If things have sounded a little off in Playerunknown's Battlegrounds lately, no, your ears haven't broken. Developers PUBG Corp today confirmed that they have quietly tweaked how the game's sound works, and apologised for not being clearer about it. They've been reworking its simulation of directional sound, trying to make it clearer for us to hear whether shots are coming from above or below, ahead or behind. And directional sound does seem easier to read, handy in a game where that can make all the difference, though I'm not sure if I like how the sound actually sounds. Hmm!
"Some of you have noticed that we made some changes to the way sound works in PUBG's most recent patch," the devs said in today's post. "First things first: We should have explained the change in the patch notes. We messed up here, and we hope you'll accept our apology."
You big sillies. They say they'll try to document changes better in patch notes in future, and yeah, that'd be good.
"The difference is due to some newly implemented functions of the HRTF (Head Related Transfer Function) plugin," they go on to explain about this specific change.
"Previously, this plug-in only affected sounds related to movement, explosions, and empty cartridges—not opponents' gunshots. You could generally tell whether shots were being fired from your left or right sides, but things were more problematic when trying to differentiate between sounds directly in front of or behind your character. There was also no way to tell whether shots were coming from above or below. Our new implementation of the HRTF plugin fixes both of these issues."
They illustrate the difference with a selection of video clips, two of which I'll embed here. Headphones on, gang.
Do check out the post for more examples from other angles and heights.
The devs do note that they have "heard some early feedback that some sounds feel a little 'weird' or even 'garbled'" and plan to make more changes while keeping an eye on feedback. They also "intend to add some options that'll let you customise your sound settings on a more granular level."
I dig the change functionally--I do hear a clear difference in directions--but I'm not 100% sold on it aesthetically. Part of that is certainly just unfamiliarity, mind. And I suppose I can also shout my own gun noises while firing if I really want. I'm sure the lads on Discord will find it abso hilario.