Game studios rarely share the secret of their success.

A great game can spawn countless imitators — see Breath of the forest Or Stardew Valley — and it’s not unheard of for a company to tell its competitors a magic formula. But accessibility is becoming a notable exception to that rule.

Ragnarok God of War A continuation of the 2018 adventures of grizzled warrior Kratos and his son Atreus, and the ninth installment of the venerable PlayStation franchise — it’s the most accessible game in the series. To help make that vision a reality, the team at the Santa Monica studio turned to the folks at Naughty Dog, known for its boundary-breaking innovations for players with hearing, visual and motor differences.

In keeping with that spirit of open collaboration, lead UX designer Mila Pavlin says the team at the Santa Monica studio isn’t interested in putting in 70+ accessibility innovations. Ragnarok God of War a secret

“Accessibility has a very unique position when it comes to cross-collaboration because it’s a set of features where we want to spread that innovation. We don’t want to have it in just one franchise,” says Pavlin upside down.

Kratos challenges a dire bear Ragnarok God of War.Santa Monica Studios

“If we can develop a feature and someone else implements a similar feature based on our work, that’s a bonus for the player overall. That’s something we want to encourage, the community sharing that information for accessibility,” she adds. “Accessibility is for everyone. It’s not a race. Regardless of who comes out with the features first, in the end the player is really the winner.”

Like the rest of the gaming world, Pavlin and the team at Santa Monica Studios were impressed by the groundbreaking innovations of 2020’s Naughty Dog. The Last of You Part IIwhich includes a wide set of tools to customize the experience according to an individual’s interests and needs. Ragnarok was already in development at that time. Still, the team was eager to incorporate some of those innovations into the next God of War game. The mischievous dog was happy to oblige.

“They shared information about the consultants they brought in and the players they consulted. We were fortunate to have a member of their team join our team as an accessibility designer, who helped us specifically with some of the motor functions and several combat accessibility items. This gave us a direct connection to the accessibility community,” says Pavlin.

Kratos is looking for a city Ragnarok God of War.Santa Monica Studios

Ragnarok God of WarAccessibility features include four main areas: auditory, motor, cognitive, and vision. Interestingly, this game is based on high-contrast visual mode TLOU 2, allows players to assign more than a dozen brightly-colored filters to more easily differentiate between enemies, treasure chests, NPCs, and bosses. Pavlin says the depth and breadth of those options Ragnarok Directly inspired by player feedback.

“The players were telling us what they wanted, as opposed to us deciding on these things,” she explains. “There’s a saying in the accessibility community, ‘It’s never about us but us.’ We really took that to heart. “

“It’s a hand-crafted, hand-written, hand-crafted experience.”

The goal wasn’t just to make it Ragnarok Simple, but to make it more enjoyable for more players — whether it’s their first God of War game or they’re seasoned veterans of fierce battles with Valkyries and Trolls.

“Some of our low vision players have said they want to play on Give Me God of War [the series’ highest difficulty], but they had trouble understanding what was happening on screen,” explains Pavlin. “Adding features like high contrast made it approachable in a way that didn’t significantly change the experience.”

Ragnarok’s set of accessibility options includes quality tweaks that many players can benefit from, such as automatic item pickups and customizable subtitles. This philosophy of helping players get the best possible experience is also baked into the game in more subtle ways.

Pavlin says many players wanted to retain the challenge of combat, but with some added changes to make the action easier to watch.Santa Monica Studios

For example, if you spend some time solving a puzzle, one of your companion characters will give a hint, such as “Maybe you should try your axe.” Better yet, if you spot a bold item that’s just begging to be tinkered with, those same fellows will tell you plainly “we’ll be back later” instead of banging your head against the wall for half an hour.

There are no settings that can turn these types of additions on or off. Each scenario must be individually created and scripted, which is a huge undertaking for something that may be a boon to series newcomers, but longtime fans may not notice.

“We don’t want to include it in just one franchise.”

“We’re trying to create an experience where you can learn things organically and experience that world, so that you build confidence, we step back a little bit and let you go wild”, Pavlin says. “It’s a hand-crafted, hand-written, hand-crafted experience. That’s one of the things that makes the game so great, the love and care.”

to prepare Ragnarok Demands for a dramatic rethinking of some of the core mechanics of the 2018 game may also reach more players. The team scraped and rebuilt the entire user interface to accommodate larger text sizes and reworked the control scheme to allow for button remapping. The team also created more flexibility for “flavor moments” like quicktime events and traversals, adding options for less button input where the team felt it didn’t detract from the experience.

Pavlin hopes all of these changes add up to a game that appeals to more players.

There are many people who are able to play Ragnarok Can’t play the 2018 game now,” she says. “I think the expansion of accessibility is really going to surprise people.”

Ragnarok God of War Coming to PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5 on November 9th.