Far Cry 6 is set to launch later this year and finds players taking to Yara, a paradise in the Caribbean run by a ruthless Antón Castillo. Players will be able to choose to play as 1 of 2 versions of Dani Rojas, a protagonist that will be leading a growing revolution across the island. Far Cry 6 accessibility features have been officially revealed ahead of release.
Can I Play That sat down with game designer Douglas Gregory to talk about Far Cry 6 and its accessibility as well as how the studio has been working to keep accessibility present throughout production.
Ben Bayliss: Has Ubisoft’s dedicated accessibility team been involved with the project from an early point, and how has having them on board helped surpass previous Far Cry titles in accessibility?
Douglas Gregory: Yes, absolutely. The accessibility team has been involved in this project [all the way] through. They’ve been able to give us fantastic advice. They’ve been able to keep us appraised of best practices and new learnings that the company is making from all of our other titles, as well as consultations with players and observations about where the industry is heading in accessibility.
From my personal experience, there have been times when I’ve been playing the game and I’m looking at say the difficulty options and noticing “Hmm, you what? The language around that, it doesn’t look quite right to me, let me bounce it off of our accessibility team.” And I can just hit them up on our internal Teams messaging system and say, “Hey, we’re currently describing it as this, I don’t think that’s quite right. Can you advise on that?”
And they can jump in and say, “Yeah, you’re right, that wording is probably not the most inclusive way to phrase that. Let’s workshop some options.” And then within a couple of hours, we’ve got new texts that we can put into the game right away that’s been properly vetted and had the input of disabled players on it.
BB: From the gameplay that was shown, there appears to be a lot of crafting and gathering items. I’m curious to know what features are in place for helping manage inventories without being an overwhelming experience?
DG: One of the big things we tried to do is keep the number of different crafting materials and resources quite controlled. I was involved in doing some benchmarking versus other titles to look at just the number of different currencies or resources that you need to be managing and keeping track of, and seeing how we can slim that number down. While still getting a nice variety and a nice deal of reasons to go do a particular activity and to go to particular locations in the world without needing to manage a phone book of different items and recipes.
So we’ve got a fairly slimmed-down plan right now. You’ve got effectively two families of resources that you’re going to need. One for weapons and one for your gadgets. Each of those comes in grades of quality, so it’s a reasonably small set to be able to manage. When you go to say your inventory screen, you’ll be able to see all of them in a single row and have them narrated one-by-one by the screen reader.
BB: That’s great to hear, when I watched the briefing video I recall seeing the motorcycle engine weapon and then the blueprints for it and thinking, “Whoo, that’s a lot”.
DG: So yeah, for instance, the motorcycle engine-looking weapon. This one is just one resource that you need to craft it, so it’ll be a very nice, simple operation. We like to give the player a lot of bang for their buck, a lot of shiny output without requiring a lot of complexity to do the crafting itself.
BB: Have you taken any learnings from other Ubisoft studios or titles and carried those learnings into Far Cry 6 and built upon these?
DG: Absolutely. So some of the things that you’ll see making a return in Far Cry 6 are the visual representation of sound effects. A sort of directional sound captions that were originally developed for Watch Dogs Legion. They made their debut in Far Cry: New Dawn and we’ll be carrying that through now. So you can see it’s already hopped through three of our titles.
Other things that you’ll see returning are things like the ability to navigate the menu cursor in discreet hops, where it snaps to the next selectable option. Similar to what we’ve seen in Assassin’s Creed [Valhalla]. We’re building on the level of controller customization that we’ve seen in Ghost Recon [Breakpoint].
So we’re trying to take learnings from all of our past titles and bring them into this game. It’s all part of this idea that we’re trying to build this DNA of accessibility throughout Ubisoft — throughout all of our studios and all of our titles.
BB: With a dedicated accessibility team at hand, have you also had any disabled consultants involved throughout production, and how did their involvement benefit the production?
DG: We’ve had onsite workshops where we’ve had a group of disabled players and advocates come and give feedback and workshop with developers from multiple different projects. We’ve also had consultants come in to look at one specific feature or one specific title and kind of do a deep dive on it. And of course, we’ve got consultants that we’ve brought in as full-time staff as part of that accessibility team who are able to give us feedback throughout the life cycle.
BB: How have you, as a team, worked to keep informed on accessibility throughout?
DG: I can say that myself and Ivan Kulbych from Ubisoft Kyiv studio have been participating in the a11yTO conference for the last two years running. We’re also trying to keep appraised of what’s being written about game accessibility, for instance, you know, in your own site and others in that vein. As well as of course running things like playtests that are focused on disabled gamers in order to get feedback on how our actual titles aren’t going to be working for them before we’re actually launched.
Personally, I’ll follow a whole lot of accessibility advocates and disabled players on Twitter. And so that’s another way that I’m trying to keep on top of things and keep the pulse and see when they’re really excited about a new feature or how a title that we’ve released is being received, as well as where there are problems.
For instance, from Far Cry: New Dawn we got some player feedback on social media, as well as, accessibility review sites. We found that there were certain categories of sound that we weren’t handling correctly that should have been in the directional sound captions but were not. And so we’ve updated our categorization of sounds so that more of these important cues are included. So that’s kind of like a concrete example of how staying tuned to how these games are being received is helping us to improve these features.
Some questions I had asked Gregory needed to be followed up.
With Far Cry 6 being Ubisoft’s first mainline first-person shooter since New Dawn’s launch in 2019 —not including the free-to-play Hyperscape— I wanted to know if the team faced any challenges in implementing accessibility features to the game after having so many of their features in third-person titles. Ubisoft told us “there were no special challenges in adapting our accessibility features from 3rd to 1st person. Much of what’s in Far Cry 6 is building on the heritage of Far Cry New Dawn.”
With Far Cry 6 also featuring an online co-op mode, and the accessibility features that have been revealed detail a chat wheel, I wanted to know how intuitive it was. Ubisoft tells us that the chat wheel includes the following commands: “Follow me”, “Help me”, “Wait here”, “Attack!”, “Well played”, “I need ammo”, “I am sorry”, and “Thanks”.
Additionally, these are also read aloud if menu narration is enabled. It was also confirmed that there is speech-to-text so that incoming dialogue is transcribed to text. However, “There is no in-game text-to-speech option for communicating with a co-op partner”
Far Cry 6 is to launch later this year on October 7, 2021, for PC, PS4, PS5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X|S, Amazon Luna, and Google Stadia.