Final Fantasy XIV‘s patch 2.38 went live this week and with it came the usual round of changes fitting a “minor” patch. Well, mostly, as XIV’s minor patches usually include a few things that are anything but minor. This one added Personal Housing (previously reserved for Free Companies) and a new step in the ever-going upgrade of your Relic weapon (a.k.a. the weapon that symbolizes your chosen class) – both important additions.
However it wasn’t a big change that caught my eye. It was something that some have deemed “useless“, and was hidden in the sea of patch notes. A new accessibility feature that displays “sound” as waves on the sides of the screen. Here’s how it looks:
The first thing it reminded me of were those visualizations that the old-school Windows Media Player used to have. What is happening is that those “waves” raise (sideways) according to the aural events on the game. Green represents the background music, blue reacts to sound effects (like swords or footsteps) while red stands for “system sounds” (menus, reminders, etc) – in this case, the Duty Finder had just popped which accounts for the long red line.
FFXIV sounds can now be seen by people with hearing impairments.
Sure it’s far from perfect. I imagine a raid or Odin battle would be a chaos of dancing lines. Great themes like the famous Prelude cannot be truly appreciated with waves. But you know what? There’s people in this world that can’t hear the cacophony of swords and magic; that can’t enjoy the sweet notes of the Prelude – at all. This system is a first step towards a future where this kind of options exist. Will it catch on? Will SquareEnix continue to refine this?
As an example, I took a screenshot with the red (system) lines beating to the clock that sounds when Duty Finder has popped but you haven’t accepted. It’s the game telling you (both aurally and visually) that it demands your attention.
I can’t claim to know about every game in the world, but I’ve never seen this before. Isn’t this awesome?
If you wanna check this effect, open the settings menu and next to the video, audio and control setting will be a new section, Accessibility Settings. Inside which you’ll find the option “Enable Visual Alerts“. Remember this is PC only.