Thanks to New Features, The Last of Us Part II is Naughty Dog’s Most Accessible Game

Naughty Dog isn’t known for producing the most accessible games, but the studio made an effort to turn things around. This change originally took shape during development on Uncharted 4: A Thief’s End. At the time, the team received a letter from someone who couldn’t complete Uncharted 2 due to rapid button presses for a Quick Time Event. Lead Gameplay Designer Emilia Schatz admitted that accessibility options in Uncharted 4 were “pretty sparse,” but the studio still received positive feedback. With all of the above in mind, developers doubled down on such features for The Last of Us Part II, making it Naughty Dog’s most accessible project to date.

In an interview with The Verge, Schatz outlined the myriad options players will have access to upon booting up the sequel. One notable feature includes the ability to largely navigate the apocalyptic world using sound. Another presents itself in a zoom element via the DualShock 4’s touchpad. Regardless of the array of possibilities, Naughty Dog had one goal in mind–ensuring fans couldn’t get stuck like the aforementioned Uncharted 2 player.

According to Schatz, “accessibility for us is about removing barriers that are keeping players from completing a game. It’s not about dumbing down a game or making a game easy. What do our players need in order to play the game in parity with everyone else?”

All told, Part II features 60 accessibility options. In the game’s menu, players will be to enable visual aids and audio cues, as well as adjust elements for controls, combat, and navigation. The Verge notes that while a number of these capabilities are standard, quite a few seem rather advanced. For example, a text-to-speech option reads out in-game menus and notes that Ellie finds. Audio cues go off whenever collectibles or other items are in close proximity. These same audio cues should prove helpful in alerting players of when they’re close to a ledge, too.

In exploring accessibility elements, Naughty Dog wanted to guarantee the tone remained unchanged. Tense situations and a sense of dread pervade The Last of Us for a reason; thus, accessibility options needed to adhere to as much. Game Designer Matthew Gallant explained, “when we’re making an accessibility option, we wanted to match that tone as best as possible. We didn’t want to make something that felt off, or dissonant with the themes.”

A new high-contrast mode is in place for those with low-vision, rendering the game in a light grey hue, while allies appear blue in color and enemies are red. This proved challenging with regards to maintaining tone, Schatz divulged. For moments of ambiguity, for instance, the team pondered whether friends or foes behaving more ambivalently should appear in altered colors for low-vision players.

Fans can judge for themselves how it all works out soon enough. The Last of Us Part II will finally launches later this month for the PS4 on June 19th.

[Source: The Verge]