by Graham Gunning
Since losing my sight many moons ago I have always wanted to be able to play an action-adventure game like Uncharted or Assassins Creed. Last year my wishes were granted as Naughty Dog released The Last of Us part Two and it would be accessible to play.
The Last of Us Part Two is the second instalment in The Last of Us franchise developed by Naughty Dog. It is a post apocalypse zombie action-adventure game exclusively for PlayStation. Based in downtown Seattle, Part two continues the story of the main characters from the first game Joel and Ellie.
When I first heard that The Last of Us Part Two was going to be accessible, I was generally pleased. I thought that it would have a couple of accessible features like menu narration and large subtitles. What we got from Naughty Dog completely blew my first impressions away
In order to make The Last of Us part Two accessible, Naughty Dog hired several accessibility advocates to be consultants. This in turn led to Naughty Dog deciding not just to add a couple of accessibility features but to create three individual pre-sets. Each preset was allocated to a specific disability. The three pre-sets are blind and low vision, deaf and hard of hearing and motor and mobility.
I am not going to go into all the options in each pre-set as there are far too many to list. Some of the main options for each pre-set include the following. For blind and low vision there is Full text to speak, magnification and high contrast mode, traversal and combat audio cues, traversal and navigation assistance, listen mode and auto aim. For hard of hearing there is awareness indicators, pick up notifications, dodge prompts, subtitles for names, directions, story and combat, along with vibration cues for combat and guitar puzzles. For mobility are auto aim, auto weapon swap and pick up, traversal and navigation assistance, infinite breath, puzzle skip, repeated button pressing or hold and camera assistance.
As a blind gamer I thought I would share some of the accessible features that helped me play the last of us part two. The first thing that I did was activate the blind and low vision pre-set. Once the main menu has loaded press down once and then right to enable it. The two main features that assisted me the most was text to speech and the navigation assistance. Using text to speech will read any text, for instance it will read any notes and allows you to hear your health level and what weapons or items you have. The navigation assistance will give you an audio cue to follow in order to progress in the correct direction when navigating the game. To activate the navigation assistance, press the L3 button on the PlayStation controller. Other handy features are audio cues and listen mode. The audio cues are a great addition and essential for playing the game. You will get audio cues for when to jump, when you are aiming and if you need to break glass, there is a full library of all the audio cues in the pause menu screen. Listen mode will allow you to scan for an item or an enemy and give you a continuous audio cue until you find it. To enable listen mode press R1 and square to locate an enemy or R1 and circle to find an item.
I have really enjoyed my experience of playing the last of us part two. As I said at the start, I have not been able to play a game like this in a long time. Thanks to naughty Dog developing all these accessibility features I was not only able to play the game, but I was able to complete it twice. Some of my most enjoyable parts of the last of us part two was just having the ability of doing stuff that I would not be able to do normally when playing a game. For instance, there is a part when you need to drive a speed boat and due to the accessibility features, I was able to do it. The only bits that I really struggled with was with the guitar puzzles. I could never seem to figure out the right sequence to play it. However, there is an option to skip puzzles if needed.
All in all, Naughty Dog has created something special with the Last of us part two. Having three individual pre-sets of accessibility features is just remarkable. In my opinion Naughty Dog adding accessibility from the start have created the blueprint for accessible gaming. If you have not tried out the last of us part two, I would recommend that you give it a try.
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