Audio in video games is any extremely difficult art and Epic Games has been hard at work trying solve Fortnite’s sound related issues. They’ve released a new update post about upcoming audio improvements.

As many of you know, audio quality in Fortnite isn’t the greatest. Battle Royale games as a whole feature some of the worst sound setups in the industry. Why? It’s due to the extremely high number of differing audio queues and cases.

But, just because something is hard doesn’t mean it cannot be done. Epic Games is hoping to improve audio quality with upcoming Season 9 improvements.

Season 9 Audio Improvements

Epic Games has been talking about audio updates for a few weeks now. This is in response to players becoming fed up with the poor quality of end-game fights. This is more prevalent in Fortnite esports, but also affects casual Fortnite in major ways.

On May 6th, Epic took to Reddit to release a more detailed view of the current audio improvements in the works.

‘Hello all,

We hope you all enjoy the release of Season 9, it was a blast for us to work on. Thanks for all the Fortnite audio quality feedback in the recent 8.5 release thread, it’s much appreciated. As always, please feel free to point out areas of audio improvement and bugs to us in the thread; we’ll be reading and investigating what the community shares and report what we’re working on. Here’s an overview of the Season 9 audio improvements and roadmap:’

Release 9.0 Audio fixes and updates:

  • Switch audio dropout issues fixed.
  • Better tactical audio when inside player-built structures:
    • Enemy Pickaxe impact within ~one building tile radius has new, louder sound.
    • Wallbreak by enemy close/behind player much clearer/louder.
  • Explosion audio improvements- shorter, higher dynamic range sounds that will make explosion audio clearer and punchier.

Release 9.0 open audio issues:

  • Fix for PC audio device swap issues; we are planning to have this for the 9.1 release.

What we’re working on for the upcoming season:

  • Fix for footstep sounds on the edge of structures gives audio as if you’re walking on the ground.
  • Better hear the approach of enemy players outside player-built structures.
  • Better audio tells for jump/landing:
    • Jump tell audio added (so bunny-hopping isn’t as noiseless).
    • Clearer landing sound detection.
  • Improvements to issues of sounds dropping outside of player FOV.
  • Improvement of close versus distant player gliding sounds, to help clarify distance of gliding enemies.
  • Longer sounds properly playing during Replays.
  • Improved differentiation of teammate verus enemy audio.
  • Internal testing of binaural/HRTF solution that will be a great help to headphone players, as well as other spatialization improvements.

As a reminder, the best way to inform us of your bugs is following the below format:

  • replay URL
  • time code of issue
  • display name of player followed via gameplay view
  • description of issue

What does this all mean?

Epic Game’s audio team shows their dedication with weekly news

There’s a lot of information here to dissect. The top three bullet points are most important for right now as they release with Season 9.

The addition of ‘better tactical audio’ will be huge for players that commonly engage in hectic, multi team fights. Pickaxe sounds for enemies have been weirdly quiet which meant that players could get snuck up on.

Season 9 will fix this and allow for some better/louder audio queues for nearby pickaxes.

As for the future improvements, the most important ones to look forward to are the HRTF/biaural upgrades, improved glider sounds, bunny hopping nerfs, and differentiation of teammate vs. enemy sound.

Yonder’s waiting for Epic’s audio improvements intently

Many of the fixes here are simple band-aids and workarounds to the core problem. Current audio technology is simply not adequate for high-end gaming. Biaural and HRTF solutions are the most effective methods of long term fixes for the game’s audio.

One other possible future audio improvement could come in the form of ray-tracing. This has not been mentioned by Epic Games yet, but the tech for ray-tracing audio is beginning to be implemented into modern titles.

You may have heard of ray-tracing for visual aspects of games, but the same tech can be used for audio with a much reduced resource cost. Essentially, this can help game developers create in-game audio that naturally bounces off or penetrates surfaces. We’ll see if Epic intends to use this to their advantage.

Ray-tracing requires specific hardware to run and current gen consoles could not use these upgrades. GTX and RTX cards are among the only ray-tracing hardware solutions available, but new Radeon cards and next-gen consoles are just around the corner.