Review copy of The Division 2 and Expansion provided courtesy of Ubisoft.
Review Updated 3/8/2020
“Washington D. C. is on the brink of collapse. Lawlessness and instability threaten our society, and rumors of a coup in the capitol are only amplifying the chaos.”Ubisoft
Believe it or not, this isn’t a real headline. It’s the description for The Division 2 coming March 15th from Ubisoft. As in the first game, in
Ubisoft took what they did well with Deaf/HoH accessibility in the first Division game, improved it, and added even more welcome features to improve the experience for Deaf/HoH players.
For subtitles, players have four options: None, scripted dialogue, dialogue and barks, and dialogue and barks plus full captions. You get example text of what each selection will look like (something I found very helpful as I played and tried to figure out who was speaking). You can also choose your size for text from small, medium, and large (large is shown in the above image). On top of that, you can adjust the contrast of the subtitle background (I found it necessary to increase it a bit from the default).
As in the first game, you’ve got the always helpful enemy proximity and approximate location indicator on your minimap/radar. The dashed red lines around the outside of the circle indicate that an enemy is in the distance, the solid bars filling in the circle indicate that the enemy is nearby. The red around the whole thing tells you you’re in a hostile area.
Also essential for Deaf/HoH players is the enemy gunfire direction and intensity indicator (the white bar with the pointy thing in the center of the screen).
A very new feature we’ll be seeing in more games in the future is the text-to-speech and speech-to-text options for the group chat. While the feature must be toggled on by every group member to work properly, it does make for a fully deaf/hoh accessible group chat experience when players turn it on.
One issue I ran into with the subtitles was in times when there was a lot of dialogue and barks and such going on, all of the text appearing onscreen at once didn’t stay onscreen for long enough for me to read and understand where it was all coming from.
All in all, when it comes to Deaf/HoH accessibility, The Division 2 is one of the most accessible online multiplayer games I’ve seen. Even with a few minor issues, Ubisoft has again set a standard for all games to strive. Deaf/HoH players will have a fair and equal experience (combat-wise) as our hearing peers.
Not surprisingly, Ubisoft has remedied everything I found to be an issue in the original release of the game. Now, I have to be perfectly honest here, I don’t know when these things were remedied because I am remarkably bad at The Division 2 because I need aim snapping or stickiness and for fairness as a multiplayer game, I understand that this game cannot have that. My solution is to simply not play it because it feels far too punishing for me to enjoy (this is why I have Far Cry and Ghost Recon, after all). So these wonderful updates to deaf/hoh accessibility may be new with the Warlords of New York expansion, but I can’t say for certain, so let’s just say they’re new.
The aforementioned confusion about where what dialogue was coming from? Fixed!
There is captioning for both the narrative dialogue (the purple-ish text with the speaker name) and captions with directional arrows for the in-game chatter of the people inhabiting the world.
The sound captioning also comes with directional indicators now too. I can move through DC and NYC knowing precisely who is whistling or coughing or sneezing and it helps immensely with immersion in this wonderfully horrible world Ubisoft has created.
The last new feature rounding out the new deaf/hoh accessibility stuff is the option to toggle on colored subtitles. While there are speaker names for all narrative dialogue subtitles, it’s now even easier to tell someone different is talking to you.
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