God of War Director Says Accessibility Options Never Hinder His Artistic Vision
God of War Director Cory Barlog is taking the accessibility or "Easy Mode" debate head-on, arguing that adding options never hindered his artistic vision.
Always leave it up to Sony Santa Monica and God of War director Cory Barlog to be the even-keeled voice in the room. Over the past couple of weeks, a debate has been raging among the development, critic, and average gamers on whether difficult games should come with accessibility options, and to what extent developers should dedicate to bringing those options to light. Barlog has offered a succinct response to critics: “Accessibility has never and will never be a compromise to my [artistic] vision.”
To give the background to where this debate originated, many critics (both formal and informal) of From Software’s latest game, Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice, have called for more prominent accessibility options. While there is no general consensus on what these options would be, the pot truly began stirring with a Forbes headline: “Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice Needs to Respect its Players and Add an Easy Mode.”
Not to dive into the actual back and forth on that, there has been a healthy amount of dialogue on both sides. On one hand, people argue that adding an “Easy Mode” would compromise the artistic vision of old-school difficulty titles like Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice or Bloodborne; other note that Easy Modes are optional by nature, and would only help more players enjoy a game if they choose not to take the challenge. Then obviously there is the third group, who point out that “accessibility options” don’t always mean Easy Mode — they can come down to various audio-visual queues, button remapping, and tools to slow down gameplay for those less able to match speeds of the standard gamer.
Speaking to that last point, Able Gamers COO Steve Spohn make jabs at gaming journalists and pundits, often misrepresenting the argument as solely an “Easy Mode” discussion:
I'm honestly getting tired of repeating myself. So this is my last Twitter statement on this
People, influential people, journalists and the media outlets are making this confusing by continuing to use the language "easy mode" – Accessibility means options, not easy gameplay
— Steve Spohn (@stevenspohn) April 5, 2019
The recurring counterpoint to this has been “to what extent should accessibility compromise the artistic vision” of the game itself? Is a work of art suddenly cheapened with the addition of these options.
To that question, Cory Barlog drew from his experience at Sony Santa Monica and God of War, offering a resounding statement:
On the other hand, don’t take Barlog’s comments as being an indictment of developers and publishers who don’t have the capacity to add these options in. He even mentions that there were additional options in the pipeline for God of War that he wasn’t able to get to based on time and bandwidth:
No matter where you fall on the debate on accessibility, it’s hard to deny that Barlog has the experience to really give a good call on what a AAA developer is capable of doing. Especially given the fact that God of War is by all metrics one of (if not the best game of 2018).
We’ve talked a bit about accessibility at DualShockers, noting some of the better versions of it in Apex Legends as well as some of the major shortcomings in Spyro Reignited Trilogy and Borderlands 2 VR. Meanwhile, God of War is still capturing news lately — whether it was coming on top of the 2019 BAFTA Awards or appearing on the front cover of Men’s Health.
God of War is currently available exclusively for PS4. If you have not picked up the game, you can do so right here through Amazon. After all of the praise that I have just given the game, you are still wary about picking it up, then check out DualShockers’ review of God of War where we awarded the game a 10 out of 10.