God of War Ragnarök features a whopping 60-plus accessibility options, from automatic sprinting down muddy roads to flashy directional indicators for combat sequences. Above all, a deeper level of customization allows players to tweak their own wintry apocalypse. PlayStation enthusiasts may be familiar with the phrase “play has no limits” from a series of ads. Ragnarök’s lead UX designer, Mila Pavlin, echoed the same views and expressed her commitment to centering gamers from all walks of life. “It’s a fantasy epic,” says Pavlin. “This is about father and son. This is about fate and the Nine Realms. And the ability to go into it, regardless of your background, and experience all those rich details and stories and stories? That drives me every day.”
A wide array of consultants and testers, including veterans and blind players, helped Pavlin’s team focus on four key areas: vision, hearing, motor skills, and cognitive understanding. And several impressive new features are currently covering these design goals. A high-contrast mode allows players to apply specific colors to item types, character types, backgrounds, and more to improve overall visibility and reduce visual clutter. Audio cues coupled with subtitles indicate button prompts in the general area and indicate modifications to puzzle timing. For example, skill shots – hitting objects mid-fall or swinging in an arc – can be performed simply by accessing game settings and slowing down surrounding targets. Without these handy adjustments, Ragnarök is prone to “blockers” or difficult interactive moments that can potentially hamper progression and alienate players. According to Pavlin, the most important task was finding a healthy balance between the intensity of God of War and allowing players to complete challenges in a meaningful way.
A methodology called “Dual Channel” is critical to achieving this balance. The efforts of the UX team ensure that players receive sensory information in various forms – auditory, visual and haptic. In addition, options from the 2018 game, mainly text and icon size adjustment, are back and more polished than before, making all fonts in the game legible. Abilities like Spartan Rage, quick spins, shield slams, and even high-contrast palettes can be triggered by swiping on the DualSense controller’s touchpad. And auto-pickup makes exhilarating battles more manageable, so topping up the health or rage meter with the appropriate stones in a given area doesn’t require much thought. “Accessibility features aren’t just accessibility features,” Pavlin tells me. “They also help improve the experience for everyone. Ragnarök is about transitioning to the next phase. For us, that meant getting more people involved, making sure people can customize more, and making sure it’s an enjoyable gaming experience for everyone.”
Camera navigation support focuses on current targets, platforms can be automated, and controller visualization allows streamers to share moment-to-moment button inputs with a wider audience. These are just some of the options players can tweak. But Pavlin still yearns to expand the general accessibility of Ragnarök. “60+ features is huge to access,” she says. “I still think we can do better. I think we can push it further. But honestly, I have a feeling people will be excited to see how many more players can play. And if I could get a feature to the point where another player – just another player – could play, that would be the greatest thing in the world; to be able to see that one player and understand how that allows them to connect with the community and everyone.”
This article originally appeared in issue 349 of Game Informer.
This article was previously published on Source link