Riot Games explains why footsteps in VALORANT sometimes feel closer than they actually are

Nafiu Aziz
By Nafiu Aziz
4 Min Read
Image credit: Riot Games

VALORANT sometimes suffers from a weird audio bug where sometimes players hear a footstep which seems really close but turns out it actually is not that close.

Furthermore, players sometimes hear audio from a totally wrong direction. Even after a couple of months since the official launch, the audio is still an issue that players are experiencing almost daily.

The VALORANT audio issues
Image via Riot Games

While VALORANT’s audio is actually quite solid in terms of clarity, the occasional glitch really annoys some players when they are trying to compete in the ranked mode. Sound is one of the most important aspects of a tactical shooter as TTK(time to kill) is really low in those games.

Riot addresses the sound issue:

In a recent question and answer session in VALORANT’s official blog, Peter Zinda who is the Audio Director of VALORANT shared some valuable insight on how they deal with sound in a tactical shooter.

VALORANT’s mini-map shows a radius where other players can hear your footstep. This helps players in determining whether or not they are making any unnecessary sound while being too close to their objective.

However, in VALORANT it is sometimes hard to judge the actual distance of the sound. It is mainly because of how Riot implemented sound in VALORANT. In order to give each sound cue more clarity, Riot decided to make the attenuation curve somewhat flat.

VALORANT audio issues
Image via Riot Games

We optimize for making sure footsteps are heard, as opposed to optimizing for portraying distance. What this looks like is an attenuation curve that is somewhat flat, versus one that drops off a lot over distance. There are a couple reasons we do this. One is that under chaotic conditions where abilities are being used and you are probably hearing a lot of VOIP from your team, it is essential that you don’t miss a footstep“, Peter Zinda on why sound sometimes seem a bit off.

Additionally, Riot claims that their internal playtesting shows players get more tilted if they don’t clearly hear footsteps. Since VALORANT was developed keeping international players in mind, they also took loud PC bangs into consideration while developing their audio solution for VALORANT.

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“, Peter Zinda on the direction of the sound.

Riot Games intentionally wanted audio clarity over everything else. And also they mix the audio in stereo mode. As a result, the exact direction of the sound can be a little off sometimes. Apparently, turning on the 7.1 surround sound in headphones won’t solve the problem rather it will make things worse.

Nafiu Aziz is an avid gamer and a writer at GameRiv, covering Apex Legends, CS:GO, VALORANT, and plenty of other popular FPS titles in between. He scours the internet daily to get the latest scoop in esports.