Audio is one of bigger areas of weakness in the game, and needs some work. Specifically speaking, here are the things I think need to be addressed.
- Specials – When a special appears in game, the game needs to play a more clear and distinct audio cue for each special. If a special appears off in the distance for example, the audio cue that plays is often far too soft in the audio mix to hear it properly, leading to you not having a clue to be on the look out for a special character. I'm sick and tired of getting pounced by an assassin rat while I'm in the middle of a horde and I had no idea one spawned nearby. Each Special has it's issues.
-Assassin rat – The audio cue for the assassin rat swirls around your head in 3d space making it difficult to ascertain where it's coming from. I'm somewhat ok with this as a design choice because it adds to the difficulty of defeating the special, but in reality it would be better if the assassin rat's audio just played from one direction loud enough to hear. The assassin rat is already hard enough to kill because it can leap from 300 meters away fast as hell. There's no need for the swirling audio. Just play the audio from the direction it's coming from and make sure the audio cue sits loud enough in the mix to cut through the other audio. Play distinct audio, loud enough, and from the direction the rat is coming, that's all that's needed.
-Hook rat – The hook rat's audio cue is terrible. It never cuts through the mix. It's extremely difficult to hear over everything else. The hook rat needs an entirely new audio cue that's more distinct, louder, and cuts through the mix better.
-Gas rat – Again, this audio cue is pretty bad. It's better than the hook rat's audio cue but not by much. Audio needs to be more distinct and cut through better. When you can hear it, it's not that bad. The problem is that you often just don't hear it because it either spawns a mile away or behind some cliff somewhere.
-Leach – The Leech's audio cue isn't that bad, it just needs to be louder and cut through the mix better.
-Warpfire thrower – Audio cue is terrible if there even is one. Off the top of my head I can't even tell you what the audio cue is.
-Plague monks – Probably the worst of all the enemies in the game in terms of audio cues. The audio they've chosen isn't that bad, it is just so low you can barely hear it. It's a high pitched screeching sound. That's cool, just play the audio significantly louder and when they're a little farther away so I know they're coming. Especially considering how dangerous these enemies can be they should clearly announce their presence.
-Berserkers – If they even have an audio cue it's really difficult to tell. Again, this enemy type should clearly announce itself, but it doesn't. Berserkers need a different audio cue and one that's distinct from the regular chaos enemies.
-The red headed chaos d*cks – I don't know what these guys are called but they're strong enemies and their audio cue is outright awful. Probably needs a new audio cue all together that cuts through the mix properly
-Chaos warrior – This is one enemy type that has just fine audio cues. Everything in the game should be this distinct.
Regular Enemies – Most of the regular enemies need to make more clear and distinct audio cues. The pink rats are damn near silent most of the time except for small little outbursts of noise. This isn't that big of an issue except when they're behind you. Left 4 dead has a little trick they do with audio cues that I think Vermintide could learn a lesson from. When any kind of enemy is behind you and getting close to you, L4D will play an audio cue to tell you something is behind you. I can't express how helpful this is. It's helpful because it makes the game feel less cheap. It's ok that there's enemies that come from behind, I like the challenge, but what I can't stand is when enemies spawn behind me somewhere from a direction I just looked and there was nothing there 1.5 seconds ago. Ok, go ahead and spawn an enemy behind me in that dead end hallway, but at least play an audio cue from behind that lets me know that he's there. That would go a long way towards helping the game not feel so cheap. I'm ok with a hard or difficult game, but cheap sucks. Better audio could help the game feel less cheap for sure.
The general mix. The general mix of audio in the game is off a bit. Too much audio sits all in the same range and the different bits of audio aren't distinct enough from each other that a lot of stuff gets lost in the mix. The close up action seems to take all the precedence to the detriment of other audio that's important, especially directional audio. 3d audio is super important and the horde I'm fighting in front of me shouldn't keep me from hearing everything else that's surrounding me.
tldr: The audio needs some work. Specials should announce themselves more clearly and be more directional. Some specials audio cues are terrible and need to be redone. Enemies that are behind you should announce themselves better to help the game feel less cheap. In game audio is a weakness of the game and fixing it would help the game substantially. I'd rather they fix the audio than nerf or buff anything.
© Post "Sound design needs some work." for game Warhammer: Vermintide.
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