Recent Forza games have been trailblazers for upping the ante when it comes to accessibility. 2021's Forza Horizon 5 came with in-game sign language for cinematics, and a time-slowing option for those with slower reaction times. Incredible stuff. This October’s Forza Motorsport is aiming to push the boundaries even further, introducing a mode designed for blind players, called Blind Drive Assist.
Steve Saylor, a blind games player, has recently tested it out, and tweeted to describe how the suite of audio cues and customizations work.
The ensemble of aural guidance appears to combine the co-driver spoken guidance more familiar to rally driving games, in which upcoming turns are described, along with what essentially boils down to sophisticated sonar. A collection of bleeps, bloops and tones that tell a player where their car is on a track relative to its sides and turns, and when they need to brake or accelerate.
Saylor was able to play a specific track in the unreleased car-tuning racing game, and described his first attempt to use the audio cues as “a cacophony of sound.” Then, after meticulously adjusting the volume meters and tone levels of all the different sounds to suit him, Saylor said his racing considerably improved. In the video above, he explains how fixing these settings, and getting familiar with the cues, eventually saw him winning a race.
There’s often a lot of confusion about what “blind” means, with many assuming it’s a term for seeing nothing whatsoever. This isn’t the case; rather, it describes visual impairment, where sight is affected to a degree that vision is seriously altered. Steve Saylor describes this eloquently, with excellent visual explanations, in this video.
With audible indicators informing a player where they are on a track using stereo sound, alongside sonar-like feedback for how close they are to barriers, accompanied by cues for when to brake or accelerate, Forza Motorsport becomes an aural experience with visuals to support. Which is, to our knowledge, a first for racing gaming.
Other accessibility options include removing car collisions for single-player gaming and turning AI cars into ghosts, along with audio descriptions for cutscenes and extremely specific volume options for every aspect of the game’s sounds.
Forza Motorsport, the eighth game in this branch of the Forza franchise, comes from the same studio that has developed every entry, Turn 10 Studios. The studio worked with accessibility consultant Brandon Cole to develop the Blind Drive Assist mode, along with support from Saylor. It’s due out October 10, with four-day early access for those who pay for the eye-wateringly expensive Premium Edition.