Sony Santa Monica has been sharing more information about the highly anticipated God of War Ragnarök as the upcoming title is this month’s Cover Story for Game Informer. So far, they have detailed some of the new additions to combat and what went into the making of a whole new realm, Svartalfheim. Today, Sony Santa Monica talks about what went into the thinking behind the game’s 60-plus accessibility features.
Some of God of War Ragnarök’s accessibility features include auto-sprinting, auto-pickup, automated platforming, direction indicators for combat sequences, camera navigation assistance orienting to the current objective, controller visualization so streamers can share moment-to-moment button inputs, abilities that can be mapped and triggered with swipes on the DualSense controller’s touchpad, and more. Lead UX designer, Mila Pavlin focused on providing options for players of all walks of life. “This is a fantasy epic,” Pavlin says. “This is about a father and son. This is about fate and the Nine Realms. And the ability to go into that, regardless of your background, and be able to experience all this rich detail and history and story? That drives me every day.”
With the help of a wide spectrum of consultants and testers, including veterans and blind players, Pavlin’s team concentrated on four key fields: Vision, Hearing, Motor Skills, and Cognitive Understanding. Several new features for the game cover these goals. A high contrast mode allows players to apply specific colors to item types, character types, backdrops and more. This is to increase general visibility and lessen visual clutter. Audio cues coupled with captions indicate button prompts in the general area and hint toward puzzle-timing modifications. Skill shots – hitting objects mid-fall or swinging on an arc – can be easily executed by accessing the game’s settings and slowing down environmental targets for example.
Pavlin wanted to find a healthy balance between God of War’s intensity and enabling players to overcome challenges in meaningful ways.
“Accessibility features are not just accessibility features,” Pavlin said. “They also help to improve the experience for everyone. Ragnarök is about moving into the next phase. For us, that meant including more people, making sure that people can customize more, and making sure that it’s a comfortable play experience for everybody.”
Despite the number of accessibility features, Pavlin believes it can go further.
“60-plus features is tremendous to get to,” she says. “I still think we can do better. I think we can push it further. But honestly, I feel like people will be excited to see just how many more players can play. And if I can push a feature to the point where one more player – just one more player – could play, then that would be the greatest thing in the world; to be able to see that one player and understand how that lets them connect with the community and connect with everyone.”