Diablo 2: Resurrected Accessibility
Diablo 2: Resurrected does some things well for accessibility, but its desire to hang onto its legacy seems to be holding it back.
Score6 out of 10
- Captions are very descriptive for cinematics
- Interfaces are clear with mouse-over text
- Automap has some customization for presentation
- Good audio slider options
- Lacking in waypoints and important markers
- Lots of clicking in combat and navigation
- Loot and enemy targeting could be clearer
- Remapping is locked behind having to have started a game
Hell invites all. At least that’s what Blizzard North stated earlier this year regarding Diablo 2: Resurrected and then there were accessibility updates from the game’s technical alpha and the learnings that followed. But now that the game is here, just how accessible is the remake of a classic from 2000?
Before we jump in, let’s just address that Activision Blizzard is still going through investigations in relation to the lawsuits that surfaced earlier this year. We here at Can I Play That? have decided that while these continue, there are disabled players that still wish to play the game, and there are many employees affected by the situation at their studio that deserve our support who have worked to try and ensure the game is accessible. So we are reviewing it for these reasons.
Booting into Hell
The first stop for Diablo 2: Resurrected is your contrast settings and screen calibration settings. Following those, a colorblind calibration mode is available that allows you to adjust what mode you want, the strength, and whether to have text-to-speech enabled. After that, you’re booted right into a cutscene.
Lit Captions, Simmering Presentation
The cutscene features really good captions in regards to displaying information. They highlight sounds happening on camera and even off-camera. The scurrying of rats, the screaming of tortured captives in the distance echoing down the bleak stone hallways. They’re fantastic. The only problem that arises comes down to their presentation.
The background opacity is a set value with no option to adjust it to be opaque or more transparent, and there are no speaker labels to clearly highlight who is speaking. The font choice isn’t wonderful either, being somewhat heavily stylized and Celtic means that certain words can appear hard to read comfortably, particularly the letter O. It would have been nice to see more options for customization here.
When it comes to the gameplay subtitles, there are subtitles for all voiced dialogue, and they’re presented on a black background and contained within a border. The thing here is that subtitles are not shown in their conventional sense, instead, they’re a wall of text within a box that scrolls if there are enough lines. and again, they have a heavy stylization, so reading them isn’t always comfortable.
Then there are moments in which you’ll be able to choose dialogue options, but more could have been done to highlight specifically where you’re hovering over, such as a lighter background behind that choice. Instead, the text changes color and there’s more than one color available with the white being unselected, the blue being your selection, and then beige just to indicate that’s what is happening, in the image’s case, it was letting me know I’m going to talk to the person.
There’s quite a bit to choose from with the options menu. For Video, you’ve got the usual graphical and screen size options. There are also legacy settings in case you want to go Diablo 2 old school. The Audio tab lets you adjust the volume for music and sounds which seems pretty minimal, and there’s an option that lets you choose whether NPCs speak or not.
There’s a sub-menu here as well titled Audio Accessibility which allows you to disable reverb, enable text-to-speech for text chat, adjust TTS speed and volume, enable controller feedback. There are then even more sliders available, allowing you to get a lot more specific on what sounds you want to hear. This includes sliders for user interface, items, monsters, skills, ambient sounds, and combat.
For the Gameplay area, item label displays can be changed from a hold to a toggle and this is where you can also enable auto-gold pickup that was announced a while back. There’s also an option to enable auto-party invites. For the UI, button prompts can be enabled, and players can choose to show visual alternatives to things such as showing their Life Orb as text.
Chat font sizes can be increased and a large font mode can be applied with a subtitle toggle and an NPC greeting subtitles toggle. For those on a controller, cursor sensitivity can be adjusted and the thumbstick can be swapped if desired. There are also options to adjust the Automap which takes a lot of trial and error to find your sweet spot as it requires going back and forth into gameplay.
Now, what’s interesting here is that while you’re at the main menu, you cannot do any form of remapping. It’s not until you create a character, set that up, and start a game that a new Controls tab is applied to the menu. From here you can remap your inputs for gameplay, different windows, chat, commands, and other shortcuts. It may be a good selection, but why have it locked behind having to actually start a game first?
I’ll be honest. I’m not much of a fan of these types of isometric games, but games I have played I’ve found myself feeling somewhat comfortable in navigating because of waypoints. But for Diablo 2: Resurrected there’s a lot of confusion as to where I’m meant to go. Part of me feels it’s because I’m not familiar with the game, but then another part of me feels that I should be being led to markers clearly. The only markers I see are when I open the Automap, and even then I feel lost. The only reason I used the automap, in the end, was just to figure out where the edges of areas were.
Once I’d completed tasks, I wasn’t led to the next person, I had to stumble across them, and given that I grew tired of clicking or holding my mouse button to move around the map, I nearly gave up looking for new quests. And then there’s the problem of entering areas. When you get to a point where a prompt will appear, it’s in red, and with no background to help make the font legible it was just uncomfortable to read.
So far, I’ve spent a good deal of time in Diablo 2: Resurrected just wandering the world trying to figure out if I’ve already walked around an area before already. Give me edge-of-screen waypoints any day.
Slaughter Them All, Gather Their Loot
Combat is something that feels a bit lost on me in Diablo 2: Resurrected. At times it feels nice and simple, but then at other times, I’m forgetting to prep my types of attacks before running into battle, and then I’m frantically trying to change attacks while standing around taking punches. I had a feeling that this game would have been one of those auto-attack types of games where you’ll just attack until an enemy dies, or until the group of enemies dies. However, this is more of a tap tap tap to attack.
There could have been a lot more done for highlighting enemies here as well, even allies. Having them slightly light up didn’t feel like it was enough. Instead, I’d have preferred having an outline option or having an even brighter hover-over animation.
I did like the auto-gold pickup feature, although it did feel as if the radius for picking up could have been extended. I also liked being able to hover over items and see what the name of the item was. However, the theme of needing to be presented clearly continues here as items can feel hard to see against some backgrounds with only a small visual indication that there’s something glimmering there.
Interface and Icons
The interface has a lot of icons available, that’s the basic crux of that header above. You’ve got the Inventory, Quest Log, Message Log, Character Screen, and more, all tucked away in the bottom left of the UI. Then you’ve got the consumables to the right, with two types of attacks in the center.
Then there are icons for each type of attack, icons that appear for help and to indicate when you’ve leveled up or have skill points to spend. Thankfully, these all have text elements applied to them, be that text being always present, or by having to hover the mouse over.
This mouse-over text also works really nicely with the inventory and store interfaces, although I’m not a fan of having to hold CTRL and clicking Left Mouse to sell my items. But generally, I felt like organizing my character windows was quite simple and easy to manage.
While the interface feels like it tries to be as minimal as possible, it is easy to navigate in most respects and contains all the relevant information you need. Although there are moments where having the text size bigger does mean overlapping text occasionally.
I do like the Automap options to adjust how transparent it is, and where it’s positioned, but it feels very dated and heavily lacking in information. More information such as the waypoints I mentioned earlier, or differentiating important characters and their locations could have made me like it more.
While I have an online character, I’ve not yet had a chance to fully experience the online portion of the game. What I did notice though is that the text-to-speech feature is noted to only work with the text chat window. While I typed my messages in there and posted them as a test, these weren’t read out. However, without anyone else available to reply, I couldn’t test to see if the TTS feature only reads out received text.
Diablo 2: Resurrected does feel as if it does a number of things right from an accessibility perspective, but the lack of customization and the fact it’s hanging onto the past elements too strongly made me feel like more was possible. More ways to move around, options to customize certain areas of the game, and waypoints would have helped in making the game a lot more understandable.
It would also be great to offer remapping before starting a game, and it would be nice to see text-to-speech extend to more than just the chat window.
A review copy of Diablo 2: Resurrected was provided by the developer / publisher.