Alongside the imminent release of the PS5, Sony is this week releasing Spider-Man: Miles Morales, a smaller sequel to 2018’s Spider-Man on PS4. The new game makes use of the previous game’s open world map, but features a new playable character, new combat options, and a roughly ten hour long original story to play through.
Back in June 2020, we published an episode of Access-Ability all about another Sony first party release, The Last of Us 2. No matter how you feel about The Last of Us 2 as an overall video game, it’s hard to deny that the game presented a new benchmark for software level accessibility options in video games, with dedicated presents for several disability types, and even support for playing the entire game based on audio cues and vibrations alone.
Since then, I’ve been watching Sony’s first party releases, hoping to see future Sony games following in the footsteps of The Last of Us 2. Now, with the release of Spider-Man: Miles Morales, there’s another Sony first party title worthy of comparison. It’s not quite up to the level of accessibility seen in The Last of Us 2, but it’s not terribly far off, and its broad variety of accessibility options ought to be praised as a big step in the right direction.
So, in today’s episode of Access-Ability, let’s take a look at everything on offer in the accessibility settings menu for one of the PS5’s most exciting looking launch titles.
Firstly, let’s start with the gameplay specific accessibility settings.
In Spider-Man: Miles Morales, players who struggle to react quickly to quick time prompts can set them to complete automatically. Players who have difficulty tapping buttons quickly can also switch those prompts to instead be button holds. Players with difficulty pressing buttons in quick succession can make it so that three webs fire at once with a single button press, making combat and puzzles easier to execute, and aiming in game can be switched to a toggle, to avoid players having to hold down a button for long periods of time.
Similarly, swinging and parkour traversal can be switched to a toggle to prevent having to hold a button down, as can venom mode, an electricity based special attack setting, and doing tricks while swinging around.
Players can slow down enemies in chase sequences to make them easier to catch up to with Chase Assist, automatically capturing the target once in range. Players can also change the sensitivity of cursors in in game menus, increase the amount of auto aim the game features as default, and increase the window of time in which players can safely dodge enemy attacks.
Additionally, the game contains a setting where players can get hints for puzzles, highlighting interactive objects and giving verbal clues as to what to do, much in the vein of Spider-Man PS4’s hint and puzzle skipping systems.
While most of the above settings are evolutions of ideas featured in the PS4 Spider-Man’s accessibility settings, the rest of the settings offered to players in Miles Morales are a bit more unexpected. Many of them feel inspired by the choices made for The Last of Us 2, even if they don’t always go quite as far as that games options did. Many of these are options and settings I didn’t expect to see offered in any first party PlayStation games this soon.
In the controller settings for Miles Morales, the expected settings exist for changing vibration intensity, turning it off entirely, or turning off adaptive trigger settings for the game. What I didn’t expect was for the game to feature a dedicated vibration setting labelled for accessibility. This setting adds additional vibrations that help with things like navigating menus, and presenting previously audio visual prompts. A great example, when in combat, players are usually given an audio cue and a visual cue before an enemy attacks. For players who struggle with hearing or vision, this new vibration mode has a specific type of vibration to tell players when to perform a dodge. The DualSense controller’s ability to create wildly distinct types of vibration, from highly specific points in the controller, is really awesome from an accessibility perspective in this regard, as the dodge vibration feels distinct from other vibrations taking place in combat.
While Miles Morales lacks the comprehensive disability focused presets of The Last of Us 2, the game’s accessibility menu does feature a specific subsection titled Visual Aids, designed to help players with limited vision play the game more easily.
Players can set the camera to automatically point them towards objective waypoints when scanning rooms, have the camera automatically follow Miles while he’s swinging, set the camera to move around less while swinging, turn off parallax effects in menus, increase the size of in game waypoint markers and prompts, place backgrounds behind HUD elements to make them better contrasted, and change the colour of emphasised text.
Then, we’ve got the contrast options, which are in many ways similar to the high contrast mode settings in The Last of Us 2. Players can select different colours to shade the hero, any ally characters, basic enemies and bosses, to make it easier at a glance to tell what’s happening in high action combat sequences. Players can also set their visual indicator for Spider Sense to appear in a more high contrast colour and style.
Lastly, Spider-Man: Miles Morales features at one point in its story a character who communicates using American Sign Language. For players who cannot easily read on screen subtitles, the game has an option to read her dialogue to the player out loud.
The Accessibility settings on offer in Spider-Man: Miles Morales are a really nice step forward compared to those found in the PS4 Spider-Man, and a really good sign that Sony’s first party studios are taking notice of the praise placed on The Last of Us 2. It’s early days, but this seems like a positive sign that Sony’s studios are paying attention to what worked well in that game, and trying to implement it themselves.
I said this back in June, but my biggest hope for Sony as we move into the PS5 generation is that they encourage all their first party studios to improve their level of software based accessibility, following the template of The Last of Us 2. The team behind Spider-Man seem to have done that, and the improvement makes a world of difference to this series level of Accessibility.
I hope this is the start of a trend at Sony, because this amount of accessibility improvement in a game sequel feels like a very promising start to this new generation of PlayStation gaming.