E3 opened last night with Bethesda doing their first ever major press conference. Rather than focus on a large sleight of games, Bethesda mainly focused on giving in-depth demos of 2 major titles, and with trailers for several others.
The press conference opened with an extended look at the upcoming Doom. The gory first person shooter features gorgeous graphics, insane weapons, and all of the visceral combat you would expect from Id Software. During the demo we saw a pre-recorded playthrough of two different levels, which highlighted the frantic gameplay and extensive selection of weaponry. Twitch based shooters are not usually accessible for gamers with fine motor disabilities, but the fact that Doom seemed to compensate for this by not requiring players to be accurate through the use of weapons like shotguns and generous targeting areas on bad guys means that this may be a more accessible experience then other FPS’s on the market. Especially when you take into account the apparent ability to slow down time when selecting weapons, which gives disabled players the opportunity to pause the action to rest their hands or get better access to the controller. The real accessibility star for the new Doom, however, is the new map editor, which will allow players to create and share accessible experiences that compensate for any lack of ability. This feature is supposed to be a way for all Doom players to create and tailor FPS experiences to their particular tastes, and if Snapmap is executed with even half of the ease that the demo seemed to indicate, it should offer disabled players a level of flexibility relatively unknown among first person shooters. Beyond the stunning graphics, little is known about visual accessibility, and the same can be said about auditory accessibility, since the story was not displayed at the press conference.
Bethesda went on to unveil a new clan in their third person competitive action game, Battle Cry. Although little is known about the game at this time, it does seem to be very visually accessible, given its Dishonored-style art and easy to see visuals. Each team is color coded and visually distinctive, which seems to minimize the reliance on color. The segment on Battle Cry finished with an invitation to sign up for an open beta, which will give disabled players the opportunity to try it before investing any money into it.
Players were then treated to a trailer for Dishonored 2, whose predecessor was one of the nominees for the first ever DAGERS Game of the Year award. The trailer did not reveal much that would impact the games accessibility, beyond the signature easy to see art style, but we were told that players will be able to choose between Corvo, the protagonist from the original Dishonored and a new assassin, Emily Kaldwin. Which means that if the two characters are balanced enough, players will be able to choose which experience is more accessible for them. The only negative thing about the Dishonored 2 trailer, is that it was not at all subtitled. While it is not fair to say that this will mean that the game will be inaccessible for those with auditory limitations, it is a shame to see Bethesda commit such an oversight at their first ever press conference. The Dishonored segment ended with an announcement of Dishonored Definitive edition, coming to Xbox One and the Playstation 4, which will give players the opportunity to play one of the most accessible and fun games that DAGERS has ever reviewed on Next Gen hardware.
We then got an announcement that Bethesda was unveiling a new strategy card game, Elder Scrolls Legends for android and iOS. Nothing was shown of the games actual gameplay however, but comparisons are obvious to Hearthstone and Magic: The Gathering Duals of the Planeswalkers, which are two of the most accessible PC games on the market.
Bethesda capped off their first ever press conference with another extended look at the much awaited Fallout 4. Again, this was another extended demo that was not fully subtitled, even though there was dialogue throughout. Beyond this, the one thing that struck me when watching this demo was the sheer amount of flexibility offered in this new title. Players will not only be able to build and customize weapons extensively, but they will also be given the opportunity to customize their power armor and build and manage their own settlement. In fact, Todd Howard even said that player freedom was the main priority in Fallout 4, which should ensure a flexible experience that compensates for any player needs. The return of VATS means that the combat will be extremely accessible for players with fine-motor disabilities and the overall streamlining of the game in its controls means that everything will be easier, from managing companions to traversing post apocalyptic Boston. In fact, the game was so visually engaging, that it actually may end up being too visually detailed for players with limited sight, if they don’t do a good job highlighting important aspects in the environment. But we’ll be able to find out exactly how accessible Fallout 4 is when the game releases on November 10 this year.