The Last of Us Part 2 sets a new bar for AAA accessibility options

The Last of Us Part 2 sets a new bar for AAA accessibility options

As a studio, Naughty Dog is best known – outside of a certain Dorito-shaped orange marsupial – for their compelling and cinematic narratives. In 2013, The Last of Us gathered awards in droves for both its story and the performance of its lead cast. The Last of Us Part 2 is no slouch when it comes to acting or plot, but it has garnered recognition for a different reason: The phenomenal spread of accessibility options available in the game. 

Ellie’s journey may be a difficult one to stomach from an emotional standpoint, but Naughty Dog has gone out of its way to ensure it’s a tale that can be experienced by as many players as possible. Below, we’ve taken an in-depth look at the accessibility options available in The Last of Us Part 2 to show the ways they adjust the game or enable new control schemes.

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Opening Presets

Before you even begin the story, The Last of Us Part 2 will offer you the chance to pick between three different presets. This not only sets a precedent for normalizing accessibility options within big-budget games, it means players don’t need to hunt around in menus for the first hour of the game to ensure they can actually play it.

The Vision Accessibility Preset is designed for blind or low-vision players. The Hearing Accessibility Preset is aimed at players who are deaf or hard of hearing. Finally, the Motor Accessibility Preset is made for players with physical or motor disabilities. Here’s what’s included in each:

The full menus

Disabilities can vary drastically from person to person, which means a preset can often change too much (or too little) for any one individual. Thankfully, by diving into the full accessibility menu, players can make finer adjustments to controls, HUD elements, audio and much more. In each case, it’s possible to tune many different factors. 

As an example, subtitle size and legibility is a recurring issue in modern games. Even for those with perfect vision, the make and size of your TV can drastically affect how easy it is to read different texts. In The Last of Us Part 2, you can adjust not only HUD Scale, but the background and color too, or even turn on a screen magnifier which enlarges certain elements when needed. Here’s a look at each of the menus included in the accessibility options:

Alternate Controls

Magnification and Visual Aids

Motion Sickness

Navigation and Traversal

Text-To-Speech and Audio Cues

Combat Accessibility

Open to everyone

It’s important to remember that accessibility options don’t only benefit those with motor, visual or hearing disabilities. For players less experienced with gaming, the intense pressures of combat in a game like The Last of Us Part 2 can be a huge barrier to entry, but by offering a combat accessibility menu, the game can be tailored to each person’s level. Features like weapon sway aimed at testing more experienced gamers can be turned off, enemy detection ranges and accuracy can be adjusted, and slow motion can be enabled at any time. 

None of these features may be the right fit for you, but they can help someone else enjoy the same thrills and adventure without being frustrated by an impossible challenge. The Last of Us Part 2 may not technically break new ground with its inclusion of accessibility options; smaller indie games like Celeste have been paving the way in that regard. However, it helps set the bar for future AAA releases. A bar we hope many other companies will raise their efforts to meet.

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Henry Stenhouse was formerly a PhD physicist before being born anew in the fires of game journalism. An unashamed Super Smash Bros. fanatic, he’s still waiting for the rest of the editorial team to accept his daily challenges for an Ultimate showdown. Other genres of interest include FPS, RTS and western RPGs. You can follow him on Twitter at @Fernoface