Dev Letter: Sound Improvement Plan

Hello players,

I’m Kyungwon Park from PUBG Sound Team.

One of the most important aspects of PUBG is the sound play. The various sound effects you may hear are an extremely important factor in gameplay, as they give you key information about your enemies and the environment. Over the next several months, we’ll be improving sound across the board in PUBG. Today, I would like to give you an update on those plans and what specific areas are going to be the focus in upcoming patches.

It has been around 2 years since PUBG was introduced, and there have been many changes and improvements in players’ gameplay styles and patterns. Our sound team thought it was a good time to evolve our sound play along with these trends, which will focus on sound effects in 6 main areas.

  1. 1. Improve player QoL regarding sound
  2. 2. Adjust sound balance related to gameplay
  3. 3. Improve various character animation sounds
  4. 4. Improve gun firing sounds
  5. 5. Improve vehicle sounds
  6. 6. Improve indoor reverb sounds

What’s in the August Update?

To start this improvement project, we are introducing two updates which will be available in August.

  • Instant volume reducer feature

Some of the game’s sounds are quite a bit louder than others, such as the starting plane and red zone explosions, which can make it difficult to communicate with teammates over voice chat. Until now, players have had to use the CTRL+M mute function during these times, which cuts the sound completely. To help remedy these loud sounds without cutting off your auditory information completely, we’ve added a new feature that allows you to temporarily reduce sound volume at the push of a button.

By pressing F7 while in a match, your game’s volume will be uniformly reduced by a certain percentage, allowing you to freely voice chat with teammates and still hear what is going on around you at the same time. Pressing F7 again will return the volume to the normal level. We hope this feature provides you with a more effective option for reducing sound when you need to.

  • Volume adjustment guide feature

Many PUBG players set their overall volume to very loud in order to catch even the slightest sounds, such as footsteps, made by another player as these sounds are very important in PUBG gameplay. However, this also means that loud sounds like gunfire are played even louder and can hurt a player’s ears.

In order to help players prepare for different volumes of sounds, we’ve added a “volume adjustment guide” feature. This new feature allows you to listen to the loudest sounds in the game by pressing the play button. You can then adjust the overall volume to one that best suits your own preferances. For example, you may use it to listen to the sound effects of a nearby explosion or of loud gunfire. We hope this feature helps players better prepare for dramatic spikes in volume.

The two sound-related QoL improvements mentioned above will be available with update 4.2.

What we’re targeting for the September Update

While August is more focused around convenience, September will see an adjustment to character motion sounds, such as landing and ledge-grab, along with a balance of footstep and red zone sounds, which are important factors in gameplay.

  • Footstep sound rebalance

The current volume of footsteps and distance they can be heard was established while keeping realism in mind. One aspect of that was ensuring that different stances and types of movement, such as slow walking while crouching were varied enough to have substantial audible differences to feel intuitive to players. To achieve this, we were utilizing low, subtle volume ranges which often couldn’t be heard – but players turning their volume up to extreme levels could hear these subtle sounds.

We want to ensure players can hear critical sounds such as footsteps, without having to turn their volume up to extreme levels. Whilst achieving this, we’re also going to maintain current footstep audible ranges as much as possible, to remain similar to what players are used to and provide a familiar, yet improved experience.

So, we’re working to rebalance footstep volume as shown in the graph below to reduce how gradually footstep volume falls-off over distance. Rather than footstep volume falling off very gradually, with players being able to hear footsteps extremely quietly over far distances, the volume will fall-off more sharply once the volume reaches a level in-which it’s difficult to be heard by players.

Our purpose is to prevent players from having to deal with vastly different sound levels due to raising their volume too much to focus on the sounds of footsteps. However, we will maintain the audible range of movement sounds as much as possible to keep them close to what players are familiar with.

  • Red zone sound rebalance

We understand that many players think the red zone sounds are too loud, so we are planning to lower overall red zone volume. However, we still have to consider the strategical importance of the red zone and keep it sounding realistic, so we may not be able to adjust it too extremely.

  • Landing sound improvement

Until now, landing sound effects from after a character jumped or parkoured were the same, regardless of the type of terrain they landed on. In September, we will add different sounds for each type of ground the character is landing. Moreover, we are planning to make sounds travel a further distance depending on the strength of the impact. For example, if the character jumped from a higher location, the sound will travel farther than when the character jumped from a lower location.

  • Ledge grab sound improvement

The newly added ledge grab sounds will be improved and fine-tuned with the September update. This will allow for more realistic sounds, such as characters bumping into the building, or clothes brushing the wall as the player climbs. These won’t be to the extent that they interfere with gameplay, but will improve the realism of the action.

Long-term goals of the Sound Improvement Plan

I would like to also briefly talk about this year’s long-term plan and direction concerning sound, starting with the sound environment and balance overhaul in August and September.

  • Improved gun firing sounds

We want to improve the sound of old guns from the early stages of development to provide more realistic and immersive gunplay. For players who are already familiar with existing gun sounds, we are planning to let you choose between new or existing sounds.

Also, gun sounds will change slightly depending on your perspective. This will allow you to hear gun sounds that are relatively more aggressive in FPP than in TPP.

We also plan to make outdoor gunfire reverb sounds more realistic than the current sounds.

  • Improved vehicle sounds

Vehicle collision and road noise sounds will be updated to a more realistic level. In addition, we will add door closing sounds when players get in and out of the car, which we hope will provide users with another valuable piece of tactical information.

We will further improve the vehicle-related sounds that change with the in-game weather. For example, when driving in the rain, we will make more realistic wet road sounds.

  • Improved indoor reverb sounds

Interior sound effects will be improved. For example, underground bunkers, steel warehouses, and concrete buildings will all have different indoor sound reverb that matches their building type and provides realistic, immersive reverb sounds that vary depending on the material and size of the building.

  • Improved character animation sounds

We plan to improve character animation sound effects by dividing them into more detailed categories. In September, with the landing and ledge grab sound improvement, we will create sound effects that are appropriate that type of movement, without interfering with gameplay whenever possible.

  • Improved overall sound volume rebalance

The PUBG Sound Team is also planning to improve sound effects in other elements of the game and address player concerns such as loud vehicle sounds, ocean sounds, flies, etc. while still maintaining a focus on realism and immersion

In conclusion…

The ultimate goal of the plan is to deliver a better sounding environment that is in line with how players enjoy the game today. As always, we’ll continue to constantly research new ways to improve the sound experience in the game and are always listening for your valuable feedback on this and other systems. Be on the lookout for more details on the work the Sound Team is doing through patch notes and announcements in our future updates.

Thank you.

Kyungwon Park from PUBG Sound Team