Mobility Game Review – Anthem

Updated to the full release version of the game

Anthem Mobility Accessibility
3.9 / 6 Reviewer
Keyboard & Mouse Controls
Gamepad Controls
Remappable Controls
QTE Accessibility
Hold/Toggle Options
3rd Party Software/Hardware Support

Anthem is a 3rd person view exploration and combat game by EA BioWare. I took a look at the accessibility for people with reduced mobility so I won’t comment much on any options not related to that. I played for about 3 hours using mouse and keyboard mainly and these are my conclusions.

When you first run the game you get a menu with a few options but nothing related to controls. After a cinematic you get to the first action moments to familiarize with the world and combat. This is played in third person view. A bit later you experience the city where you talk to NPCs, accept missions, change your equipment and all that. This section is played in first person view. Here the problems begin. You move using the usual WASD keys, or whatever you change them to, and use mouse to turn. The mouse turn rate is a bit low but nothing you can’t fix in the settings. Also motion sickness is easily triggered. This can be helped in part by going to Gameplay > General and disabling Pilot Head Bob.

This the Settings, Controls, General screen.

All the usual settings are here. Invert look, Invert Pilot Look, Invert Flight Look, Invert Swim Look… It’s nice that all these are separate. Here we also find Hold/Toggle switches for Sprint, Flight and Zoom. Zoom here seems to refer to aiming, it was confusing at first. All these are nice to avoid too much holding down buttons/keys. Finally an option so we start flying in the direction we are aiming which helps a bit.

Next we find Controller options.

We have different separate Sensitivity adjustment settings for Aiming, Zoom, Flight and Swim. These are very self-explanatory. Next you can choose your Control Stick Layout between Default, Southpaw, Legacy and Legacy Southpaw. These should come in handy for left handed players. You also have an option to alternate two functions but there is no proper button remapping which would be ideal. Last you can set your controller vibration amount from 100% down to off or up to 150%. This is a welcome setting as excessive vibration can cause discomfort for many players.

We arrive at Keyboard + Mouse.

This menu has the same sensitivity options as the previous one plus a few extra. For starters the Aim Sensitivity is the one you want to increase to help during first person mode but be aware that it has a different feel during combat. Then we have Vertical Aim Sensitivity Modifier. I don’t know why it’s a modifier based on Aim Sensitivity instead of its own setting alone as in other games but rising it a bit helps. Then comes the Precision and Response options for Flight and Swim which are hard to explain until later. Auto-Centered Strength and Delay control how fast the camera pans back to a centered position and how long it takes for this feature to activate since the moment you stop moving the camera. These two features are important also if you suffer from motion sickness.

Finally Key Bindings.

Nothing out of the ordinary here. You can rebind all keys, have a secondary bind for each action but you can’t assign the same key to different functions with a few exceptions. I would like to use a combination of keys (like shift+something) to reduce the number of needed keys but 30 different keys+mouse buttons is not that bad. The game makes good use of extra mouse buttons but still that’s a few too many keys especially considering some keys related to menu actions and such are hardcoded as we’ll see later. As a consolation most of these can be activated using the mouse cursor.

Dialog choices are performed by holding down the correspondent key/button. It’s a good way to avoid pressing the wrong key but the time you have to keep down the key is too long. And holding a key is used for basically everything, causing hands to become tired too often.

Hardcoded keys are a constant all through the game. Here you can see Y, U, T, P, F, R and Escape. These are a lesser evil thanks to menus being fully usable with the mouse but it’s still something all developers should address.

Finally some gameplay. Moving around is okay but it’s likely you will spend quite some time tuning your mouse sensitivity options. For starters if you raised Aim too much previously the camera will turn too fast here. As there is no Field Of View option motion sickness can be a problem especially with the heavy screenshake during combat, take off and landing. Fortunately, in Video > Graphics Settings there is an option called Camera Shake to reduce this effect . The same menu has Motion Blur and Depth of Field settings to help more with this problem. Combat is very fast and in some situations there’s so much going on it’s difficult to handle all the action. Turning down difficulty helps to not strain yourself but loot quality is worse. Some actions are more friendly with a keyboard like using your abilities while on a gamepad they require to press multiple buttons at once. Also as mentioned before interactions for item activation or resource gathering require holding down all the time.

Flying is a key component of the game and unfortunately mouse controls aren’t that good. You will notice two different circles ahead of you. You direct your flight by moving the mouse cursor, the further one circle is from the other the faster you turn. The movement of these circles can be tuned with Flight Precision to make your moves less abrupt and Flight Response to decrease your turn rate to avoid what you see in the picture, me turning in a spiral and getting dizzy. I spent some time adjusting all the Sensitivity options for Flight and after a while managed to find an okay spot for slow flights to traverse the world but nothing helped completely in dealing with the action moments. Flying seems much better with a gamepad and while those who can’t use one are at disadvantage it’s not as bad at it was in the beta.

Overall the mobility accessibility is okay but flying, a key component of the gameplay is certainly not great on keyboard and mouse. Gamepad controls are better for flying but require some difficult moves. Shorter hold down times would also be very helpful. Combat is too hectic quite often for people with low mobility or reduced strength. Finally and unrelated to mobility, if you suffer from motion sickness please remember the previously mentioned options.

Keyboard & Mouse Controls: How well the game plays using keyboard and mouse. Includes sensitivity options, aim assists. How hard it is to perform actions both during gameplay and in menus. – 4.5/6

Gamepad Controls: How well the game plays using a gamepad. Includes sensitivity options, aim assists, alternative button schemes, vibration adjustment. How hard it is to perform actions both during gameplay and in menus. – 4.5/6

Remappable Controls: If you can remap buttons, keys, mouse buttons. Allowing secondary keys for actions and a combination of multiple keys/buttons for an action. – 4.5/6.

QTE Accessibility: Options to partially/fully skip QTEs or use hold instead of smashing a key. – 5/6

Hold/Toggle Options: Hold/Toggle switches for aiming, running, walking, stealth, zooming… Having reasonable hold down times. – 5/6.

3rd Party Software/Hardware Support: If the game allows the use of hardware assists like Eye Trackers and compatibility with software like Autohotkey to create macros or remapping of keys/buttons. Some games don’t allow software like Autohotkey and thus make it impossible for many people play, risking even an account ban due to poor anti-cheating solutions. – 0/6

Anthony Martins is 42 and has been a gamer his whole life. He has SMA Type 2 and can be found on Twitter at @Black1976

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