NCCC2019: A Hands On Look at ‘The Division 2’s’ Accessibility Features

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The Division 2s Accessibility
Red Storm Entertainment’s booth at NC COMICON in Raleigh, taken from NC Comic Con Raleigh Oak City’s Facebook page.

NC COMICON offered a demo of The Division 2 as presented by Red Storm Entertainment, a Ubisoft Studio based out of Carey, NC. The Studio primarily worked on the PVP and Dark Zone portion of the game but were able to show an early look at the game as well as talk about some of its features. I got playthrough a mission in the open world environment, test out a few abilities, toggle with a lot of The Division 2‘s accessibility options, and speak to the team on Saturday and Sunday of the convention.

I rented the game’s predecessor, The Division, but ended up not playing it for very long. The game itself is hard and not traditionally my type of game. But similar to Far Cry New Dawn, I will happily play things out of my comfort zone or something that is not reviewed up to standard if it has accessibility options that make me feel seen. Following my playthrough at NC COMICON, I am eager to play more of The Division 2.

Ubisoft continues to push boundaries in the world of video game accessibility, even boundaries it sets itself. I previously boasted about how revolutionary the subtitles were in Far Cry New Dawn and while these are a tad different, the subtitles in The Division 2 do not have the visual prompts like in Far Cry New Dawn, they are still incredible.

The Division 2‘s accessibility offers a lot of customization in regards to subtitles from traditional dialogue-only subtitles to full captioning. The full close-captioning options even in the description say for players deaf or hard of hearing. The acknowledgment of players with disabilities while seemingly obvious, actually means a lot.

The Division 2's Accessibility

Players can choose what option fits best for them, their limitations or disabilities, as well as their play style. Additionally, The Division 2 does something I have not seen in a game before, it offered 10 different subtitle contrasting options. This means there were 10 options for backgrounds behind the subtitles for players to better see the subtitles. This is in addition to multiple font sizes for subtitles. All of this proves that Ubisoft understands many gamers need subtitles to play their games.

The game also had settings specifically for color blind players which while common in multiple player games, is something I don’t see as much in single player experiences. Though, to be quite frank I never have had too. It is hard to be conscious of every accessible option that is required for all disabilities and limitations since there are so many and I can really only ever speak for myself. That being said, while I am not color blind, I do have light sensitivity issues due to my vestibular migraines so I greatly appreciate seeing these options being offered to players.

The game also allows players to customize their HUD, meaning they can remove or move their mini-map or any other icon on their screen and place it elsewhere. This is not only fantastic for streamers but for players who may have specific eyesight issues.

It is clear the team has put a considerable amount of time and effort into researching options to make this game as accessible as possible. It is important to note that the game is still hard. I played on an Xbox controller, I usually play on a PlayStation 4, but I died quite a bit.

Since The Division 2 has an online component, it does not have difficult sliders or modes like single-player games. Additionally, the game cannot be paused for this same reason unless you are in a safe area. While fans of looter shooters, like Destiny or Anthem, or other online games know this, it is a new experience for me and a hurdle I worry about as a disabled gamer since if I get joint pain or experience any type of fatigue, I won’t have the option to just pause.

Recently while playing the Resident Evil 2 remake, I had to pause multiple times during a major boss fight just because of the way I was forced to press down on the analog sticks of my controller. The Division 2 also uses the analog sticks to run and while boss fights more than likely are very different in this game, I imagine not being able to pause could still be a major issue for me. However, the game can still be played by yourself. Unlike the first one, The Division 2 features friendly AI squads that can be called to defeat enemy strongholds. The game is a direct sequel to the original but is still very accessible to newcomers of the franchise.

Overall, this is a game I am more than willing to try even if it is something I would not usually go out and buy. I commend Ubisoft for listening to disabled gamers and activists and incorporating so many options into their games.

The Division 2 is out now on Xbox One, PlayStation 4 and PC.