Accessible UE4 Games — Best practices in action

This week, on International Day of Persons with Disabilities, Epic Games is hosting their first Inside Unreal episode dedicated to creating accessible experiences for disabled gamers in Unreal Engine 4. On the stream, you’ll learn how to use features within UE4 to build games that everyone can play but did you know that many UE4 developers have been creating games that are leading the industry in building inclusive games?

Check out some of these titles made in Unreal Engine 4 and experience for yourself how developers continue to innovate with accessibility using UE4.

Fortnite

Okay, this one is a given but Fortnite has long been leading the way with accessibility features. The game debuted the sound visualization feature for mobile but quickly took the opportunity to turn this into an accessibility feature across all platforms and immersed Deaf and hard of hearing players in a way no other Battle Royale has managed to yet.

Gears of War 5

Gears 5 was Can I Play That’s first AAA game to receive a perfect score for Deaf/hoh accessibility, and for good reason. The closed captions in the game simply floored me and they were the first to indicate to Deaf/hoh players that the music that plays to indicate an enemy encounter has stopped. But what really makes Gears 5 stand out as accessibility gold is its Fabricator Ping system, bring a new level of inclusion to blind and low-vision players.

Grounded

Grounded, while still in early access, is a fine example of pushing the envelope with accessibility, though not in the ways one might assume. While it has a bevy of essential features like scalable text size and accessible player chat, the winning feature of Grounded is its arachnophobia modes, allowing players (like me) who would otherwise give the game a big NOPE.

Illustrating the arachnophobia mode in Grounded.

Sea of Thieves

Sea of Thieves has long been praised for its accessibility and offers a whole buffet of reasons for disabled players to love it. Sea of Thieves offers accessible chat in the form of speech to text/ text to speech, auto run and auto float options, and an improved radial menu, allowing players greater control, and the option to toggle hold times for interactions. Rare has long been demonstrating their ongoing commitment to accessibility with nearly every post-launch update including improvements to Sea of Thieves accessibility.

State of Decay 2

State of Decay 2 is another great example of a game that’s becoming more and more accessible with post-launch updates. The game launched with many essential accessibility features, from aim assistance to the ability to toggle button mashing or button holds. But a recent update introduced a whole new level of accessibility with the addition of the Green Zone difficulty level and customizable difficulty. This allows even more players to experience the zombie apocalypse fun without the stress that the original difficulty levels brought. Because sometimes you just want a chill zombie apocalypse.

The Outer Worlds

The Outer Worlds launched to massive criticism due to its tiny subtitles and UI. But developers quickly remedied this in an update that gave players the widest range of text size options available in any game. Obsidian’s Nate McDorman gave a talk on how the team achieved this at this year’s GAConf. Check it out here.

Showing the inventory menu in The Outer Worlds at its smallest size.Showing the inventory menu of The Outer Worlds at its largest size.
Showing in-game UI text in The Outer Worlds at its smallest size.Showing in-game UI text at its largest size in The Outer Worlds.

Halo Master Chief Collection

In 2019, Unreal Engine introduced screen reader support as an experimental feature. Halo Master Chief Collection was the first AAA game to ship making use of this feature, making this collection more accessible to blind and low-vision players than ever before. Read Tom Gantzer’s write-up on creating menus for blind players here.

Jedi Fallen Order

The Gameplay menu in Jedi Fallen Order.

Jedi Fallen Order is an accessible gem to behold. There’s something to suit nearly everyone in the available options but what really stood out for me, and something I hope many games steal, is the ability to auto-grip climbable walls. In addition to this, Remedy gave players the necessary options to lock on to visible enemies, disabled QTEs and button mashing, and disabled UI input holds. And both the UI text and subtitle text is scalable.

This list is but a fraction of the selection of games made in UE4 that are pushing forward with including disabled players, but any time spent examining just how developers created these features in the engine will show you the endless possibilities of creating accessible games in Unreal Engine 4.

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Courtney Craven

Co-founder and EIC of Can I Play That?, captioner of many things, occasional writer of fiction. Any pronouns. courtney@caniplaythat.com

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