Watch Dogs Legion Deaf Accessibility
This latest addition to the Watch Dogs series may just be Ubisoft's most accessible game to date and Deaf and hard of hearing players will enjoy a vast set of options and an equitable experience in near future London thanks to the game's closed captions, subtitles, and helpful visual cues.
Score10 out of 10
I am a writer. Fiction is my love that doesn’t pay the bills, so games journalism is what I do to bridge that gap. Near future London, Ubisoft’s virtual playground during a global pandemic, is a fiction writer’s dream. As Ben Bayliss mentioned in his early access impressions piece, Ubisoft is known for its sprawling and gorgeous open worlds and Watch Dogs Legion is the latest in their portfolio of stunning game worlds. In addition to their amazing open worlds, Ubisoft is also known for pushing the envelope when it comes to game accessibility and they have done exactly that in Legion.
Unlike previous titles in the Watch Dogs series, there is no one set protagonist. Players are free to play as anyone they happen upon in the vast city. Each character has unique traits and unique recruitment missions. And that’s where this game is my writerly dream. Near future London is jam packed with inspiration for stories and characters and seeing who I can meet and recruit is what I’ve spent the majority of my first ten hours of play time.
But this isn’t a review of Ubisoft’s world building chops or story. This is an accessibility review and Watch Dogs Legion is, for me, a fantastic example of what can come of a studio being committed to crafting inclusive experiences and iterating on past successes.
The game launches with what can really be considered industry standard by now—a limited settings menu, allowing players to toggle on necessary options such as menu narration and subtitles. From there though, the options become even more robust.
The audio and language menu is exactly what I’ve come to expect from Ubisoft. Every option one could want is present, from subtitles mode and size to closed captioning options and text color.
The largest size for the subtitles in Watch Dogs Legion is nice and will be large enough for many players without becoming intrusive.
Taking a cue from the sound subtitles of Far Cry New Dawn, the Gameplay Events CCs available in Watch Dogs Legion provide players with captions not just for sounds relevant to gameplay, but every sound, from birds singing to “melee sounds” and everything in between. And directionality is indicated with an arrow for sounds relevant to the gameplay while ambient world sounds such as the “birds singing” shown above don’t always have a directional arrow, which to me makes perfect captioning sense.
The accessibility menu is exactly what one might expect from an accessibility menu and one option I find particularly helpful for my not always steady hands is the aim lock-on. Taking things a step beyond sticky aim, aim lock-on holds on to the target once players have focused on them allowing for a guaranteed hit unless the enemy is behind cover. This option means that I can play and enjoy the game without ever feeling like I’m bad at it just because I am the world’s worst aimer and that’s exactly what I want in a game when everything in the real world is rather unpleasant these days.
The hacking line and reticle can be difficult to see at times but the size of the reticle can be adjusted which remedies the issue in many instances. In addition to what I’ve shown here, Watch Dogs Legion has standard fare for Deaf and hoh accessibility including enemy awareness/detection level, enemy health level, indicators in red, yellow, and white showing when you’re being pursued, and directional damage indicators.
Ubisoft has long been committed to accessibility and Watch Dogs Legion is the receipt for that dedication. It’s more than apparent that all the hard work and advocacy of Ubisoft’s accessibility duo, Cherry Thompson and David Tisserand, has paid off. This latest addition to the Watch Dogs series may just be Ubisoft’s most accessible game to date and Deaf and hard of hearing players will enjoy a vast set of options and an equitable experience in near future London thanks to the game’s closed captions, subtitles, and helpful visual cues.
A review copy of Watch Dogs Legion was provided by the developer / publisher.