Naughty Dog has said that The Last of Us Part II is the most ambitious game it has ever made, and the studio has also noted it’s also the most accessible game it has made.
The PlayStation 4 game coming on June 19 has more than 60 settings that are meant to help all people play the game, including those who have low vision or are blind. Matthew Gallant, lead systems designer at Naughty Dog, said in a blog post that from the very beginning of development the goal was to ensure that as many fans as possible have an opportunity to experience the game.
The company had already built a robust accessibility feature set with Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. And now The Last of Us Part II has expanded options focused on fine-motor and hearing, as well as new features that benefit low-vision and blind players. This shows the developers put a lot of thought into the challenge, just as Microsoft did when it launched the Xbox Adaptive Controller for people with limited mobility.
To get sound in a good place for those who need it, Naughty Dog created three accessibility presets that configure all the recommended settings for vision, hearing, and motor accessibility. Users can then tweak options to suit themselves.
Players can get text-to-speech translations across menus. They can get high-contrast display settings, scale up the font and images of the heads-up display, add lock-on-aim, auto-targeting, and add traversal and combat audio cues. There are things like navigation and traversal assistance, ledge guard, enhanced listen mode, invisible while prone, skip puzzle options, and a variety of adjustments for combat accessibility. The game also has awareness indicators, pick-up notifications, dodge prompts, subtitles, combat vibration, guitar sound vibrations, and settings for those with physical or mobility disabilities.
Underwater, players can have infinite breath. They can launch melee combos and use alternate controls. For the first time in a Naughty Dog game, the game offers full control customization. This allows players to remap every command to a different controller input, including touchpad swipes and controller shake. You can adapt for things like using a right hand or left hand only.
Because holding or rapidly tapping buttons can be challenging for some players, Naughty Dog added individual options to change every button hold into a toggle, and every rapid press into a hold. Returning from Uncharted 4, it also provided expanded options for camera assistance and lock-on aim.
Naughty Dog also thought about how to reduce motion sickness for many players. Players can adjust the camera shake, motion blur, camera follow distance, and even field of view. The developers also provided an option for a persistent white dot in the center of the screen. That has worked for me in the past, but I didn’t have these problems with Part II, which I have now played twice.
For blind or low-vision players, Naughty Dog creates a “golden path” of story progressions where players can move. They can use Enhanced Listen Mode to go off and find enemies or pickups instead. To help move through the game world, Naughty Dog also added options for simplified traversal input, ledge guard, and the ability to skip puzzles altogether.
For combat, if you have difficulty aiming, you can enable “slow motion” while aiming. You can also make the enemies dumber by turning off their flanking abilities or their ability to break free when you grab them. Now lots of people might joke that I — even though I don’t have physical impairments — need this sort of thing all of the time.
But I think it is awesome that the developers gave this options for those who really need them in order to progress in the game. It is amazing how many things that Naughty Dog was able to come up with by deliberately putting themselves in the shoes of people who need accessibility.
There are many more features and settings in the rest of the post. Naughty Dog thanked about seven people for helping them with the design. That means it isn’t a huge economic burden to think about these kinds of things.