Disability Game Review: StarCraft 2 Legacy of the Void

Blizzard has finally wrapped up the Starcraft 2 story line that has been over half a decade in the making and from the standpoint of game play and narrative Legacy of the Void does not fail to impress. It gives players a satisfying ending in the form of a robust gaming experience as well as a climactic episode that ties up all the loose ends of the story in a very satisfying way. From the standpoint of accessibility Starcraft 2 Legacy of the Void continues a pattern set by its predecessors that will allow most gamers regardless of physical impairment to enjoy this title.

For players with visual disabilities legacy of the void still has the same overstated art style which eliminates the need to rely on fine detail. The game also features extensive color blind options. Blizzard has enhanced their standard color blind mode by adding 3 different filters to compensate for various diagnoses. While it is true that there is some important data communicated real-time via the mini-map which requires the ability to see fine detail. The fact that the game also uses auditory cues means that players with impairments in their eyes will be able to rely on their other senses to communicate vital information. However there is one caveat, the font within the heads up display is small enough that it would be reasonable to expect that players with impairments that effect their ability to read text may struggle to play this game. However both the single player and arcade modes encourage experimentation therefore knowing exactly what every upgrade tile does is not necessary to enjoy Legacy of the Void.

Players with fine motor disabilities who have any experience with the real time strategy genre will know that there are many barriers inherent within these types of games. Unfortunately this holds true for this game as much as any other RTS in recent memory. Legacy of the Void requires fast reflexes and precision when seeking to play proficiently especially on a competitive level but there are ways this can be alleviated or avoided entirely. The campaign allows you to adjust the difficulty whenever a player fails a mission and the easy difficulty is forgiving enough for even an inexperienced RTS player to enjoy. Furthermore the Legacy of the Void has access to the player made arcade in which fans of Starcraft can find experiences varying from player created expansion campaigns to tower defense games. Beyond this every accessibility feature from Heart of the Swarm is carried over into this newer expansion. Players who have a hard time controlling specific groups of troops can still assign up to 10 macros for groups of soldiers or buildings they wish to command quickly. Even if a player is not precise or speedy enough to engage in the games robust multiplayer Legacy of the Void is still flexible enough to provide enjoyment to everyone who can access a standard computer mouse.

Players with hearing impairments will be glad to know that the story Blizzard has been crafting since the release of Wings of Liberty gets a fully subtitled ending in Legacy of the Void. In fact, it would be fair to consider the subtitles within the entirety of Starcraft 2 as a model for how games can be made accessible except for the fact that like the text in the HUD the subtitles could possibly be a little bigger. Otherwise they are fully expressive and labeled, and while it was frustrating that the opening cinematic played without the subtitles upon installing the game it is easy enough to replay this cut scene once subtitles have been enabled. The only area in which I can see players with hearing impairments possibly struggling is by missing some of the sound cues used in the games player alert system but since these too are subtitled much like players with visual disabilities those with hearing disabilities will be able to rely on other senses to communicate vital information.

Starcraft 2 prior to Legacy of the Void was arguably the most accessible real time strategy game on the market. This was because the developers used over lapping input methods to avoid barriers to players with impairments in one or other of their senses. This tradition continues in Legacy of the Void and while the fine motor barriers of the genre do not disappear with this latest installment those that are there are minimized thanks to an experience that easily flexes to fit most players needs.

Overall Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Visual Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Fine-Motor Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Auditory Rating: Thoroughly Accessible
Released For: PC
ESRB Rating: T
GameInformer Score: 8.75

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