Rainbow Six Extraction Accessibility
The only thing truly done well regarding accessibility in Rainbow Six Extraction is the default size of the subtitles and the fact that as with all modern Ubisoft titles, players can remap all buttons. Menu narration is unintelligible, accessibility options are inaccessible, icons are far too small and not intuitive in the slightest, and with all of these things combined, Rainbow Six Extraction is nearly unplayable for me and I assume this will be true for many other disabled players. The good news? It's on Game Pass on day one so at least there's no disability tax to find all this out.
Score5 out of 10
- Default subtitles are nice and large
- Subtitles on by default
- Buttons are fully remappable
- In-game icons are far too small
- Icons are not intuitive in their meaning
- Confusing menu structure
- Unintelligible menu narration voice
- Players will still need to use all buttons and stick clicks, even if remapped, to play the game
Instead of starting this review in the usual way, telling you a bit about the premise of Rainbow Six Extraction, I’m going to share how I originally opened this review when I began writing it a few days ago:
Rainbow Six Extraction is the first Ubisoft game since Assassin’s Creed Syndicate to launch without customizable subtitles.
I have since learned that this is not true but it speaks to my experience with the game, but I’ll explain this better in a minute.
There are three things I believe are true about gaming:
- Anyone should be able to pick up any game, even if they’re new to gaming or new to a franchise, and be able to figure out how to play—what the goals are, what the core mechanics are and how to use them, what the point is—with relative ease.
- Games marketed to adults need to respect our time. We have jobs, responsibilities, and lives and gaming fits into the hobby slot in all that.
- If a game makes a player feel dumb, the player is not going to enjoy themselves.
I bring these up because for me, Rainbow Six Extraction failed to do all three, making for an incredibly inaccessible and not enjoyable time.
Here is the menu that players are shown upon first booting the game. It’s broken down into two steps; language and “comfort settings.” The comfort settings have things that one usually finds in the accessibility menu so it’s reasonable for players to assume, “Oh, comfort settings replaced the accessibility menu. Cool!” This was my assumption which led to my above incorrect review opening. The only subtitle option present in “comfort settings” is “visible / hidden,” so again, it’s reasonable that I assumed this was it in terms of subtitle options. Things like text size and background transparency are matters of comfort and they’re not included here. The fact that there is no menu tab labeled “accessibility” further lends itself to these assumptions.
I played for 20 minutes before I realized there were further options available to me. If a game makes a player feel dumb, they’re not going to have fun. If a menu makes players feel dumb, they’re really not going to have fun.
So where are the rest of the subtitle options?
They’re buried under “Interface” along with the rest of the accessibility options. And it’s fine and good to do away with a dedicated accessibility menu. In fact, I love the idea of renaming it “comfort settings” (even though that’s not actually what Ubisoft did here). What’s not fine about this design choice is suddenly eliminating it as its own sub-menu when every other game the studio has released in recent years has one without a little tool tip or something telling players, “Hey. Accessibility has moved to Interface. Comfort Settings are not Accessibility.”
I can’t lie, laughing at the fact that the menu narration sounds like my drunk uncle trying to belch the alphabet at holiday dinner brought me far more joy than actually playing the game did. If I wasn’t able to see the words “Français” and “Español,” I am not certain I would know that “Fran-nice” and “Espol” are language choices available to me. Menu narration should be the most clear aspect of a game. Players relying on it need to be able to understand it or there’s not much point in it being there. I don’t know what happened to the implementation of it here but I really hope this isn’t the narration system Ubisoft uses for future releases.
Disrespecting Players’ Time
I can’t put the blame for this solely on Ubisoft, as it’s a growing problem as more and more games rely on more and more accessibility options to “fix” what is otherwise inaccessible design. If I have to spend my first 15-20 minutes of my time in a game just digging through the menus to try to figure out what I need to turn on to even be able to play it, I’m probably going to just give up. I can’t help but feel like we’ve kind of lost the plot with accessibility because accessibility menus themselves are growing to a point of being inaccessible themselves.
Unfortunately, my experience didn’t get much better after I’d finished wrestling with the menu. With unclear (and tiny) in-game icons and a lack of onboarding for new-to-the-franchise players like myself, playing Extraction was the most unwelcome I’ve felt in a game in quite a while.
There are entire tutorial missions but for me, they still felt aimed at players experienced with the previous Rainbow Six game.
Take the drone for instance. The tutorial tells you to use your drone to locate nearby enemies. The tool tip tells you to hold right d-pad to deploy and recall your drone. The tutorial does not tell you how to use the drone to locate enemies. Players are supposed to intuit that the box shape icon bound to Y is the icon for scanning. I don’t know about you but the most intuitive meaning for that little box is photo mode, not scan. My drone battery ran out long before I finally figured out how to actually use the thing.
Further to the confusing icon point are the sound visualization icons. Shown above are two (far too tiny) icons meant to alert players to nearby sounds. The tiny feet to me mean that there are footsteps nearby when what it actually means is that an enemy has been alerted to your presence. The tiny bell icon I took to mean there was an alarm blaring somewhere which led me to believe the game was bugged because I heard no alarms anywhere. I still don’t know what the bell is meant to indicate.
I love the idea of Rainbow Six Extraction. I love the fact that how fantastically bad I am at the game is built into the gameplay and I lose access to operators that “die” and have to retrieve them in another mission. I think that’s brilliant. Use my previous failure to make more gameplay. The problem? The only thing truly done well regarding accessibility in Rainbow Six Extraction is the default size of the subtitles and the fact that as with all modern Ubisoft titles, players can remap all buttons.
Menu narration is unintelligible, accessibility options are inaccessible, icons are far too small and not intuitive in the slightest, and with all of these things combined, Rainbow Six Extraction is nearly unplayable for me and I assume this will be true for many other disabled players. The good news? It’s on Game Pass on day one so at least there’s no disability tax to find all this out.
A review copy of Rainbow Six Extraction was provided by the developer / publisher.