The Sounds of Battlefield 4

Feast your ears on the audible goodies that the BF4 audio team at DICE has been working hard to perfect for the past two years of development!

Over the years, the Battlefield franchise has given us many sounds we’ve learned to love, and hate! How often have you relished in the sounds of your soldier’s footsteps pounding the pavement to reach an objective? The painful exhale both you and your avatar share as you get knifed from behind? The gunfire sounding off in the distance, beckoning you to the front lines where all the action awaits?
The sound team at DICE has done it again, taking two years to gather the most fine-tuned sounds to pair with your favorite moments in Battlefield 4. It wasn’t without some challenges, however, that all of this has come together.

The team itself is comprised of many departments – soldier sounds, voice-overs, map and environmental ambiance, and so much more. DICE allows us a peek at its own audio team, where Ben Minto, audio director, leads the charge in bringing you the ultimate experience through sound.

Minto claims that, as a team, working on DICE titles has given them the experience and expectations in compiling the best sounds for the game. He goes on to say that although the experience helps with the development of sounds for a new game, there were specific challenges in creating the sounds for Battlefield 4. Major events such as Levolution, Naval Warfare, and the Commander Mode presented challenges in their own ways.

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As anyone might imagine, getting sound clips of collapsing skyscrapers isn’t all that easy. And what if you’re hundreds of yards away from the event? How does that sound compare to, say, the noise that building will make if you’re right on top of it when it falls? The overall sound of the map after an event like this happened was important too. Minto and his team figured that players might want to know whether the skyscraper in such an event was still standing or not just by noticing the sounds around them in the map itself.

Naval Warfare presented its own challenges, as well. The water-based sounds had to stand up to the level of quality that the air and land combat sounds had already set. There were new noises to create and capture – diving, swimming, water combat, jumping into water, and, perhaps most difficult of all, drowning. Minto and his team went to new lengths to get the drowning audio just right, even filling their own mouths and throats with water.

Better sounds lead to more information given to the player. This, in turn, makes for a better experience in terms of game play, and Minto and his audio team made sure to always have this in mind while designing and creating the sounds for Battlefield 4. You should be able to hear the buildings being reduced to rubble, tanks rumbling up behind you, gunfire blazing in the background. All of these elements ignite our senses and create a much more heightened experience as we head out onto the Battlefield.

Battlefield 4 feels more personal than ever with a close approach to the sounds of your own soldier. We can hear our gear clanking around, raindrops bouncing off our uniforms, our military vests rustling as our squad flanks through a back alley. The audio team worked on many variations of these personal sounds, tweaking them to create the perfect noise levels – they even wore helmets in the shower to get those raindrops to sound just right!

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The audio team at DICE has utilized some pretty neat locations in order to get the best sounds for several aspects of the game. The elevator and alarms you hear in Battlefield 4 are most likely the same noises heard around the DICE office itself. The team’s trek to Dubai landed them some audio clips of exotic animals. All of these ventures resulted in a work of art that really makes the game that much more convincing.

DICE’s sound library has over one million files, but it’s the real-time mixing within the Frostbite engine that really puts all of the pieces together to create our favorite sounds. The voice-over talent is certainly no exception, and is a team that is worth noting in its own right. Actors studied their own character’s backgrounds intensely in order to get the parts just right. This goes for both single player AND multiplayer, and the voice actors’ work really does shine here. We’ve all notice the frenzied shouts of our soldiers when, say, a grenade is tossed in our direction or we’ve spotted an enemy tank up ahead. The dialogue here should be hurried and a bit chaotic – this is a battlefield after all! But the calmer sounds matter too, and Minto and his audio team took time to create an eloquent med kit toss line and many more, balancing out the voices of the battlefield.

So, how about you? What’s been your favorite sound on the Battlefield over the years? Let us know!