Though it is an unfortunate refrain, Far Cry 6 is not playable by the totally blind. I’m saying this at the start for clarity, as we’re going to talk about a lot of things during this review. Some will be positive, some negative, but ultimately the game is, sadly, unplayable blind, even from its beginning moments. What follows is my full accessibility review of Far Cry 6, and yes, game code was provided by Ubisoft.
Upon first booting the game, you are prompted with narration to press any button. This is a good start, but this bit actually gets better. While you are then taken to an initial setup menu, you are also informed that you can press L2 to enable UI narration. This is a huge step forward, though it might sound like a small thing. The fact that a narration shortcut now exists means that, as a blind person, you can basically mess every single option up, but always be able to turn narration back on with the press of a button. IN case you’re curious, that button is L2 on Playstation consoles, likely left trigger on Xbox.
It doesn’t take long to experience some of the jank this game has, though, and sadly some of that is tied directly to narration. For instance, if you dare to attempt moving through menu options quickly, narration won’t keep up. Let’s say you’re on option 1 of 4. If you decide you need to move quickly down to option 4, your cursor will move there, but narration will read option 2 as if that’s the one you’re on. The lag before narration plays is also pretty significant, which does strike me as odd given the obviously small footprint of the TTS engine paired with the fact that this is a next gen console. Honestly the entire game doesn’t seem next-gen optimized, from what I’ve experienced. There are loading screens. On PS5. In the PS5 version. It’s one of those things that, even a single generation ago, wouldn’t have prompted any attention, but now, we’ve seen what optimized games look like. Ratchet and Clank probably being the biggest example, is a game where an entire game world can load in something like 2 seconds. It seems odd that Ubisoft’s engine still struggles with this, a year after the console’s launch.
One more thing about narration. While it comes close, it actually doesn’t seem to read every UI element. There were 2 instances where popup dialogs appeared, and all narration told me was that there was an OK button there. I still have no idea what either one of them said. This strikes me as strange precisely because the rest of the main UI is narrated.
Moving on, that sadly isn’t the only source of jank in this game. While it is good that the game allows you to move linearly between menu items using the arrow keys, this too is unstable and strange. Sometimes it works fine, but other times it jumps over 2 options when you move down once, or in the worst example I experienced, jumped to the top panel of the screen I was on when I pressed the up arrow once at the bottom of a list of menu options. This is strange behavior in any case, but I can’t help but feel like the linear movement feature wasn’t tested, as it seems like things like this would have been caught.
Alright, getting back to the positives. There is a standout new feature that is worth mentioning. We now have accessibility presets! That’s right. While not blind playable, this game does host a huge variety of accessibility features, and all of them are individually configurable. However, if you fall into one particular disability category, cognitive, hard of hearing, motor-impairment, low vision and more, you can activate one of these presets to automatically configure several relevant accessibility options, each of which you can then adjust later if need be. This is a fantastic move, and I do applaud the inclusion of presets as well as so many individual features.
Getting to actual gameplay, my disappointment arrived with a sudden swiftness I didn’t like much. The first moments of the game, the first time you actually have control, are utterly unplayable if you’re blind. You start the game on a stealth mission, you see. Totally unarmed, you must escape a building without being seen by any enemies, and if you are spotted, a single shot will kill you. This is regardless of the chosen difficulty level. Now, I’ve stealthed around in games like The Last of Us 2, so the situation here isn’t necessarily the problem. The problem is that there still, even now, exist no navigational assistance features for a moment like this. Yes, the game does have autodrive for vehicles, which is still a great thing, but you’re on your own when it comes to navigating towards smaller objectives, meaning the game for the totally blind is kind of dead on arrival. There are accessibility features, namely ai assist and lock on aim, which I didn’t even get to experience because I couldn’t escape the first part of the game. So uh, don’t ask me what any of those features are like, because I genuinely have no idea.
Another bit of positivity/negativity about UI narration. On the positive side, narration does seemingly read all objective changes and tutorial messages. This is awesome, and very welcome, even in the little bit of gameplay I got to experience. On the negative side, the game’s first choice, (whether you want to play as a male or female version of Danny), is not narrated. This not only seems strange, but also kind of unfair, as if the choice is simply being taken away and we are left to select randomly. Luckily my extremely supportive chat was able to assist me here, but I definitely disagree with this choice not being narrated.
So here’s my conclusion. Once again, while I’ve said a lot of negative things, and a few positive ones, I STILL, STILL say to you that this is yet another step forward in Ubisoft’s accessibility efforts. The inclusion of accessibility presets, as well as the narration shortcut, make it clear to me that all of these things are still being worked on, still being iterated on, and that still makes me happy. Ubisoft is clearly viewing accessibility in the long term. I feel as though they want to be sure they get it right when they finally have everything we would need to play the game. And that right there is one of the reasons I continue to do these reviews. We’ll get there. I believe that. Thanks as always for reading!