The Battlefield series has made a name for itself as one of the premier multiplayer experiences in the first person shooter genre. From the standpoint of accessibility, it does most things well, with just a few missteps along the way.
Battlefield 4 is mainly a multiplayer game. The problem with the multiplayer is that there did not seem to be a mode that did not place the player in a team. Disabled players can often attest to their frustration of feeling like a boat anchor when they let down teams of players they do not know in multiplayer matches they cannot play. If any disabled player can get past this issue, however, and learn to work in teams, the sheer variety in Battlefield 4 should make it easier for players to find a role that fits them, even if they are having trouble leveling up their soldier and unlocking the weapons that make the gameplay more accessible. For example, if a player is having trouble completing objectives in a multiplayer match, they can always function in a support role by driving a truck or manning a turret. Thankfully, the driving controls are extremely simple, mapped to a single joystick on the controller. The other problem with Battlefield 4 focusing on multiplayer is that it requires players to communicate with each other, which feat players with speech and hearing impediments may have trouble accomplishing. But they can still participate, especially given the game’s commander mode, which allows them to issue commands to squads of real soldiers using an overhead map interface.
Thankfully, however, the base mechanics of the gameplay exhibited in the single player and (to a large extent) in the multiplayer are fairly successful. For players with visual disabilities, there is not one but three color blind modes. Beyond this, nothing relies on fine detail, except for the text of the subtitles, which can be a little hard to read. And while it is true that it is possible to lose sight of enemies against cluttered backgrounds, the fact that the campaign offers a pair of binoculars which let players mark enemies within their line of sight mitigates this barrier greatly.
For those with fine motor impairments, the mechanics of Battlefield 4 are not quite as accessible. While it is true that the game features no quick time events and allows players to switch weapons as many times as they want in individual missions by walking up to weapons crates and picking from a large list, the fact of the matter is that it seems like the developer went just up to the line that would have made Battlefield 4 barrier free—without crossing it. There is extensive controller customization to a point. The controls are not fully remappable, however, but rather the controller is broken down into zones and functions, the layout for each of which can be selected from a list. So the reality is that while the controller customization is through, it falls short of being anything remarkable in the FPS genre. Beyond that, the campaign in Battlefield 4 is closer to a military simulation rather than a straight first person shooter. Players can expect to pilot boats, drive cars, and maybe even fly an airplane. And while the controls are simple, this is something worth noting for players who may be expecting a game more like Call of Duty.
For players with hearing disabilities, this game features fully comprehensive subtitles that are labeled to let you know who is speaking. There is no other reliance on sound. As stated before, the problem for hearing impaired players will come in multiplayer, which really is the focus of Battlefield 4.
On the whole, Battlefield 4 is more accessible than some previously reviewed first person shooter games, but one or two things keep it from being truly barrier free.
Overall Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Visual Rating: Barrier Free
Fine-Motor Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Auditory Rating: Barrier Free
GameInformer Score: 8.75
The Bottom Line for Disabled Gamers: Battlefield 4
– Three distinct colorblind modes are available.
– Thorough controller customization.
– Controller customizations are not comprehensive.
– Thorough subtitles.
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