The Last of Us Part 2, which launches this month, includes around 60 different accessibility features according to developer Naughty Dog.
In interviews with The Verge, game designers Emilia Schatz and Matthew Gallant outlined some of the key accessibility features, their development, and the reasoning behind their inclusion.
These features canvas controller mapping, visual aids, audio clues, navigation and traversal features, and combat features. They include the ability to increase the size of the UI, make changes to subtitles, turn on a text-to-speech option for every piece of text in the game including menus, audio cues to indicate nearby items or ledges, a zoom feature using the Dual Shock controller touchpad, and a "high-contrast" mode for low-vision players that renders the world a light grey with enemies in red and allies in blue.
Gallant said that these features had been planned from the start of development and that some, such as the high-contrast mode, text-to-speech, and mappable controls had required significant technical resources.
The features have undergone significant changes throughout development, with the assistance of focus testers and accessibility advocates such as Brandon Cole advising on implementation.
For example, Naughty Dog initially planned to have game modes separated out for users with different accessibility needs, such as one for hearing impaired players and another for those who needed motor control assistance.
"Instantly we got feedback that 'this is not what we want,'" Gallant said. "'We want to be able to dig into the menus, fine-tune things, adjust things, really get into the nitty-gritty of what these options mean.'"
As a result, the final game includes a packed accessibility menu with toggles and sliders for each feature, though there are also some preset categories such as "vision" and "hearing" to give players a place to start if they feel overwhelmed.
"Accessibility for us is about removing barriers that are keeping players from completing a game," Schatz said. "It's not about dumbing down a game or making a game easy. What do our players need in order to play the game in parity with everyone else?"