Titanfall brings video game accessibility to the first person shooter in the next generation of gaming with a redefinition of FPS gameplay.
The FPS genre not only dominated the previous console generation but reiterated the same basic gameplay mechanics over and over again. We saw entire franchises built on the same mechanics from Call of Duty to Battlefield to Medal of Honor. Titanfall doesn’t bring all video game accessible features to the consoles but shows how reinventing the standard FPS gameplay for inclusiveness brings more disabled gamers into the twitch based genre.
Titanfall is a multiplayer only game with Classic Multiplayer for standard multiplayer matches and Campaign Multiplayer that tells the story of the Militia and Interstellar Manufacturing Corporation (IMC) battling for control of limited resources via audio clips and the occasional cutscene that play before and during multiplayer matches. Titanfall’s narrative strength lies within its world building by the detail in each map. Empty factories with the occasional robot continuing the work tells of the IMC’s vast resources in comparison to the Militia seizing spaceship crash sites. The warfare translates into both factions dropping into battles with a team of six Pilots. Each Pilot can call down a Titan, a gigantic robot equipped with many guns, multiple times throughout a match for more firepower. Additionally on the battlefield are grunts, AI soldiers, for each faction who can kill and be killed.
Titanfall’s video game accessibility for FPS gameplay is a byproduct of allowing for new playstyles into FPS multiplayer matches. Traditionally FPS games required nearly instantaneous reactions because taking out an opposing player requires a combination of spotting the player, positioning the shot, and successfully firing before being killed. In fact, success in the single player campaign didn’t transfer into multiplayer matches due to the unpredictability of human opponents. In Titanfall, FPS conventions are overturned.
No single gameplay mechanic makes the game accessible for disabled players. Instead, a series of changes to the usual formula gives players more playstyle options within the FPS genre.
Disabled gamers with fine motor disabilities who struggle with aiming and firing long enough to kill enemy players now have the option of weapons that feature an auto-lock. Titanfall’s weaponry includes a variety of weapons that provide auto aim at the expense of more time needed to fire. The Smart Pistol automatically locks onto all nearby enemies within a direct line of sight. Dropping into a hallway with three grunt soldiers and downing all with a single trigger press is an epic feeling. However, locking onto other Pilots requires additional time while maintaining a line of sight on a wall running Pilot who is unloading a round at you. Similarly, anti-Titan weapons, which are the more powerful options needed for defeating Titans, and Titan weapons include auto-aim options.
Additionally, disabled gamers who require customizable controller layouts have more options than in standard FPS games. For the Xbox One and Xbox 360 multiple controller configurations are available but complete remapping is only offered on PC. Overall the controller options allow for swapping and combining the functions of the analog sticks, moving and camera control. Button layout options change around jumping, use of the Pilot’s tactical ability (such as cloaking, radar, etc…), crouching, use of ordinances and melee attacks for each player to find their best ease of use for the special abilities used most.
The biggest controller change is the Automatic Sprint option. The Automatic Sprint “Always” feature gives disabled players the option to remove a button input entirely. Rather than pressing forward and down on an analog stick in order to run, the feature removes the need to press down by toggling sprint as the Pilot’s default movement. Automatic Sprint “Delayed” automatically transitions the Pilot into a sprint after a short delay or the option can be turned off entirely.
Deaf and hard of hearing gamers who are unable to understand the voiced instructions in multiplayer modes because multiplayer infamously doesn’t include subtitles now have access to the voiced dialogue. Titanfall provides subtitles for all voiced dialogue from the tutorial instructions to the support’s in-game instructions to the Campaign Multiplayer’s narrative audio and cutscenes. Note, that in Campaign Multiplayer a bug causes the subtitles for the audio narration that plays prior to each match only displaying in the Burn Cards menu.
Titanfall stumbles most in video game accessibility for visual disabilities with a heavy reliance on color for communicating information. While the default color use for differentiating amongst teams are light orange and light blue there is no colorblind mode that allows players to adjust the colors to their individual needs. A recent patch differentiates party members with light yellow. Additionally, red and blue are used often in-game such as red reticles, a Titan’s weak spot for a particular anti-Titan weapon is highlighted in red, as well as the mini map and other visual cues showing teammates in blue and the enemy in red. On the mini map circles are used for ground forces and triangles for Titans but otherwise the map is differentiated by color. The lack of colorblind support is particularly surprising in a game that has otherwise pushed forward video game accessibility but left behind what was a commonly found disability accessibility feature.
Still, for disabled gamers playing Titanfall a wide variety of disability related obstacles makes a fast response to the unexpected movements of enemy Pilots who wall run, jump, cloak, and other defensive actions prevent successful kills despite the available features.
The presence of “grunts,” AI filler soldiers, adds to the action on the battlefield while providing easier targets to rack up kills and boost confidence. While grunts are a fatal threat to Pilots who ignore their presence, grunts’ behavior is much more predictable which gives all players the opportunity to do well.
Additionally, every Pilot can call down a Titan eventually within a match. Titanfall doesn’t have “Kill Streaks.” Kills and other points reduces the time for Titan availability. The Titans provide different gameplay options that literally allows players to step on enemy Pilots or set the Titan in “Guard” mode and pick off attacking Pilots who are focused on your Titan.
But if the deaths keep coming, activate a Burn Card. Burn Cards are a one-time use feature that lasts the length of a life and provide bonuses such as reduced time for Titan availability, grunts are conscripted to fight for you, weapons with increased firepower, and more. Burn Cards address a variety of disability related needs. While useless to me as a deaf gamer, the Burn Card Spider Sense provides a “…audible warning when enemy players are nearby.” My favorite Burn Card, Adrenaline Transfusion, increases movement and health regeneration that I combine with the tactical ability Active Radar Pulse to see players through walls. With these abilities, I can quickly rush to enemy Pilots based on visual cues.
While the multiplayer modes are fairly standard – Attrition (aka Team Deathmatch), Hardpoint Domination, Last Titan Standing (destruction of all Titans ends the match), Pilot Hunter, and Capture the Flag. I still struggle with randomly locating and killing enemy Pilots. Hardpoint Domination and Capture the Flag gives me alternative means to score, by holding and defending locations, while also providing areas where enemy Pilots are guaranteed to appear.
Video game accessibility is about equal access into a game and gaming is about progressing. Titanfall also rewards experience based on completing Challenges. Challenges range from essentially playing the game such as, “Play ten rounds” to “Play in a Titan for 1 hour.” To more complicated maneuvers such as, “Kill a Pilot who is ejecting 5 times.“ Completing Challenges rewards experience that is required for levelling up. Disabled players who struggle obtaining experience points in multiplayer matches can rely on Challenges for levelling up because many Challenges rewards the player for playing the game or for using basic gameplay mechanics such as wall running a certain distance.
Titanfall isn’t without its video game accessibility faults. Color based visuals exists with no options for customizing the User Interface such as red reticles, red areas on Titans signaling weak areas, and red/blue dots on the minimap. Subtitles displayed during frantic multiplayer requires instant readability with opaque rather than translucent backgrounds for the text. Full controller remapping is only available on the PC.
Titanfall sets a new standard within FPS games by introducing new game mechanics in order to welcome all, not only seasoned FPS players, into the game. Titanfall is a AAA release for the new console generation and is setting new standards for video game accessibility within FPS gameplay for the next generation of games.
Overall Rating: Partially Accessible
Visual Rating: Partially Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Partially Accessible
Auditory Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Released for: Xbox One, Xbox 360, PC
ESRB Rating: M
GameInformer Score: 9.25 (Xbox One/PC), 9.00 (Xbox 360)
The Bottom Line: Titanfall
-Follow up patches providing more UI differentiation.
– No colorblind support and a range of information is communicated by color.
– No customization of the UI.
– PC allows for full controller remapping.
-Automatic Spring “Always” toggles an important function.
-Weapons with auto aim.
– Consoles don’t include full controller remapping.
– All dialogue in Campaign and Classic Multiplayer modes are subtitled.
-Pilot Tactical Ability allows to see all other players through walls.
-Subtitles aren’t instantly readable during hectic multiplayer matches.
This article has been transferred from DAGERSystem (now AbilityPoints). Scores, formatting, and writing style may differ from original CIPT content.