A blind player just defeated Lilith and finished playing Diablo 4

As much as the Diablo 4 community loves to harp on Blizzard Entertainment, this is a rare scenario where no one dared to criticize them.

Blizzard Entertainment's efforts towards making Diablo 4 more accessible is well deserving of praise.

In a monumental feat that underscores the progress made by developers in gaming accessibility, Ross Minor, a certified accessibility consultant, successfully conquered the Diablo 4 campaign, culminating in a victorious battle against Lilith, the game's final boss. To the benefit of the broader community, Minor streamed the entirety of this experience in what can only be described as an educational affair, providing invaluable insights into Diablo 4's accessibility features, or to be more specific, its screen reader functionality. Minor's achievement transcends mere gameplay mechanics, serving as a powerful statement about how far accessibility has come in video gaming and the growing attention game developers are giving to inclusivity.

Diablo 4 is not an outlier when it comes to prioritizing accessibility. There's a growing wave of AAA titles such as Forza Motorsport, Mortal Kombat 1, and Marvel's Spider-Man 2 that are introducing significant blind accessibility features, a reality that would have been almost unimaginable a few years ago. It's a welcome change that's reshaping the gaming landscape. While these are undoubtedly significant milestones, what makes Diablo 4's case particularly commendable is the strategic implementation of existing accessibility solutions, proving that ground-breaking innovations are not always necessary to make a game accessible.

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Despite the achievement, Minor did express some criticisms during the livestream. Interestingly, he revealed that, at one point, he was unsure if he was actually battling Lilith due to the mobs that spawned during the fight, causing confusion. This points to a nuanced but important gap in Diablo 4's otherwise impressive suite of accessibility options. While the screen reader worked well for most of the game, Minor's gameplay experience indicated that there might be room for improvement in conveying in-game events more clearly to visually impaired players.

But how do these accessibility features work in practice? In Diablo 4, the screen reader was a central tool for Minor, but it wasn't active during the stream to avoid overwhelming viewers. Instead, it operated exclusively through Minor via his earphones. He humorously assured viewers that his seeing-eye dog had no involvement in the gameplay, emphasizing that the kill was solely a result of his skills and the game's accessibility features.

While this may come as a surprise to many, Ross Minor's feat isn't just a remarkable personal achievement; it's also a testament to Diablo 4's accessibility mechanics. In the case of Diablo 4, the game's developer, Blizzard, earned some well-deserved praise, despite previous criticisms on other fronts, for making a concerted effort to make their title more accessible. It's a call to action for other developers to intentionally implement accessibility options, proving that when done correctly, it's more than just a feature - it's an invitation for everyone, regardless of their physical abilities, to fully engage with the gaming universe.

If nothing else, this is one area games like Baldur's Gate 3 and Remnant 2 could learn from Diablo 4. 

Despite the advancements, there's still a long way to go. The general public often takes these abilities for granted, not fully appreciating the freedom and inclusivity that accessibility can bring to people with disabilities. It's crucial for us to understand that developing these features isn't just a charitable endeavor but a necessary progression for the industry, letting all gamers, regardless of physical limitations, to participate in experiences that many consider a cultural staple.

So, whether you're a casual gamer or a die-hard Diablo fan, Ross Minor's incredible journey serves as a reminder that the gaming world is slowly but surely becoming a place where everyone is welcome.

As gaming continues to evolve, one can only hope that this trend towards inclusivity becomes the norm rather than the exception, ultimately creating a more enriching and diverse gaming community for all.

Here's to hoping that Diablo 4 only becomes more accessible in future patches.

Who knows? Maybe in the future, with the help of more accessibility options in gaming and the release of the Access Controller for the PlayStation 5, news about how a blind gamer succeeded at EVO 2023 won't be an outlier anymore.

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Ray Ampoloquio

Ray Ampoloquio // Articles: 5842

Ray is a lifelong gamer with a nose for keeping up with the latest news in and out of the gaming industry. When he's not reading, writing, editing, and playing video games, he builds and repairs computers in his spare time. You can find Ray on Twitter and LinkedIn.
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