Wednesday, October 13, 2021

Far Cry 6 Not Far from Blind Accessible

Lamoine Williams

               I already know what you’re thinking. here we are again with another Ubisoft title that does not hit the mark for blind gamers. However, don’t count Ubisoft out just yet. Although Far Cry 6 is not totally playable for gamers who are totally blind, Ubisoft is getting close. In fact, this might just be there most blind accessible game yet.

               One of the type of games that blind gamers have yet to experience is an open world title that is also accessible. With more and more games adding in accessible features, we can only hope that a game will be coming soon that will scratch our itch for exploration. Far Cry 6 contains one of Ubisoft’s largest maps with just about everything you could want to do rolled up inside it. From driving to flying, creeping to crafting, Far Cry 6 has you covered. Well, it does unless you’re a blind gamer.

               Although Far Cry 6 has its shortcomings, compared to previous Ubisoft titles things are coming along nicely. The menu narration is passable giving you access to information needed to set the game up without sighted assistance. On a side note, though, the menus seem to be designed weird and sometimes it’s not quite clear how to get to options even when you know they are there. There are options for changing the narration voice and also controlling the speed of narration, which is a plus. Hopefully in the future there will be a fix for the narration overrun when narration continues to speak even though the cursor has moved to a different option.

               One of the biggest barriers that Far Cry 6 has for blind gamers is not having an accessible navigation system for objectives. This single barrier is one that can easily make or break a game. Think about it. If The Last of Us Part 2 had not implemented a successful accessible navigational system, few to no blind gamers would have been able to play it. So accessible navigation is definitely a crucial tool for any game with open environments.

               One other thing that will prevent blind gamers from successfully playing Far Cry 6 without sighted assistance is the lack of accessible prompts within the game world. Prompts that read with narration are crucial for knowing when doors can be opened, when objectives are reached, and when items in the environment can be interacted with to progress the story. Without these, gamers who depend on the game’s narration features won’t progress and will be missing tons of information that other gamers pick up easily. The simple rule for these situations? If you can interact with it, make it so that the narrator reads all crucial information regarding the prompt or object. This will fix most barriers with identification so everyone can have as close to the same experience during gameplay as possible.

               So how accessible is Far Cry 6 if your blind? Well, it’s not quite a game that can be played without either sighted assistance or a tiny bit more work when it comes to accessibility. I do have to give Ubisoft props for adding in more accessibility and also not leaving out gamers who are totally blind. Playing the game, I could tell that there was some thought put into the game to help those who are totally blind and it is much appreciated. Overall, I think this game will be more like a Grand Theft Auto 5 game for me, which means, a game that is fun for a bit to run around in and see what I can do, but not accessible enough for me to actually complete any part of the game on my own. Hopefully with some time Ubisoft can implement some accessibility updates that might help fix some of the barriers that Blind gamers are having in Far Cry 6. However, trying to add in a system as large and complicated as accessible objective based navigation at this point would be almost impossible without adding more bugs to the game most likely.

               Check out the video that accompanies this article on the Blind Ohio Gamer channel on YouTube! Remember to like, subscribe, and share!

©2021 Lamoine Williams 

Diablo 2 Resurrected is Still Dead

Lamoine Williams

               For weeks just like many of you I have been patiently awaiting the release of the Diablo2 remake. While it was officially released today, September 24, 2021, it seems to be missing some of the crucial accessibility features we were promised by the developer. Although there are accessibility options for resizing U/I elements, choosing if NPC’s dialog is presented in audio, text, or both, there is no Text to Speech to be heard anywhere. In the past, there have not been many game remakes that have added in more accessibility for the blind. This is something that the entire blind community wishes would change very soon.

               When a game is remade, the developers in most cases overhaul the game in order to make it a bit more modern and appealing to consumers. Games may get updated U/I, updates to graphics, and attention to things that make the game overall run smoother. This is the perfect time to add in accessibility, while developers are under a game’s hood adding in other updates. Sadly, this is not what is happening in most cases. What we usually get are games that are graphically pleasing, but have little to no updates that remove the barriers from the original games.

               One thing to understand is the difference between a remaster and a remake. These two terms are easy to get confused and although they seem similar, they are as different as night and day. Let’s start with remasters. A remaster of a game means that it is usually the same game with changes to graphics and assets. These games are mostly the same at the core and have the same content and overall gameplay.

               On the other hand, a remake is a total overhaul of the game. A remake may have the same concept, just taken in a different direction. In remakes, developers rebuild a game from the original. Technical updates are usually implemented while also making the game more appealing to new gamers. Plot lines, characters, and combat are things that are changed depending on the title.

               So, how bad is Diablo2 Resurrected from an accessibility standpoint? Well, it’s still as dead as its predecessor to be honest. Pre-launch there was tons of talk about how much accessibility was going to be put into this title. While post-launch it is another dismal failure. Many in the disabled community were sure after the mind-blowing release of The Last of Us Part II last year that developers understood what was needed to make a game fully accessible and would begin making it a priority. But with accessibility failures such as Watch Dog: Legion, Ratchet and Clank: A Rift Apart, and Final Fantasy 7: Remake we experienced none of what makes a game great, which is removing barriers and allowing everyone to play.


©2021 Lamoine Williams 

Thursday, August 26, 2021

What's New in Madden 22?

Lamoine Williams

               It’s that time of year again football fans. The best part of the year when football makes its return and oh yeah, EA releases another Madden to the public. Year after year football fans like me anticipate the newest Madden in hopes of a better football game than the previous years release. I’ve been a long time Madden fan, and to be honest, the anticipation year after year has glossed over majorly in the past five or six years. Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s not all bad.

               Here and there, EA throws its fans a bone by adding in a cool game mode or new feature. Long-time hardcore fans of the franchise will have to look past the fact that many of these new features that are labeled as new are actually updated features that EA has implemented into Madden in the past and then taken away. However, accessibility is something that we all hope that EA never takes back as it has allowed American football fans who live with many different disabilities to play the sport they love. Honestly, Madden soothes the long months between football seasons, which is one of the many reasons that fans keep coming back to the franchise. Well, that and because EA is the only game developer that currently has the license to make NFL games.

               So, how good is Madden 22 from a blind accessible standpoint? Well, it’s really no different than Madden 20 or Madden 21. Now of Corse that depends on the generation of system it played on since the menu narration in the current generation titles is a complete game changer. I would however like to point out that as of the writing of this article and six days after its release, Madden 22 for PlayStation 5 has an issue with Playbook narration. The issue is that when navigating the playbook using narration, the formations do not read, but the plays do.

               This issue with the playbook narration really isn’t that big of a fix and should be patched quickly. That is if anyone can get in contact with EA’s head of accessibility, Karen Stevens(@ea_accessible). I have not heard from her or heard anything about her from other accessibility advocates since shortly after the release of Madden 21 last year when I captured footage of playbook narration from my PlayStation 4. I was immediately told that there would be no playbook narration on the last generation of consoles and that my video was not the way they wanted to release the news of the upcoming playbook narration in the franchise. Oops, my bad.

               Anyway, if you would like to see that short video, I’ll include the link below or you can check it out on the Blind Ohio Gamer YouTube channel. The video is titled Madden 21 Playbook Narration. The video is easy to find on YouTube as I was the only one to capture this on video. Honestly, I’m not so sure that I believe that playbook narration could not work on the last gen consoles because they were not powerful enough, but that is what we were told by EA. Also, since the PC versions of the game were done the same as the Xbox One and PS4 versions, you got it, there was no playbook narration for that version either.

               So, back to Madden 22. If you haven’t guessed already, the newest game in the Madden franchise is pretty much the same from an accessibility standpoint as the game two years ago in most cases. I’m really hoping that they update the menu and playbook narration voice because for a developer as big as EA and its budget, it’s just sad. Another sad thing is that as both a football and accessibility fan, I still can’t wait to see what they will do in Madden 23. It’s almost liked every year we all have hopes and every year EA bashes them against the wall.

               Now, is Madden 22 worth the $70 price point? Well, it really depends on how much of a football fan you are. If your like tons of disabled gamers who have very little options when it comes to accessible video games and are playing Madden because you have little to no choice, then you can get just as much enjoyment from playing the older titles like Madden 20 and Madden 21. Honestly, I can’t see how I played without playbook Narration now that I know what I was missing. The older titles can be found for Xbox, PlayStation, and PC for dirt cheap at this point.

               Now, back to the previous question. Is Madden 22 worth it? No, if I didn’t want to review the game and let others know what the game is like so they don’t waste their money hoping for something that Madden is not, then I would have passed over Madden 22. I did say the same thing last year about Madden 21 and ended up buying it for all those same reasons, and I will most likely buy Madden 23 when it comes out in hopes that there will be more accessibility implemented into the game, because there is still tons of room for improvement.

PlayStation 4 playbook narration video:


Here is the video with the current playbook narration issues for Madden 22 on PS5:


©2021 Lamoine Williams 

Wednesday, August 11, 2021

Accessible Hearthstone Patch

Lamoine Williams

               Hearthstone is a battle card game from Blizzard/Activision that originally was not accessible, until now. Other card games have tried going the accessibility route, but none have done it as well as the hearthstone accessibility patch. This patch, which can be found on gethub, makes Hearthstone one of the most accessible main stream card battlers as of late. With great music, game sounds, and very good game mechanics, Hearthstone will keep the attention of even the most easily fatigued gamers, like myself.

               The biggest thing that draws me to Hearthstone is the simple navigation of the game. There are no odd keyboard commands that don’t make sense. One thing I can’t stand when playing a game is when the commands are useless and easy to forget. While playing through the tutorial, the commands and strategies of the game are well explained for new players as they should be. The patch was tested with NVDA, but should work for most any screen reader on Windows 10.

               Another aspect of Hearthstone that I enjoyed was the challenge of the A.I. opponents. After being defeated on my first playthrough of the last tutorial mission, I noticed that the A.I. had a few different cards the second time around than the first. I like that collecting cards is something that can be done and players even have the option to purchase cards if they so choose. However, purchasing cards is not needed since you collect cards with each win. I’m interested to see more of the card packs that will be made available.

               Overall, I like Hearthstone and will play it for a good while to come, I’m sure. I want to see what other play styles are available and what other cards and strategies can be learned. I also would like to play against other opponents which I think will be an awesome way of playing with my sighted friends and family. Hearthstone is available on iOS, Android, Mac, and Windows 10.

               The accessible patch is only available on the Windows 10 platform as of right now. If you would like more information about Hearthstone then check out the review video that accompanies this article on the Blind Ohio Gamer YouTube channel at the link that can be found below along with the site where you can find the hearthstone accessible patch.

Review video:

Hearthstone Accessibility site: 

©2021 Lamoine Williams

Friday, July 30, 2021

Call of Duty Black Ops Cold War

Lamoine Williams

               Since Sony has a summer sale on PlayStation games, I thought that now would be the perfect time to try out a game I’ve been wanting to play and get it for 50% off at the same time. The game is Call of Duty Cold War and it is not as bad as I thought for accessibility. The bundle that I purchased is the cross-generation bundle for $35 and contains the game for both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 consoles. Since this is a cross platform game, playing with your friends who have a PS5 or PS4 is no problem at all. I also want to mention that gamers who play on PS5 get a bit more information when it comes to finding out stats like score and kills, more on that later.

               Now I know that many of you are wondering exactly how accessible Cold War is and the simplest answer is there are not many accessible features for gamers who are totally blind. However, there are a few things that help blind gamers out and we will be going over those here today. Cold War is one of those games that although there are no specific accessibility features for the blind like menu narration, it is still playable with a little time and effort. If you’re a gamer who is interested in putting some time into a new game and learning the ropes then this just might be the game for you. With games on average costing upwards to $70 for just base games with no extras, this sale price is an all-around win.


               First things first let’s talk about the menus in Cold War. Now if you are a gamer who is blind then you know how much a pain it can be trying to navigate unfamiliar screens and menus that wrap. If you don’t know what that means, it’s when players can go from the top of a menu and when the final option is passed the curser wraps back up to the top. This can be annoying for gamers who navigate menus via clicks and sound cues since one never really knows what option they are on because there really is no starting point once you start moving the curser. In the past the way blind gamers have gotten passed this barrier is by memorizing the number of options on a menu and also what function they perform.

               In Cold War none of the menus wrap so it is very easy to learn how to navigate the screens with relative ease. This may seem like something very small to gamers with sight, but it is one less barrier that can keep gamers with vision loss from playing a game. Paired together with audio cues that are very clear and distinct and you have a foundation that allows many more players to navigate the game with little to no problems. Another thing that I find awesome about Cold War is that the main menu is simple. In past Call of Duty games, the menus have been literal nightmares to navigate for blind players.

               Having four options on the left of the main menu makes it easy to get around and find what mode you’re looking for. From top to bottom you have campaign, multiplayer, league, and zombies. There are more options to the right but those are not really needed in order to get started playing Zombies or multiplayer. I found that the clicks that can be heard when navigating the menu were easily heard even over the menu music. With most navigation being up and down, right to left getting around is a breeze.

PS5 3-d Tempest audio

               One of the biggest things that needs to be pointed out is the audio engine. Redesigned from the ground up specifically for Cold War, the sounds are clear, dynamic, and very detailed. With a decent pair of head phones this game sounds awesome. However, I would like to say that compared to gears 5 on PC, the Cold War sound engine on PS5 still has a bit to go in order to get on equal footing with the Coalition sound engine. Now, the more I play Cold War I may change that opinion, but as of right now the G5 engine for PC is more clear, detailed, and distinct when aiming and finding targets in the middle of noisy battles.

               Currently I am using the Sony Pulse 3-d headset made specially to take advantage of the Sony PlayStation 5 Tempest audio engine. I have noticed that hearing zombies from a distance is a bit troubling. Now, this could be because my ears are not used to all of the tiny sounds as of yet. For me ranging the distance that an enemy is from me just isn’t there yet and can be frustrating when trying to perform a melee kill in order to conserve ammo. But it just may be that more practice is needed in order to master that attack.

               I found that when navigating in-game I can follow my sighted team mates simply by listening for their movement and gunshots. This makes it much easier for me to help out with combat. Although, when a teammate is firing their weapon close to where my character is standing the noise tends to drown out the zombies from time to time. I did however lower my music volume so that the game music was not over powering the tiny sounds like enemy footsteps closing in. I found that having the music volume set to around 35 is a perfect level for me.

Game Mechanics

               There are a few different game mechanics that should be tweaked in order to make Cold War more playable for blind gamers. Most can be found in the options menu and others are in-game to help with navigation. Like I mentioned before, this game is not exactly what I would call accessible for the blind, but with a few work arounds it is indeed possible to play and have a good time. Playing with friends in a party is one of the best things about online gaming, sadly not many games that are accessible for the blind have this feature. I would love to see menu narration in the next Call of Duty game, so let’s keep our fingers crossed.

               The first place to go after booting up Cold War is the options menu. Here you will find options for gameplay, controls, music, and tons of other things. One big option to change is the vertical sensitivity for the right stick. This controls where your character is looking and can have a huge impact on aiming. Setting this to low means that your aiming curser or reticle will not move as much during gameplay which will result in more shots being on target and less work for the ADS.

               Next is lowering the music volume. This will help you hear tiny sounds like the humming of machines, zombie footsteps, and scrap that is dropped by zombies. Lowering the music volume will also help with navigating the menu as the click sound cues will be easier to hear. When you lower the music volume instead of turning it off, you will hear the music that the perk machines play and other similar in-game sound cues. I also found that the dialog volume is too high so I lowered that as well.

Final Thoughts

               Overall, I like playing Cold War. Do I wish that there were more accessibility options? Hell yeah, but that won’t keep me from doing my best to play. Even without options for accessibility it’s still a fun game to play. I can see the more that I play how easy it would be to add menu narration and in-game narration to make this game and future games in this franchise more accessible for gamers who are blind and looking for a multiplayer game to play with their sighted friends and family, it really wouldn’t take much.

Friday, July 16, 2021

Steam Deck: Will Accessibility Meet Portability?

 By Lamoine Williams

               The newest contender in the battle royale of gaming platforms is Valve’s newest creation, the Steam Deck. Being promoted as more of a full-fledged gaming PC than a portable gaming console, this handheld has caught the attention of gamers worldwide. In theory, this new platform could face off against the Nintendo Switch, while also due to the vast library of games already available, could pull gamers in with gaming services such as Xbox Game Pass Ultimate, Google Stadia, and Ubisoft Plus among others. If you’re already a Steam gamer then the Steam Deck is definitely worth taking a look at for anyone looking to take their setup on the go.

               The Steam Deck features Steam OS, remote play, and even Cloud Saves for easily transitioning from your PC to the Steam Deck in titles that allow this option. Other features that will be available through Steam OS are notifications, community chat, and Steam Works for using game mods with your favorite titles. The Steam Deck comes in three different options with the differences mainly being storage space, with the more expensive options offering a faster SSD. Preorders go live July 16, 2021. Shipping will begin December 2021.

               Now, let’s talk accessibility. Valve has stated that the Deck is highly customizable, just like a gaming PC. What this means for gamers is that uploading software is easy, and even encouraged in order to make the Stream Deck your own. This could mean running NVDA or even J.A.W.S thus making this one of the most accessible portable platforms on the market. Imagine playing your favorite video games while also being able to play your favorite audio games on the go without carrying around a bulky laptop.

               More information about the Steam Deck will be released in the upcoming weeks as we get closer to launch. To check out all the official news, visit There you will find everything needed to buy one of your own if you choose. My thoughts on the Deck are that although it is useful as a portable platform, I personally don’t need another piece of gaming tech as my iPhone does what I need and is already accessible. However, later on when the system is more tested, I may grab one if there are advancements in Steam’s accessibility overall.

©2021 Lamoine Williams

Monday, July 12, 2021

Accessibility in Gaming


               What does accessibility truly mean to gaming? This question is one of many that has been seemingly overlooked on the big stage of main stream gaming for the last four decades. That is until last year when a title that some of you may have heard of brought accessibility more into the spotlight than it has ever been before. That title? The Last of Us Part II. Which begs the question, will accessibility ever be the same again?

               Many gamers in the disabled community hope that accessibility will never be the same as it was before TLOU2 and with good reason. Just the same as movies and television, gaming will need to evolve to stay relevant, and accessibility is playing a major role in evolving the video game industry. This is leading more disabled gamers to ask more from developers in regards to accessibility. Now that consumers have seen what is possible when it comes to accessibility and AAA titles, it’s hard to go back to wishing our favorite games were more accessible when we know deep down, they can be. Developer Naughty Dog showed the world what can be done when excuses are set aside and accessibility is implemented during the early stages of gaming development.

               However, it’s not just game developers who are taking accessibility more seriously. Industry giants like Sony and Microsoft both have plans on making accessibility a bigger part of their business plans for the future. This can be seen in last generation as well as the newest generation of consoles. Microsoft’s Xbox One had the best accessibility of its generation. This success has carried into the newest generation of Microsoft’s Xbox, the Series X.

               While last generations PlayStation 4 lacked many of the accessibility features that made the Xbox One a favorite for many disabled gamers, Sony has strived to make up for it with the accessibility features implemented into its PlayStation 5 console. Although console shortage issues are plaguing the world, many in the disabled community who have managed to get their hands on the newest consoles believe that Sony is making a noticeable effort to include more accessibility into their products and services. It seems that at this point many in the gaming industry see a lack of accessibility in the same light as a lack of potential players for their products, which is exactly what it is. No developer wants to potentially limit the number of players who can play their game right out the box, right? Well, that is exactly what many developers are doing when they don’t consider accessibility during early stages of development.

               For both developers and consumers getting involved with accessibility is as easy as networking. For developers, getting in touch with accessibility consultants is the first step. Preferably disabled consultants so that direct feedback can be given from those who face the types of barriers developers are attempting to overcome. For consumers, getting in touch with developers who make the games they want to play and letting them know what barriers are keeping them from enjoying their games is the first step. Understand that if you are having a problem playing a game then there are many more people who are probably facing those same issues. Likewise, if a developer does not know there is a barrier, they most likely can’t remove it.

               Accessibility has many definitions. What may be accessible for some, may not be accessible for all. Although a developer can add subtitles and promote their game as being accessible, if a developer is looking to make a difference to their bottom line a general rule is the more accessibility options the better. It’s a proven fact that even players without disabilities use accessibility options during gameplay. The more accessibility features games have, the more players a game can reach. This also allows more gamers to play games in ways that make a difference to them, which could be the difference between that same gamer picking up your next big title.

Far Cry 6 Not Far from Blind Accessible

Lamoine Williams                I already know what you’re thinking. here we are again with another Ubisoft title that does not hit the ma...