Ragnarök sets a strong example for next-generation gaming accessibility options – TechCrunch

Sony and Microsoft have been rivals in gaming for decades, but one positive aspect that has emerged recently is a renewed focus on accessibility that has seen the two companies push the boundaries of how and by whom games are played. Looks like God of War: Ragnarok Might be the most accessible address to dateAnd that says something.

I don’t mean to say Microsoft is behind – its hardware options for gamers with physical disabilities are great. But Sony’s in-house and exclusive developers have set a new standard for accessibility options that make their games more flexible for business.

Ragnarok is no exception. Its predecessor, the 2018 reboot of this venerable franchise, was a huge success and somewhat accessible in its own right, but since then new options in titles like Ratchet & Clank and The Last of Us: Part Two have truly changed the game.

Some of these features will be useful for people with certain disabilities, such as low vision or hearing. But others are just ways to make the game better suit your specific playing style.

For example, there are now plenty of options for customizing subtitles and audio descriptions – both what has been translated and how it sounds. Choose the size of the text, background, etc. to be readable from across the room, and change the colors so that speakers, dialogue, action captions, and descriptions appear differently.

Menu options for God of War Ragnarok subtitles.

Image credits: Santa Monica studio

There are also more captions to choose from:

We’ve added captions for both cinematics and gameplay to provide a rich understanding of the world’s audio landscape. You can also enable captions for important game information to help with puzzles and understanding the narrative.

you can see A copy of the game trailer with audio description Here, if you’re curious:

This is very useful in situations where (as in the first game) you pull a lever and hear the door slamming behind you. But if you can’t hear it, there’s no indication that the crane did anything at all! So having a caption like “Door grinds open” comes in handy whether you’re hard of hearing or just playing with the volume down so you don’t wake the kids up. And the direction indicator tells you which way the sound came – it all switches independently, because you probably have great hearing but only in one ear, so the dialogue is fine but the stereo signals don’t work.

Here it is in action:

You can also change the size of the user interface, menu, and even the little icons that appear when you can interact with something. Additional interactive prompts now make unique sounds, so if you can’t quickly tell which code is, you have additional data to work with.

One feature I intend to take full advantage of is Navigation Assist, which allows you to press a button to make the camera point in the general direction of the next target. I have a pretty good spatial sense but after playing with the genius wind mechanic in Ghost of Tsushima (hit the touchpad and the wind blows toward your target) I feel much more comfortable using these helpful and cool reminders.

Then there are options for people with low vision, for example replacing detailed textures with color maps – you’re one color, allies another color, enemies a third color and so on. This is something I somehow encountered in Genshin Impact, where chests glow in very specific shades of orange – nothing else is this color, and for good reason. A little bit of that in God of War, where treasure is often easy to miss, can really come in handy for those (other than me) who don’t want to dig around every corner closely for the good stuff.

Of course it takes a lot of work to provide these options, and the God of War series is top-notch even among AAA titles and developers, so no one is saying it’s easy. But hopefully, features like this will continue to migrate to smaller games so that they are just as accessible as the big ones.

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