Deaf Game Review – Halo: Reach

Game reviewed on Xbox One. Campaign-only gameplay has been reviewed.

Game reviewed on Xbox One. Campaign-only gameplay has been reviewed. Have you ever launched a game for the first time, combed through the menus to change all of your usual settings, and then spent an hour looking for an option that you must have missed because not including it is just that out of character for the folks behind the game? I've come to expect the best in accessibility from games and studios connected to Microsoft/Xbox. I mean, they did bring us the XAC, their brand new game accessibility guidelines, live events with live ASL interpreters, and Gears 5. So…
A massive failure on subtitles with only cinematics being subtitled, players looking for a story in an FPS should skip Halo: Reach. But if you just want to shoot things and run, you can do that with ease.

Halo: Reach Deaf Accessibility

Visual Representation of Dialogue - 1
Visual Representation of Sound - 2
Visual Cues - 10
Controller Vibration - 8
Visually Engaging - 3

4.8

A massive failure on subtitles with only cinematics being subtitled, players looking for a story in an FPS should skip Halo: Reach. But if you just want to shoot things and run, you can do that with ease.

User Rating: No Ratings Yet !

Have you ever launched a game for the first time, combed through the menus to change all of your usual settings, and then spent an hour looking for an option that you must have missed because not including it is just that out of character for the folks behind the game?

I’ve come to expect the best in accessibility from games and studios connected to Microsoft/Xbox. I mean, they did bring us the XAC, their brand new game accessibility guidelines, live events with live ASL interpreters, and Gears 5. So obviously I just overlooked the setting to turn on in-game dialogue subtitles, right?

Sadly, no.

Audio options menu.

You have the option to turn on subtitles before you launch into any gameplay, which is always nice!

Illustrating the mostly legible cinematic subtitles.

And for a remaster, the default subtitles, even without any size options or a background, are decent. Sure, I’d personally like them to not be yellow because yellow text is remarkably hard for me to read for some reason, but size wise and font wise, they’re not bad.

Then comes my confusion.

Illustrating the lack of in-game subtitles.

We’re all running toward the distress beacon, helpfully indicated by an icon, and nobody on my squad is talking. Kinda weird, I thought, but maybe they’re just in a hurry and the characters don’t currently have anything to say.

Illustrating the friendly (green) reticle color.

We run and run and run and finally we happen upon some people. Still no dialogue showing on my screen, so I’m about to shoot this guy in the above image. Luckily for him, I know enough to assume that green reticles mean don’t shoot. So he lived through the encounter. But then…

Illustrating the lack of in-game dialogue subtitles.

We keep standing there and surely we aren’t just standing there looking at the guy, right? Somebody must be saying something. Being brand new to the entire Halo franchise, I took my question to Twitter and I got a very disappointing answer.

The original release did not have in-game subtitles and it appears that they were not included for the remaster.

So my experience with the game, again, being completely new to the series, is watching cinematics, trying to remember to not shoot when my reticle is green, and following the yellow dots on the minimap because I have no earthly idea what I’m being told to do by my teammates because they’re not subtitled. Not quite my idea of fun. At best, I get bits and pieces of the story as told in cinematics.

As disappointing as this is, players not interested in any kind of story should have an easy time thanks to helpful visual cues, such as the previously mentioned colored reticle (green for good, red for bad), and the helpful squad and enemy dots displayed on the minimap.

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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

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Courtney Craven

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