Forza Horizon 5 launches this week – and already for those who paid extra. But it’s not that it rules as a racing game that’s important, but the fact that Microsoft are actually fully dedicated to keeping up with their promise for inclusivity.
In the game is sign language that can be enabled during cutscenes and that’s so cool. Subtitles are still an issue in game and have been since Dead Rising came out, expecting a classic fat CRT TV and was being displayed on early HD TVs with tiny fonts.
This issue has persisted throughout the last couple decades, as developers fail to take into account that they need to view the game from a long distance or even bring in those who need these features into a realistic setting and not just directly at the desk.
Morgan Baker on Twitter did mention that this is a huge step up from subtitles for some, as sign language is literally people’s “primary language” and promotes adding emotion that wouldn’t have been there originally.
For Microsoft to fully commit a fairly new advancement into their latest big game – Forza is currently number 1 in the Steam charts, regardless of being available on Game Pass – is huge and brings into question whether their other first party titles will get the same treatment.
What about other games?
Halo Infinite is going to be huge. It’ll be available on pretty much anything with a browser capable of running Xbox Game Pass, but it’ll also be a much bigger time investment for the developers, 343 and Microsoft to put into making it happen, as Infinite will feature much longer cutscenes and probably hefty amounts of dialogue in-world, which overlaying a full-motion video in time with dialogue that can be interruptible is a hefty task.
I’m wondering whether Forza Horizon was chosen due to its more structured approach to story, rather than the ever evolving landscape of major AAA games.
However, this is the hope, that Microsoft and others in the industry begin to work their way up to developing technology that’ll enhance the experience for those not able to hear, much like Sony and Naughty Dog did with The Last of Us 2 for those hard of sight, to the point that it was actually beaten with these additions.
Games like Control, which are notoriously story focused now feature assist settings to ensure that those not able to play to the speed of the frantic action can still experience the game.
Developers are getting better at all facets of disabilities within the gaming space, but there’s still a lot of work to be done in the meantime. Things like colour blindness still cause issues for games where this is overlooked, while certain titles that pride themselves on their harsh nature still don’t incorporate everyone.
Microsoft are absolutely the leaders amongst the major companies in this regard, as their specialised controller and general attitude to making the gaming market more accessible to all is always to be commended.
However, there’s work to be done and until it’s at a level that is unanimous across the board, I think the industry should continue to be scrutinised by those dedicating their time to it, like Ian Hamilton, who I fully recommend you follow.