Cyberpunk 2077 – Accessibility Analysis So Far

CD Projekt Red’s upcoming science-fiction RPG, Cyberpunk 2077 is heading our way later this year in November for Xbox One, PS4, PC, and will also be available on Xbox Series X and the PS5. However, despite lots of gameplay footage, there have been no real official mentions of accessibility features that are going to be available in the game when it does eventually launch.

As someone who’s excited to get lost in the fictional world of Night City, I’m going to take a deep dive into available videos, both past, and present, and have a look at some of the possible accessibility settings. I’ll also be looking at what improvements we’ve seen from said videos as well as touching on my concerns with what has currently been shown, and also my hopes for what we’ll see at launch. You can watch the video below which has subtitles available. There’s also a full transcription available below.


Transcription

[Talking to self] Let’s do this! Wake the F up, Samurai!

Hi, I’m Steve Saylor. I’m blind, and if you’re wondering how I’m able to play video games if I’m blind, if you take a look at the video here, you can be able to see exactly what I see when I’m playing video games.

Today’s episode, I am gonna be talking about Cyberpunk 2077. As you can probably tell, I am a really big fan of it. I’m looking forward to it, I’m wearing my Cyberpunk 2077 shirt. I’m wearing my E3 Cyberpunk jacket that I got last year. So the hype for this game for me, personally, is really, really cool. I’m excited to jump into this world. I love cyberpunk, the genre, and of course “The Matrix” is literally my favorite movie of all time. Hold on, I can even show you something. I have had this since, when I was, like in my early twenties. I bought “The Matrix” box set when I was in my early twenties when I started making money. And it is one of my prized possessions. Actually, you know what, I’m gonna set that up here.

Okay, as you can tell, I am really looking forward to Cyberpunk 2077 when it comes out. So in today’s video, I’m actually going to be jumping in and taking a really deep dive look into some of the possible accessibility settings that I can see. Some improvements based on what we’ve seen in the past, and compared to what we see now, what with all the gameplay footage that’s been recently released.

Cyberpunk 2077 man walking toward car in desert

Now, we haven’t seen any of the options, or specifically any accessibility settings in any of the recent demos that we’ve seen, or gameplay from Night City Wire, even going back to a few of the demos from previous years. And also, some of the people that I have talked to who have played the game recently, are not sure what accessibility settings are gonna be there. So this is all speculative, based on just kind of my own experience as a consultant and an advocate, and this is something I always look into, so I’m really interested to kind of see what is there.

I do have some concerns, but I do have some hope, based on kind of looking at the footage from 2018 moving forward on what they have improved on, in regards to the HUD. Now, I can’t look into any of the motor accessibility, because that, we really can’t see until, unless you get into the options and see what is actually there. Or, being able to kind of hold the controller in people’s hands in order to be able to see if they can be able to play.

I do have a hope for it, because Xbox is sort of like the primary console for, at least the primary marketing console for this, so we know it is gonna be on Xbox One, and also Xbox Series X. And the adaptive controller that Xbox does have will work with this game, along with co-pilot. So we’ll see how that will fare in, when Cyberpunk 2077 is finally released. But, I won’t be able to touch on any of the motor accessibility settings, other than that today. What I’m really gonna be looking at is sort of the deaf and hard of hearing, and the blind accessibility for this game.

Cyberpunk 2077 dark corridor with small HUD

So, let’s jump right in, into some of the things that I saw, what I have concerns about, and what I’m really hoping for. So, first off, you have to kinda compare previous years to what has recently been released. And we’re all gonna kinda be looking at the HUD, or Heads-Up Display, of the game, because that’s really kind of what mostly we’ve seen in the gameplay footage that has been released. And there has been some improvements. There has been sort of some UI improvements over the past several years.

If you take a look at the footage from 2018, it was pretty sparse, and it was a little bit scary for those in accessibility, because a lot of the text was really, really small, it was pushed to the far corners of the screen, and was difficult to able to see for any person with a visual impairment. And even those who are deaf and hard of hearing, who have to rely on the information that is in the Heads-Up Display, that would be also difficult as well.

Cyberpunk 2077 2019 HUD example

Now, in 2019 there wasn’t really that much more improvement, but we kinda started to see a few things, like the subtitle size being increased, and I’ll get into subtitles in a second. And some of the HUD elements kind of been changing a little bit. But in 2020, and what we’ve seen in the recent gameplay that’s been released, we have seen a little bit of an overhaul in the UI that does make it look like there are larger UI elements that are being put in.

Now, we don’t know whether or not any of these are customizable, which would be fantastic. Whenever you sort of make accessibility settings, in regards to the HUD, having more customizability, I don’t even know if that’s a word is better than, is better because then the player can be able to customize what works best for them, than sort of the game determining, here’s what we think you should be able to look at. So there have been some things, like the right, the top-right corner has been changed and tweaked slightly. It also includes a mini-map.

Now, the mini-map is a little bit difficult to be able to read. I personally don’t mind it as much, because the map essentially has a lot of bright colors and bright lights that make it, that’s the think I kind of point to, even though I can’t see any detail in it, I can at least be able to see, okay, my marker is either north of me, west of me, east of me. I do have to say that the map is kinda small, and there’s not a lot of detail there. It would’ve been great to be able to see waypoints, or even a directional sort of track that’s, that whenever you’re driving a vehicle, as to where you’re supposed to go.

Cyberpunk 2077 lots of HUD elements from 2020

Because I mean, it’s a cyberpunk world, do you think that like, there is sort of precedent that could be made that there is a chip that’s sort of like a GPS navigational chip that you can install into your body that allows you to be able to see where you’re supposed to go. And I hope that’s something that could be in, I just hope that it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to find and unlock this feature, ’cause if you have to find and unlock that feature, and you’re not unlocking it as an option for those who benefit from this, especially those with disabilities, that can be a little iffy. And it’s not best recommended for that.

The one thing that we haven’t really seen a change in, or an update for, is anything in regards to the character creation. We have seen a bit of the character creation stuff in the 2018 and 2019 demo, and I did have concerns then, because there’s a lot of UI elements that would make it really difficult to see, even under the best of circumstances. So, I’m hoping that there are definitely improvements for that within the UI. Or at least options to be able to adjust that. Or hopefully, even a text-to-speech reader. If there’s a text-to-speech reader in Cyberpunk 2077, I would absolutely love that.

Seeing how much “The Last of Us” was able to implement that, and even “Gears Tactics” was able to implement that, I really do hope that with the amount of text that’s gonna be in this game, that there is at least the ability to be able to use a text-to-speech reader. The narrator that’s built into either the Playstation or Xbox consoles, or their own built-in. I really do hope that that’s something that would be implemented.

Cyberpunk 2077 HUD example 2020

Now, there’s one visual element that I haven’t brought up, and that’s colorblind mode. There is a heavy reliance on red, blue, and yellow as the main colors of a lot of the UI and HUD elements that you see on screen. And I haven’t seen anything in regards to being able to change that color in Cyberpunk 2077. I do hope that within the options, that we’ll be able to see if there’s a colorblind filter, or colorblind modes, or even adding like color schemes that would make it a lot easier for those with colorblindness to be able to adjust and kind of customize their HUD and UI experience that works best for them.

So now let’s jump into subtitles. Now subtitles has been in each of these demos since 2018, and I have actually seen a little bit of an improvement year over year. The first year in 2018, there was subtitles, and there was a tag to let you know who is speaking, but there really wasn’t anything there other than that. The text size was also pretty small, and the font choice is not something that is easily readable, in comparison to other games. So there was a bit of concern there when that first came out.

In 2019, even though it didn’t really look like that there was much improvement, if you kinda compare 2018 and 2019, you can definitely a little bit of a higher contrast, and also a larger font kind of put in for those subtitles. You still had the speaker tag, you didn’t really have any other indications other than that as to where that person was speaking, as compared to, obviously, “The Last of Us” but we have seen that there was a little bit of improvement there. And then, in 2020, with the subtitles, there actually is, if you look closely, there is a sort of subtle shadow gradient behind the subtitles, so that makes me wonder and speculate that there could be subtitle options in Cyberpunk 2077 that would allow you to change the background of the subtitles to either make it opaque, semi-transparent, or transparent.

Cyberpunk 2077 car driving first person

And hopefully there is a possibility of increasing the font size of those subtitles. Now the other concern I have for the subtitles is that any of the NPCs you encounter, and if they’re speaking, there is a subtitle above their heads, that reads out exactly what they’re saying. And including actually, from what I saw in the 2019 demo at E3 last year, there is a chip that you can actually be able to install into your head within the game that would translate any languages that’s being spoken. However, the issue I have, or the concern I have, is that the text is really small, and would be really difficult to be able to see from further away until you got even closer to them. And even then, it doesn’t seem like it’s any bigger than what the subtitles they already have.

So overall, yes, like I said, I do have some concerns. But I do have some hope for accessibility. It’s just difficult to gauge because we haven’t seen any of the options or accessibility settings that are in the game as of yet. And this is kind of broadly something that is a bit of something that I hope gets changed within the video game’s media, in that, there is more coverage for accessibility settings and options. Now that accessibility’s becoming a bit more part of the conversation, it’s something that developers and video games media is looking into.

I do hope that whenever these demos come about, that we’ll be able to, like, even those of us at CanIPlayThat.com will be given access for something like that to be able to at least be able to take a look at the accessibility options and be able to talk about it. Because a lot of the decisions that disabled players have to try to be able to make when looking into a game they want to be able to buy is the accessibility options, and what is available. And if there’s not any information that is being released, then it is difficult for us to be able to make that buying decision without buying it, trying it out, and seeing if it works.

We do all the research and try to be able to find as much as we can, but then when we jump in and play about two hours of it, and we realize, I can’t play this. That’s difficult to be able to like, that’s a difficult price point to be able to swallow, like whether it’s $60, $80, whatever. And that’s a difficult purchase to be able to make. I do hope that more information about accessibility does get released from Cyberpunk 2077, because it is a big game, and if there is accessibility settings, we just wanna know what’s there so that we can be able to make our buying decisions wisely.

So that’s it for this video. If you have any questions or comments about accessibility, or possible accessibility within Cyberpunk 2077, and you’re just curious as to what to look out for in other games, please leave a comment down below, or hit me up on Twitter, @stevesaylor and I’ll try to answer as best as I can. Or bring in some people to be able to do that, no better than me that can be able to explain it, much better than I.

So, if you liked this video, click the like button, if you want to be able to see more of my videos, click the subscribe button. And if you wanna be notified when new videos come out, make sure you hit the bell notification icon. Thank you so much for watching, I’ll see you in the next video. And as always, I remain obediently yours. Bye!

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Steve Saylor

Steve Saylor is a Toronto-based podcaster, radio host, Blind Gamer, YouTuber, Twitch Streamer, Graphic Designer, Content Creator and College Professor all while being blind! Starting in 2015, his entertaining YouTube series “Blind Gamer” fuses humour with his passion for playing video games. In just a few short years he is considered a thought leader on accessibility in gaming and an advocate for developers to push video game accessibility forward. Steve is the top Blind Gamer in Canada and has worked with prominent clients in the video game industry.

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