The Last of Us: Part II Platinum-plated by Blind Players and more! Accessibility in 2020

The Last of Us: Part II Platinum-plated by Blind Players and more! Accessibility in 2020
2020. What year is it? Nobody owned the crystal ball to discover our future with reality that seemed to turn into a video game and the video games that have come forward to help us come to terms with reality. That's true next-gen immersion.

Let me take you on an investigative journey through 2020 using my trusty accessibility magnifier. Undoubtedly 2020 has been the greatest year for the accessibility community in video games since the release of the Xbox Adaptive Controller in 2018.

The Last of Us: Part II was a game deeply Revolutionary on several levels: It has made the foundation for accessibility more solid while raising the level of quality that developers can build on in the future. Naughty Dog has demonstrated how consulting with accessibility specialists with various disabilities during development is both possible and beneficial. It has also strongly proven that games with accessibility features can and will sell. Blind gamers were able to earn Platinum thanks to groundbreaking accessibility features such as high contrast mode, a narrator and multiple beeps. The ability to remap the keys was one of the best ever thanks to the use of the PS4 touchpad which potentially removes the need to press analogs. I found the option of activating slow-mo while aiming priceless as it allowed me enough time to be a foolproof headshot machine. This feature should be available in all future shooters.

However we have to be realistic because we cannot expect all video games to have the same level of accessibility and we cannot compare future games to TLOU2. Accessibility is not a competition between developers but a collaborative and supportive commitment that needs the gaming industry to progress all together.

Let's move on to something else! Spider-Man: Miles Morales of Insomniac Games brought a fantastic and exciting story with some really great songs and it was also a surprising triumph of accessibility. The previous game was spectacular but the controls were difficult to use especially during the faster fights. Insomniac solved all accessibility problems without radically changing the control scheme but offering intuitive accessibility settings. The ability to remap allows you to change the layout of the buttons but also showed how much it can affect actions that require multiple presses. An example: there is a move that automatically launches 3 cobwebs to block enemies in some area of ​​the setting instead of requiring a multiple press of the L1 key. Insomniac has added alternatives for aiming, Venom powers and using the web to move around the game world. These options require less energy making the gameplay significantly less physical exertion.

During 2020 Ubisoft released 3 games with fantastic accessibility features: Watch Dogs Legion, Assassin's Creed Valhalla and Immortals Fenix ​​Rising but I will focus on Valhalla. This game made me love the Assassin's Creed franchise again. The revolutionary accessibility feature here is the ability to automatically ride to a target or follow a mission-related character, elements that at the push of a button eliminate the need to control the Viking horse or ship for too long. Same thing in Watch Dogs Legion with automatic driving.

Advances in accessibility have come not only from blockbusters but also from small, big indie games. Hades from Supergiant games didn't just demonstrate beautiful art style, humorous storytelling, and engaging combat. Supergiant also listened to player feedback regarding accessibility improvements. The developers have decided to add God Mode, an option that makes Zagreus more powerful every time he dies. It's a simple fix that doesn't alter gameplay but cleverly exploits the protagonist's death as an accessibility feature.

Moving on Obsidian Games' Grounded has handled arachnophobia by giving players complete control over the appearance of spiders of the game. The dedicated Safe Mode made it possible to change the appearance or noise related to spiders by removing the distinctive features so as not to cause too much discomfort. It is one of the first games to take into account the psychological accessibility so rarely considered. Alien: Couldn't Isolation have had the same option to make Xenomorphs less Xenomorphs? They are terrifying but also a masterpiece of design.

HyperDot by Charles McGregor is a very challenging one-button action arcade game with a clear and simple rule: dodge anything. Any type of controller can be used, and this title has revolutionized accessibility research by partnering with content creators with disabilities to stream the game and provide immediate feedback to identify crucial updates to make. HyperDot demonstrates that accessibility and difficulty are not mutually exclusive but can have a positive relationship without ruining the concept of the experience.

Watch on YouTube. Most read now

Xbox Live Gold no price increase! Microsoft turns around after a shower of criticism

Gold as a requirement for free-to-play is also canceled.

Xbox Series X / S: Hitman 3 developers enthusiastic about the console

High power for better gameplay.

Resident Evil Village, how tall is Lady Dimitrescu? Some have 'measured' the highly acclaimed vampire woman

Size matters.

I can't talk about 2020 without mentioning next-gen PS5 and Xbox Series X / S consoles. Gamers with disabilities were initially concerned about the accessibility of the new consoles due to the lack of information regarding the adaptive triggers of the DualSense. Fortunately Sony has revealed that both adaptive triggers and haptic feedback can be tweaked and turned off altogether, which is crucial for players with severe motor disabilities or muscle weakness. Meanwhile Xbox Series X / S have supported accessibility by allowing players to use the new controller or the old one complete with an Xbox Adaptive Controller. It is a fundamental element for players like me because discovering a setup that works with limited skills takes time and effort and changing it is by no means easy. Put simply, you have to fly with your imagination to find a setup while your skills are firmly locked to the ground.

But the high point of 2020 was touched with The Game Awards which introduced the Innovation category in Accessibility. Geoff Keighley contacted accessibility specialists with different disabilities in the role of category judges. Judges included personalities such as Sightless Kombat, an accessibility consultant and blind player, Steve Saylor, a promoter of blind accessibility, the entire Game Accessibility Nexus video game site team led by Antonio I. Martinez and Morgan Baker, specialists with a focus on accessibility related to deafness. Some judges worked on The Last of Us: Part II so they couldn't vote for it but Naughty Dog's game still deservedly won the award. The good news is not over though as TLOU2 also won the Game of the Year award. A game that places accessibility as a crucial element that is finally recognized and appreciated by the entire gaming community.

The Game Awards have shown that accessibility is here to stay and I can't wait to find out what 2021 has in store for us.

Powered by Blogger.