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Ragnarök sets a solid example for next-gen gaming accessibility options

Sony and Microsoft have been rivals in gaming for decades, but one positive aspect that has come out of it recently is a renewed focus on accessibility that has seen both companies push the boundaries of how games can be played and by who. It looks like God of War: Ragnarök is the most accessible title yet, and that’s saying something.

I don’t mean Microsoft is lagging behind – its hardware options for gamers with physical disabilities are outstanding. But Sony’s in-house and exclusive developers have set a new standard for accessibility options that make their games the most flexible in the industry.

Ragnarok is no exception. Its predecessor, the 2018 reboot of this venerable franchise, was a blockbuster success and fairly accessible on its own, but since then new options have appeared in titles like Ratchet & Clank and The Last of Us: Part Two that are truly game-changing. gives it.

Some of these are features that will be useful for people with certain specific disabilities, such as visual or hearing impairment. But others are just ways to better tailor the game to your specific playstyle.

For example, there are now tons of options to customize captions and audio descriptions – both what’s captioned and how it looks. Choose your text size, background, etc. so it’s readable from across the room, and change the colors so speakers, dialogue, and captions for actions and descriptions appear differently.

Menu options for God of War Ragnarok subtitles.

Picture credits: Studio Santa Monica

You also have the choice between other legends:

We’ve added subtitles to cutscenes and gameplay to provide an in-depth understanding of the soundscape of the world. You can also turn on subtitles for critical game information to help with puzzles and narrative understanding.

You can see a version of the game’s trailer with audio description here, if you’re curious:

This is very useful in situations where (like in the first game) you pull a lever and hear a door open behind you. But if you can’t hear that, there’s no indication the lever did anything! So having a caption like “Door Opens” is useful whether you’re hard of hearing or just playing with the volume so you don’t wake the kids. And a directional indicator shows you where the sound is coming from – all switchable independently, because maybe you have good hearing but only in one ear, so dialogue is good but stereo cues don’t work.

Here it is in action:

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=scK1mPMBTJM?version=3&rel=1&showsearch=0&showinfo=1&iv_load_policy=1&fs=1&hl=en-US&autohide=2&wmode=transparent&w=640&h=360]

You can also change the size of the UI, menu, and even small icons that appear when you can interact with something. Additionally, interactive prompts now play unique sounds. So if you can’t quickly determine which icon is which icon, you have some extra data to work with.

One feature I fully intend to take advantage of is “Navigation Assist”, which allows you to press a button to have the camera point in the general direction of the next lens. I have pretty good spatial sense, but after playing around with Ghost of Tsushima’s mechanical wind genie (press the touchpad and the wind blows towards your aim), I feel more comfortable using these callbacks useful and subtle.

Then there are options for the visually impaired, such as replacing detailed textures with color maps – you are one color, allies are another, enemies are a third and so on. This is something I encountered in some way in Genshin Impact, where the chests all glow a very specific shade of orange – nothing else is that color, and for good reason . A bit of that in God of War, where treasure is often easy to miss, could be really useful for those (unlike me) who don’t want to scour every corner closely for treats.

Of course, it takes a lot of work to deliver these options, and the God of War series is top tier even among AAA titles and developers, so no one is saying it’s easy. But hopefully features like this will continue to trickle down to smaller games so they’re as easy to access as the big ones.


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