Review copy provided courtesy of Ubisoft.
The Division 2 is a third person view exploration and cover-based shooter game by Ubisoft. It is a nice mix of RPG and shooter gameplay with optional co-op in both PvE and PvP zones. RPG elements include level progression by earning experience, character and gear stats, unlocking skills and lots of loot. The shooting part is quite straightforward, aim, shoot, kill… but the cover system and AI add a nice variety. Enemies will coordinate to flank you or overwhelm you with suppressive fire. It’s a good game, fun and especially rewarding when playing with friends. The story takes place in a Washington after a virus outbreak brought down the world as we know it. Your task as a special agent is to save what’s left of civilization from gangs and bad guys in general and help with rebuilding what you can. In this review I’ll comment the accessibility for people with reduced mobility so I won’t comment much on any options not related to that. I played on PC using mouse and keyboard mainly and these are my conclusions based on that.
While not related to mobility, if you turn on Enable Menu Narration, all the menu option names, descriptions, how to adjust them and current values will be read to you helping if you have any kind of visual disability. In the same manner, turning on High Contrast UI will make the menu background much darker increasing text readability. Both options are in the Accessibility menu.
The game options most related to mobility are Controls, Key Mapping and 3rd Party for those with a Tobii Eye Gaming device. I will also explain two options in the Accessibility menu that help in a very particular way.
In Controls we have options to adjust Mouse Sensitivity, Mouse Aim Sensitivity, Mouse Acceleration and Mouse Smoothness. These are common to most games and tune our mouse parameters to our specific needs with granular control adjustments. Swap Mouse Buttons will swap the left/right mouse buttons and is usually helpful for left-handed players.
Then we have Gamepad Look Sensitivity and Gamepad Aim Sensitivity, to adjust the sensitivity of our gamepad camera movement and aim, again with granular control adjustments for maximum customization. Controller Vibration can be turned on/off. Being able to adjust it to different levels would have been nice for those needing some form of tactile feedback that isn’t too much.
Button Layout changes the control scheme for the gamepad between Default, Southpaw, Legacy and Legacy Southpaw. You can see the different preset configurations too. Full button remapping would be ideal as seen in Assassin’s Creed Odyssey or Far Cry New Dawn. Left and Right Stick Dead Zone Size adjusts independently how sensitive the sticks are to our inputs.
Invert Y and X-axis reverse the way up-down and left-right behaves. 180 Sprint Turn, when enabled, makes it so when you sprint in the opposite direction of the camera it turns to stay behind you. Autolook Center will center the camera after you start moving instead of keeping it in the direction you left it.
Parkour Mode During Gameplay and During Auto Run allow you to automatically jump over obstacles and/or climb them when sprinting during manual movement or auto run mode. This is very useful to save time and extra effort on your hands. Movement Can Exit Cover lets you exit cover with a simple move in any direction instead of having to press the cover key again.
Move Around Cover Corner With Button Press avoids having to make the full motion to turn corners while in cover. Move Around Corner Speed it’s also self-explanatory and has two values, Slow and Fast. Toggle to Sprint switches the sprint mechanic between toggle or hold down. Combat Roll on Movement Keys allows performing an escape roll by tapping twice in any direction.
Hold to Aim Mouse switches aiming between holding down or tapping a mouse button. Hold to Aim Gamepad does the same for gamepads. Aim Assist turns on/off aim assists on gamepad only. The assist only will count for the first shot at an enemy, then weapon recoil kicks in.
Finally, Cancel Skill When Aiming will cancel your skill when you press the aim key/button. All in all the menu is very complete and has a good number of options. Only full gamepad button remapping feels absent due to previous games having it.
In Key Mapping we can remap all general gameplay actions with the exception of keys used in UIs, but that will be detailed in the conclusions. Secondary keys are also available and all mouse buttons are usable, including Mouse Wheel Up and Down. Combination keys like Shift+V or anything similar aren’t accepted. The total number of keys is 44 which is a lot but many of them, up to 15, are not necessary because there are alternate ways to perform those functions.
In 3rd Party we can make use of several features based on the Tobii Eye Tracker eye and head tracking hardware. These include camera movement, aiming, launching grenades, changing cover and a few more. I have got to get me one of these!
In the Accessibility menu there are two options worth mentioning. Text chat is usually hard to use for gamers with hand dexterity problems. Enable Speech to Text Chat will turn your spoken words into text and show them in the text chat. For anyone unable to type in chat due to their disability this option is extremely handy and it’s also for playing alongside Deaf/hoh players. Enable Text To Speech Chat does the opposite, converting text from the chat into spoken voice. This is quite useful for people with Low Vision problems. With both options enabled the barriers that usually arise with many types of disabilities are removed for the most part allowing for great communication.
How to Play
This is a list of how to perform the most common actions. The game mechanics are the most important aspect and maybe this way the reader will have a better understanding to decide if the game is accessible to them.
The gameplay has you exploring the city, shooting enemies, gathering loot and resources, completing missions… solo or in co-op which I truly recommend. As stated before the game plays entirely in third person view.
- To move you use the usual WASD keys or whatever you change them to. You control turning, aiming and the camera using the mouse. To sprint you can hold down the sprint key plus the direction you want to go or just toggle sprint with a key press. Switching between normal and slow walking is done by pressing a key.The autorun feature saves you a lot of effort. When you press it your character will start walking nonstop until you press it again and you can control your direction via mouse as mentioned earlier. To vault over objects you press the vault key. To climb ladders/ropes you tap the same key and then hold forward/back until you’re finished.
- To aim you can hold down a mouse button/key or simply tap it and toggle between aiming or normal view. To use melee you just press a key. To switch weapons you can press a designated key for each one of them or cycle through them using the mouse wheel or other keys. Grenades are thrown by tapping the grenade key/button and then left clicking on the target zone. Reloading your gun requires just a key press but replenishing your armor and health requires you to hold down a key. Skills are used by pressing the designed key/button and left clicking afterwards or by simply pressing the instant skill key.
- As I mentioned before the game uses a cover-based shooting system. This means when you engage the enemy you should be covering behind a car, corner or anything. To enter cover you just aim to the place you want to use as cover and hold down the proper key until you are there. Moving from one cover place to another is performed in the exact same way. You can evade grenades or attacks by pressing twice the cover key or by tapping twice in the direction you want to roll.
- To interact with NPCs and the world (opening doors, item containers…) you press a key or hold it for a while. This varies depending on the situation.
- For communicating you can use text chat, voice chat or an emote system. To use emotes you can assign six of them to different keys and tap those keys or hold down a key to display an overlay with eight emotes and choose one.
Almost all menu options are fully usable with mouse clicks or the keys the game has predetermined for them.
Conclusions and issues
Overall the mobility accessibility is great, allowing for a great gaming experience. Most gameplay aspects are very accessible thanks to intuitive controls and some good assistance features. Eye tracking hardware could be a life changer too during combat. The sensitivity adjustments are well designed and toggle and hold choices for aim, sprint are nice. Skill and grenade usage are very convenient. Thumbs up for allowing the mouse wheel up and down to be rebound.
Ideally gamepad buttons should also be remappable. Hold downs to use certain features should be at least cut down a bit considering how many times you have to use it. A hold/toggle option for the Emote Menu would have been just perfect as we saw in Far Cry New Dawn. Again the communication options shine with speech to text and text to speech, as the co-op factor of the game becomes a truly accessible and enjoyable experience. Also an option to unlock the mouse cursor would have been great as gamers needing an on-screen keyboard would be able to play.
Unfortunately there are some problems related to the UI design and hardcoded/predetermined keys.
During normal gameplay you have to press the F key, no matter you remappings, to stop playing audio recordings. There is also no way to remap the keys used inside menus like Inventory, Map, Skills, Crafting… as these seem to be hardcoded. Also some of the actions only work using those shortcut keys leaving you no choice as clicking on them with the mouse cursor won’t work.
Photo Mode suffers these two problems too. While many of your remapped keys will work here some functions, like Camera Tilt, are forced on Q and E which annoying. In a similar manner TAB is forced to alternate between Modify and Compose modes. Luckily once in Compose mode we can use the mouse to fully interact with the great graphic interface to access a lot of functions expanding on what was done in Far Cry New Dawn. The worst issue I found is that in order to exit this mode you have to hold down the Escape key for a bit. Being unaware of that I had to call someone to come and press the key for me just so I could exit the screen. I solved it later by using my keyboard’s macro utility to remap the Escape key to another one and this won’t be possible with common free utilities like AutoHotkey due to the Easy AntiCheat software. It would be great if all the keys in both modes were based on our preferred keys. I don’t understand the idea behind having a wonderful key remapping system and then forcing us to use these keys which might be impossible for many.
Anthony Martins is 42 and has been a gamer his whole life. He has SMA Type 2 and can be found on Twitter at @Black1976