Deaf Game Review – The Outer Worlds

Game reviewed on Xbox One

Game reviewed on Xbox One The Outer Worlds is a lot like Greedfall both in that it's an RPG that I've been eager to play and anxiously awaiting my Next Favorite RPG and in that upon launching the game, I was more disappointed than anything. The Outer Worlds starts off with making me feel hopeful when I see a multitude of subtitle related options: I assumed that if they had three options just for how in-depth you want the subtitles to be, obviously they'd get sizing and contrast right too, right? Wrong! The subtitles for the opening cinematic start out…
Could be a great game but with microscopic subtitles, it'll be hard for players relying on them to experience its story.

The Outer Worlds Deaf Accessibility

Visual Representation of Dialogue - 2
Visual Representation of Sound - 4
Visual Cues - 9.5
Controller Vibration - 8
Visually Engaging - 5

5.7

Could be a great game but with microscopic subtitles, it'll be hard for players relying on them to experience its story.

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The Outer Worlds is a lot like Greedfall both in that it’s an RPG that I’ve been eager to play and anxiously awaiting my Next Favorite RPG and in that upon launching the game, I was more disappointed than anything.

The Outer Worlds starts off with making me feel hopeful when I see a multitude of subtitle related options:

Audio menu

I assumed that if they had three options just for how in-depth you want the subtitles to be, obviously they’d get sizing and contrast right too, right?

Wrong!

Cinematic shot illustrating poor contrast and small text size.

The subtitles for the opening cinematic start out at an okay minimum size IF you offer your players options. But as you can see, contrast is a mess and there’s far too much text on the screen at once.

Cinematic illustrating way too much text on the screen.

From there you go into this scene where, thanks to the dark area in which the scene takes place, contrast isn’t an issue but wow that’s a whole lot of text to read in a very short time. There are recommendations for a reason, game devs. And considering that this game was made in Unreal, the devs could have implemented the Plugin that offers these recommendations, The Yellow Subs Machine, and had fantastic subtitles.

From here, I’m afraid it only gets worse.

Cutscene illustrating even smaller subtitle text but with a background.

The cutscenes in The Outer Worlds at least have a nice background, but the text is even smaller. But wait, there’s more!

Illustrating the very tiny in-game subtitles.

Last and thank God, least, are the in-game dialogue subtitles. Basically microscopic and the default contrast essentially serves no purpose to help make them legible.

And let’s not forget the very important in RPGs dialogue options:

Dialogue options screen.

Just as small as the cutscene subtitles. There is one feature here though that I love and wish more games would implement and that is the dialogue history. You can tap Y during the dialogue with any NPC and see the history of what they’ve said. Granted it’s too small for many to read so it’s not entirely helpful, but it’s there.

There are a few saving graces for the game though. For starters, they did a thing I wish every game would. They provided subtitles for ALL NPCs when you are near them. Even the most unimportant characters you might not even notice. If you have subs turned on and stop near them, you’ll be able to read what they’re saying:

Illustrating the NPC dialogue subtitles.
Illustrating enemy location, both in game and in the top compass bar.

I’m also grateful for the enemy location/threat indication icons visible both in the compass bar and above the character (or to the side of the screen if you’ve got your back turned to them).

With all the subtitle disappointment similarities The Outer Worlds shares with Greedfall, I hope they’ll also share in patching this massive problem.

The game is easily playable for Deaf/hoh players with no increased difficulty due to open world enemies taking you by surprise, but those playing on console, not sitting right in front of their screen will definitely not be able to enjoy the story with these tiny subtitles.

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Co-founder and EIC of Can I Play That?, captioner of many things, occasional writer of fiction. Any pronouns. courtney@caniplaythat.com

Courtney Craven

Co-founder and EIC of Can I Play That?, captioner of many things, occasional writer of fiction. Any pronouns. courtney@caniplaythat.com