Many Valorant players have long complained of sound inconsistencies in-game.
The tactical 5v5 shooter’s footstep sound cues have been reported for its inconsistencies, making it difficult for players to differentiate where the opponents are coming from.
Riot has officially responded on the matter after some time.
Peter Zinda, Audio director, discussed the criticisms in the latest Ask VALORANT blog post, discussing both footstep radius and panning direction.
“Ask VALORANT, and we shall respond! This week we’re answering whether the Operator is OP, what’s up with footsteps, and why we’re choosing timed rollouts vs all at once.”
Zinda acknowledged that many players are currently struggling in determining how far away a footstep is, mainly because the attenuation curve is flat.
Riot optimized the footsteps sound so it can be heard clearly, especially under “chaotic conditions.”
However, VALORANT lets players hear footsteps louder and earlier giving time to react, rather than prioritizing hearing sounds from far away that may be faint.
As a result, this would also benefit fans who might be playing in loud PC Cafes and even the pros competing in a noisy stadium.
Controversial audio issue?
Considerably a more controversial audio issue is how you’re not able to properly hear the direction your opponent is coming from.
Riot’s response in the latest Ask VALORANT blog post may only do so little to quell increasing player frustrations.
“Sometimes it feels like sound is off in the game, like footsteps are much closer than they really are, or I hear them in the wrong direction! Am I going crazy? Does VALORANT do something different with sound?”
“While there’s a drawback from having the attenuation curve flatter, I think the advantages are more important.”
“As far as panning direction goes, we have heard reports of this both internally and on live. When our design playtest has investigated this in the past using videos of multiple viewpoints, the panning has turned out to be correct.”
“We currently mix the game in stereo, meaning there is no difference between a sound 45 degrees to your left in front of you and a sound 45 degrees to your left in back of you. Some people expect to be able to hear this difference, but that is not currently possible.”
Zinda further added that using the “7.1” mode on various gaming headsets can potentially make determining directional sound cues worse, so he advised against the practice.
“Also, engaging the “7.1” mode on various headphones does not help. There is no way for the headphones to decode our stereo sound into 7.1 and may even make spatialization much worse!”