Far Cry 6 is coming up on October 7th. The new title in the action-packed franchise was shown recently at Gamescom 2021, revealing more details of the story and gameplay. But what lies beyond the palm trees, shooting and explosions? Back in August Ubisoft released this article with a long list of accessibility features that would be available in the game, and it raised a lot of expectation in the gaming community. Shortly after that, we published an interview with Douglas Gregory where we got more details about these features design and their evolution. Recently, among many other media outlets, we were invited to play a demo version of the game to get our own impressions. We played for about 4 hours and then tried the co-op mode. While most outlets focus on gameplay, story, visuals… we went as deep as we could into the accessibility, by exploring the customization and how gameplay worked. 4 hours might sound like a lot but when you invest so much time going through the numerous menus, reading every option description, and adjusting them, time flies. We want to make clear that some features may not have been present or worked properly as this was not the final release version of the game. These are our first impressions.
A Jungle of Options
After the intro sequence, we dived immediately into the game. We chose the Story difficulty mode, as with limited time in our hands we didn’t want to lose progress. The other difficulty mode, called Action makes enemies more lethal. From there we jumped straight into the Options menu.
The menus are very well designed. The settings are divided into sections, indicated by bright headers in a bigger text size, lines that highlight the current one and different color background. The contrast is good thanks to white text over a dark background and the currently selected option is highlighted by a bold white outline. Settings that you cannot currently modify are dimmed and those that depend on others are indented to help organize and communicate this relation. Options modified display an asterisk on the top right too, to let you know “Hey, you changed this”. It’s also worth noting every option has a text description on the right and many of them include graphic examples to illustrate how your changes will look in-game.
There are clickable buttons on the bottom right to Revert Settings, Enable Menu Narration or go Back to the previous screen. These have an associated key shortcut, and I am happy to inform these keys can be remapped too. Every single one of them as far as I managed to test. This was first seen in Watch Dogs Legion, and it has carried over to this title. Having full UI control through the cursor is good, but this is just the cherry on top of the cake for ease of use and flexibility. Goodbye Escape key, you will not be missed. If this becomes a new standard in games, it would be a good step forward as it makes the whole process more comfortable and reduces the possibility of getting stuck on any given screen.
Okay, so the menus look good, they are easy to use, but what’s in them? Lots of options. Let’s begin with the presets.
First steps, the Presets
The first novelty here are the presets, which are the first option in the menu, making it hard to miss and giving you an idea of their significance. There are six presets here, labeled Vision, Hearing, Motor, Cognitive, Motion and Colors. Each one of them contains a list of settings tailored to customize the experience and make it more accessible to you depending on what your needs are. These presets can be turned on, off or customize every setting that appears in them to your liking. The presets don’t include all the options available in the game, just those that are more significant for each aspect. So, for example when I went to the Motor tab, I could customize if I want holds or toggles for aiming, disable controller vibration but not rebind my keys or adjust the sensitivity. This is okay, as these menus’ intent is to help you find the main settings you need and setting up the game faster and more intuitively, and in some cases no other tweaking might be necessary.
The Vision preset groups the most important options to accommodate the experience for someone with a visual disability. The options are varied, the first being the voice narration of menus, with controls to adjust its speed and volume. Other options will help to adjust the presentation of the information on the screen, such as increasing the size of the user interface, the thickness of the aiming grid or customizing the presentation of the subtitles. For this we can adjust their size, choose if we want the speaker names to appear in a different color from the rest of the text and the type of background that they will have between none, semi-transparent and solid black.
We can also show an outline line that highlights both the enemies and the objects that we can collect, with the possibility to select the color for each of these two indications independently. The colors can be chosen from a predefined palette of around 20. We can also activate assists when aiming so that the cursor stays on the current enemy or adjust effects such as the camera shake, the reticle sway when aiming through a scope or the distortions caused by effects such as poison or being drunk.
The Hearing preset focuses on adjusting the audio levels first, reducing by default the value of all the channels except the main one and that of the dialogues, although as in other cases these can be customized to suit the individual. As for the subtitles, we have the same options as in the previous preset but one more is added which is Sound Subtitles. These will show us a text describing what type of sound is near us (explosions, enemies speaking, vehicles) along with an indicator to know from which direction the sound is coming as well as the distance. These subtitles use the same options that we have defined for dialogue subtitles. Finally, there are a couple of options more focused on improving communication in cooperative mode. These are the possibility of displaying what our partner tells us in voice chat as text on our screen, which is usually known as Speech-To-Text and using a chat wheel with predefined text commands to quickly send instructions.
The Motor preset is designed for making the controls to interact with the game more comfortable, reducing inputs and customizing how certain actions can be performed. There are a series of options in common, like adjust if we want to aim by holding down or with a toggle, deactivate the reticle sway when aiming with a sniper rifle or allow us not to have to repeatedly press a key for certain actions during QuickTime Events. Other options are specific to keyboard and mouse or controller.
For Keyboard and Mouse, we can adjust if the Weapon Wheel will open and close with a simple press instead of leaving the key pressed, although during the demo we verified that the toggle option did not work which is undoubtedly a bug that will be resolved in the final version. We can also activate an assist to target the enemy while we are driving.
The Controller section presents a greater variety of options in this preset. We can reduce or even deactivate the vibration, activate the aiming assistance, choose if we want to use hold or toggle to aim, crouch or sprint. Another option allows you to change the way actions that require double presses are performed by changing them to a long press. As a novelty, we can choose whether to sprint we will use the typical system of pressing the direction and a button or if we simply want to press the stick to the maximum inclination. Other options such as not having to press the sticks we could not test.
We can also adjust if we want vibration feedback and some other functionalities related to adaptive triggers. Again, we could not test them since we do not have a controller with this feature, but we hope to be able to do it for the review. Still, the player will have a wide margin to personalize the experience in order to eliminate barriers.
The Cognitive preset is focused on adjusting the cognitive load while playing or using the menus, preventing being overwhelmed. You can disable camera effects, such as camera shake and the movement of the crosshair and reduce the number of interactions that must be carried out such as repeated presses during QuickTime events. You can also activate the aiming assists both on foot and by car, adjust the presentation of the subtitles, reduce the vibration of the controller, or simplify the way to sprint. Finally, it allows you to adjust the size of user interface elements, turn outlines for enemies and objects on or off, adjust their color, and even change the dynamic audio mode to increase or decrease the range of sounds received, thus avoiding sudden volume changes between the different effects.
The Motion preset is primarily focused on reducing those effects that can cause motion sickness and is made up of options that reduce visual effects and vibration, including the well-known motion blur.
Finally, the Colors preset is intended to adjust the color of the different elements on the screen. On the one hand, it allows you to adjust the main colors such as the group of red, blue, and yellow. When activated, it changes the reds for yellows, turquoise for blue and the orange for cyan. If these colors are not appropriate for a person, we can easily change them with a couple of clicks. On the other hand, we can also separately adjust the color of each element of the gameplay, such as the color of the aiming reticle, or when we aim at an enemy so that it changes and provides us with more information and even the color of the laser beams that enemies use in their guns.
Also, the colors for speaker names’ that indicate if a character is an enemy, friend, or the player on the subtitles. For the map we can change colors for roads and GPS routes. In short, there is a great deal of customization not only to help avoid barriers for people with color blindness, but also to make the experience more comfortable for anyone.
Possibly at this point you think that there are a lot of options, but the most interesting thing is that this is just the tip of the iceberg. Afterall, the game has many more, and these presets just allow us to filter what is most relevant to us and access them faster and more easily. If after using these presets we want to go to the full menus, we can do it and change these and many other options. To give an example, it is as if you go to a restaurant and they have personalized mini menus for different people based on their tastes and needs, so when you want to choose what to eat you can go directly to the section that contains what you like or need.
Personally, I am a person who likes to explore every menu and every option to see how I can make my experience as accessible as possible for myself or others, and sometimes this can be a very long process. I am not exaggerating if I say that sometimes I can spend 2 or 3 hours until I finish configuring everything as I want, but here the process was much faster and more intuitive. In just 20 minutes I had everything ready, not just the presets but I even went to the other options and changed all my keys and made the rest of the adjustments that I needed. The on-boarding experience is certainly much better.
As the rest of the options are too numerous, I am going to do a brief mention of those that I consider most important.
In the Video menu, you can adjust the field of view which also helps to reduce motion sickness, as well as adjust the brightness, contrast, and gamma.
In the Controller menu aside from all the options mentioned previously, we can activate the left-handed mode, adjust the sensitivity when moving the camera and aiming as well as the response of both sticks. Thanks to this last option, the higher the value, the less the stick will have to be tilted for it to respond.
We can combine the sticks so that instead of using one to move and another to look, they are combined and with a single stick we can move forward / backward and turn left / right. You can also activate an option so when we are aiming instead of moving with the walking stick, we can aim with it. This option working with the previous one results, theorycally, in being able to play using practically only a stick and buttons. Invert for both vertical and horizontal axis is also available, for first- and third-person view modes.
Now we move on to remapping, which offers independent controls and remaps depending on whether we are on foot, in a vehicle. Even within this category, we can configure the controls independently for each type of vehicle (Airplane, horse, helicopter, car…). Controls for menus, map, photo mode and, of course, the controls for minigames such as dominoes or cockfighting (no puns here, please) are fully remappable too. The remapping for the controller has a system to choose if the actions are performed with a simple press, a double press or while it is being held down. Again, this system requires a thorough testing that we could not carry out but that is very promising.
In all these screens there is an image on the right to see the control scheme with its actions, that can be enlarged to make it full screen. If there is any conflict in the remapping, it is indicated with a message and the inputs and buttons that cause it are highlighted both on the controller picture and the remap interface.
For Keyboard and Mouse, we find similar options to adjust the sensitivity, adjust mouse acceleration, invert the axis as well as allow the cursor to be displayed on the screen to use on-screen keyboards and other assistive software. Regarding the sensitivity of the camera and aiming, I must say that even at very low values such as the initial 100 it is quite sensitive, so with higher values it is to be expected that there will be no problem for those who use devices with low sensitivity like touchpads. My only concern is if this will be as good in menus, as there is no setting for it. Here we can also remap all the actions, with the possibility of having 2 keys for each. Extra mouse buttons can also be used. The actions to remap are the same as for the controller, and we also have a view of the keyboard and mouse showing which keys are being used and which are not, as well as an indicator that warns us if some actions have no input assigned. Next to each key that is not assigned we can see a red circle with a black question mark to help us find the unassigned inputs. The remapping is as complete as for the controller except for one detail I’ll comment on later.
Finally, in the HUD section, we can modify the presentation of its elements as well as how much information we want in it. You can activate and deactivate the minimap/radar, life indicators, control reminders, the shining effect for the interactive objects, indicators of enemy position, detection, direction of the shots, explosion warning, markers for the objectives of missions, health bars, etc. It is worth mentioning the enemy indicators that show us their type by displaying a white icon above their head. There is more information that can be activated or deactivated to make the experience as complete as possible without losing information but at the same time avoiding overwhelming the player.
The last group of options is for Third Party tools. Some of them simply give the game control of the RGB color elements of our computer and synchronize them with the action. Others, like the Tobii Gaming, allow us to use an eye tracker to move the camera, aim and mark the enemies or send our companions to a position or target by looking at it.
I am really happy with the customization options although I do miss a few things. For starters, the fact that there is no assistance to aim with the mouse and keyboard like the ones available for the controller. Also, as complete as the remapping is, and I want to highlight again the fact of being able to remap all the keys of the menu, it does not allow the same system of simple press / double press we have seen for controllers. Ghost Recon Breakpoint had a similar system that helped a lot to reduce the number of needed keys and I would like to see that evolution carried over. If not in this title, at least for future ones as I think the concept was very good and would benefit a lot of players. In the same way, I miss an autowalk feature which would greatly facilitate movement both on foot and by vehicle and I refer again to the previous title as an example, although it is also used in titles such as immortal Phoenix rising or the Assassin’s Creed series. It would clearly reduce fatigue, further increasing comfort and playtime.
Finally, I am surprised by the fact that there is not, at least in the demo, a GPS line indicating the route on the game screen. Although it is true that this line is shown on the minimap, Far Cry 5 already had this functionality and it is very important not only for people with low vision or cognitive needs, as it represents another quality-of-life feature for the game.
Hands on Impressions
Well, once we have seen the options, now I am going to explain how it was to play the game. To give you an idea of my settings, I put all as many actions as possible as toggles and remapped all the keys. I usually use the numeric keyboard for movement and some actions, such as the numeric keypad plus to go back in the menus since it is close to the hand I use the mouse with. Also assigned jumping to an extra mouse button and melee attack/takedown on the other extra button. For the rest of the actions, including moving, changing weapons, opening inventories, and others, I use voice commands to press the keys that I need.
From the first moment the game was very responsive to my inputs. One of the things I noticed early on is that I didn’t need to use holds to pick up items, open doors, disable alarms, or anything. This increased the speed at which I could perform the actions and reduced muscle fatigue. The HUD constantly informed me of what action keys it had available and in what way I could perform them, according to the context. I could eliminate enemies, use vehicles, or interact with items and characters with a simple press, it was very simple and accessible.
The use of the map was similar, fully usable with the mouse, scrolling in the desired direction and being able to use the wheel to zoom in and increase the amount of information presented. Just hovering over a map icon displays a description of the mission or location. Also, the keys to recenter the view on my location, follow objectives, and more were always convenient for me as I had remapped them to my preference. It may seem unimportant but being able to customize even the inputs used on these screens is essential to obtain a more immersive gaming experience, as you never find yourself stuck.
Once the first mission was marked, I headed to my destination on foot. The destination marker is easy to spot due to its shape, size, contrast, and a white circle that blinks, which makes it easier to locate it on the screen-
During the playtime I tried the Photo mode on a couple of occasions. Here too I must say that I was pleasantly surprised by the progress that has been made in this mode. Although you still have to use movement keys to position the camera, the rest of the controls can be done with the mouse and adjustments are easily performed using key shortcuts and the user interface. It is as simple as clicking on the option that we want to modify and adjust its values with a few clicks. In the same way, to take the photo or go back into action, we can press the keyboard shortcuts indicated on screen or click on the UI buttons. I have always liked Photo mode in games, and I think that in many cases, people have not been able to make all the use we wanted of it due to barriers when using the controls but here that problem hardly exists. My only wish would be for the interface to also allow you to move the camera, or at least use the buttons that appear on the screen to raise/lower the camera position. After taking a couple of photos with Guapo, the fierce crocodile and Chorizo, the brave little dog, I resumed the mission.
When it came to facing enemies, I had no difficulty and once I got a second weapon, I tested the different ways to switch between them. We can use the mouse wheel, use shortcut keys, or open the weapon wheel and select the one you want. It is very intuitive and flexible. Another detail that I liked was that when you eliminate an enemy you automatically collect what they carry if you do it in Melee mode. If you kill them from afar, all you must do to loot the ammunition they carry is to walk very close to them. In previous games you had to look at the ground and with the enemy focused use the interact action, while here it is a kind of an auto loot system. Although this system does not extend to containers, it is still much more convenient.
As for driving a vehicle, I didn’t have great difficulty either, since the game allows you to steer some types with the mouse, like horses or helicopters. Mouse driving is always tricky as some vehicles move very fast, making it difficult to make precise turns. The auto-driving function helps for this, but it’s mostly just to go from one place to another and never in conflictive areas as the speed at which you drive is quite slow. The exception would be tanks, as they are far more resistant. Here I miss the presentation of the GPS line on the screen, as traversing the winding roads of the island can be difficult without it. I didn’t experience motion sickness, but certainly I would prefer to completely disable camera shake in riding sequences. The constant movement back and forth while you are galloping can make you dizzy after a while.
Regarding the information on the screen, I never felt overwhelmed or missing anything despite having everything activated. The minimap/radar is very useful for keeping on the right track, especially as it displays areas of enemy activity or search zones in different colors. Only once I thought that there was too much information on the screen, but it was not the way it was presented but because there were 12 enemies, an ally, and a backup helicopter all on screen at once as grenades and fire flew in all directions. I wouldn’t talk about cognitive overload since I understood perfectly what was happening at all times, thanks to the enemy outlines, enemy tags and more. It is simply that there were too many things that you had going on at the same time.
Something that I appreciated a lot in this situation was that one of the weapons allowed me to cover behind a shield and get out just to shoot. It was thanks to this protection that I took my time to eliminate all the enemies and complete the mission.
On all occasions the enemy presence indicators as well as the detection indicators allowed me to face the different challenges as I wanted, stealthily (my preference) or engaging in open combat. My only concern is that you can’t choose your melee weapon and the takedowns are a bit gory with the machete. I feel an option to reduce these animations’ gore might be beneficial.
I want to mention here the ease to control your friends, since all you have to do is aim at a place or enemy and press a key for our faithful companion to take the appropriate action. For calling them back to your side you must perform a brief hold. While it’s not long, perhaps it would be desirable to be able to do it with a different key or use the previously mentioned system where you can choose if you want to do it as a single or double press.
I have to say that once immersed in the game I could not appreciate important barriers, and I could play for the rest of the session without experiencing unintended barriers, even during the cooperative fragment or playing the Domino minigame. One minor point of friction was that after a Domino match the only way to play again or quit was pressing a key, and the UI didn’t offer clickable icons. I hope this is fixable, but still it’s just this detail where I was surprised as the rest of the time the game use through menus was excellent.
At this point I think it is obvious that the experience was extremely positive. At times I felt maybe I was not doing my analysis well, but what was really happening was that I was not finding any of the usual barriers and could play freely and without hitches. There are some things that should exist as indicated in the interview carried out previously (such as sounds to know in what part of the body we have shot an enemy or when we reach the last bullet of the magazine), I hope that they will come later when the game is finally released as they would be a great help for people with low vision, for example.
As for me, I am looking forward to the game’s release to continue the fight for the liberation of Yara, which in a way has been liberating for me too as the game never held me back. I think the team has done a great job in all aspects to make Far Cry 6 the most accessible Far Cry yet, which is not only due to the quantity and quality of the customization options that the game includes, but to the careful design of it.
Antonio I. Martinez has Spinal Muscular Atrophy Type 3 and has been a gamer for most of his life. His background formation in computer programming and English compose his basic skill set. Previously the mobility editor for Can I Play That, now works in this new project to help other fellow gamers and contribute to spread accessibility. You can contact him on Twitter at @Black1976