As someone with a progressive physical disability, I’m always searching for new ways to accommodate my play style. Watching streamers and reading articles has been beneficial, but I found that their advice catered toward the able-bodied, particularly those who can perform rapid movements and properly utilize all their fingers.
In the ever-expansive list of growing game genres, battle royales do not confine individuals to specific modes and methods of play. While static elements like maps and weapons exist, how players choose to utilize these objects to their advantage is wholly unique to each battle royale. Even though most games include fast-paced action, the near-limitless play styles offered can make battle royales a surprisingly comfortable genre for physically disabled individuals.
Despite some common themes within the genre — deciding where to land, choosing distances at which to engage enemies and picking weapons — each battle royale features its own unique methods of accessibility. I don’t speak for every disability, nor is this a ranking of the most accessible battle royale, but for those who feel they may be at a disadvantage, here are several pointers that helped me clinch first place.
The speed of the game
Before we dive into drop strategies and weapon selection, it’s best to note the overall speed of specific battle royales. This genre rewards aggressive gameplay, often encouraging members to continuously hunt down opponents and quickly grab loot. For players who struggle to execute precise and fast inputs, like me, certain games may pose more of a physical challenge than others. For example, “Apex Legends” rarely gives individuals a reprieve, as the parkour mechanics of the Titanfall series are highly emphasized: Furiously climbing buildings and sliding across the landscape are key tactics when playing. Even though “Apex Legends” offers characters with defensive and stationary abilities like Gibraltar, Caustic and Wattson, you still need to rapidly traverse the map.
Games like “PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds” (commonly known as “PUBG”), “Call of Duty: Warzone” and especially “Fortnite” offer numerous rest periods throughout the progression of a match. Each circle within the three respective games offers several opportunities to take engagements at varying distances. If you are better at close-quartered-combat, it’s best to hunker down within a house, or simply build your own. If you find that sniping targets is easier for your disability, camping the edge of the circle to pick off stragglers is a perfectly viable strategy. Player speed is an integral aspect to any battle royale, and physically disabled individuals should never feel shame in employing a slower tactic that works for them.
Speed is just one component that disabled players should familiarize themselves with before jumping into a gunfight. Knowledge of the map, weapons and accessibility features are also crucial to earning a victory.
Where we dropping?
Much like the speed of the game, understanding where and when to drop onto the map is necessary for those with physical disabilities. When determining where to land, players will often choose a highly active location known as a “hot drop.” These areas, usually predetermined by the trajectory of the zone, tend to include the most action during the beginning of the match. While “hot drops” are excellent in terms of racking up eliminations, players with limited muscle movement or poor reaction times may want to avoid early confrontations. With that in mind, it’s best to familiarize yourself with “hot” locations, particularly if early fights are physically exhausting.
Outside of the rapid pacing in each game’s hotspots, each battle royale offers immense inherent accessibility — particularly when choosing where to land.
“Warzone” is quickly becoming one of my favorite battle royales due to the layout of its map. The fictional landscape of Verdansk offers a plethora of locations to take firefights at varying distances. Sprawling fields perfect for sniping, complex indoor structures that favor close quarter gunplay and villages that combine the previous two styles ensure that disabled players can usually find themselves in a scenario that suits their preferred play style. Thankfully, due to the immense size of each zone, finding a location that pairs well with your specific physical limitations and weapon loadout is never difficult.
In terms of dropping, “Fortnite” offers the most accessible experience for physically disabled players. Unlike traditional battle royales, Epic’s juggernaut lets individuals create their own combat zones. Regardless of where you drop, with enough materials you can easily build your own cover, forcing opponents to either challenge at a distance or up close.
With that in mind, I still prefer to land in locations like Retail Row. This area includes numerous two-story homes and vast parking lot spaces, giving players the option to choose how they fight. Furthermore, each building can be dismantled to create a more conducive area.
“PUBG” relies on distance and larger areas more than “Warzone” and “Fortnite.” I rarely engage in close fights, usually only partaking in those major encounters during the early and end stages of a match. As such, choosing where to land in “PUBG” ultimately relies on loot acquisition goals.
Due to the expansive size of each of the four maps, “PUBG” provides ample choice to players — a key benefit for physically disabled individuals. You cannot build structures like “Fortnite,” but you can determine the course your match takes. Within each map, larger cities and small villages are interspersed across hills and plains. Landing in a small housing complex in Miramar has the potential to provide enough long-range equipment to earn first place. You may not encounter anyone until the final circle, but you will have plenty of time to rest and find a perfect sniping position. If close quarters are more fitting, maps like Sanhok and Erangel provide numerous villages and compounds throughout each circle.
Before I discuss my preferred loadouts and guns, here’s a crucial piece of advice that not only improved my overall experience but made each round vastly easier to play: Ignore the meta.
Metas generally highlight which guns are preferred by most players, usually popularized by social media accounts and streamers. For the able-bodied, the meta can be a method to racking up eliminations. For the disabled, the meta can cause immense physical strain. I use a loadout which lost its appeal after the launch of the current season of “Warzone,” but crucially, it retains its efficacy and accessibility to me.
Most of Verdansk tends to combine close and long-range combat. As such, my loadout features two primary weapons with the Overkill perk to ensure that I’m prepared for any situation. Of the three battle royales covered here, “Warzone’s” gun customizability is unrivaled as a benefit for the disabled. Each weapon can be equipped with varying attachments that not only benefit the player, but also the area of engagement. For example, if a disabled individual prefers to fight at a distance, attachments like scopes, barrels and muzzles can drastically affect the recoil and stability for more precise shooting at longer ranges. Conversely, items like lasers, grips and stocks are best for close-quartered-combat.
Unfortunately, unlocking each attachment requires consistent play with the desired weapon. If an attachment isn’t available until level 47, disabled players must utilize a potentially inaccessible weapon until reaching the desired level.
“Fortnite’s” weapon selection mechanics are unique among the three. Guns cannot be customized, and recoil is instead replaced with “weapon bloom,” where each consecutive shot increases the spread of bullets. Furthermore, players can hold up to five pieces of equipment, including weapons and consumables.
This mechanic highlights “Fortnite’s” accessibility. Rather than continuously utilizing just one or two guns, physically disabled individuals have the option to easily swap between an assault rifle, shotgun, sniper or rocket launcher. It is entirely feasible to win a match with nothing but five shotguns. Ultimately, if a disabled player is comfortable with their designated weapon rotations, “Fortnite” can let them make it work.
I’ve found that “PUBG’s” combat is the least accessible of the aforementioned battle royale titles. Despite there being a bevy of weapon selections, both automatic and semiautomatic, it’s difficult to repeatedly find a gun that is physically comfortable to control, especially with all of its available attachments; all weapons and attachments in “PUBG” can only be acquired during a match.
While there are 11 assault rifles to choose from, each gun features unique recoil patterns and attachment selections. I prefer the M416, as its customizability is extensive; it also features a manageable recoil pattern. The problem is that it’s impossible to predict if I will ever encounter this weapon during a single match. If I do, I still need to locate the attachments.
This information may still seem overwhelming, but thankfully, each battle royale includes a bevy of accessibility options to further improve their overall ease.
Before starting, I highly encourage players to explore the menu settings within each game. For physically disabled players, each battle royale includes comparable options that are necessary for extensive play sessions. For example, fully customizable controls, sensitivity sliders, the capability to toggle specific features such as aiming or equipment usage, and even an auto-movement option can alleviate physical exhaustion. Furthermore, consider playing with a group; other players can assist in firefights, or even revive you if you happen to die, although the revive mechanic is unavailable in “PUBG.”
As a physically disabled individual, I’m all too familiar with creating and utilizing accommodations that make any experience easier. While I’m hopeful these tips can help you achieve your first victory, please familiarize yourself with your limitations. Ultimately, how you play is entirely up to you, and never feel guilty or distraught for employing a tactic that makes your experience easier or more enjoyable.
Grant Stoner is a disabled writer who covers accessibility and disability acceptance within the video game industry. Follow him on Twitter @Super_Crip1994.