Friday marked the arrival of the much-anticipated Jedi: Survivor on next-gen gaming platforms and (kinda) PC, so it’s time to take a look at its accessibility features and how well it’s working for all players and wannabe Jedi. For those with the technology to play it, the game’s release is a huge event and so far it’s been well-received.
EA team members have been hyping Survivor’s accessibility features and sheer volume of options, EA put together a post breaking down many of those options and lessons learned from development and player feedback on its predecessor Jedi: Fallen Order. For example, subtitles are now more extensive customizable and there are audio navigation and visual sound indicator options.
EA also states in their post that more accessibility features, such as high contrast mode and menu narration, will still be added after this launch.
In addition to the extensive toggles and adjustments to playability, some particular uncommon standouts include:
Slow Mode, which slows down gameplay action either automatically during combat or by toggling a configurable controller button.
Padawan Difficulty, which offers a step between the almost combat-free Story Mode and the more engaging Jedi Knight difficulty level.
Arachnophobia Safe Mode, which allows gamers with any level of discomfort alien (or any) arachnids to remove them from the game.
So no more jump scares when a giant, freaky Shelob-sized spider pounces on your back when you least expect it, causing you to scream multiple curse words in front of your young child and then slash and stab the beast repeatedly long past its obvious death.
(Yes, I’ll be turning this one on.)
Update (5/23): Jordan DeVries, UI/UX Lead on the game, clarified that this feature doesn’t actually remove any enemies from the game, just alters their appearance.
I appreciate the honest feedback, and always looking to do more.
Just an FYI, though, the Arachnophobia setting reduces spider-like qualities of an in-game enemy; it does not remove any enemies from the game
— Jordan DeVries (@theastralj) May 19, 2023
Without getting into spoilers, it looks like the feature specifically targets a large scorpion-like creature early in the game and reduces its detail, or as Jordan puts it, its “spider-like qualities.”
(We stand by our anti-spider image and stance, but also acknowledge that it includes scorpions)
And thanks to Jordan for clearing that up.
As accessibility advocates often point out, all of these features benefit gamers in general and can serve many purposes. Slow Mode has been mentioned as being great for learning the complex game controls and myriad saber stances and moves. Padawan difficulty allows for more casual play, along it easier for new gamers – including kids – to get familiar with the game style and gameplay.
And spiders… well, a lot of people just really hate spiders.
More Detailed Coverage
For more in-depth perspectives on these features, blind accessibility consultant and creator Steve Saylor has already provided his review. He found that the game is a big improvement over Fallen Order and that it may be the most accessible Star Wars game yet, while still finding a few areas lacking.
And on a more critical note, Josh Straub at the reliable CanIPlayThat.com wrote up his mobility review of the game, which he found commendable in many areas, but to be essentially unplayable for some players with significant fine-motor and similar physical disabilities.
Update: Sherry Toh at the British gaming site PCGamesN also wrote about her difficulties with the game due to her neuromuscular disability – problems she describes as inherent in much of the game’s platforming design. So again, an abundance of accessibility settings and features don’t necessarily mean a game will be accessible to everyone, especially if its core design features insurmountable challenges.
These reviews are a good example of the diversity of disabled gaming experiences, and show that even something done extremely well can still fall short. And the challenge with accessibility is that when some features don’t meet some players’ needs, it often means those gamers can’t even play the game at all.
We definitely applaud what Respawn and EA have accomplished with this game’s accessibility features and inclusion, and hope they continue to both update and improve it, and keep taking these lessons forward. Well-reviewed landmark games like Jedi: Survivor deserve to be enjoyed by everyone, and everyone deserves the chance to enjoy it.