Accessibility Consultation: The Last of Us Part II

From 2019-2020, I had the pleasure to assist on Naughty Dog’s AAA title: The Last of Us Part II. The game features more than 60 accessibility settings, with expanded options focused on fine-motor and hearing, as well as completely new features that benefit low-vision and blind players.

My primary focus was to assist in making the the game accessible to d/Deaf and hard of hearing gamers.

Below is an incomplete list of features (descriptions from the Sony communications team).

APPLY HEARING ACCESSIBILITY PRESET

Configures all the recommended settings designed for players who are deaf or hard of hearing. This will enable settings across multiple menus, such as:

  • Options: On or Off
  • Awareness Indicators
  • Pick-Up Notifications
  • Dodge Prompts > Frequent
  • Subtitles > Story + Combat
  • Subtitle Names
  • Subtitle Direction
  • Combat Vibration Cues
  • Guitar Vibration Cues
A screenshot of the hearing accessibility preset list.
Hearing Accessibility Preset

SUBTITLES

Subtitles are an extremely popular accessibility feature, and The Last of Us Part II offers you with a wide array of customization options for them.

You can tweak the size and color, add a dark background for contrast, enable speaker names, and even a directional arrow for offscreen speakers. For the first time in a Naughty Dog game, you can enable subtitles for all systemic enemy dialogue during stealth and combat. The following can be adjusted throughout gameplay.

Subtitle options

  • Options: Off, Story Dialogue, Story + Combat Dialogue
  • Enables subtitles for spoken dialogue.
  • STORY DIALOGUE: Enables subtitles for main characters, important enemy dialogue, and cinematics.
  • COMBAT DIALOGUE: Enables subtitles for additional enemy dialogue while in stealth and combat.

Subtitle customization

  • Size
  • Background
  • Names
  • Name
  • Colors
  • Directions Color
Joel holding a guitar, featuring the vibration.

HUD

If you’re deaf, hard-of-hearing, or need to play at low or no volume, you may not be able to access gameplay information that is only represented through audio.

To address this discrepancy, there are several options to display this information visually instead. Awareness Indicators allow you to determine when you’re being spotted in stealth; they also can be set to persist during combat, pointing in the direction of high-threat enemies.

DAMAGE INDICATORS

  • Options: On and Off
  • Enables HUD spikes in the direction damage was taken.

AWARENESS INDICATORS

  • Options: Off, Stealth, Always
  • Enables HUD element warning you when enemies are about to spot you and from which direction.
  • STEALTH: Awareness indicators display until you are spotted.
  • ALWAYS: Awareness indicators persist during combat. This setting is recommended for players who are deaf or hard of hearing.

HINTS

  • Options: Off, Sometimes, Frequent
  • Enables gameplay hints that appear when you’re lost in an area for some time.
  • Hints are activated by pressing |L3|.
At the center, gray arcs indicate enemy location.
Awareness indicators, as shown in the beginning of the game.

For more information, please visit https://www.playstation.com/en-us/games/the-last-of-us-part-ii-ps4/accessibility/

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