Archives by Day

June 2024
SuMTuWThFSa
1
2345678
9101112131415
16171819202122
23242526272829
30

Star Wars Outlaws

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X
Genre: Action
Publisher: Ubisoft
Developer: Massive Entertainment
Release Date: Aug. 30, 2024

About Rainier

PC gamer, WorthPlaying EIC, globe-trotting couch potato, patriot, '80s headbanger, movie watcher, music lover, foodie and man in black -- squirrel!

Advertising

As an Amazon Associate, we earn commission from qualifying purchases.





'Star Wars Outlaws' Details Its Accessibility Features

by Rainier on May 30, 2024 @ 10:08 a.m. PDT

In Star Wars Outlaws, fans play as Kay Vess, who is attempting to pull off one of the greatest heists the Outer Rim has ever seen.

Star Wars Outlaws is the first open-world Star Wars game, inviting players to experience the Star Wars galaxy like never before through an original story set between Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back and Star Wars: Return of the Jedi.

As the Galactic Empire relentlessly pursues the final defeat of the Rebel Alliance, the criminal underworld thrives. Fans play as cunning scoundrel, Kay Vess, brought to life by Humberly González, and her loyal companion Nix, played by Dee Bradley Baker (Star Wars: The Bad Batch), as they attempt one of the greatest heists the Outer Rim has ever seen.

Seeking the means to start a new life, players will join Kay and Nix as they fight, steal, and outwit their way through the galaxy's crime syndicates and join the galaxy's most wanted.

During this era, the Empire’s rule is distracted by the rebellion that won’t quit, leading to a golden age for the underworld. As a skilled thief, Kay’s antics catch the attention of Sliro, the leader of a new, foreboding criminal syndicate Zerek Besh. After Sliro places a bounty on Kay’s head, Kay and Nix are offered their one shot at freedom - pull off one of the greatest heists of all time. Kay and Nix will need to navigate the underworld across the galaxy, building their reputation with legendary criminal organizations including the Pyke Syndicate, the Hutt Cartel, the Ashiga Clan and Crimson Dawn to earn the support they need to finish the job.

Kay and Nix will travel across the galaxy to gain the right resources and crew for the ultimate heist. In their journey, they’ll travel across distinct locations, both iconic and new: Canto Bight, Kijimi, Tatooine, Akiva, and the windswept savannah of Toshara. Along the way, Kay will explore bustling cities and cantinas, race across sprawling outdoor landscapes on her speeder, and pilot her ship the Trailblazer through the wilds of space. When things go awry, the Trailblazer will also help them chase, evade and attack to gain the upper hand in thrilling dogfights with the Empire and other foes.

The Star Wars Outlaws development team, led by Massive Entertainment* in collaboration with Lucasfilm Games, is providing a first look at some of the accessibility features that will be available to players.  

Audio Director Simon Koudriavtsev at Massive Entertainment, Lead Gameplay Designer Fredrik Thylander at Massive Entertainment, and Presentation Director Damien Belleville at Ubisoft Annecy give us more details

What was your approach to accessibility on Star Wars Outlaws? 

Damien Belleville: Star Wars is for everyone, so we tried to design the game in a way that as many people as possible can enjoy. 

From our experiences on previous games we already had some clear goals from the very start of development, and were able to tie those in with the creative vision for the game. We built upon them through collaboration across disciplines, and by learning directly from players with disabilities through workshops, specialist external consultants, and user research.    

We worked to ensure that aspects of our gameplay, audio, visuals and interface were as accessible as possible by default, but being a game with several overlapping gameplay styles and features, it was not always possible to come up with a one-size-fits-all solution. That's why, from the very beginning, we worked to include a lot of options for the player to tinker with, making sure that they can tailor the experience to their tastes or needs as much as possible.  

For example, based on your needs (or how immersive you like your games) you can edit the player guidance by putting markers in the world, in the compass, or a mix of both. If some gameplay beats require precise inputs and that's not your strong suit? No problem: You can tweak their difficulty and required precision, or turn them off altogether. If you're having trouble reading or navigating the world, you can recolor some textures or lights in game, or you can enable configurable gameplay high-contrast modes that allow players with a wide variety of visual impairments to enjoy the game. Our subtitling system is also something that we've put a lot of work into, and subtitles are on by default, but if there is some aspect of what is shown or how it's presented that you would like to customize, then you can do that too.  

We really tried to cater to as many people as possible to ensure that players could enjoy Star Wars Outlaws in a way that's comfortable for them. 

Audio descriptions for cinematics are a major accessibility feature in Star Wars Outlaws, providing narrated tracks to describe to the player what is happening in cinematics. Who is this feature intended for, and what was the production process like? 

Simon Koudriavtsev: Audio descriptions for cinematics were identified as one of the most sought-after features during an accessibility workshop we had during development. Star Wars Outlaws will be the first Ubisoft game, and among the very first titles in the industry, to support this feature.     

Audio descriptions are an optional extra narration track describing what is happening visually on screen. It can easily be enabled in the audio settings menu, and the volume will be adjustable by the user. It can be used by a wide range of people, from situational reasons like not missing out on what's happening if you have to look away from the screen for a moment, to making it more accessible to people with low vision or people with some cognitive disabilities who may benefit from having the action described as well as shown. It also may be useful to blind players who are choosing to play with sighted assistance.    

The production process was essentially a very close collaboration with a company called Descriptive Video Works. They assisted us in casting a great voice actor, provided description scripts for us to review, and after approval, recorded the narration based on videos that we sent over.   

Tell us more about the user interface in the game - how adjustable are the menus, font size, contrast, and other UI features? 

Damien Belleville: We tried to build the game with the least obtrusive UI possible. That being said, we didn't want that to happen at the detriment of accessibility.  

That's why, by default, the menu structure is built with a simple but deep hierarchy, allowing each screen to show just the right amount of information with clear purpose, making sure we don't have to write too many things in too small or too cluttered a manner. Our menu navigation is also based not just on color, but mostly on luminosity, so much so that you could even interact with and understand the menus if they were in black and white. 

Palette-wise, the colors we picked are accessible to common forms of colorblindness by default. However, you also have access to a wide range of parameters and presets to make sure the game stays readable if you need to tweak it further to meet your needs.  

Regarding the HUD, you can opt in for stronger backgrounds behind elements to make sure you can get optimal contrast. You can also customize the layout and what appears - for instance you can hide or show controller layout reminders, have a center-screen dot, or have markers appear in-world, on the compass or a mix of both.   

There are also three sizes of text you can choose from, ranging from smaller fonts if you're playing very close to your screen, to huge ones if reading feels more comfortable that way. You can also swap the most "decorative" typeface to a super-readable one if preferred.

Finally, let's talk about gameplay. Star Wars Outlaws features multiple forms of gameplay with different controls for exploration, stealth, combat, flying a ship, and riding a speeder. What assist features have you included that specifically address each of these types of gameplay? 

Fredrik Thylander: We want Star Wars Outlaws to be an accessible and intuitive game across all the different types of adventures, vehicles, and experiences players will encounter across the Outer Rim, so ease of use and accessibility were at the forefront of all control layout decisions that we made.

Firstly, for the speeder, we have made sure that the controls are intuitive for anyone who has played a driving game, with throttle and steering where you would expect them. On PC, we support both mouse and keyboard steering, or even switching to a controller when using the speeder.  

For space, we knew that the challenge was greater due to the freedom of movement, and our approach to making this as intuitive as possible was inspired by Star Wars films: Use a horizon. We always help orient the player to return to a comfortable upright direction, and don't require the separate use of yaw, pitch, and roll that one would find in a simulation, but rather let the players intuitively point the ship where they want it to go, and it will perform the actions on screen to achieve that. This means it plays very similarly to the boots-on-ground character controls. There are of course separate inputs available for manually rolling the ship should the player wish to do so. Likewise, players that want a more freeform flight experience can turn off the horizon auto-alignment.  

On top of that, we have assists that:  

  • Help the speeder, Kay, and the ship avoid obstacles rather than get caught on them if they snag on objects they pass.  
  • Help steer the ship to stay on target in pursuit mode (left trigger) when trying to shoot at enemy ships, while still requiring the player to adjust the targeting to ensure the blasters hit.  
  • Aim assist for the blaster on a controller. In fact, this feature also helps Kay stay on target when free-firing (not aiming down sights) in a way that lets her fight in a more characteristic scoundrel run-and-gun style.  

So, all in all, we relied on intuitive and recognizable control schemes for different aspects of the game, which should make it as frictionless as possible for even novices to get used to speeder, ship and on-foot controls. For those that want to customize their experience further, we have options for that too.   

ACCESSIBILITY FEATURES LIST 

VISUALS  

  • High contrast settings - remove all color from the background, apply colors to important gameplay elements (e.g., ally, hostile aware/unaware, interactable, climbable surfaces), and with a choice of colors and transparency. 
  • Colorblind accessible by design wherever possible. 
  • Visual intensity configurable through a range of settings, including screen shake, depth of field, motion blur (general, camera, and per-object), and chromatic aberration.  
  • View angle (FOV) configurable separately for default and while aiming. 

AUDIO  

  • No audio reliance - important information is communicated by other channels in addition to sound. 
  • Subtitles for dialogue and background chatter, with speaker names and optional directional arrows, and configurable size, background, and colors.  
  • Configurable dynamic range for control over the volume difference between loudest and quietest sounds.  
  • Choice of audio channels - stereo, 5.1, 7.1, 7.1.4 (support for ATMOS overhead speakers).  
  • Separate volume sliders for master, music, effects, voice, cinematics, controller, and menu narration.  
  • Dynamic audio mix with rules to ensure there are not too many sounds playing at once, for example by removing lower-priority sounds from the mix when in cinematics or during dialogue, and enemy weapon sounds prioritized based on threat level; and audio - level drop-off for persistent sounds such as speeder and ship engines.  
  • Audio descriptions for cinematics - an optional narrated voiceover describing what is happening visually (English language only). 
  • Positional audio cues showing the direction of nearby discovery opportunities, such as loot or side quests. 

CONTROLS  

  • Auto-walk to keep moving forward until a button is pressed. 
  • PC supports keyboard & mouse, controller, and virtual keyboard via windowed mode.  
  • Keyboard & mouse remapping.  
  • Controller presets.  
  • Sensitivity individually adjustable across mouse, controller, camera look, hip-firing, speeder, and ship. 
  • Camera inversion across X and Y axis, configurable separately for on-foot, speeder, and ship. 
  • Configurable deadzones - both inner and outer for both sticks. 
  • Adaptive trigger intensity (Dualsense only). 
  • Motion aiming (Dualsense only) - aim using the controller's gyroscope, with settings for inversion, sensitivity, smoothing strength, and aim option to use roll for horizontal look. 
  • Auto-align camera to horizon and movement direction. 
  • Toggle sprint.   
  • Fine control over vibration strength, with sliders for each type of information (e.g. weapons, melee, Nix, damage).  
  • Change holds to presses - an overall setting that affects a wide range of gameplay holds.   

STEALTH & COMBAT  

  • Multiple difficulty presets with an extremely forgiving 'story' setting. 
  • Individual difficulty settings for enemy difficulty, player health, and wanted difficulty. 
  • Aim assist toggle, strong by default 
  • Option to hold rather than repeatedly press to fire blaster. 
  • Different playstyles supported through unlockable blaster-fire modes 
  • Adrenaline rush feature to allow targeting of enemies with low precision and time pressure. 
  • Auto-perfect reloading option.   
  • Stealth assists- threat sense, awareness icons, and visualization of enemy footsteps (on by default but can be turned off)   

NAVIGATION & TRAVERSAL  

  • Fast travel between discovered locations. 
  • Safe climbing - not possible to accidentally fall. 
  • Auto ledge grab, with no overly long distances to jump.  
  • Straightforward grappling with large hit areas and auto-dismount.   
  • Auto object avoidance and ledge guard on foot and speeder. 
  • Health regeneration for environmental speeder damage. 
  • In-world map markers can be toggled on permanently. 

SPACE  

  • Damage from colliding with objects can be turned off. 
  • Stuns from ion weapons can be turned off. 
  • Self-righting to automatically bring ship back to the horizon. 
  • Incremental throttle - tap up/down instead of holding. 
  • Choice between hold or toggle for speed boost and shooting. 
  • Flexible combat style including strong aim assist and pursuit mode to adjust view and speed to follow targets. 
  • Motion-sickness considerations through design of enemy maneuvers and speed adjustments. 

MINIGAMES  

  • Individual difficulty settings for the timing, precision, and level of visual assistance for each minigame.   

NIX  

  • Additional vocal and visual cues from Nix for nearby enemies, loot, etc. 
  • Nix orders allow automated interacting, pickpocketing, attacking, and picking up, including during stealth, through large low-precision target areas. 

MENUS & HUD  

  • Accessibility presets for finding and turning on common combinations of accessibility settings. 
  • Menu narration for menus and HUD including HUD readout of distance and compass direction to current objective with configurable speed, voice, volume, and which elements to read out. 
  • Colorblindness presets to adjust the colors of interface and gameplay elements that use color (usually alongside other methods) to communicate information.   
  • Clear default fonts.  
  • Larger and smaller text options.  
  • Replace stylized titles with regular font.  
  • Increased contrast option, for higher-contrast background and colors.  
  • Replace holds with taps across the interface.
  • Control reminders of some important controls directly on the HUD. 
  • Configurable HUD with control over how often elements are shown; whether to show compass, map orientation, center dot size; and whether to add a plain contrasting background behind all HUD elements. 

Star Wars Outlaws is coming to the PC, PlayStation 5, and Xbox Series X|S on August 30, 2024.


More articles about Star Wars Outlaws
blog comments powered by Disqus