Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition — Accessibility Impressions

Horizon Zero Dawn is the latest PlayStation exclusive that is being released on PC. With that, there are some feature improvements and graphic enhancements that weren’t in the console version. Will there be any new accessibility improvements as well? Check out Steve Saylor and Grant Stoner’s thoughts in the video below. They discuss their thoughts from a Motor and Blind disability perspective as well as what differences in settings are there from the console and PC versions.

Check out the full video transcript below.


TRANSCRIPT

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 see exactly what I see when I’m playing video games. Today is a special review because myself and Grant Stoner from Can I Play That, we’re going to be reviewing Horizon Zero Dawn, complete edition on PC. We’re going to be talking about our thoughts on the motor disability, as well as the blind and visual disability. And then sort of take a look at the general accessibility differences between the PlayStation version and the PC version, if any. So without any further ado, let’s jump into the conversation.

Full disclosure on two things. Yes, Sony did provide both Grant and myself Steam codes to be able to play Horizon Zero Dawn, complete edition on PC. There is Epic codes available for the Epic Games Store, but Steam was what we both chose to play on. And also there was some crashes, at least on my end of the game. I don’t want to think that that’s the game itself, because I’m thinking it’s more my PC specifically. However, Sony did reach out to us, and they did let us know that there is a Day One patch coming once the game is released, but it wasn’t able to be put out before our review coverage was supposed to go live.

So keep that in mind. I had some crashes, but that’s more my PC than necessarily the game itself, but I wanted to at least let you know that ahead of time. Now let’s jump into some of the accessibility that we saw in Horizon Zero Dawn, complete edition for PC. First off, there’s no accessibility menu. There just isn’t any, which is fair, but Grant wouldn’t you say that like essentially there’s some context around that?

Horizon Zero Dawn: Complete Edition - PC Version. Settings Menu. This is also showing there is no accessibility menu.
Horizon Zero Dawn PC Version. Settings Menu.

Grant: So, the first game, or the lack of a complete edition, released a few years ago, and that was before the industry really began adding numerous features, numerous menus, all dedicated to accessibility. So it’s understandable why there isn’t a dedicated accessibility menu, but I do feel as if there could have been more features added, specifically for a PC version.

Steve: I agree, especially because it’s a PC version, and we were told that there was gonna be new features and new enhancements made. Now there was some things, ’cause I was curious enough to see what the PC version as compared to the PS4 version would be, and I did see actually there was some features that were added in the PC version that were not available in the PS4 version. Mainly I think it’s probably due to more because PCs are varied in sizes and resolutions and graphics cards, I think it was kind of needed to be able to add these particular settings in.

So I don’t think that they were created for accessibility purposes, but in reality, actually I think they are. For instance, in the PS4 version, you can’t remap any controls. You can see what the controller mapping is so you know what buttons to push for certain actions or interactions within the game. However, in the PC version, you can fully remap all the controls, and I was personally playing it actually on an Xbox controller, ’cause that was the Bluetooth controller that I chose, and everything seemed to be working fine on that, and I was able to remap the controls on that, as well as mouse and keyboard.

But Grant, you had a different experience with the remap controls with the mouse and keyboard. Why don’t you explain what you had?

Horizon Zero Dawn PC Version - Controller remapping menu.
Horizon Zero Dawn PC Version – Customize mapping menu.

Grant: Yeah, so if you’re like me and you can’t really use your controller due to mobility issues, Horizon, like Steve mentioned, does have 99% re-mappable controls, and the buttons that you cannot change are crucial. So, for example, I learned you cannot change enter, which is how you access your menu. You can change different menu options, like Inventory, Journal, maps, you can do that. Another issue which I had is you can’t use the scroll wheel on your mouse–

Steve: Really?

Grant: Which to me, yeah, to me, does not make sense. You can’t switch weapons with it. You can’t rebind it to do any of the features, which is problematic because there were so many buttons that you need to use for this game.

Grant: All of them are relevant. All of them are necessary. And if you don’t have the space to reach them, due to mobility issues, you’re not going to be able to play this game.

Steve: So there’s no way to be able to remap controls on the keyboard to fit more on one side of the keyboard so that you can reach all the buttons — Just because there’s so many buttons that have to be used, there’s no way to be able to do that, Correct?

Grant: Right, so because there are, I haven’t counted, but I would argue there are roughly 20 necessary keys that you need.

And for people who only use the keyboard, like me, the one-half of it, you’re gonna run out of room. And with the game as intense as Horizon, because there are some moments where the enemy in general is relatively minor, you can hide, you can shoot them, and you’re good to go. But for encounters where you are fighting bigger bosses or more than one enemy at once, you’re going to struggle. The only problem with the bigger combat is you have to hold the respective button, you can’t toggle it.

So during intense encounters, if your hands are tired from pressing all the buttons, you’re gonna be even more tired from having to hold the aim button just to use your bow.

Steve: Yeah, I found that interesting as well, because normally in games where you normally are aiming down sights, you would normally hold the left trigger, but then you use the right trigger to essentially fire. But the left trigger essentially it focuses on, like it activates the bow and allows you to focus it, but you have to hold that. And then you use the right trigger essentially to pull back your bow, and then when you let go of the trigger, to fire. So it’s not like a quickfire button per se.

So I found that even for that on the controller side, there’s a lot of button holds, and there’s no way to be able to like change that from toggle to hold. The only control that was able to be changed to that was sprint. You can be able to change that to toggle or hold. And that’s the same on the PS4 version too, there’s no changing of that either. And the ability to be able to at least remap controls as compared to PlayStation version is definitely a step up and will definitely open it up to more disabled players to be able to play.

Difference in HUD scaling in the PC version of Horizon Zero Dawn. Top of the image shows the HUD at 1.00% scale and the bottom half shows the HUD at 1.20% scale.
Difference in HUD scaling in the PC version of Horizon Zero Dawn.

Even for myself, actually there was one feature that is not in the PlayStation version that actually I really liked was the ability to be able to scale your HUD and which is great because you can be able to, like we’ve seen this in games for accessibility, the fact that you can be able to make it bigger, you can make it smaller, whichever works best for you. And so of course I had it to the highest level, which was I think 1.20 or 120% essentially. And it was fine, it was great. It actually made the game a little bit more enjoyable for me to be able to play without having to read a lot of texts.

The menus definitely still had some issues for me with the amount of texts there were, but it wasn’t a huge sort of like I can’t play this sort of thing. I think though that the HUD scale was more for those like have different size monitors. I’m blessed enough that I have like a 50-inch monitor that basically is like a 4K TV that acts as my monitor, so I have a pretty large monitor to begin with. But if I had a smaller one, having that HUD scale there would be definitely beneficial.

And I would say, even though it’s kind of, it’s geared towards multiple PCs, multiple graphics cards, multiple monitor sizes, I think that’s why the Guerilla had it in there. It could still be used as an accessible feature. As far as other accessibility options that I saw, Grant, I don’t know if you caught any other than the subtitles are the same for the PlayStation version as it is in the PC version, it basically is the same game, it’s just there’s a few minor tweaks to the graphics and a few additional features here and there and remapping controls. That’s kind of really the only things I saw. It’s not that accessible as compared to the previous version, but there’s enough there that still opens it up to a few more disabled players that didn’t have access to it before.

Horizon Zero Dawn - Aloy drawing an arrow on her bow as a man stands up against her looking to where she's targeting past the camera

So I think it’s definitely something to take a look at, but if there’s definitely some things that you didn’t like, or you weren’t a fan of in the original PlayStation version that you couldn’t be able to play, there’s really, minus the remapping controls and HUD scale, that’s kind of really the only two things that were added that would benefit. And if you feel like those work for you, great. If not, I probably would maybe wait for Forbidden West to see if maybe they add some more accessibility features in there–

Grant: Yeah, I agree.

Steve: It’s good, I actually like being, like for both Grant and I, this is our first time being able to play it, and I personally want it, like I’m now gonna jump back into probably the PS4 version so I can actually play that a little bit better, ’cause the PC just kept crashing on me, I don’t know why. So I think I’m gonna probably do that, but I probably will not be playing the PC version anytime soon. Grant, what about you?

Grant: For me personally, I will not be playing in the PC version. I do recommend for physically disabled players look up videos or reviews to see if it is beneficial for you. But as for me, it looks beautiful, it runs smooth, I love Aloy for as long as I was able to play as her, but yeah, I don’t think Horizon is my kind of game, unfortunately.

Steve: Yeah, I totally get that. And actually that leads into if you want to be able to read more of Grant’s thoughts, you can be able to check out his full review for motor disability here. All right, well thank you so much for watching, and thank you Grant for joining me today in this conversation. If you wanna be able to check out him, you can be able to go to, Can I Play That or follow him on Twitter @Super_Crip1994. And if you wanna be able to check out more of my impressions, my videos, you can either follow me here at youtube.com/snowball, or Can I Play That.

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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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