So Halo - or at least Halo Reach - is finally on PC, and it's been a blast to play. But why is the sound so damn dull?
It's been the number one complaint from users since Halo: Reach's launch last week. Instead of guns having the oomph and impact they should have, gunfire and explosions sound distant. It's something you can hear for yourself in some ranked footage I captured a while ago, which should give some context to the complaints below.
I've played a bit of Halo Reach on PC and I decided to stop because of the sound issues. Never played any of the games except for 30 minutes of 2 on PC and even I noticed how muffled the guns sounded. I almost felt I was playing it wrong
— Head priest of Haruhism (@bunnysuitsenpai) December 8, 2019
Is it me or does Halo reach on the PC sounds really weird? Like it's some sort of simulated 5.1 or something. Gun shots sound kinda terrible
— asoc ???? (@asocnsfw) December 7, 2019
I can’t play forge maps on PC . Every forge map the sound is unbearable @halo
— ♔ (@seannlucas) December 7, 2019
halo on pc plays pretty perfect but there's still a couple gripes i have with it
- sound quality is.... weird. it's kinda muffled at points?
- no subtitles at all outside of cutscenes
— val ???? (@valaval_) December 5, 2019
@343Postums I love Halo Reach on PC but do you have any idea when the Audio will be fixed? The weapons sound like they are buried underground when fired. Really takes away from the feel of the game. That being said I love you and 343 industries. Thank you for your service.
— Bobby Baclava (@SackLunch44) December 6, 2019
The funny thing is, sound issues have been a problem in Halo: Master Chief Collection for a while. YouTuber Nighterlev put together a great comparison between Halo Reach's sound on the Xbox 360, and the sound of the guns from a Halo: MCC build in October.
Everything is completely off. The difference between the AR and DMR particularly in Halo MCC and the original 360 version is night and day. The Gravity Hammer just has no force behind it at all, and even the plasma weapons sound like they've been deliberately mixed to be quieter.
It's something that's come up in the recent Digital Foundry analysis as well. The backward compat version of Halo Reach, as played on a Xbox One X, has a much stronger audio mix. Guns are more present to the user, but on Halo: MCC, everything is just muffled. And this is a first-person shooter - if the guns don't sound good, the whole game feels off.
It's a known problem, as well. In the list of "top issues", audio problems are the first thing 343 Industries cited on the Halo Waypoint support site. "This is a known issue present at launch and the team is working to resolve this," 343 said.
"Unfortunately, it is not a quick fix and is one that will require quite a bit of work and time to resolve. The team is already working on it and will share an update when more progress and details are available."
It's nice to play Halo Reach at 60fps at 4K ... but like when Halo: MCC launched, the PC release needs a bit of work. It's nice to ALT-TAB in and out of games of Halo again, but the series deserves better than this.