Back 4 Blood Beta Players Think They Hear Zombies Yelling The N-Word [Update]

Back 4 Blood Beta Players Think They Hear Zombies Yelling The N-Word [Update]
Screenshot: WB Games / Turtle Rock Studios

Last night, while playing the Back 4 Blood beta on PS5, I was attacked by a large group of zombies. That’s not surprising; it happens all the time in the game. What was shocking was hearing a sound clip from one of the zombies that made it seem like it was yelling out a racial slur. Based on viral videos making the rounds right now, I’m not the only one hearing that similarity. Other beta players say they’re hearing the same thing: Zombies yelling the n-word.

Back 4 Blood is the latest game from original Left 4 Dead developers Turtle Rock Studios. It plays a lot like Left 4 Dead, which isn’t a bad thing at all! Those older L4D games were some of the best co-op games ever made. But the undead in B4B are more vocal than the infected in L4D, often yelling and screaming more noticeably. Most of these screams are just random noises and grunts. But one scream that I and other players have heard stands out in a way that is 100% likely unintentional but also 100% unfortunate.

Twitter user @HomBKE encountered a zombie in the beta that seemed to scream the n-word as it ran at the player. His response was simple but understandable, asking “What did you call me?” while shooting the zombie attacker.

You can also hear the scream in question in a clip shared by YouTuber and streamer DotoDoya.

In my own time with the game, I’ve heard this scream at least twice and both times I wasn’t sure what to think. I feel safe assuming the folks making this game didn’t intentionally record or include a sound clip of a zombie yelling out a slur. Probably, it’s just a random guttural sound that comes off the wrong way. But the clip sounds so similar to the word that, this early on, before the game is released, it might not be a bad idea to change or remove it from the game altogether.

Kotaku has reached out to WB Games and Turtle Rock Studios about the scream.

The beta for Back 4 Blood is so far proving to be a lot of fun, even if it doesn’t quite live up to the high expectations many Left 4 Dead fans (myself included) might have. Still, Valve ain’t ever making the third game in the L4D series, so this is the next best thing.

Let’s just get rid of that scream that sounds like an n-word, please.

Update 8/8/2021 11 a.m. ET: WB Games sent over this comment explaining that the slur players are hearing isn’t intentional, as guessed by many. Instead, it is caused by two audio clips playing at the same time. Full comment below:

Our team has been made aware of offensive language that can be heard when playing the game. This was not recorded or ever intended to be part of our gameplay. The audio is a result of two different Ridden growls that are playing simultaneously and when heard together sound like that word. We are working diligently to fix this issue, which should be completed either in time for the Beta, or when the game launches.


  • Can’t wait for someone to extract the sound files and find its a zombie yelled ‘Narrrrgggghhhhh’ which will just prove that people hear racism everywhere that it doesn’t exist.

    • No, god no.

      It’s a bit more like Slay the Spire, where it sounds life the shopkeeper sometime tells you to fuck off. They’re not doing that, of course, but the way the effect comes out of sounds eerily similar.

  • Oh geez… ouch.

    Now, I have NO doubt that the original sound was something like ‘Nnnnhg ahhhh’ or something like that.

    But holy shit that’s unfortunate and uncomfortable to hear to be honest, and I’m someone who usually tries to sit and think about matters first. In this regard, I don’t think it says the N word itself, but I think the sound is *so* close, it’s definitely worth quickly patching in a new one.

    • Its just Scotomisation.

      Once someone said it sounded like the gamer word everyone sees it as that now. The human brain always tries to make sense from chaos.

      • Maybe, however this is a different situation. Even the games journalists are recognising that there’s no intentional use of the N word here, and it’s an accidental use of sounds that come together to unfortunately sound just like the word (and it does, that’s undeniable).

        Simple fact is, it’s a very unfortunate circumstance, it won’t hurt anyone, even the dev, to change the sound. Plus, it’s gotten them some great publicity. There’s really nothing to lose here for them, however if they don’t? A zombie noise that unfortunately sounds like the N word isn’t the hill to proverbially morally die on.

    • On a more serious note, The devs should not remove the sound at all. If you are hearing the n word thats your problem and fault. Not the games.

      Demanding something be removed because it might sound like something even though it isnt it peak idiocy. What’s next? Ban the word Nagger? Demand Niger change its name?

      This race to the bottom to stop imaginary offences is sending society backwards. Not Forwards.

      • Normally I might agree but in this instance it’s just a generic zombie sound. It’s not like it’s the artists vision in question. You could replace it with one of a billion other generic zombie sounds and you wouldn’t even notice.
        Though only if it does sound the way some people reckon. Somehow I still haven’t found time to listen to it yet.

    • Lol.

      Djbear reckons this very distinctive sound shouldn’t be replaced because… why again?

      Your face rolls are getting more amusing by the day. You are so determined to preserve things that don’t need to be preserved.

      • Because removing things based on what people think is offensive without it actually being that is a dangerous precedent to set. Then again you are an idiot so common sense flies right through that cavern known as your head.

  • Oh wow, it sounds very very close to a slur.
    I showed this to some of my friends and even my family with zero context and every single one of them said, “did he just say the N word?”

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