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A Sneak Peek at God of War: Ragnarok’s Accessibility Settings

Back in May of 2022, we got news that God of War: Ragnarok, the sequel to 2018’s God of War reboot, would be launching with more than 60 accessibility settings options, when it releases a few months from now on November 9th.

While the initial news drop from Sony was fairly light on specific details, we did get informed that the game would be bringing back all of the accessibility settings options found in the 2018 God of War, which admittedly is a fairly small amount of settings, as well as adding in some new accessibility settings found in that game’s PC port, and adding a handful of new settings to the game.

This week, thanks to an interview with Game Informer and Ragnarok’s lead UX designer, Mila Pavlin, we have a much better idea of what to expect when Ragnarok launches in November, even if we have not yet seen a complete and thorough accessibility settings list revealed.

So today, on Access-Ability, we’re going to be talking about the accessibility settings we know, and those that we expect, are coming to God of War: Ragnarok. We’re going to look at which accessibility settings were included in the original game, which settings from the PC port have been confirmed for the sequel, and which settings we can expect to see added that are new to the series.

Let’s start off with a quick summary of the accessibility settings currently found in God of War on PS4.

The 2018 God of War features its own dedicated accessibility menu, but within it a fairly limited number of options.

Players can turn button mash sequences into button holds, change certain puzzles so that they can be progressed with a single button press, change L3 and R3 stick click prompts to alternative buttons, add backgrounds with two layers of opacity behind subtitles, add speaker names to subtitles, reduce ambient camera sway and camera shake, and increase text size “where possible” for text and menu elements up to ten times its default size, although this setting is not robust, and does not make the menu text larger in the menu that this setting is found in, for example.

The game also included some basic settings inside other menus, such as sliders to alter the mix of game audio, and some small options for altering game controls, but not robust controller remapping inside the game itself.

So, what new settings are being added to the sequel, God of War: Ragnarok?

Starting with the settings we learned about back in May, being brought over from God of War 2018’s PC port, Ragnarok will feature options to see sprinting being automated, the addition of a permanent centre screen reticle to help reduce motion sickness in some players, as well as options to turn blocking and aiming into toggles rather than strictly button holds.

As far as we can tell, these settings are not being ported into the PlayStation versions of the 2018 God of War, only into the new release of Ragnarok.

Beyond those PC settings, let’s get into all the new settings we know are coming to Ragnarok, based on Sony’s May blog post, and this past week’s Game Informer interview feature.

Starting with the May blog post, subtitles and closed captions are apparently being improved, with expanded captions now being added for non-dialogue sound effects, and direction indicators are being added for gameplay critical sound effects.

Text size options are being improved, which hopefully means that more areas of the game will be impacted by that prior mentioned text size slider. In addition, we’re also getting UI and icon resizing options. We’re also apparently getting full controller remapping support, another improvement on the 2018 game’s accessibility offering.

Ragnarok will also be receiving navigation assistance tools such as those found in The Last of Us, to help orient players toward progression. The game will also contain traversal assistance for navigating jumps, and audio cues for which button on your controller o press when interacting with certain in-game items.

Many of these settings existed in The Last of Us and its sequel, and were a big part of what helped to ensure that those games were completable by sightless blind players.

Now, it’s unclear at this stage if we’re going to see as robust a set of tools here that would allow sightless playthroughs of the game, but at the very least these settings should be very helpful for low vision blind players, particularly considering that Ragnarok is confirmed to support High Contrast mode, a setting which the 2018 game did not support.

God of War: Ragnarok did recieve one audio described trailer back in July of this year, but as of publishing this video, there is no indication that God of War: Ragnarok itself will support audio descriptions for cutscenes, an accessibility setting recently implemented in The Last of Us: Part 1 on PS5.

Moving onto the features discussed during the new Game Informer interview, the game’s developers apparently focused their accessibility offering on covering four core groups of disabled gamers, those with vision, hearing, motor skills, and cognitive understanding based disabilities, which a pretty common way of breaking down accessibility topics, even if there is a bit more overlap in the real world between those groups of needs.

High Contrast Mode’s implementation in God of War: Ragnarok will seemingly mirror some of PlayStation’s better titles like Ratchet and Clank: Rift Apart, where players can customise the individual colours used for each in game element, rather than having to use set presets as we recently saw in The Last of Us: Part 1.

In a great piece of news, much like The Last of Us, High Contrast Mode in God of War: Ragnarok will be able to be switched on and off mid gameplay with a touchpad swipe as well.

Certain in game abilities, such as Spartan Rage, quick-turns and shield strikes, will now be able to be activated using touch pad commands, rather than their default controls which may be tricky for certain disabled gamers.

The game will also provide important information wherever possible in multiple forms at once, such as informing the player of a timing using audio, visual, and haptic rumble data to make sure that every player has at least one way to understand that prompt.

The interview with Game Informer reiterates yet again that the final game will feature more than 60 accessibility features at launch, but does not go into depth on what those settings will be.

This hits on something we’ve talked about before here on Access-Ability, which is a bit of a personal point of irritation. I am really not a big fan of game developers trickling accessibility information out a little at a time, over multiple reveals, to increase the number of marketing reveals thar they can produce.

It seems pretty clear that, at least to a certain degree, the developers of God of War: Ragnarok do already know most, if not all, of the accessibility settings that they will be adding to the final game, as that “more than 60” number has stayed consistent for several months.

I really wish at this point the developer would just release a robust list of Ragnarok’s accessibility settings options for players, so that disabled players could get a sense, a few months before release, if any particular individual setting that they need will or won’t be present.

While there’s still a bunch of accessibility settings we’ve yet to hear about for God of War: Ragnarok, the information that we have is shaping up to be pretty promising.

2018’s God of War was pretty light on the support it offered, and the improvements and additions discussed so far for Ragnarok make it sound like this should be much more in line with Sony’s first party output in their post The Last of Us 2 era.

I would love to see these settings added to the original game and not just its sequel, and it would be great to know whether or not they’re aiming to match the level of sightless blind player support seen in The Last of Us with some of these settings additions, but until we hear more, the signs are looking pretty positive for God of War: Ragnarok doing pretty decently at keeping in step with the accessibility seen in other AAA PlayStation first-party exclusives.

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