Far Cry 6’s accessibility features are just not heavenly

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The problem with writing accessibility reviews is that they are accessibility reviews. We do our best, but no individual can adequately judge what several teams have created for an ever wider audience. And as games get more complex, new problems arise that need to be answered by new innovations while we don’t have to answer the old ones. Far Cry 6’s approach to accessibility highlights both the industry’s radical advancement towards inclusion and its frustrating current pitfalls.

Before we dive into the settings and gameplay, it’s worth noting that Far Cry 6 greets you with a warning about the game’s epilepsy triggers and a disclaimer that it contains potentially disturbing topics such as drug use and addiction. The Far Cry series is known for its mature themes, and age and content ratings are an industry standard, so the specificity of these warnings makes a strong first impression. As recently as last December, CD Projekt Red attempted to add a seizure alert to Cyberpunk 2077 after receiving a backlash for not deploying one. While I’m not epileptic and none of my trauma triggers are listed, it’s comforting to know that as a new Far Cry player, I won’t be surprised. It told me that Ubisoft’s development teams were deeply aware of different user experiences.

In fact, like other Ubisoft titles in recent years, Far Cry 6 aims to normalize accessibility and disability. After a nice assembly of credits, I am presented with Ubisoft’s promised list with extensive settings that I can adjust to my preferences. Most of them are related to accessibility, but graphics and gameplay settings are also displayed before you reach the main menu. By placing detailed subtitle settings next to the gamma and brightness sliders so that they are in the foreground when the game starts, there is a refreshing feeling that accessibility is not an add-on for marginalized gamers. it is the core of the game design.

And when Ubisoft said the list of settings was extensive, they meant business. I would have to dedicate paragraphs to this review to list and discuss all of them, some of which are not relevant to my disability. Please do me and yourself a favor by checking them out here.

Highlights include: text-to-speech menu narration and support for Tobii eye trackers; two difficulty modes, story and action; the directional subtitle option introduced in Far Cry New Dawn; Color options for outlines of enemies and objects; Color blind modes; Target assistance and target acquisition; a mode without the stick; the option to assign two different keys to the same command; and compatibility with the on-screen keyboard (OSK), which I’ll examine later.

Far Cry 6’s approach to accessibility shows both the radical advancement of the industry and its pitfalls

Oh, and while it’s not a dedicated accessibility feature, auto-drive is one of my favorite features. No switching of mouse profiles between running and vehicle sections for me or missing beautifully designed surroundings through fast travel.

The sheer customizability is overwhelming. Fortunately, the user interface is easy to navigate, and the settings are grouped into five different presets – hearing, visual, cognitive, movement, and motor – that you can dive into for further fine-tuning. In addition, both the mouse and keyboard and gamepad controls can be completely reassigned and are divided into subsections: general, walking, transport (vehicle, horse, helicopter, airplane, angelito), menus (menus, map, Photo mode) and mini-games (cockfight, dominoes).

Driving in Far Cry 6

My only gripe with the user interface is that the font size used for option descriptions is small and fixed. It’s quite an oversight, especially for a company that has received praise in the past for its readable subtitle size options.

If Far Cry 6’s accessibility options blend in with the gameplay, it’s a dream

The UI font size isn’t the only inconsistency. Since I can hit ‘Back’ or ‘Escape’ with my mouse on the menu screens, I’m surprised I can’t do the same with Notes or Tutorial Cards. I am using an app that connects the keyboard of my iPhone to my laptop.

And it seems like Far Cry 6’s story difficulty mode fluctuates wildly, whether I bombard myself with enemies or give myself so few that I can stand still during firefights without being in real danger. I only die when the game pits me against too many enemies to count or when I try to play with the on-screen keyboard only.

Accessibility of the engine in Far Cry 6.  preset

Surprisingly, during my time with Far Cry 6, the on-screen keyboard gives me the most frustration. Since I suffer from a degenerative disease, spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), I rely on the OSK. It’s my preferred way of playing. Unfortunately, action and shooter games traditionally lock your cursor to camera movement and are therefore not compatible with the OSK. That’s why I hadn’t touched an action game until 2019 when a friend told me about Dragon Age’s compatibility with the OSK, or a shooter until 2020 when I could risk buying a relocatable gaming mouse that may not fit my grip.

Far Cry 6 is technically compatible with OSK as it allows you to unlock the cursor and remap camera movement. So far, so good. But if Ubisoft’s goal was to remove the barrier to entry for players like me, then unfortunately it failed. Whenever I move the mouse over the OSK while my cursor is assigned to the camera movement, I no longer look at the floor. When I map camera movement to my keyboard, I can’t keep up with enemies. The use of the OSK to remap keyboard commands is also registered as a mouse click. At some point while trying to figure all this out, I accidentally injure my poor alligator companion, Guapo.

In the end I gave up. I play in windowed mode anyway to be able to easily switch profiles on my mouse, so I’ll keep the OSK open and use it to open the game’s menus, but it’s clear that OSK compatibility doesn’t work properly in the FPS- Gameplay of Far Cry 6 is integrated.

Reading Notes in Far Cry 6

I wouldn’t be so disappointed with the lack of OSK compatibility if it didn’t reflect my experience with Far Cry 6’s accessibility tools and the gaming industry’s approach as a whole: excruciatingly close to radical integration, but still so far. I’m not upset because Ubisoft did a bad job, I’m upset because their advances make the remaining inaccessibility of Far Cry 6 even more glaring. If Far Cry 6’s accessibility options blend in with the gameplay, that’s to die for. I have no hearing impairment, but the directional subtitles combined with the cloaking system help my reaction time in combat and become a natural part of the gameplay. That is accessibility.

I don’t recommend Far Cry 6 to people with my disabilities (a shame as the co-op game allows for speech-to-text communication), but I recommend gamers and game developers to look at accessibility and think about what is possible. After all, every revolution is built on those who preceded it.

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