Microsoft has recently been striving for more accessibility in games, releasing the Xbox Adaptive Controller last year to give people with disabilities a viable way to play both PC and Xbox games. Gears 5 is the company’s biggest game of the year, and marks the first in-house production to really focus on being as approachable and accessible as possible.
The Coalition’s hard work has certainly paid off. Can I Play That, a site dedicated to reviewing video game accessibility options, has awarded Gears 5 a perfect score for including comprehensive options for deaf players and those that are hard of hearing. “Readers, you are about to see something I don’t think we’ve ever been able to do before in all of our years of Deaf/hoh accessibility reviews,” Courtney Craven’s review says. “What follows isn’t so much a review as it’s a series of ‘Look at all the things they got so very right.’ Because what they got right is everything. There’s not a single thing I can say needs improving in terms of Gears 5’s Deaf/hoh accessibility.”
Wow! Extremely proud of this and all the hard work the team did at @CoalitionGears , especially @ottosson to make #Gears5 our most approachable and accessible game to date. Thank you Courtney! https://t.co/DMOx4KvkYx
— Rod Fergusson (@GearsViking) September 5, 2019
The praise starts with how Gears 5 presents all of these options, with the first screen in the game letting you toggle subtitles and select text size before any gameplay or cutscenes begin. The subtitles themselves are lauded for being incredibly information-inclusive and unique compared to what you typically see in games. Subtitles not only relay spoken dialogue, but also tell you if a character is speaking off-camera (like over a radio), spell out various sound effects, and indicate what the speaker sounds like, including the non-speaking noises they make.
The most eye-opening aspect of Gears 5’s subtitles, however, is the fact that they let you know when the combat music stops. This is something most of us take for granted, with the soothing silence indicating that all of the enemies in a combat encounter are dead. Can I Play That says this is the first time a video game has indicated this to Deaf/hoh players.
There are additional accessibility options that extend to visuals and gameplay, too. There’s a damage indicator that makes it clear where you’re taking damage from, and readable bullet tracers let you know who’s shooting at you. All of the buttons can be remapped, which is particularly useful for those using non-standard controllers, and the chat function in online multiplayer has both text to speech and speech to text options. “Gears 5 is essentially a masterclass in Deaf/hoh accessibility,” Can I Play That’s review concludes. “Everything we’ve been harping about games lacking and therefore made more difficult for Deaf/hoh players to play has been implemented and in the six years I’ve been doing these reviews, damn it feels good to feel like, hey, people have been listening.”
Gears 5 has also received praise from the LGBTQ+ community for its inclusiveness. There are 19 pride banners you can choose to equip in multiplayer. When you’ve earned a commendation, your banner will be displayed behind your character at the end of the match, meaning you can share your love of robotics and Sea of Thieves, or proudly state your identity with pride flags including bisexual, polysexual, non-binary, and many more. Twitter user @ashiinu first pointed out the colourful new additions.
HEY GEARS HAS FUCKING PRIDE FLAGS IN GAME WHAT pic.twitter.com/vRhDSm3Xzy
— akii @ sera✨ (@ashiinu) September 5, 2019
Gears 5 launches on September 10 for Xbox One and PC, though those with Xbox Game Pass Ultimate can download it today. In the meantime, you can check out GameSpot’s review in progress, find out what all of the critics are saying, see what Cliff Bleszinski thinks of the cover, peruse some Gears-inspired jewellery, and discover how you can play it for just $1.
from GameSpot – Game News https://www.gamespot.com/articles/gears-5-praised-for-its-accessibility-options-and-/1100-6469690/