Marvel’s Avengers Beta — Accessibility Impressions

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, I’m gonna be looking into Marvel’s Avengers beta that just happened this weekend on PlayStation four. I’ll be, so today I’m gonna be assembling my accessibility thoughts, what I liked, what I think needs improvement and also my general thoughts of the game so far just based on the beta that we’ve played.

GENERAL THOUGHTS

So before I get into my accessibility thoughts of Marvel’s Avengers, I kind of wanna give my general thoughts of the game so far. I was a little bit worried at first when we first heard about the game and start to hear more about what the game was gonna be, in that it wasn’t gonna be a single-player mission like it is in Marvel’s Spider-Man, that it’s gonna be more multiplayer, it’s gonna be more co0op, it’s gonna be online. And I was with a lot of people, it’s like, well wait, what kind of game is this? Even seeing E3 last year, I got to see the entire “A-Day” demo in San Francisco. And I was like, I still didn’t understand what this game was gonna be.

And then it was described to me as Marvel Meets Destiny. That’s when it clicked for me, I was like, “ah, I get it, I know what this game is gonna be like.” Because when you have access to all these Marvel characters and then you have the ability to be able to upgrade them with different sort of weapons and sort of like armor and different sort of things that basically what we’ve had in Destiny, kind of all along, we get to build up your power level and you have three different characters so that you can choose from. And even then, you have three different sorts of special abilities you can use. Like it started to kind of click for me. This is literally just this kind of Destiny format, but with all the Marvel characters that I know and love from either watching the MCU or just reading the Marvel comics growing up.

So I was really excited to be able to jump in to Marvel’s Avengers and play this beta. And you do get to play as a lot of different of the Avengers already, you do get to play the “A-Day” demo in this in San Francisco. So you get to try out Thor, Iron Man, Hulk, Black Widow, and Captain America. The characters that I liked the most at the beginning of my initial thoughts were, I loved playing as Thor, including this one point where I actually got to throw Thor’s hammer and hit a guy and implant them against a transport truck and then I could just keep hitting and punching a bunch of other people. And then when I manually hit the button to be able to bring my hammer back, it just sort of let them go. It was really cool to see like it doesn’t have the same sort of like fun impact as Kratos’ ax does in God of War, but it was still fun to be able to play.

The Incredible Hulk holding a large tank above a scrambling soldier on top of a ruined Golden Gate Bridge.
The Incredible Hulk holding a large tank above a scrambling soldier on top of a ruined Golden Gate Bridge.

But if I had to rank at least the four that we got to have available to us, I would say probably Hulk, Black Widow, Kamala, Iron Man were probably of the ranking within this beta. Hulk, I love going in and literally just smashing my way across each of the missions that I was doing. I absolutely loved it, everything from the being able to jump up and down and literally just smashing the ground and just kind of like the impact of like crater of all the enemies kind of being blown away. The thunderclap, sort of like special ability that you have, was really cool and I don’t know, I just, I fell in love with being able to use the Hulk. Kamala was a character that I think I could actually really enjoy if I really got into building up her character and building up her power and level. So I can actually unlock more of her abilities because she has a really cool sort of skill set, that I think could be a good balance for your Avengers team when you’re going into each of these missions.

Black Widow was one of those characters though, that really surprised me in Marvel’s Avengers and I wasn’t too sure if I was gonna like it at all, but I actually, once I got into it the HARM room, where I got to experiment with kind of her abilities, I actually really loved it. I think probably my favorite sort of aspect of Black Widow was being able to use her grappling hook to kind of pull yourself towards someone even up in the air or on the ground and then just basically hitting with a heavy attack. That was my way of kind of feeling like I was a badass. Iron Man was probably the one that I actually disliked the most because of the fact, I couldn’t get the flying down. I really couldn’t get the hovering, the being able to aim properly. I was just all over the place and I don’t think I really got a grasp on his controls to really be able to utilize him in the best way possible.

ACCESSIBILITY

So that being said, now let’s get it into my accessibility thoughts on Marvel’s Avengers. I think let’s start off with the deaf and hard of hearing because I definitely wanna make a mention to Courtney Craven’s Deaf and Hard Of Hearing review on caniplaythat.com. She gave it a 9.2 out of 10 for Deaf and Hard Of Hearing. And I would definitely agree with her on that. There is a lot of visual elements that help you as a player to be able to play this game without necessarily the need for sound.

Iron Man and Thor flying over San Francisco Bay. The captions and subtitles at the bottom read "timed explosions start going off on the Bridge. TONY: Obviously. Figured I'd let you catch up.
Marvel Avengers Subtitles and Full Captions

The subtitles and full caption option were absolutely amazing. Yeah, different colors for each of the characters speaking and the captions themselves were really great being able to describe of what what’s actually happening on the screen so that you didn’t have to feel like you were worried about missing out on the sound itself. While the text could be bigger, the detail in the full captions was something that I hadn’t seen before. Square Enix kind of knocked it out of the park for deaf and hard of hearing.

As far as sort of blind accessibility, there is a lot that I think needs to be improved, especially when it comes to the tech size. There is actually a very good readable font that I thought was great and they did add some UI elements to be able to make the tech stand out. I noticed there was a bit of bold text, there was a background color, and behind each of the text. So it didn’t seem like it was just sort of blended in with the environment itself, which was great. But I think overall, the text size was so tiny that many times when I was going into the menus that I, especially when I was going to upgrade my characters, it was really difficult to be able to see and mostly I was just relying on, “Okay, is this item a higher power level than what I currently have? Great, I’m gonna use it.” I never was able to look at, “okay, what is this a piece of armor or piece of equipment? How does that benefit me as a player playing that specific character.” And I felt like that’s gonna be the case for me if the text size doesn’t improve in that, there’s gonna be so many things I’m gonna be able to pick up in the game and the equipment I can be able to use.

But to me, the only thing that’s gonna matter is just what power level it is gonna be, because I can actually see what that text size is. So I think overall, text size is definitely gonna have to be improved for even me to be able to play it, as well as other low vision and visually impaired players. There is no menu narration unfortunately, there’s no text to speech anything at all in this even the system level text to speech on PlayStation, didn’t have, didn’t pick up anything.

Marvel Avenger's Character Gear Menu showing the gear available to upgrade for The Hulk. The text on the screen is really small and tiny.
Marvel Avenger’s Character Gear Menu

Other things I liked within accessibility wise, you can choose between tap and hold for multi-tap interactions. There are some times, especially when you’re hacking into a door panels or anything like that, that I felt that the hold was a little bit too long and I know that people with nerve damage or people that have difficulty to be able to hold the button for a while that can damage some people. So I would think that there should be a good balance between sort of the two, like from some small hold presses to longer hold presses of somewhere in the middle or a way to be able to adjust that, that would be great.

You can change the difficulty settings for the Marvel’s Avengers campaign at any given point, including getting jumping into each individual mission. I couldn’t really tell per se of how that it sort of plays out if you’re in matchmaking and you’re going with a player that has a higher difficulty than you are, how that balances out.

Other things I felt like that need improvement, target lock should have an automatic option, instead of just often manual. Cause I kind of felt like that there were quite a few times where I didn’t know what enemies to be able to lock on and the fact that yes, you can manually sort of push all three to be able to target a specific enemy, which is great. But when that enemy’s down, it doesn’t automatically lock on to another enemy. Now this could have been a bug in the beta I don’t know, but for someone who was blind and trying to be able to distinguish what enemies they’re supposed to be attacking next, it was really difficult to find that next target.

Kind of jumping onto that targeting assistance, when I set it to moderate, which is sort of the second-highest or like that assistance that it will give you, it felt like it wasn’t really like using it at all. Many times when I’m aiming with either Iron Man or Black Widow, it felt like I was all over the place when it comes to trying to aim properly. It literally did not feel like that the targeting assistance was locking on to anybody.

Marvel Avenger's Control Configuration menu showing a DualShock 4 controller and the buttons that each action is mapped to. There is a prompt at the bottom right that says "Press Square button to open Button Mapping Screen.
Marvel Avenger’s Controls Configuration Menu

As far as motor disability in Marvel’s Avengers, there is the ability to be able to remap controls, but it wasn’t available during the beta. One thing I didn’t notice until after the beta was over, was when I looked at sort of the controls that was available, there was a tactical awareness button by pushing the up D-pad. And I’ve been told that that’s a way to be able to navigate the world and find where your sport was to go next. I didn’t know that that was an option, I didn’t know that that was a button to be able to press and there wasn’t really any hint or tooltips to kind of provide that.

And there was a time actually, when I was playing in one of the missions in Siberia with Hulk and Kamala, that I was like, “wait, where am I supposed to go?” And you’re supposed to follow this sort of like beeping beacon and I’m looking everywhere. I spent probably a good 15, 20 minutes trying to find where my next thing was gonna be. And I didn’t know that the tactical awareness button was available otherwise I would have utilized it. But that was only something that I felt like it was kind of hidden that I wish I knew going into it.

CONCLUSION

So my overall thoughts on Marvel’s Avengers accessibility, I think it’s sort of similar to Ghost of Tsushima that it’s almost there, there are definitely some things that are in there, that are built into the game itself that definitely really make this game stand out. But there are definitely some settings and some things that are missing that I feel like it just really stands out on what’s not there. But who knows? With several games this year, we’ve had several patch updates that have improved accessibility overall with Ghost of Tsushima and The Outer Worlds. So who knows what this game will be like a year down the road, as of right now it’s decent, but not perfect.

I would say try the beta for yourself, if you can get access to it, just to be able to see if it works for you. There are definitely some gaps when it comes to each spectrum of disability, for each of disability types that are definitely missing and might prevent those players from being able to play. There is a lot here, but it doesn’t fill every gap, but I have high hopes. I actually do have hope that I know, Square Enix is very big on accessibility and wanna be able to push more into this game and try to be able to make it as accessible as they possibly can.

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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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