 360
Like other genre greats, Dead Space maintains a high level of immersion and atmosphere by incorporating its HUD elements into the game’s physical world.
The most prominent examples of this dedication to diegetic design include your health and ammo being tied to Isaac Clarke’s body, with readouts appearing on his back.
This not only frees up some of the precious screen real estate but also gets the player to feel more invested in the character and world.
Release Date: November 18, 2002
Platforms: GameCube, Wii
Last but not least, we’ve chosen to include Metroid Prime in our list of the best video game HUDs of all time for its immersive approach to first-person shooters.
Much like ODST does with Halo, Prime shakes up the Metroid series formula by presenting the world from the perspective of inside Samus’ helmet visor.
Every bit of valuable information is displayed on-screen as it would in a realistic combat suit diagnostic readout, minimizing the amount of time the player spends navigating menus.
This includes scanning the environment, as descriptions will appear above highlighted objects once Samus has finished analyzing them.