Accessibility features in Horizon Forbidden West

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Accessibility features in Horizon Forbidden West

Guerrilla details a few of the key accessibility options that players can use in the game come February 18.

With the launch of Horizon Forbidden West only a few days away, we are keen to share some of the accessibility features that will be available for our players. Early on in the game’s development, we established that we wanted to bring the game to as many fans as possible and create an immersive and accessible experience that can be enjoyed by everyone. Some of these return from Horizon Zero Dawn, and some are newly added as we’ve continued to learn and understand more about the needs of our players.

We hope these features help craft the gameplay experience that works best for you, and look forward to hearing your feedback so we can finetune even further!

General Accessibility Settings

There are a couple of things that are automatically enabled upon starting the game, one of them being subtitles. You also have the option to change the size and background used with subtitles for better visibility. You can select your preferred language (both spoken and subtitles) when starting the game for the first time.

In the game menu you can find the Notebook, an expansive encyclopedia containing useful information about characters, machines, and datapoints found in the world. We wanted to ensure that any help can easily be found while you are playing, should you need guidance, so we added a separate Tutorials section to study up on game mechanics or controls.

Difficulty Settings

We understand that every player wants their own type of challenge in the Forbidden West, so we have five difficulty settings that are tailored to give you the experience you prefer; from Story Mode which eases the combat experience so you can focus on exploration and story, to Very Hard which presents you with a tough, demanding combat experience and really tests your skills.

We’re also introducing the Custom Difficulty setting, which allows you to adjust damage levels that Aloy deals and receives to/from enemies, giving more flexibility in adjusting combat difficulty.

Horizon Forbidden West has a focus on hunting machines, then detaching and looting their resources to craft ammo and upgrade equipment. Many of these resources can be destroyed if not detached before the machine is killed. This can be challenging, so we have introduced an Easy Loot system. Turning the Easy Loot option on means that any resource components that are still attached when killing a machine are added to its loot inventory. This lessens the need to detach those components during combat. This system is the default for Story and Easy difficulties as well as an option in Custom mode.

Controller Settings

As Aloy is a skilled and agile hunter, it is important that the controls be as intuitive and comfortable to use, allowing Aloy to use her full range to succeed. With this in mind we have introduced a number of options to make these controls as accessible as possible.

Horizon Forbidden West has a few presets for controls (including left-handed support), but we also implemented fully remappable gameplay controls with guidance on any potential conflicts; meaning you can fully customize which button or input does what. There are also several options to swap between Toggle or Hold where applicable, invert the X or Y axis.

Another new feature is the Co-pilot system, which grants a second PlayStation controller with mirrored controls access to the game. This only requires another controller (DualSense controller for PS5, DualShock 4 controller for PS4) and a second user profile. The Co-pilot system was implemented thanks to incredible feedback and support from our sightless accessibility consultant.

Horizon Forbidden West also features optional motion sensor controls; using the DualSense wireless controller’s built-in accelerometer and gyroscope you can make intuitive micro-adjustments to aimed shots for that extra touch of precision.

There are sliders for the sensitivity of movement as well as Dead Zone settings for the analog sticks. You can also Quick Swap between weapons with one tap, and swap the functionality of the left and right sticks for character and camera movement.

As the PS5 version of the game makes use of the adaptive triggers and vibrations, we have introduced settings for players that find these options challenging: you can change the vibration intensity on cinematics, traversal, combat, UI, or the environment, and you can disable the adaptive triggers when wielding weapons.

Gameplay Assist Settings

These settings are aimed at supporting players who may experience difficulties with any aspect of the game.

When it comes to weapons and combat, you can, for example, adjust how much the game slows down when the Weapon Wheel (which allows you to quickly equip a weapon) is activated or enable Aim Assist. You can increase the duration of Concentration, which temporarily slows down time when you aim your bow, or even set Auto Concentration (if you have Concentration left) which saves you from having to activate it yourself in tricky combat situations.

Some other automatic settings to save you a button click are Auto Sprint, Auto Heal (when below 50% health), and Auto Shieldwing (which deploys when you fall from great heights, once this ability is unlocked). There’s also a setting called Climbing Annotations Always On, this makes the available climb options easier to see without requiring use of the Focus . Please note that some of the Auto settings only work in Story/Easy and Custom difficulty modes.

Horizon Forbidden West spans across a huge area, so we have implemented some guidance tools to help you navigate this vast and vibrant world. You can choose if you want to explore the world with minimal guidance, or if you’d like to see markers to help you reach your quest destination. The same goes for waypoints, which are dynamically placed markers to help navigate. For longer travels, you can select Mount Follows Road, so your mount will navigate you to your goal with minimal player input.

There are pop-up reminders on how to use abilities, weapons, or engage with certain enemies, which you can toggle on or off. If you boot up the game again after shutting down your console, there’s a Story So Far screen to help get back into the swing of things. While PS4 players might encounter the occasional loading screen (including helpful hints), PS5 players can toggle between Informative and Immediate, since the game loads a lot quicker and some might prefer to read the loading screen tips.

Audio and Visual Settings

There’s a couple of settings here that are specifically aimed at reducing any discomfort our players might experience. Visually, you can finetune the camera shake and motion blur settings, and completely customize the game’s HUD to control what information is visible to you, and when.

You can also decide on the size of the subtitles and toggle whether they are displayed on a background or not.

Audio-wise, there are individual volume controls for music, speech, and sound effects. You can also force Mono Audio, and you can remove Tinnitus sounds – these are triggering sounds (e.g. machine shrieks) which are similar to Tinnitus sounds.

In the PS5 version, there are also additional options to trim the volume of machine sounds, weapon and explosion sounds, or ambient sounds. This could be especially helpful for people who are easily overstimulated.

These are just some of the features we have included and we will continue to look at ways to make Horizon Forbidden West even more accessible, so we look forward to your feedback over the coming weeks! A big thanks to our accessibility advocates and playtesters, as well as our own Guerrillas and our colleagues across various PlayStation Studios for their invaluable support and input during development.

See you on February 18!

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44 Comments

  • Awesome features!
    Little question: do difficulty settings affect trophies? :)

    • This is my question as well. I like custom, would like some of the convenience features but would like enemy damage to be high etc

  • I’m so hyped for this game. Love to see all these options included. Sony’s 1st party teams continue to lead the way for these kinds of settings

    • I agree and I’m baffled at how R&C didn’t win at TGA for accessibility. Naughty Dog in particular continues to have impressive features as well. Insomniac and GG are on board as well. I do play FH5 and accessibility is solid but I believe the limited character creator won the media over. Him/Her/they and prosthetic legs..

      Regardless, it’s great to see.

  • Oh my god, I was starting to lose hope but you absolutely outdid my wildest imaginations. Hats off for setting a new accessibility standard, and an extra huge thank you for helping to bring gyro aim to the mainstream!

  • Absolutely amazing stuff.

  • YES GYRO AIM!! ❤️❤️❤️

  • Ok Sony … It’ Not Difficult.. But I would love someone to explain the wording your sales store. I can buy the ps4 version and get the digital version upgrade, or for £10.00 more can get the PS4 and PS5 Version. !!!!!! Are they the same game, why does the more expensive version even exist !!!! So although I would love to play this game on day 1, I am going to wait and find out. With the price of everything going up, I not going to just waste my money… due to fact your marketing team seem to have worked at EA before coming to you.

    • You can buy the PS4 version of this game and that has a free option to upgrade to ps5.

    • It’s the wording on the store that doesn’t make sense. If you buy the cheaper version you get the PS5 Digital Upgrade Version of the game. If you buy the same standard edition but £10.00 more, you get PS4 and PS5 FULL GAME. Now if you are buying it from the store won’t they both be the Digital Version. So why is the wording so Vague. Are there features missing. If it is the same, why does the more expensive version even exist. To me is seems SONY are hoping they customers are dumb and buy the more expensive version when they don’t need to. It just looks bad !!!!

  • Thank you for including gyro aiming in all your first party titles! <3

  • Gyro aiming LET’S GO!

    Thanks and hope the trend finally catches on!

  • Nice work, keep it up and striving for a better experience for all👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽👏🏽

  • So basically the game play itself, boring.

  • Thank you for adding motion controls!

  • Oh!!! There is gyro aiming!!!!!!!! Thank you so much!!! 😭😭😭😭😭😭

  • You tout Accessibility Features, but if you truly care about accessibility, you would stop arbitrarily blocking your customers from using their official Sony Dualshock 4 controllers with PS5 games. There’s no legitimate reason for doing so when you can turn off Dualsense features system-level and play PS5 games on a phone touchscreen or via remote play with a DS4. It’s very unfriendly to users for which the Dualsense controller’s uncomfortable grip shape hurts to use. It’s an odd double-standard to block them in PS5 games on the actual system and comes off like a callous attempt to force people to buy extra Dualsense controllers at the expense of actual accessibility. Just let us use our DS4s for PS5 games. You have no excuse to block that accessibility option. Until you fix this, your accesibilty push rings hollow.

    • I definitely agree with you about the use of DS4 controller on PS5 games. I f I owned a PS5 I would turn off the Dualsense features. Those features would just make it harder to play.
      I recently got a chance to hold a Dualsense and the size of the controller does make it hard for me to hold. I maklles kind of nervous about buying a PS5. I don’t want to spend $500 on a system I can play.

      I am glad there’s more focus on accessibility.

    • You don’t complain about that under a post such as this one. If this bothers you that much you should probably play it on PS4 it’s really not that big of a deal.

  • Awesome work with the accessibility features! As a game designer myself, I’ve had my eyes opened over the past few years as to the importance of accessibility, and now it’s something I think about more and more, both in my professional work, as well as little side projects I’m working on!

    I’m so excited for Horizon next week! Can’t believe it’s finally almost here!

  • This is an amazing step forward! I’ve been hoping to see more equal access come to video games, and very excited that the sequel to my favorite game is taking the biggest step we’ve seen in major releases thus far.

  • I was really hoping the sequel would have separate camera and aiming sensitivities. Very disappointed.

  • Absolutely huge W! I hope Aloy doesn’t stuck on rocks while running, I nearly broke sprint button because of that! And I hope there won’t be stick drift, thanks for all your hard work.

  • lesh go 40 minutes of control customisation before i hop into the forribidden west tutorial time to crank up loot spawns

  • lesh go 40 minutes of control customisation before i hop into the forribidden west tutorial time to crank up loot spawns

    the most way to set the diffculty is maximum damage for players and enimies because ghost of tsushima lethal was practically glass cannon enimies minus the eagle
    can’t wait

  • Please don’t keep “very hard” locked until NG+!

    Will there be trophies tied o harder difficulties? I love to start on the hardest possible but with tweaks like more aim assist, extended concentration etc, that would be awesome!

  • Loved what I just read. Auto Sprint, Gyro, Easier Difficulty, Easier Looting, Higher Damage Dealt, Auto Focus (for climbing). Very nice. I’m pre ordering right now. More games need to support Auto Sprint (I don’t like pressing L3 or R3)

  • Thanks for the pre-game tips.Can’t wait.

  • I hate gyro and motion controls but as long as it isn’t forced on you, accessibility features are great. I do hope we can do something as simple as manage your inventory in this one. I remember having to drop and pick up all my armor and weapons in the first one to get them to show up in the inventory in the way I wanted them (purples and favorites on top).

  • Will the screen reader work with menus and non voiced text ? This is the one accessibility feature I need the most.

  • I cannot wait to get lost in the Forbidden West! This whole game looks so amazing I’m a little more curious about what this co-op assist will be like..Also dumb question. With the subtitlesi will there be a visual example window before making a selection?

  • what about a color blind mode ? thanks

  • Bummer. Why lock gyro/ motion control behind dualsense? PS4 still hasn’t got dualsense support.

    Dualshock4 motion control/gyro already works well for aiming (e.g. Via steam).

  • “Horizon Forbidden West also features optional motion sensor controls; using the DualSense wireless controller’s built-in accelerometer and gyroscope you can make intuitive micro-adjustments to aimed shots for that extra touch of precision.”

    Back when Horizon: Zero Dawn came out another indie title from a small developer came out days later. Many may not remember Breath of the Wild as it barely caused a blip on the radar for what was an incredible year for gaming (these are the jokes folks). I remember that I played Zero Dawn for a week and then jumped over to BOTW for what had to have been one of the most memorable gaming experiences of my life up to then.

    One of the many things that made it so good was being able to track an enemy with a bow and arrow by slightly moving the Pro controller around. I loved this so much that when I went back to Zero Dawn and the feature was gone (I still tracked with the controller lol) I was disappointed.

    So if I understand this correctly we now have this feature in Forbidden West. Don’t want to get hyped over this if I am thinking of two different things.

  • Thank you so much for putting the effort into these features. I have been concerned that I would have difficulty with the game as I have lost a good deal of my eyesight since HZD. With these features I feel confident that I will be able to complete, and enjoy the game as I had hoped. I wish more developers were as inclusive as you. Thanks again!

  • The collectors edition comes with the steel cover with no hard copy???? How stupid is that!!! I ordered it thinking I was getting the hard copy because it said the steel cover!! Hell gamestop didn’t even know it was just digital!!! I need a hard copy sent to me for the amount I paid!!!

  • I would love to be able to change subtitles and dialogue choice colour, I find it difficult to see alot of the times

  • Idk if you guys are taking suggestions, but I suggest adding an option to adjust how often/how quickly Aloy gives verbal hints, because atm she gives way too many hints WAY too fast. It honestly makes a lot of puzzles a lot less fun because Aloy is already telling the you how to do the puzzle before you even have the chance to look around. Like, I want to have the chance to figure out when to glide, or use the focus, or use the pullcaster on my own, instead of having it spoon fed to me automatically. When she comments to herself about other stuff I don’t mind, it’s the constant and immediate hints that are really frustrating.

  • Hi! My roommates and I love Horizon and we are so excited there’s more accessibility features. However, we’re really sad that font size is for some reason not a major feature. The UI fonts are so small that I can’t read them unless I walk up to the TV and my vision is mostly corrected. Additionally, the extra large font size is still a very very small size. I mostly have to play Nintendo Switch games to comfortably read fonts in games and I’m so tired of it :(

  • I really wish I could make the text bigger, I sit kinda far away from my tv and my eyes feel strained trying to read the text sometimes

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