First-person shooters, as a genre, find themselves in a tough situation when it comes to accessibility. The very nature of the genre requires somewhat fast reflexes for multiplayer while also being able to use every button and stick on a controller at a moment’s notice. Most games take things a bit easier on all players by including a single-player mode that guides the user through combat and a lot of challenges that approximate what players will endure in multiplayer. Battlefield 2042 changes things up for the series by taking away the single-player component. It doesn’t even feature a bot training area, making it a fairly tough game to jump right into and excel at.
The scale of combat has been increased quite a bit for a series that has focused on large-scale combat for years, which is quite an undertaking. Now, in addition to having vehicles to command and large maps to run around in, players have to factor in large weather events when they’re doing battle. Things like sandstorms kick in and take away all visibility from the player except for icons indicating enemies. This low visibility complicates the accurate use of tanks and helicopters as well. The sandstorm in particular is impressive because of its immense size. The event winds up sweeping from one side to the other and it makes taking out foes or taking out territory interesting based on its timing.
If the player is in the middle of capturing an area or recapturing it from enemies, then the sandstorm sweeping through can get in the way of taking out a remaining foe to finish taking the area over. One could also have the enemy leave the area and head towards an area that was just impacted by the event and circle back around. This allows for at least a temporary gain for the player as they take a stronghold and secure better vantage points to take out incoming enemies. The added drama that the weather events inject into a normal mode, like zone capturing, helps to keep things fresh and makes the player change their strategy up. It also does away with camping. By the nature of the storms themselves, players have to keep moving to either avoid or withstand them.
Sending players to the wolves definitely isn’t the most user-friendly way of doing things, but fast learners may excel in the setting. Strangely, with Battlefield 2042’s concept being so rooted in being a challenge right away, DICE has implemented many accessibility options. Menu narration turned on by default, which is good to see, but also a bit odd because similar titles are typically fairly inaccessible and quality-of-life areas are hit and miss. For example, tapping to run is turned on, but there isn’t an option to adjust trigger sensitivity to allow for faster button-presses without having to press so hard on the triggers to use them. Now, that particular problem is one that can be resolved with the purchase of another controller like the Victrix Gambit or a set of trigger stops for a default controller, but it could be put in the game as an option and work well too.
Turning the game into an online-only affair probably cut back on the desire to mess around much with shooting options. It is, by its nature, a competitive game. Having hair-triggers on as an option could lead to folks who don’t need the help using it to climb the ranks faster. Still, to have so many accessibility settings for visually-impaired and deaf and hard-of-hearing players and so little in place for fine-motor impairments is a bit disappointing. Fortunately, it can be course-corrected in time. Patches and a different controller can help with the problem, too, but it shouldn’t take having to buy another piece of hardware to make a game more accessible. One compromise could be just having hair-trigger settings on for unranked play.
There are roles for everyone to play on a larger team with someone being able to heal, others being there to set up traps and having a few folks to do major damage to enemies. It’s a naturally competitive game, and that’s one thing that has set Battlefield apart from the competition. Being able to use specialists helps players find a character type that works for them and also works for the map. Some types are more versatile than others depending on location. Some maps don’t work well with every class type, and that’s where it feels like the overall scope got a bit too large for what could be done on a practical level. It would be neat to see an additional area where different in-game roles are suggested for someone with a disability. A role as a healer may be better for them, only requiring that they hold a button down instead of using rapid presses. It’s a way to help people feel included in the final outcome without requiring too much physical dexterity.
On the visual and auditory side of things, Battlefield 2042 excels at providing options to players in a genre that definitely needs more standardization when it comes to colorblind modes and menu narration. Various color options are available for in-game menus for different kinds of colorblindness and there are text size sliders as well. Being able to adjust camera shake is nice and is something I tend to turn off because it makes the game a bit blurrier in faster motion and a bit harder to aim as a result. The same goes for motion blur, which I have yet to find, improves a game’s visuals. This setting does sometimes hide imperfections in a game’s presentation.
Battlefield 2042’s auditory accessibility is impressive across the board, with few exceptions. Being able to have all incoming speech as text is fantastic when it comes to getting in-game commands and volume sliders are thorough. Master volume, speech, and sound effects can all be adjusted. If a player wants to hear more of the atmosphere by turning off speech, they have that option. Also, granular changes can be made to the sound setup for users with soundbars or surround sound systems. As a result, someone who can hear reasonably well but not perfectly can enjoy a rich experience while someone who may have very little hearing, but can get an idea for the sound design based on different levels from speakers can enjoy a different, but still rich experience.
Overall, Battlefield 2042 does an exceptional job at being accessible within the limitations of its genre. First-person shooters by their nature aren’t going to be fully accessible for those with major fine-motor disabilities. 2042 adds in more class types to help with that and allows for someone to be a medic that is less reliant on fast movement, but more needs to be done to show what each class type does and how that class fits into a particular ability profile. The visual accessibility is top notch and includes text size adjustment and many colorblind options to help players out, while being able to have a lot of granular control over the audio helps deaf and hard-of-hearing players.