How accessible are controllers on next-gen consoles? - article

How accessible are controllers on next-gen consoles? - article
We are in a great time to play video games. Xbox Series X and PS5, the next-gen consoles, are almost in our hands. We can say goodbye to loading screens and welcome new and exciting possibilities.

New consoles have historically given birth to new controllers. But gamers with disabilities like me, having particular accessibility requirements, welcome the advent of a new controller always with some fear and a lot of uncertainty. Personally, I felt this fear during the previous generation with the upgrade to the DualShock 4. For a while, I thought my only option was to use my gaming gloves. But it was at that moment that I discovered the gaming accessibility community, and I realized that the gaming industry was only working to become more accessible.

And it has become yes. This generation has given gamers titles with exceptional accessibility options like Gears 5, Shadow of the Tomb Raider and The Last of Us 2. And now, these next-gen consoles will be the first consoles designed with accessibility as a foundation from the start. , and will be fertile ground for innovations that developers will come up with in the future.

This makes the difference. I have spent years striving to create an optimal gaming setup using adapted PS4 controllers. Suffering from muscle weakness or mobility issues, your hands adapt to a particular shape of controller, so even the smallest design alterations can have major impacts on muscle function.

In this generation, Xbox has made major advances from an accessibility standpoint by creating the revolutionary Xbox Adaptive Controller (XAC). To continue supporting this accessibility, the Xbox Series X is able to ensure a smooth and painless transition of your XAC setup, so that disabled gamers can play the new console right out of the box and connected to the TV.

By the same token, the new Series X controller was designed to provide gamers with a better experience, but Microsoft clearly didn't want to change things just for the fun of it. The designers then improved upon aspects of the current Xbox One controller, such as the d-pad, while making sure that the muscle memory that users have developed over the years remained intact. Additionally, players won't be forced to use the new controller, but will be able to use the Xbox One controller as well. So essentially, your favorite controller, or your game setup you're used to, is a gateway to your Xbox game library.

Series X is backwards compatible, so gamers can enjoy the games already purchased over the years and at the same time the new exclusive releases for the next generation console. But I'd like Microsoft to go beyond this backward compatibility by allowing controllers from other consoles. Personally, I can't use the Xbox controllers because the triggers take too much force. So it would be nice to be able to combine the advanced features of the XAC with the use of your favorite external controller.

What about Sony? PlayStation 4 was the first console to implement a system option to remap buttons and this prompted Naughty Dog to expand accessibility features. Sony loves adding new technologies to its next generation controllers. Just think of the DualShock 4's touchpad which was a technological gem, allowing The Last of Us 2 to set swipe directions like four other remappable inputs. We therefore hope that the PS5 can continue this tradition of being fertile ground for new features.

From what we have seen so far, the DualSense of the PS5 has been designed with two main features at the center to improve engagement: the adaptive triggers and haptic feedback. Personally, if I hadn't had any particular accessibility requirements, I would have been delighted with the new features, since they are useful features to convey feelings that the game wants to experience. But with similar features, giving players the ability to adapt and modify the gaming experience to their skills becomes more vital than ever.

This content is hosted on an external platform, which will only display it if you accept targeting cookies. Please enable cookies to view. Manage cookie settings Watch on YouTube. Haptic feedback provides a dimensional component to the vibration, so that players can feel the strength of the gameplay's actions or the direction of enemy attacks. On PlayStation Blog, Spider-Man: Miles Morales creative director Biran Hortorn said that by holding the square to perform a Venom Punch, you can hear the crackle of Spider-Man's bio-electricity across the left side of the controller. which at the moment of impact ends with a peak on the right side. These features will have a major accessibility benefit for visually impaired players. But for players with muscle weakness the haptic vibrations could be decidedly uncomfortable. They could impair muscle function and cause fatigue. In light of all this, it's great that haptic feedback can be changed by the user or completely turned off.

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Adaptive triggers were the most worrying news item for players with disabilities. These allow the developers to alter the tension of the triggers. The modified triggers on my DualShock 4 have less tension than the standard ones, making it easier for me to pull them. Fortunately, adaptive triggers can also be changed by the user, so they are by no means a barrier to accessibility - they can be changed or even turned off.

But even so, for me the biggest problem is having to switch to DualSense . I would find it difficult to use it because it has a different shape and weight, and the grips are wider. The frustrating thing is that you can still use the DualShock 4 on PS5 with PS4 games, but not for exclusive next-gen games. Many gamers with disabilities would have preferred to use their preferred controller configuration rather than having to get used to a new input configuration.

At the time of writing, we are confident that Sony has plans to continue its tradition. of innovations in accessibility. The future of games will have to include accessibility, breaking boundaries and creating beautiful worlds ready to be explored.

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