- Despite its highly anticipated release, Starfield, the space RPG by Bethesda, lacks crucial accessibility features, leaving players with disabilities at a disadvantage.
- While the game offers a "Big Font Mode," it falls short of providing comprehensive accessibility options such as text-to-speech, navigational aids, or combat assistance for disabled players.
- The absence of these features highlights a significant oversight, especially in an era where accessibility in gaming is gaining prominence, and fans hope for updates to address this situation in Starfield and future Bethesda titles.
Starfield is a highly anticipated title that gamers of all ages want to play. Unfortunately, Bethesda's space RPG lacks the features that allow players with disabilities to enjoy the game.
The hype prior to and during the release of Starfield has attracted the attention of many players. Over 6 million have already played the game, 2 million of which paid to be able to access the game five days early. The game is feature-rich and boasts of a narrative befitting being a Bethesda title.
While the game is "a next-gen title" as the studio would like to call it, Starfield glaringly lacks accessibility features that are offered in most modern-day games. In an interview with Kinda Funny Games two months ago, Todd Howard said that Starfield would launch with Big Font Mode as an option. We didn't expect that the feature would be the game's only accessibility option for disabled players.
The Large Menu Fonts mode can be found in the very limited accessibility menu of the game. Having large fonts does help a lot, especially for players that are short-sighted. But that's about it. There is no text-to-speech option for blind players or other navigational assistance to help players get around the map.
Starfield doesn't have an auto-aim feature or something similar to the VATS targeting mechanic in the Fallout series that slowed time down and ensured disabled players would not struggle during combat either. Its fast-paced combat with the added verticality of using jetpacks limits its accessibility to players who can't physically input precise controls. Auto-aim has been a controversial topic among fans of competitive first-person shooters, but its glaring absence in Bethesda's single-player space RPG is quite worrisome.
Microsoft and Xbox have made major steps in advancing accessibility in their games in recent years. It's unfortunate that Microsoft's biggest first-party release does not have the accessibility features of newer titles.
Just to put things into perspective, we recently reported that a blind player, by the name of Ross Minor, defeated the final boss in Diablo 4. While it does showcase the gamer's skill, it also highlights the game's accessibility options. Minor explained in a separate video that Diablo 4's text-to-speech, targeting callouts, and audio cues helped him defeat the final boss. Minor also played games like God of War and Halo which are much closer to Starfield in terms of gameplay than Diablo 4.
Hopefully, Bethesda will work on an update that will add more accessibility features to Starfield. The studio should learn from this huge oversight and improve its design practices for future games such as Elder Scrolls 6.