Titanfall2: Accessibility Review


The copy of Titanfall2 used in this review was provided at no cost to the reviewer.


In the days of Halo 3 and the rise of the Xbox 360, I did not get involved in the shooter craze and thus missed out on a large number of what might now be considered integral experiences in videogame history.

However, as time went by and I had the chance to actually try these games first hand, I realised that there were ways around some of the navigational issues I thought would be encountered.

Now, over a decade on, with the Xbox One X available to consumers providing 4K content, I thought it'd be a good idea to explore what the first person shooters of now and the future could do to improve their accessibility as a player with no sight. It goes without saying that the simple addition of Microsoft's newly released Speech Synthesis API for Xbox One, allowing for spoken menus and in-game UI elements would help enormously for those without sight and other disabilities as well. However, given that no commercially available titles have used this yet, there's nothing to compare it to.

As a result of a lack of concrete examples of Speech Synthesis UI implementation on a console platform, this accessibility review focuses on the audio side of things, as well as ease of use in terms of menus and CoPilot during campaign.

The game itself

Titanfall2, like the above mentioned Doom, is a fast-paced, frantic shooter, with additional mechanics like wall running built in to ostensibly make movement more free flowing. Couple that with the fact that you're able to pilot large robots, the eponymous Titans, in the same game and alternate between the two modes of play and there's a fair amount of accessibility related ground to cover in terms of what needs to be fixed to make the game a more even playing field.

Now, with that small introduction out of the way, let's get into what would need to be tweaked to make this game more accessible and, by the same token, more enjoyable without sight.


As a player without sight, being able to hear your character's footsteps can provide several pieces of useful information. For example, they can tell you what kind of surface you're running or walking on, your position in a 2d plane (most equivalent to fighting games) but they can also notify you of your proximity to objects.

As a result, not being able to hear these cues, even when very little is going on in-game is problematic to varying degrees.

In a 3d title like Titanfall 2, footsteps can indicate where enemies are in rough proximity to you and, whilst it might not be foolproof, can allow you to more easily target specific opponents in an attempt to take them down. Titanfall 2's footsteps are unfortunately, very quiet and sometimes inaudible. However, oddly enough, there are times where they stand out but it seems to be relatively random, possibly relating to the level of action going on around the player and not accounting for it and adjusting the volume accordingly.

This means that even if you think you might be moving freely around the corridors, pathways and higher points of a map, you could just as well be stuck up against a wall and very much in danger of being shot from a vantage point invisible to you by a sniper or an AI opponent who can eliminate you with little effort.

Solving this issue is just a matter of turning up the footsteps in the mix so that they're audible, but not overpowering. This would likely be best achieved by user testing with blindfolded candidates who have sight anyway or, better yet, with gamers with no sight. That being said, the detail in the footsteps is noticeable and does give a sense of speed to the character as well as what surface they are walking on.

Given that wall-running is a large part of Titanfall 2, it would be helpful to be able to tell when you're wall-running as well. Only one loadout seems to have an easy way to get up to higher points without sight, namely the grappling hook, which unfortunately suffers from the issue of activating when there are no grapple points nearby. WHilst this might not seem like a big problem, it's frustrating when you are stuck just pressing the button and hoping there's a higher point to get to in the vicinity.

If there was less of a need for reliance on the grappling hook, there is potential for a larger degree of experimentation with other weapons and loadouts in general.

Targeting and Enemies

Titanfall2, whether in single or multiplayer, suffers from two major issues common to the shooter genre, as follows.

Briefly returning to footsteps as well,, having footsteps that were easily audible to players would make the process of targeting AI and human opponents easier. With the frantic pace of gameplay, anything that can be done to decrease the skill gap would be appreciated.

Enemy VS friendly in multiplayer

Figuring out just who or what you need to fire at in a game like Titanfall2 is tricky. With, say, a Halo or a Gears of War, the premise of shoot the non-human sounding targets works pretty well.

But when everyone's human, apart from titans that will take a massive beating before going down, the problem is magnified by the fact that there are no distinct vocal cues to indicate friendly from enemy players or AI-controlled grunts.

Given that, in the first Titanfall, you could simply tell who the good and bad guys were via their accents, it's almost a shame that this method seems to have been lost in this latest instalment. That being said, having any kind of method of telling enemies from friendly units would be of great help. This could take the form of haptic and audio cues that play when in the proximity of an enemy, indicating direction and height, though I understand that these might seem complicated to implement at first.

Any additional accessibility options should be easy to enable and disable so that users can get a customised experience in a videogame, Titanfall 2 or otherwise.

The Positives

As much as the above points are all elements that need to be modified in order to make the game more accessible and playable, Titanfall 2 certainly has great positive points going for it.


The sound and music in Titanfall 2, regardless of mode, is memorable and well-suited. From the firefights in the distance in multiplayer matches, to the close-quarters combat of the campaign, both are of high standards demonstrating the detail, time and effort the developers put into making this world unique and interesting. Other than the points mentioned surrounding accessibility, I personally find entertainment in just going into a multiplayer match and trying to get kills, earning titans and attempting to get involved as much as possible in firefights.

The Campaign

Titanfall 2, unlike its predecessor, does have a full single player campaign. However, as it is a single player experience, any sighted assistance you might need will have to come from local co-op partners. Though this is frustrating, getting to play the game with a person who is essentially a second player (even though your inputs are both being recognised as one controller) is interesting to say the least. Parts of this stem from the dialogue choices which, at the time of writing, don't appear to impact the game at all as well as discussion of how best to tackle scenarios like being stuck in a corner, behind cover, with two or 3 enemies shooting barrages of bullets at you and forcing you to keep your head down.

The cutscenes are well put together and definitely allow you to feel involved with the characters and the story even if, at times, it gets a little strange and clichéd. If you're playing via CoPilot and you have a good speaker setup, use it and you won't regret it as the blockbuster sound of this game, which did have an unfortunate launch window, blasts away.


With EA moving forward with accessibility in Madden and now having an accessibility lead for their sports area, I'd really like to see what might be considered to be a franchise that would appeal to a larger percentage of gamers be made accessible. Given that the technology to make this happen (or at least make the game more accessible than it is currently) is available, I really hope EA take the initiative and role out accessibility in all their titles, not just the aforementioned sports franchise which, as I've said in a previous review is very unfriendly to newcomers and those unfamiliar with the NFL.

If you have sighted assistance and enough controllers though, Titanfall 2 is certainly an experience worth engaging in, due to the sheer scope of the combat and the story which, whilst it might seem a little clichéd in places, really does work well even as a simulated co-op experience.

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