Audio System is Atrocious (still)

Frigidman shared this feedback 20 months ago

I've had this game since the early days, 5 years now. I also put the game on hold after a period of bad updates and bad decisions being made. Needed to let the game 'sit' and mature. So I'm only just now returning after 2-3 years of being away from it.

A lot of the game seems decent now. So I really want to get back into it.

However... a core system of any game, The Audio System, is a complete mess! It detracts from what could otherwise be a good experience. Being constantly annoyed by bad audio situations keeps pulling me out and slapping me upside the head.

I have a standard 5.1 surround system for pc gaming, and a soundblaster Z-series card. I also have "hundreds" of other games, ranging from budget indie titles, to AAA monstrosities. I cannot recall the last time I have bore witness to such terrible audio positioning/handling in a game before. Even an indie side-scroller seems to get it right.

Just a short list of the blaring issues:

  • Assembler, furnace etc... their effects are just a dull, almost un-noticed noise coming out of every speaker.
  • Sparks/buzzing/static from damaged blocks, never coming from the right direction. Makes it difficult to 'locate' "where is that buzzing broken block coming from?"
  • Using a grinder or welder, is going at about 500% louder than any other sound in the entire game. This is even with the 'visor down'.
  • I am standing in a field being shot at by a turret, and no matter what direction I turn, I cannot tell where its coming from because the gunshots keep coming out of the same random direction regardless my camera or character angle.
  • Engine sounds from someone else are 'ever present and loud' in no particular direction. So I cannot tell who is coming from what direction, or where. And when they get far enough away, the sound just cuts out completely. Zero fade, zero positioning. Even the checkbox for doppler effects doesn't work on/off.
  • Getting in my own rover, the engine sounds are so quiet I can't even tell if the vehicle is functional.
  • Audio Block emitting its sound, full, always out of front-right speaker no matter which way you turn.
  • Checkboxes for the various audio settings have no effect on or off (no perceivable effect, if they are working).

About the only thing that does seem to work, is when you put down your helmet visor... the sounds are 'muffled'. Which is actually a cool dynamic...... if everything else was working properly!

Music... stuck out of front-left speaker. I would think (like every other game with ambient music), that it not be stuck in a 'direction' but set to 'around you' so it has no perceived physics presence.

Overall ... I cannot believe this game is 5 years old, and has a worse audio system than something from the 90s. I guess the focus of development is to make more skins to lock behind DLC paywalls, than to improve a basic core element which has a massive effect on immersion and enjoyment of the game.

Maybe you all have just one speaker, and never realized the problem?

Replies (2)


I'm afraid this is by design. Probably since grids can be built with many sound emitting functional blocks that would easily overburden the 3D sound system in extreme cases, most noises are merely played mono with a volume based on distance to the nearest source of that particular sound.

Judging by the source code's usages of MyEntity3DSoundEmitter.SetPosition(), only very few but dramatic sound events actually get 3D-positional data, such as explosions and projectile impacts.

Also the location of air leaks, which might be something worth noting.

Sure it sucks, but it's probably for the better, unless we want a drop to 2-3 FPS because we stepped into range of 1000 working and humming assembler blocks.


If the game works when the computer is set to Stereo mode (as apposed to 5.1 or 7.1 mode) ... it certainly should still work "as stereo" if the computer is in 5.1 or 7.1 modes. Thats pretty much how every other game on the market works (even 10-15 year old games). They provide stereo data to the audio system, and it plays out just 2 speakers when its in 5.1 mode.

Instead, the game "tries" to do something different in 5.1/7.1 modes ... and mangles the data it is giving. This is what is broken.

See, the game already wants to emit sound from every noisy block and event point (gun shooting, footsteps, jetpacks etc). It also already knows where these things are since the game world around the user has been calculated. It passes the data to the gpu for 'visual rendering', and then the data to the audio hardware for 'audible rendering'. Locations of audio sources, and their audio file reference are handed off to audio hardware to calculate further and output to proper speakers. If the wrong information is handed off (as is the case with this game), then the audio hardware really cannot fix bad data given to it and makes a hash of it.

Why the game can present location information of all these points when the computer is set to 'stereo' vs '5.1' or '7.1'... is the baffling/broken part.

For example:

If you set your system to 'stereo', and you turn your character left and right, the noise from that assembler in front of you goes right and left. Set your system to '5.1', and move the same way... the noise from that assembler in front of you is 'stuck' playing out of multiple wrong speakers, and does not pan with movement. Sometimes the noise from the assembler just doesn't play at all.

Side notion about loss of fps: That doesn't happen... unless a user has a computer that doesn't even have basic realtek audio hardware onboard... and it pipes everything (graphics included) through a CPU. They have more things to worry about haha.

The number of audio channels that audio hardware can handle, and the bitrate they can play at, doesn't affect fps.


If this is by design, then it's by poor design. There's no point in sugar-coating, or making excuses.

Accurate sound location is crucial to immersive FPS, and especially so in games that emphasise the S in FPS. In other words: What Warfare wants to be. To have new and diversified weapons, and as such inviting more sources of muzzle report and impact, when the engine can't handle, or be made to handle, accurate sound event positioning is about as useful as buying the newest graphics card when your motherboard only offers ISA slots. It ends up being little more than foolish window dressing.

Can't appreciate the content if it's not or just poorly accessible and you can kiss all that attractiveness your recent months of work was supposed to have good-bye. And I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to know my hundreds of man-hours fall flat because of crappy packaging.



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