Global Accessibility Awareness Day 2022 took place on May 20th, and as tends to happen every year, a bunch of game developers took advantage of the day to reveal their accessibility plans for their upcoming game releases over the next twelve months.
One of the studios this year that used the day as an excuse to talk about their upcoming games is Sony’s Santa Monica Studio, who are currently developing God of War: Ragnarok, the sequel to the 2018 reboot of the series.
While Santa Monica Studio admits in their PlayStation Blog Post that the following list of accessibility settings is not a full list of the settings coming at launch to the game, this seemed like a good time to take a look at which settings have been announced, and how they compare to other releases from first part Sony studios from the past few years.
So today, on Access-Ability, we’re going to discuss God of War Ragnarok’s announced accessibility settings. We’re going to look at what is present, what is missing, and which end of Sony’s inconsistent accessibility offerings this game ultimately seems to fall into.
Recently on Access-Ability, we’ve talked a lot about the fact that PlayStation’s first party studios have a serious issue with inconsistency of accessibility offerings. While games like The Last of Us 2 offer incredibly robust support options, the recently released Gran Turismo 7 lacked a lot of the most basic settings we would have expected the game to offer.
Thankfully, it seems that God of War Ragnarok is going to be a lot more comparable to The Last of Us 2, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart than PlayStation’s less accessible offerings.
According to a post on Sony’s PlayStation Blog, God of War: Ragnarok will keep in place all accessibility settings found in 2018’s God of War, as well adding sixty additional ways to adjust gameplay to better suit playstyle and accessibility needs.
Several features which were not present in the PS4 release of God of War at launch, but were added to the game’s PC release, such as auto sprint functionality, a persistent centre screen reticle, and toggle options for aiming and blocking to replace button holds, will be carried over to Ragnarok on consoles.
In terms of subtitles, Ragnarok seems to offer a lot of new customisation options, both for visual layout as well as function. Players will be able to customise subtitle colour, speaker name tag presence, speaker colour, the inclusion of closed captions that include descriptions of non dialogue audio, direction indicators for audio, subtitle size and background options, and subtitles specifically designed to help deaf players navigate puzzles designed around audio cues.
Ragnarok will also incorporate options for altering text and icon size, more robust controller remapping, support for High Contrast mode, navigation assist tools, and traversal assistance for improved ease of jumping.
While further detail was not given, apparently at some point in future the studio will detail more accessibility settings coming to the game including combat and aim assists, puzzle and minigame assists, HUD adjustment options, camera functionality tweaks, auto pick up options, and more.
There are some questions I currently have about the accessibility settings support detailed for God of War Ragnarok, which I hope we will see answered before the game ultimately releases. The Last of Us 2 allowed players to turn High Contrast Mode on and off mid gameplay with a swipe of the touchpad, a feature we have not seen return since, that I hope we see in Ragnarok. Additionally, The Last of Us 2’s support for completely sightless play were very impressive, as was Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart allowing game speed to be altered incrementally. Hopefully we see some of these features announced for Ragnarok, as they really helped improve playability in the games they were first used in.
Lastly, in a welcome move, God of War: Ragnarok also has a trailer currently available online with official audio narration of on screen visual elements. This is certainly not a confirmation of any in-game audio description functionality, but I can still dream we might one day see a game developer tackle that particular in-game challenge.
While there’s still a lot unknown about God of War: Ragnarok’s accessibility support settings, this blog post makes it pretty clear that this is likely to fall on the better end of PlayStation’s first party accessibility offerings.
This is really reassuring news, as the last few game releases we’ve seen from first party PlayStation studios have fallen pretty shy of the quality bar set by The Last of Us 2, Spider-Man: Miles Morales, and Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart.
PlayStation has a real issue with inconsistency in their accessibility offerings, but at a first glance, it seems like God of War: Ragnarok is going to fall on the better end of an inconsistent scale.