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Microsoft started off this morning’s E3 media briefing showing off an extended segment of Halo 5 gameplay, including an all new multiplayer mode called Warzone, in which players not only face off against other teams of Spartans, but computer controlled enemies as well. 

Throughout the Halo demo, it was clear that although visually and mechanically updated, Halo 5 still holds true to the core formula of twitch based first person shooter action that the franchise has become known for. As a result, all that we can say for sure is that Halo 5: Guardians, will probably be equally as accessible or inaccessible as it’s older brothers in the Halo franchise.

 

 

While it is true that Microsoft used the Xbox media briefing to talk about dozens of games, only a few communicated anything that would impact accessibility, therefore instead of going game-by-game, here are a few more notable announcements that will have an impact on the accessibility of the Xbox One in the coming year.

 

One of the biggest and most surprising announcements was that they have made the Xbox One backwards compatible. Currently, there are several Xbox 360 games that can be downloaded and played on the Xbox One, most notably Mass Effect. However, Microsoft promises to expand the catalog in the coming year. The fact remains that backwards compatibility is a good thing for disabled gamers, because it allows them to play the games that they already know are accessible on the Next Gen platform, which gives them access to new features, such as voice commands through the connect.

 

Microsoft also unveiled a brand new Xbox One Elite Controller. The controller may be the most exciting thing to come out of this year’s E3 conferences. According to the presentation, the new premium peripheral features reconfigurable controls, as well as additional button inputs that can locate hard to reach buttons onto the bottom of the controller for players who want to keep their thumbs on the joysticks at all times. The elite controller also comes with an app that allows players to fully remap it, in a way similar to what Sony has done with their stock PS4 controllers, since their most recent accessibility update. Players will also be able to adjust the sensitivity of their triggers using a hair trigger function that dictates how far these inputs need to be pressed in order to register the corresponding action.

 

The only other games which showed anything that could possibly affect accessibility, were Fallout 4 and Rise of the Tomb Raider.

 

Fallout 4 on Xbox One will be able to import player created mods from Windows 10, which allows for an even greater level of accessibility for players with impairments. In contrast, Rise of the Tomb Raider already looks dubiously accessible, since in the extended gameplay trailer multiple QTE’s were displayed in such a way as to indicate that they were vital to progress in the game.

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Microsoft also had an extensive display of Hololens technology, but without fully understanding the uses for the mixed reality device, it’s difficult to say how it will impact accessibility. On the whole, this just scratches the surface of what Microsoft said in their 2015 E3 briefing, but it seems to indicate some good things coming up for gamers with impairments in 2015.

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