Deaf Game Review – Anthem

Anthem Deaf Accessibility
4.8 / 6 Reviewer
Pros
Fully subtitled, three text sizes to choose from, speaker labels, incredibly helpful visual cues
Cons
No means to access chat for Deaf players
All in all, Anthem has pretty incredible Deaf accessibility, especially for an online multiplayer game. While its lack of text chat is irritating, the game itself has some very helpful features that level the playing field for Deaf players and our hearing peers.
Visual Representation of Dialogue
Visual Representation of Sound
Visual Cues
Controller Vibration
Player Communication

The long awaited new game from Bioware is finally here and guess what, everybody? It’s Deaf accessibility does not disappoint!

We’re not going to bother with giving you an overview of the story, you very likely know it by now, so we’ll get right into what you want to know:

Audio options menu

Before starting your game you’re able to toggle a whole slew of options, most of them standard fare. Under the language + subtitles tab, you can pick your language, pick from one of three subtitle text sizes (none of which will really be big enough for those needing large fonts). There’s also the option to enable audio chat assist, which we were hoping would be a speech to text feature ala Apex Legends but it’s not. It allows you to open game chat by speaking. So no chat for Deaf players because there’s no text chat.

The emote system is quite basic so it is definitely not a viable replacement for voice chat either.

This disappointment aside, the rest of the features are actually pretty great.

Close-up of Owen speaking to the Freelancer

Subtitles are against a background which makes them much easier to read than they would be otherwise (this is the default size shown here, though the large option isn’t much larger). Also seen here is the speaker name which is present in-game and during cutscenes. There are also sound captions included right in line with the dialogue subtitles, which is a welcome addition we really hope to see more of.

Interceptor Javelin beginning a mission

We were worried when we first saw the objective to follow a signal, this sort of thing being notoriously inaccessible, but in Anthem, it’s not a problem. The little green indicator you see at the top of the screen is quite specific and there’s no sound at all. All you have to rely on are those green bars.

Javelin running into a dark cave, enemies indicated by red dots.

The really great thing, which we hope more games adopt, is the visual indicator for nearby enemies even if you’ve not spotted them yet. When you’re nearby, the little red dots appear, so you don’t need to worry about being ambushed because you can’t hear them.

Interceptor Javelin in a fight with Scar enemies

When you get close enough to engage enemies, the shooting visual indicator is just perfect. It tells you exact direction and proximity, which is necessary in games like this when it’s easy to be overwhelmed if you can’t hear where the shooting is coming from.

All in all, Anthem has pretty incredible Deaf accessibility, especially for an online multiplayer game. While its lack of text chat is irritating, the game itself has some very helpful features that level the playing field for Deaf players and our hearing peers.

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