Diablo IV accessibility review

Mike Matlock8 minute read

Review in short

Diablo IV delivers on story and gameplay, and with it's accessibility features is one of the most accessible RPG's I have ever played!

Pros

  • Accessible Screen Reader
  • Fully customizable mouse and keyboard controls
  • Colorblind filter
  • Text-to-speech options for chat
  • Expanded difficulty settings

Cons

  • Fast-paced combat can be daunting
  • Skill slot customization locked behind level progression

Full review

Fight through legions of hell in order to vanquish the demon queen in Diablo IV! Diablo IV was developed by Blizzard Entertainment, and it was released last month for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox One, Xbox Series X/S and Microsoft Windows. This is the newest title in the franchise and I’m reviewing the PC version of the game. Like other games in the series, Diablo IV is playable with just a mouse and is also chock-full of accessibility options for disabled gamers.

Diablo IV is an online-multiplayer action RPG that revolves around obtaining strong loot and defeating enemies in procedurally generated dungeons. Players can customize and create their own character from one of five classes: Necromancer, Rogue, Barbarian, Sorcerer, and Druid. The game offers solo play, PvP, and partying up with other players online. Skill trees can be unlocked through combat to help with completing story quests in an open world environment. 

Beginning The Game

Starting up the game, I was immediately given gameplay options, text-to-speech accessibility, and visual support. A screen reader was available here, as well as options for subtitle sizing, HUD scaling, and colorblind customization. Subtitles were automatically turned on.

The character selection menu in Diablo IV. Different characters are gathered around a campfire, the Druid is selected.

After the cinematic intro played, I reached the title screen. Then more accessibility opened up in the options menu of Diablo IV. This menu had individual tabs for graphics, sound, gameplay, controls, and accessibility. The accessibility tab has all the audio and visual support that I previously mentioned in a convenient space.

Controls 

As someone with fine-motor skill impairments, I could tell the controls were very accessible! I started left-clicking to move my character and also attack. However, the overlap never became an issue for me because the mouse buttons and keyboard keys can be completely customized. Diablo IV even has controller support, with remappable buttons and the option to swap analog sticks. 

I’m glad to say that all of Diablo IV can be played with just a mouse. The map, inventory, the options menu, and up to six different skills can be accessed with the mouse. If I had one negative thing to say about the controls, it would just be that four of the main skill slots are locked behind level progression. So I couldn’t move skills around to my liking, until I unlocked that space. This was somewhat tedious to deal with, having to stick to the right side of the menu early on in the game. 

The player character trading at an alchemist. The left menu is open to refine resources and Blightshade selected, showing details and cost next to it.
To the right is the character, with stats and inventory visible.

Buttons can be set to toggle or hold in the options menu (some later spells must be held down). Occasionally, I wanted to access my inventory quickly, so I utilized my on-screen keyboard. Thankfully, Diablo IV has a Borderless and Windowed mode that is very accessible. The cursor wasn’t locked to the screen and I had no problems reaching for the on-screen keyboard in the middle of battle.

Combat and Difficulty Settings 

Speaking of battle, Diablo IV is definitely meant to be played with others online. Still, I’ve done well alternating between finishing dungeons on my own and sometimes playing with others. When completing story missions and side quests, sometimes NPC characters fought alongside me. The great thing about these characters is that they can’t die and none of their health depletes while fighting.

A fight takes place around an Ancient Obelisk, a stone pillar with red symbols.
Several arcane symbols are visible on the ground while the player fights a few remaining enemies.
A minimap and quest objectives are listed on the right.
Numbered skills are shown on the bottom, with health and mana globes on each sides. A experience progress bar is visible above the skills.

Combat can still be daunting at times. In dungeons, I’m often clicking with the mouse as fast as I can. I’m forced to spam every spell I have, just to keep monsters off me long enough to heal. I’m thankful my wolf companions give me a lot of support. I chose the Druid class, so I was able to unlock animal companions to help me fight once I reached level 10. Likewise, I know the Necromancer class has skeleton companions available right from the start. However, I don’t think any of the other classes have companions, so I thought it worth mentioning.

World tiers

There are five difficulty settings in Diablo IV (they’re referred to as World Tiers). Only two of them are available at the beginning of the game, until level 50 is reached. These are Adventure mode and Veteran mode, but I recommend Adventure mode for disabled players because enemies are much easier to defeat using this setting. Interestingly, there’s a separate difficulty setting called Hardcore mode. It changes the experience so that character death is completely permanent. Though, this mode is not recommended until completing the main campaign at least once.

A screen showing several available skills, Landslide is selected with additional details shown.
In the skill bar 4 out of 6 skill slots are locked.

If you’re new to playing Blizzard games, it may be a bit intimidating at first figuring out the interface. Fear not, Diablo IV lets players learn at their own pace with adjustable tutorial settings. These options include Less Guidance, which only explains new features to the series, or More Guidance which gives in-depth tutorials for skills and controls. 

Subtitles and Colorblind Filter 

Like its predecessors, Diablo IV has a dark aesthetic and dark visuals. I had no problems seeing where to go while exploring the map, but I did notice cinematic cut-scenes were much darker lit. There’s a brightness slider available in the options menu, as well as options to highlight objects. Players, NPC’s, and enemies can also be highlighted and I could choose what color for each individual highlight.

Diablo IV paused, with red accent colors on the logo and several buttons.Diablo IV paused, with an overall more green look, otherwise red accent colors are purple.
The Tritanopia colorblind filter compared to normal colors

Dungeons vary greatly by visual design and color, some are overgrown dank caves or creepy flesh covered pits. Confusing blood red floors for green venom may not be an issue for players with visual impairments. Diablo IV has a comprehensive colorblind filter that intends to compensate for three different kinds of colorblindness: Protanopia, Deuteranopia, and Tritanopia. There is also a filter intensity slider for added customization. Like in many other games, the filters look more like colorblind simulators affecting everything on screen, how effective they are is debatable. The highlight option might be more helpful to players.

Lilith is visible in front of a stained glass window, arms held out in a welcoming way.
Her name is visible above the subtitles, which have a darker background and read: Break the chains... and discover who you were meant to be...

Subtitles have a nice bold font with a dark background and captions already built into the text. The size and color of subtitles can be adjusted under the accessibility tab in Diablo IV. HUD font can be scaled up or down with a slider and the cursor size can be set to small, medium, or large. It’s also refreshing to see options for cognitively impaired players, such as the ability to turn off screen shake and reduce strobing effects. 

Audio Cues and Screen Reader 

More than anything, I noticed great options aimed at helping blind players and those hard of hearing. When turning on the Screen Reader, I could adjust the volume of the voice, the speed, and even different voices entirely. Other than wanting more navigational support for the map, I’ve read that many blind players find the Screen Reader to be thoroughly accessible.

Screen Reader and Text to Speech options on in the Diablo IV accessibility menu.
Screen Reader volume, speed, and voice can be changed and there is a 3rd party screen reader option.
For Text to Speech a voice and volume option are visible as well as local, party, and trade toggles.

Diablo IV has adjustable sound levels for the soundtrack, dialogue, ambient noises and a master volume slider. For the voice chat, I could turn on talk-to-text with ways to customize text or syntax spoken aloud. 

There are also a bunch of audio cues with separate sounds for individual items for things like weapons, armor, and jewelry. There are even unique sounds for differentiating loot rarity! All these options can be turned off or on at any time in the options menu. I’m so impressed with how much audio support the developers put in the game. 

Conclusion 

Diablo IV delivers on story and gameplay, but it’s also one of the most accessible RPG’s I’ve ever played! Although fighting many waves of undead creatures can get intense, the extensive difficulty settings let me progress at my own pace. The screen reader and audio cues allow blind players to explore with little conflict. All fifty plus accessibility options in Diablo IV really showcase how far the game industry has come in regard to making games more accessible overall.

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