God of War PC Accessibility Review — Can I Play That?

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God of War Accessibility

Deaf / Hard of HearingBlind / Low VisionMobilityCognitive

The God of War PC port has seen a small number of accessibility improvements that are mostly focused on improving the experience for mobility. Players hoping to find a wider suite of options since the game's initial launch back in 2018 won't find it here.

Score

7 out of 10
  • Keyboard and mouse remapping and can be doubled up
  • Auto-sprint has been added with a delay slider
  • Some controller buttons can be switched
  • Subtitles are available
  • No full controller remapping
  • Tiny text across many areas of the game
  • Waypoints are unlocked with story progression
  • No real sense of direction

The PlayStation title God of War from 2018 is leaving its console exclusivity behind and heading to PC this month, joining other titles such as Horizon Zero Dawn and Days Gone. The announcement of God of War heading to PC didn’t detail much for accessibility improvements except “fully customizable bindings”, so how does it hold up for everything else?

Back in 2019, we ran a Deaf/Hard of Hearing Review where the game scored an 8.5/10 with praise pointing to the subtitles and vibrations. The game also saw a patch shortly after launch that increased the text size but this was only for specific areas in the game’s number of menus. Before jumping into the PC build, I had my hopes set that the game would have elaborated on what was available, adding more to both the PC build and potentially a PlayStation patch. All in preparation for God of War: Ragnarok that launches in 2022 exclusively for PlayStation consoles.

Booting and Menus

God of War boots up into the main menu with no dedicated menu face-first. It’s in Settings where a number of sub-menus resides, and these are pretty much the same as what you get on PlayStation but with some added extras. These are your usual settings that suit the PC platform such as graphics options for V-Sync, windowed mode, DLSS, and the like.

There are some new options that have appeared in the Accessibility section, however! Above, you’ll see a before and after. The left image shows the accessibility menu in the PS4 version as of early January 2022, while the right shows this PC build ready for launch.

A reticle is now an option that can be adjusted to appear when aiming or to have it on all the time. Auto-Sprint has been added and comes with a slider to adjust the delay for this so players can sprint by simply moving forward. And then there are the new control bindings, yet, this is only for the keyboard and mouse, it’s not possible to manually remap your controller.

Control the God

The PC build of God of War feels as if it’s been slightly more attuned to mobility accessibility over everything else. You can customize your keyboard and mouse bindings and even double up on them as you could when Horizon: Zero Dawn was ported. There are also bindings for shortcuts to different menu elements such as Weapons, Skills, Goals, and others.

When it comes to using a controller, the option to change controls greys out and becomes unusable meaning your controller is pretty much locked to the only available default. Despite this, though, there are options to adjust some controller layouts through the Gameplay menu that lets you invert your combat, interaction and evade, and quick turn inputs. For example, RB would be light attack and RT would be heavy attack, but you can switch these by also switching the LB and LT inputs (Aim and block).

There are options for adjusting some toggle and holds, such as the repeated button presses to be switched to a hold or tap, Rage mode from a stick press to a button press, or whether to sprint by pressing L3 in or holding A. Then there’s the newly added auto-sprint that allows for a delay to be set.

The fact that one of the selling points of the PC build was “fully customizable bindings”, I’d have expected this to also include more intuitive controller presets.

Combat isn’t too bad for me, although there is a lot of tapping with no option to just hold an attack input instead. This means you’re tapping light attack, heavy attack, dodging, executing, and also commanding Atreus to fire arrows. There is a target lock mode, but once activated, every time an enemy vanishes from the screen and reappears you’ll need to reactivate it. There are also some moments that require timing, such as Rune chests or areas that require quick precision to stop gates and doors from closing.

Boy, Listen to Me

Everything in our Deaf/Hard of Hearing Review stands for this build, although there are things I want to mention.

On first launch, the subtitles were defaulted to off, which is odd considering the console version seems to have them defaulted to on. Regardless, the subtitles are generally quite good and subtitle most dialogue, have speaker labels, and a background.

You can’t change the size of the subtitles, and you can’t adjust the background opacity. There are also no captions to convey world audio design that would be beneficial for players to hear and embed themselves deeper into the game’s magical world.

There’s no real sense of directionality either, at least outside of combat. Players are expected to know where a sound is coming from based on the directional audio, meaning half the time Atreus is telling me to look at something or go to him and I’m like “WHERE ARE YOU, BOY!?” Thankfully, God of War is very linear, so it’s often a case of wandering the small area until you stumble upon where you’re meant to be.

Waypoints and Indicators

As I mentioned, God of War is a very linear game with only a few branching paths. Waypoints don’t exist for the majority of the first portion of the game until you meet a Witch who grants you a compass. Prior to receiving the compass, I was accidentally backtracking through levels because combat had confused my sense of direction. The only indication I had that I was going the wrong way at times was because Atreus wasn’t following me.

The compass, when you receive it, does appear at the top of the screen and also hovers the icon over in-world elements which makes exploration far easier.

But directionality isn’t God of War’s strong point, I’m always feeling a little bit lost, which in a linear game feels embarrassing at times. In combat, you have an arrow that appears around Kratos to warn of nearby enemies.

This arrow not only feels complicated to see due to its perspective of being in the 3D space —Around Kratos’ hips— but also comes in 3 different colours to indicate levels of danger; white, red, and purple. The latter two being harder to differentiate between when in the heat of God angry combat.

Image comparison showing indicators.

But then there’s the issue of indicators that highlight interactive elements. You’ll see in-world indicators as a colorless button prompt, but only if you’re nearby. If you’re not close enough, it’ll become a tiny white dot that becomes incredibly illegible. I mean, just look at this image, can you find the white dot in-between the chain links above? Slide the comparison image to see the prompt appear!

But what about your ranged attacks? Well, when you’re aiming at something, you have a reticle that changes when you’re looking at something you can hit. This change only adds thin arrows that surround the existing reticle, but it’s hard to see against the majority of designs.

Squint Your Eyes, Boy

Two images showing a comparison of the text size increase.

Text size is frustrating because there’s a slider there in the Accessibility menu, but when maxed out, it doesn’t increase text by much. And the text it does increase is only for a select number of areas, such as the map, goals, and codex. It would have been nice to see text size available for other areas, such as increasing subtitles or the tutorial prompts. This brings me to my next point.

The tutorial prompts are confusing in how they’re inconsistent in presentation. To start, there’s a small banner with a slightly dark background with text smaller than the subtitles telling you to do something with an input. Then there’s another tiny banner that appears again, but this time in the top-right portion of the screen, blending horribly into the environment.

Step-by-Step Kratos

Traversing does feel like a slog at times, and I don’t mean the journey itself, that’s the way the game’s meant to feel. I mean more so navigating the world with gamified areas. For example, you can’t just simply walk through a beautiful area, instead, you have to press a button to clamber over small ledges, fallen trees, and even pick up large obstructions.

These encounters seem to happen frequently in different ways for different realms. While not a huge nuisance, it does, at times, feel unneeded. I much preferred the moments when pushing things out of the way went hand-in-hand with action sequences.

Conclusion

The main thing to take away from the God of War PC port is that the accessibility has improved slightly for mobility. Outside of that, the game is mostly taking advantage of the PC hardware for graphical improvements such as DLSS and other fancy stuff. I personally went into this expecting more improvements to text size and subtitle customization, while it didn’t deliver, the adjustments to mobility do raise hopes for a wider suite of features being available in the upcoming sequel.

A review copy of God of War was provided by the developer / publisher.

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Ben
BaylissEditor-in-ChiefHe/Him

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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