Disability Game Review: XCOM 2
Four years ago when DAGERS first started, the first game that ever got our Diamond Award then called Editor’s Choice was XCOM: Enemy Unknown because of its uniquely challenging yet accessible gameplay. Four years later Firaxis Games has finally released a sequel. If possible XCOM 2 is even more accessible than its predecessor.
To begin with players with visual disabilities will have no problem accessing this title. This is because of a visually overstated art style which doesn’t rely on fine detail or color to communicate vital information. One of the only barriers in XCOM: Enemy Unknown was that individual soldiers couldn’t be made visually distinctive. That is not a problem in XCOM 2 whether it’s armor and weapons customization or character face and body customization. XCOM 2 offers an infinite combination of skinned colors and accessories that can all be combined to make each soldier unique which in turn adds to the games visual accessibility. Combine that with an easy to read HUD and it is easy to see why XCOM 2 is Barrier Free for the visually impaired.
This titles accessibility for the fine motor impaired stems from its core gameplay mechanics. Being a turn based strategy game means that XCOM 2 can be played with one hand if necessary and does not rely on timing or accuracy in order to progress. These features however do not mean it’s a forgiving game, XCOM 2 is a very unforgiving game where permadeath and loss of key items threaten the unprepared player. This is what makes XCOM 2 truly special among AAA games. It offers a deep strategy experience that is completely accessible and puts the disabled gamer on the exact same plane as the able bodied gamer. As a result this game earns the highest rating DAGERS can give for fine motor accessibility; Barrier Free.
Finally there are no barriers in XCOM 2 for players with auditory impairments. The game features subtitles that accompany the story which can be turned on before the player steps into the experience. In fact sound is so inconsequential for this game that I played large portions of it on mute so that I could listen to an audio book while I was playing. As a result I can say emphatically that auditory impairment will not impact getting the full experience out of this game.
On the whole XCOM 2 is completely barrier free. It offers disabled gamers with many different levels of ability the opportunity to play a game and get the exact same experience out of it as their able bodied peers. A game that does this is the very definition of Barrier Free.
Overall Rating: Barrier Free
Visual Rating: Barrier Free
Fine-Motor Rating: Barrier Free
Auditory Rating: Barrier Free
Released For: Windows, OS X, Linux
ESRB Rating: T
GameInformer Score: 9.5