Marvel’s Avengers (Beta) Cognitive Accessibility Impressions

Stacey Jenkins5 minute read

Stacey Rebecca had some time with Crystal Dynamics’ beta for the upcoming Marvel’s Avengers title that has already shown off how dedicated the studio is to accessibility, and even representing deafness through having Hawkeye with hearing aids. In Stacey’s cognitive accessibility review below, she touches on how her time with the game went from the tutorial, through to the scenes a bit later on in the beta.

Below you’ll find the video and the transcript. If you’re interested in more coverage for the beta of Marvel’s Avengers, you can check out our Deaf/Hoh review, and have a look at what Steve thought of the game with his accessibility impressions.


TRANSCRIPT

What’s up guys, I’m back with another cognitive accessibility review. This time we’ll be taking a look at the Marvel’s Avengers beta that I got to play this weekend. Now, as it is a beta, obviously things may change between now and release, so keep in mind this is just a snapshot of the game at this point in time.

Marvel’s Avengers is an upcoming action-adventure game from Crystal Dynamics with both single and multiplayer, which the beta gives you a chance to try. The beta starts off on A-Day in San Francisco, fighting off goons on the Golden Gate Bridge and you’re given a chance to get to grips with each of the main Avengers: Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow. The single-player tutorial gives you a little taster of each character, which I found super fun.

Marvel's Avengers controller layout

The controls are relatively simple and more or less the same for each character, so you don’t have to necessarily memorize certain characters move combos or anything like that. Some players might say this is an issue but for someone like me with memory issues I actually really appreciated that. Each character basically has a light attack, a heavy attack, some special moves, and an ultimate, which are all bound to the same buttons so you don’t have to rewire your brain every time you switch characters.

The game does actually have full remapping available which is awesome for players with mobility difficulties. I quite enjoyed the combat, it’s pretty easy to pick up and it did feel super satisfying. I felt super powerful in the tutorial, as you should as an Avenger, but I did feel a little bit underpowered as The Hulk later on. It felt super fun to jump around and smash the heck out of things, but it did feel a little bit strange that Hulk wasn’t doing that much damage to these tiny little robot dudes

The game has your standard difficulty modes: Easy, Normal, Hard, and Brutal, and Normal felt pretty well balanced for me personally right now. As someone with issues processing information, I always always always have subtitles on, so I was very happy to see that not only were there full closed captions that tell you about the non-dialogue sounds going on in the game, but you also had the option for characters to have different colors and the subtitles did also come with a nice dark background color by default. Unfortunately, there was no option to adjust the font size in the subtitles or any of the UI text which was actually so small at times that I just gave up reading it.

Marvel's Avengers Hulk character gear screen

The mission objective text and the text in the game menu is so small you need to be pretty close to your screen to see it, but I did appreciate that you could just hold down a button for the game to equip your best stuff for you. I had a little bit of trouble finding my way around the game as there’s no map, there’s no mini-map or waypoints or anything like that so I did have a few times where I genuinely couldn’t figure out where I was meant to be going or what I was meant to be doing.

I was later told by my husband that you can actually press up on the D-pad to trigger what the game calls Tactical Assistance, which gives you a beam of light that you can follow, however, this is never actually taught to the player, and I know many people like myself that managed to make it all the way to the end of the beta without actually coming across it.

Not realizing there was any navigation assistance was pretty annoying, but my biggest issue that actually made me stop playing Marvel’s Avengers completely was the screen shake. Oh. My. Gosh, you guys – this game is SO bad if you suffer from any kind of motion sickness

The screen literally does not stop shaking and there is no way to turn it off. I understand from a game design perspective, it makes a lot of sense for the screen to shake when your heroes throw down a powerful move, but denying players the ability to turn it off is actually going to stop people from being able to play your game… At all. I started getting a headache about 10 minutes in and after an hour or so I had to go lay down in a dark room.

Hulk holding a tank above his head

Motion sickness is something that’s definitely becoming more understood in gaming and developers are starting to include features that help alleviate this for some players. The Last of Us 2 did an amazing job with this with things like being able to add a persistent center dot, as well as being able to mess around with the camera shake, the field of view, the motion blur… but Avengers really missed the mark on this.

In its current state, I would say that I’m probably not going to be able to play Marvel’s Avengers on release, purely for the fact that it physically makes me unwell, but hopefully, that’s something they’ll take on board before launch, who knows.


Editors Note: Since the video was published, Stacey has released a Tweet that shows off a video showing the updated screen shake settings in action. You can find it below.

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Stacey
JenkinsWorkshop Developer and FacilitatorShe/They

Stacey works with Can I Play That? to develop valuable training for game developers to ensure that all content is inclusive and accessible for the whole community. With fibromyalgia and Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome (POTS), Stacey has ‘pain brain’ which affects her cognitive function when it comes to gaming. She has used her own personal experience to consult on cognitive accessibility and to educate others on topics such as diversity and inclusion, life as a disabled streamer, and accessibility in gaming. Stacey has spoken at multiple TwitchCons, the wonderful GAconf, and has spoken at GDC 2021 with Courtney, delivering a special version of their a11y workshop. An aspiring assassin and lover of all things spooky, Stacey loves stealth, horror, and the occasional cozy game. Okay, a lot of cozy games.

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