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A panoramic view of the coast of Yara Image: Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft via Polygon

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For a legally blind player, Far Cry 6’s accessibility options are empowering

Despite stagnant open-world tropes, Far Cry continues to improve its accessibility options

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The Far Cry games promise a reliable story — a war, a sadistic villain, and a swath of dead bodies strewn across a sprawling world. They can be written via Mad Libs at this point. But as a legally blind player with a strong visual disability, I’m less concerned about the who, why, or where than I am about the how of it all: How does the gunplay feel, and how effective will I be in the fight? In Ubisoft’s Far Cry 6, guerrilla fighters say that democracy is their true freedom, but for me, it’s an accessibility menu that allows me to improve as a soldier while I explore the vast world of Yara.

Like an increasing number of games these days, Far Cry 6 begins with voice narration activated, a welcome inclusion for those who may not be able to see the opening menu. The series has been trying to improve its stance on accessibility since Far Cry 5 released with somewhat middling options, and this menu narration is as strong a start as any.

Then came a legitimate surprise: While sifting through the mass of audio and interface options, I was taken aback by being able to actually see what these changes would do in real time on a small in-game screen. This might sound like an innocuous feature, but it isn’t often available, and the ability to clearly see how these changes will affect my adventure saves me a ton of time and menu hopping once gameplay begins.

After an extensive and helpful wave of menus, the adventure began. It wasn’t long before I assumed control of the player character and escaped the island of Yara’s capital city, sought escape on a boat, and a short stealth-lite section convinced me to tinker with some other accessibility functions.

I’m always happy to see that reticle sway can be turned off, and the lines of said reticle can be made thicker. There are also options for aim assist, complete with lock-on intensity slider. Far Cry 6 also features auto-steering, which aids in not running over people while trying to check the mini-map. So many bases are covered, even head and eye tracking, and there are still some settings I want to play around with more. There’s no “one size fits all” for accessibility in games, so it’s genuinely appealing to see so many opinions unfold as I dive further in.

Far Cry games like to drug or inebriate their protagonists frequently, as well as splash blood across the screen when the player is near death. Thankfully, all of these effects, which have become a tired trope across myriad genres, can be turned off for those who already have trouble perceiving their virtual surroundings. Not only do these screen-changing visuals get me killed, but during certain missions, they prevent me from even finding my objective. The ability to remove these effects — along with the camera shake — increases my enjoyment tenfold. Far Cry may have developed a reputation for becoming stagnant as a series, but past the surface, as far as accessibility goes, it has continued to evolve.

The player character takes damage and approaches death in Far Cry 6 Image: Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft

And yet, for all of the series’ progress, some accessibility options are missing, or aren’t pushed far enough. One of the most disappointing omissions is a slider for the UI and Fonts Scaling. While the “increased” option affects certain HUD messaging, it doesn’t apply to much of the stylized narrative text and documents. Those texts are already boring, but making them difficult to read increases the chances of me skipping them even more. Combine this with a few hard-to-navigate menus, mostly due to tons of crafting information cluttering the screen, as well as symbols and icons looking too similar, and the game’s pacing can slow to a crawl. Many of these features perform poorly because they’re implemented after release, as band-aids, rather than as preventive measures. It’s added work for the developers, sure, but it’s also extremely worthwhile to consider during the pre-release stage.

While out in the jungles or streets of Yara, I’m constantly worried about how the environments will keep me from noticing potential hostiles or helpful items, resulting in more time spent exhaustively exploring. I’ll often walk into an enemy fortress knowing full well I’m going to die, but I use that time to figure out where enemies are, test defenses, and gain as much visual information as I can before my next go-around. It’s my version of Deathloop, just within a game that doesn’t revolve around an actual time mechanic. It’s a time sink and it can be a bummer. Far Cry 6 does offer a Story Mode difficulty for players who simply want to see and finish the game, but I’d prefer options that help me feel like I’m still the hero whose actions matter.

Far Cry 6’s Vision menu, which allows players to highlight and increase color vibrancy on enemies and items Image: Ubisoft Toronto/Ubisoft

Look no further than Far Cry 6’s color-coding and high-contrast item outlines. Following in the vein of “detective vision” in Hitman or the Batman: Arkham series, Far Cry 6 allows players to add vibrant colors to enemies or item pickups. It makes it infinitely easier to see potential threats without running straight into them, or to find crucial equipment before walking right past it. Far Cry 6 is the first series entry to include these options, and they make me a far more effective revolutionary in the fantasy conflict gripping Yara. They’re a godsend.

I enjoyed Far Cry 6 much more than I did the last couple of entries. The accessibility changes allow me to spend less time evaluating the situation, and more time being a badass. I simply relish traversing the land now, seeing danger zones on the mini-map, tagging enemy soldiers, and actively choosing whether I want to engage in combat or not. The Far Cry series may appear stagnant to many observers, but to me, it’s a standout in the landscape of games pushing inclusive accessibility options. And in this regard, Far Cry 6 is the best installment yet. It’s offering me a new sense of freedom — it empowers me — and I hope this trend continues.