Fenyx Breathing: A Fenyx Rising Discussion on Rises and Falls

As you likely know, dear reader, I have previously covered a preview of Immortals: Fenix Rising. However, the fine folks at Ubisoft invited me back for another, and I saw it as an opportunity. Of course, I couldn’t be certain that the accessibility features would be functional this time around. However, it turns out my gamble was worth it. Accessibility was in, and I have lots to say about it. There is some great stuff here, and also some not so great stuff, but we’ll get to all of it. So settle in for yet another preview of Immortals: Fenix Rising.

I’m going to be clear on something right from the start. Immortals: Fenix Rising is not, and will not be fully playable by the blind. Not nearly enough is done with navigation to make that happen, and it would require quite a lot. Verticality is a huge part of this game. Not only can you leap and climb, but in some cases you can literally fly. And yes, some things in this world are way, way up high. Also, everything requires stamina. Climbing consumes it, swimming consumes it, using the wings on your back consumes it. Without knowing where you intend to go, traversal can be quite difficult indeed. Also, the game has a heavy, heavy emphasis on puzzles, all of which seem to possess visual elements. So now that’s out of the way, let’s talk about what Ubisoft is doing with this game, because yes, it’s still good despite a few hiccups.

First, automovement. This is a feature that I liked, even though it isn’t useful for the blind. It does not automove you toward your objective, it simply does the equivalent of pushing forward, allowing those with motor impairments to focus on turning when necessary, limiting the number of buttons they would need to press. It’s something I am glad is there, no doubt about it.

Second, menu narration. Lots of stuff is narrated. Like, lots of stuff. Every menu that I encountered, from main menu to character creation to the save menu, all narrated. And the narration is really good where it exists, reading every tool tip and so on. However, this game still possesses a major, major problem where that is concerned. I mentioned in my first preview that this game’s menus are cursor-based. Yep, they still are, and Assassin’s Creed Valhalla’s snap feature is not present. So, even though every menu is narrated with the exception of the deeper levels of character customization, actually finding what you’re looking for in any menu whatsoever is a monstrous pain. Watch this clip of me fumbling around in the character creation menu for a bit before just asking for assistance from my demoist. At one point, he informed me that that menu consists of multiple 3-column rows, something we would have absolutely no way of knowing as you can always just freely move the cursor.

But seriously though, I need to make something clear. Cursor menus aside, the person or people who actually implemented the narration really did do an incredible job, and deserves to be recognized for that. The fact that the menu is cursor-based does not mean the narration is bad, it just means that the menu system is. The narration is excellent. Want proof? OK then, here’s a clip of the narration reading, in their entirety, quest objectives and icons on the map. Yes, folks, the map is fully narrated.

But wait, I’m not done yet. We want to be able to upgrade our skills in these games so we can layeth the smacketh down, of course, and we absolutely can in this one. Yes, the skills upgrade menu is fully narrated, prices and all. Please keep in mind, though, as you watch this clip, that a player will probably never have this many resources at any one time. When we got here, we were given a chance to boost our character in order to allow us to take on some tougher enemies. This clip comes from the spending of those resources after that boost. Enjoy knowing exactly what we’re upgrading!

And now, I move onto combat. The biggest combat accessibility feature in this game is aim assist, and I wanted to see just how well it worked. Good news, it works. It actually works super well. Here is a clip of me shooting down some bird enemies.

Of course, that’s not the only time I tested it. Here is my battle with one of the many beasts of the realm, during which I discovered that aim assist also works on some of your godly abilities. You can, for instance, pick up nearby rocks and throw them at your enemies, and aim assist helps with this too. Enjoy!
And now for some fun. I know what you really want to see. You want to see my boosted character doing battle with an extremely tough cyclops, right? OK then, here you go. I use tons of abilities during this fight, including aim assist, and many of the things you heard if you watched the upgrades video.

And lastly for combat, here’s a fight with this world’s version of bears. These guys are no joke either, let me tell you.

I think that’s about it. Much like Valhalla, this game does possess decent environmental audio queues for stuff, which is great, but covered pretty well in the last preview. Speaking of Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla though, I feel it’s fair to say that what this preview ultimately achieved was to make me more excited… For Valhalla. You see, having experienced the positive things that are here in Immortals: Fenix Rising, I no longer have any doubt that Valhalla’s map will be narrated, icons and all. This means we could theoretically fast travel if it is available in the area we’ve highlighted, and we can even set waypoints, though it yet remains to be seen just how much Valhalla’s autofollow stuff actually helps. Still, the point is that, though Immortals Fenix Rising is behind Valhalla in overall blind accessibility, there are absolutely good things here that I have no doubt will see improvement in the coming years. I may not be super excited to play Fenix Rising, since ultimately it isn’t going to be possible, but I did leave this preview even more excited for Ubisoft’s overall direction.

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