Poll Question 241 – Do you suffer from weapon sound fatigue?

9th September 2011

Single Player First Person Shooter Maps and Mods for Half-Life 1, 2 and Episodes 1, 2 and 3

There’s an interesting article over on the FPS Level Design Blog about weapon fatigue. Aazell talks about how players get bored using only one weapon, specifically the sound.

He goes on to say “I’ve learned that if you give the player at least two weapons at any one time their feeling about a map changes dramatically.”

I have to admit that I have never really thought about the sound becoming annoying. Perhaps my mentality is different – I can accept repetitive stuff easily. I think I have mentioned this before, but I often listen to the same piece of music over and over again, way beyond what most people do.

I wonder if random sounds would change the perception of the player or even no sound. Imagine a soundless weapon. How would you feel about that? Probably not very good as the sound conveys the “feeling” too.

How do deaf players feel about stuff like this? Makes me feel that I either need to find a deaf beta tester to join my team or get the current ones, to turn the sound off for one or two play throughs.

Taking it one step further, does the sound of a weapon significantly affect your liking of it? I mean, if your favourite weapon started to make a “MEOW” every time you fired it, would you like it less. probably.

What do you think?

The Poll


  1. Rog

    I get repetitive music fatigue more quickly than weapon sound fatigue, but sometimes I notice I can get UI sound fatigue if every menu quick sounds the same.

  2. MikeS

    Definitely. I love a weapon with a meaty bark – gimme a shotgun! -and there are some FPS games that fell out of favour with me because the weapons sounded feeble. Well, I didn’t give em up just because the sound of the weapons, but it was a contributory factor.

    1. Kyo

      To me, a good example of powerful versus feeble is Doom versus Doom 3. The shotgun in Doom has a ton of oomph, despite being a relatively low-quality sound effect. The chaingun is equally mean.

      But then in Doom 3, the chaingun sounds like a feeble peashooter. The mechanism strains to rotate and the bullets emerge with a “pew” instead of a loud “pop.” It’s possibly more realistic, I guess, but it doesn’t feel that powerful.

      For my money, Gears of War still has the meatiest weapon sound effects. 🙂

  3. Hec

    Well people who knows me well as a gamer, knows that I love new weaponery in mods and games, that’s why I liked Call of Dutty MW, because there are lot’s of new and non repetitive weapons, I know classy sounds and the same weapons in HL spirit is ok, but I love when the weapons change something even a little bit, I mean I love to hear a SMG or a shotgun sound diferently than they allways used to, I mean makes me feel that i’m into a new fresh mod instead of the same old weaponery every time!!

    Indeed recently I talked with a friend who told me:

    “Half Life 2 sometimes sucks because of the same old weapons, just look at the SMG! is the same old wasted gun, and don’t even the Guatemaltecan Army uses that shity Semi Machine Gun!!”

    obviously, as a true heart HL fan I was kind of offended by that state, but I think a little of it and I think he could be right, I mean HL never has the ironsight that could make it a more realistic gameplay, maybe HL3 if it’s in develop now, could change or reenhance the weaponery to update the game to the levels of “realism”, of other games, and I am honest I WOULD LIKE TO SEE NEW OR ENHANCED (more realistic dynamics) SAME WEAPONS MODELS FOR HL3!. I mean I love the Pulse Riffle but a little make up and improvement wouldn’t go bad on it!!.

    That’s why I really loved CSS HARDWIRE MOD, because more weaponery and lovely, just beautiful new IRON SHIGHTS!!! plus new sounds and mission maps, so beacuse that enhacement, that was a treasure mod for me, I mean I really care about the weapons, and if a mod modifies them, almost allways will be a god point for rate them, at least in my rating considerations, I mean if a weapon makes miau or “woof woof” every time it shoots, that’s just stupid, and I would be feel kind of pissed off by that, i’m talking about realistic balistic sounds that’s what I really care and appreciate in a good weapon modification.

    So I like this poll question, and i’d love to talk more about weaponery in HL and it’s an excellent topic for a deeper post.

    I also could think in this as a good or bad voice acting, I mean it goes the same for the weapons, if u put terrible weak sounds on them the quality and the details will only suck on the mod, the same if u put lots of dialogue and bad vooice acting the mod will be terrible that’s it.

  4. Herr_Alien

    I don’t know.

    I was never in a map and have only one weapon. For me, switching weapons is done on the basis of ammo available and effectiveness in a given situation: I would not use a shotgun for long range combat.

    As for the influence of the sound of the weapon, well, I know one weapon that constantly frightened me, until I realized what was happening: the ice/freezing gun in Undying.
    From time to time, during the idle animation, the weapon would start to growl, and each time I found myself doing 180 turns to find out who was trying to sneak up on me.
    After a while I noticed that it was the weapon that was making the sounds and not some baddie. I then decided to keep using it (infinite ammo FTW!), despite it (still !) giving me that sense of unease.

  5. This is a pretty interesting point, and something that I have pondered while playing Sven Co-op. I think that Valve had the perfect sounds for the weapons in both HL and HL2 as I never actually got bored with them, or even thought about using another weapon because the sounds were getting annoying. Gearbox also did this pretty well, and I didn’t get bored of them either. However in other games I have found myself switching weapons because of sound, Sven Co-op being the main one mainly because of the shotgun and 9mmAR. I also tend to keep changing weapons in games involving either World War I or II (MoH and CoD are two examples) because they get horribly repetitive, especially when you can only use one or two guns in them. Quite honestly, the only two games like that where I have liked the sounds were Day of Defeat and Day of Defeat: Source.

    I think Hec’s point of CoD:MW sounds was a great example, as the sounds in that were well done and they probably helped it in becoming as popular as it actually was. I certainly wouldn’t have liked it as much as I did if all the weapons sounded the exact same, but I guess that goes for a lot of games. Portal is a game that I thought had good sounds, although this was a must considering that throughout the whole game you only have one weapon, but I never got bored of them and always found myself randomly firing it around even when I didn’t need to. Anyway, going back to the original question, I voted maybe because it really depends on the game that I am playing, and from what I have played Valve’s games are quite possibly the best.

    Going back to Sven Co-op, the 9mmAR sound has had to be changed due to the amount of complaints it had in previous versions because it was too annoying, so I think we all have “weapon sound fatigue” to a certain extent.

  6. Kyo

    I hate the SMG firing sound effect in HL2. It grates on me like no tomorrow. Brrrrrrt, brrrrrrrt, brrrrrrt, over and over again. In fact, it’s probably the weapon I’m least likely to use, unless the situation demands a powerful gun and my shotgun is out.

    1. Sabre

      This pretty much. The SMG is loud, and has a grating sound, made worse by it being the most common weapon in the game. I don’t mind sounds when they are good. I’m not sick of the Halo or Aliens weapon sounds. Resident Evil 4 and FEAR 2 have good weapon sounds too. Bad weapon sounds include the Shotgun from Doom 3 with it’s metalic *ting!* noise.

      Same goes for footstep sounds.

      On the other hand, I don’t like unnesseary change. Like when a mod changes the shotgun sound for no reason. Why? The shotgun sounds fine as it is, but replacing it with a bunny fart or a snapping ruler is making it worse.

  7. I don’t have a problem with sound fatigue from having a single weapon in a mod/map, but I really do enjoy playing a mod where the sound for a weapon has been modified from the stock format

  8. 2muchvideogames

    I think sound is important in games like Half Life. There are three types of files which make up the weapons you see in-game: the model, the coding, and the sound. Each one is supposed to be unique to that weapon and is useful in a certain in-game situation. About this weapon fatigue: it’s important to be able to use different weapons to deal with different situations in the game. I kinda don’t think it has to do with the sound of the weapon: for example if you play a mod with five kinds of shotguns (and nothing else), but each makes a different sound, it doesn’t add much to the player’s interest. A good weapon (e.g. gravity gun) is infinitely interesting since it can be used in many different ways. Yet it still makes pretty much the same sound every time we use it.
    Overall, I think the weapon’s function is more important than the sounds it makes.

  9. CoRuJa

    Voted Maybe

    In some cases when I have this issue, I usually remedy this by looking for a powerful (maybe realistic) set of weapon sounds (when the game has modding capability, of course).

    In case of Half-Life 2’s firearms, i’ve changed their firing sounds mostly with the ones from SMOD: Outbreak mod (the big ones being it’s realistic distant firing sounds from armed NPCs at medium/long ranges)

    The same issue can be solved with any Counter-Strike game and GTA San Andreas (this one having the crappiest ones). I’m not sure if it’s possible with Just Cause 2 (despite having modding capability and a good set of sounds), I just wished it’s firing sounds could sound more powerful.

  10. Ed Oscuro

    I think this would only start to grate if you threw an “oldskool” DOOM monster room type situation at me, where I was expected to kill off hundreds of enemies.

    My fatigue with HL/HL2 weapons is that, well, I’ve used them in dozens of mods over the years and they are no longer new and interesting for me. While the difference from one bullet weapon to another may be pretty stark, they’re still bullet weapons. HL2 showed you could shake things up with weapons that work very differently – and so did Poke646 for that matter.

    Another game that I always rather liked was the Deleted Scenes component of Counter-Strike: Condition Zero. Ironically it is a prime candidate for weapon fatigue because they generally give you just one automatic weapon that is useful for most encounters, so you’re usually very ready to go to the next map and try out a whole new set of weapons. Interesting considering that CS:CZ:DS basically uses the default CS weapons set.

    I think the major problem with this is that it can strain credibility to have similar weapons that do various things differently enough without it seeming silly – I always thought the sharp differentiation between weapons in HL2 was a bit awkward and not credible (i.e. the magnum being more powerful than any other bullet weapon per shot is always annoying). This is why I have always preferred weapons sets that either are similar and where it’s the very subtle differences (i.e. in CS:CZ once again) that give you a different combat rhythm, or weapons that are all different enough from each other to be useful (although Unreal tried this and yet Unreal single-player combat is rather poor in my opinion).

  11. Rikersbeard

    Repartition is the main cause of gamer fatigue and this can be the sound effects as well as the visual elements.
    I love it when a mod has a new sound for a familiar weapon, but if it is a new gun its even better.
    I always switch so weapon sounds change slightly during a game.
    I have played loads of games with a single weapon and I agree with that survey; serious sound fatigue was an issue to many an unfinished game. But that was the 90’s and early 00’s!
    Varied weapons on adversaries and the player should solve the fatigue problem along with high definition sound.

  12. SiPlus

    I love shotgun sounds, sounds from HL1 Beta and Quake.

  13. Major Banter

    There’s a difference between sound ecstasy and sound fatigue, but they’re closely linked.

    Fatigue is a pain in the arse because it’s a design thing. The same sound over and over is dull and repetitive, regardless of how awesome it is. Games like DOOM avoid this because they’ve got constant background music and a selection of weapons. On the other hand, mute the music and give the player just a shotgun and it can get boring quickly.

    It’s not just the weapon’s sound, but also the sensation of it. The sense of power is lost over repetition, and that makes it hugely unattractive.

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