Halo Infinite accessibility is there, but not implemented wonderfully

Ben Bayliss4 minute read

After trawling through various shiny and futuristic rooms onboard a spaceship filled with aliens hellbent on killing me, I was finding my experience with Halo Infinite a mixed bag. It was once I reached the open-world section of the game that has been heavily marketed that I started to feel somewhat as if Halo Infinite is just another game that determines accessibility by the number of features rather than by how functional they are in-game.

While my time with the game so far only focuses on a small portion of the single-player experience on the Xbox Series S, what I’ve experienced doesn’t spark me with much hope in some areas. Expect me to go more in-depth when I get a full review written up, but for now, here’s my experience with my limited time with the game’s campaign.

From first boot, I’m presented the title screen which forces a mandatory A-button press to continue. Following the press, the accessibility section of the menu automatically opens, along with other sub-categories. As expected, all of the features that were revealed earlier this year during a live stream, and then again last month, are available here. And from the surface, what’s available seems to be impressive and certainly a step up from the previous games in the series. But not everything is implemented well when it comes to gameplay.

To start, you’re in a space station and the environments are mostly dark which serves as a nice contrast between your bright HUD. However, heavy stylization in the form of digital blurring and heavy glows make text and button prompts incredibly hard to see. This, coupled with tiny icons and text that is also white text on light blue backgrounds makes for a practically inaccessible experience when trying to stay informed.

Talking of small text, let’s take a swing to subtitle land because this is an awkward area in Halo Infinite. While I first saw the size presets and felt excited, seeing the largest subtitle size felt disheartening. It feels too small to enjoy from a distance and there are no directional indicators to go with them to fully understand where enemies are while reading. I’m also not sure if this is a me issue, but at times, robotic announcements are capitalized and feel complicated to read with a mixture of lowercase text scattered in.

What I will say though, is the subtitles at their largest size would be good as the default size with room to increase past that. The background is nice and comes with varying opacity presets, and there are speaker labels. Colors can be assigned to the speaker or span the entirety of the speaker and the subtitles. I personally prefer having the latter on as I can see whether ally or enemy is talking by associating the colors, although having some formatting to differentiate between what’s subtitle and speaker label would massively help understand who is actually speaking.

As for in-world navigation, waypoints are awfully complicated to see and seem to only really appear when you press the button to scan the area. The Grappleshot is a nuisance to find surfaces it can attach to with no handy reticle to help visually. You also unlock a device that highlights nearby enemies, although the outlines are not entirely helpful at all and there’s only a certain radius it’s available within a period of time. The menus do feel very comfortable to follow through with upgrades and quests not feeling complicated to keep track of.

There is a great degree of customization for controls, and frankly, I intend on exploring them further. While I don’t need remapping capabilities myself, I grew sick of seeing button prompts that were hard to read due to stylization, and couldn’t figure out if it was asking for a hold of tap to activate in-world buttons and doors. For blind accessibility, the presence of menu narration is there, and linear navigation works nicely with this when using the menus, but there are times in-game where it doesn’t feel great at all due to the frantic nature of Halo Infinite.

It’s irritating that there are options to increase the text size and even the brightness for the HUD, but these don’t do much. The HUD brightness is essentially an opacity selection, and the text size option changes the menus mostly, while text across the game remains small. From the pop-up information in-game, HUD text, and the text in the map areas.

Halo Infinite is frustrating because the gameplay itself is wonderfully enjoyable if you look past the barriers, and everything that you’d likely want or need from accessibility is there, but not presented in any legible or useful way. The open-world sections feel less accessible due to the HUD elements not standing out against the bright and vibrant world, for example, tiny text, off-putting waypoints, thin enemy lines.

I’m wondering how my review is going to fare as players are able to upgrade Master Chief to include new and improved gadgets, such as the enemy detector gadget I mentioned earlier. For now, Halo Infinite‘s multiplayer went live on November 15, 2021, and seems to have somewhat better accessibility present. But we’ll share more details at a later time.

A Halo Infinite code was provided by the developer / publisher

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Ben is the one in charge of keeping the content cogs at Can I Play That? turning. Deafness means that he has a focus on discussing captions, but with experience in consultancy and advocacy, he covers what bases he can. Having written about accessibility in video games at DualShockers, GamesRadar+, GamesIndustry.biz, Wireframe, and more he continues his advocacy at CIPT. He was actually awarded a Good Games Writing award for an article he wrote here! He enjoys a range of games, but anything that’s open-world and with a photo mode will probably be his cup of tea. You can get in touch with him at: ben@caniplaythat.com

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