You probably overlooked a tiny, seemingly insignificant line about an audio bug in the latest batch of Overwatch 2 patch notes. It makes sense–the patch notes included the return of the long-missed “on fire” animation along with a host of hero updates, so a single line about “audio reverb settings” tucked away at the bottom doesn’t seem all that important in comparison. But what you can’t overlook is how that audio change, which seems to be affecting console players the most, now makes it sound like one of the characters is continually calling the enemy team “fuckers.”
— Alyssa Mercante (@alyssa_merc) June 21, 2023
Last night, while admittedly altered on some edibles I acquired after getting covid at Summer Game Fest, I was walking out of my team’s spawn during a ranked Overwatch 2 match when I heard something incredibly odd. My friendly Torbjörn, who was halfway across the map, commented on the enemy team’s Mercy resurrecting their Pharah–and it sounded an awful lot like he said “those fuckers keep coming back!” I immediately clipped it, played it back over and over again this morning, and even shared it with the rest of the Kotaku staff to try and figure out what the hell Torb was actually saying.
We’ll get back to that investigation in a moment, but first, let’s look into why there’s even a need for one in the first place.
The new Overwatch 2 audio bug
When the latest Overwatch 2 season launched on June 13, players immediately noticed a change to the in-game audio. The patch notes read: “Due to a bug, we temporarily need to change the audio reverb settings used throughout the game to an alternate method. We hope to have this fixed in an upcoming patch.” And that change seems to have had wide-reaching consequences.
A Reddit post wondered if anyone else was getting audio mixing issues, my usual squad kept complaining about how loud the sound of the cart was on Escort maps, and I myself noticed that Moira’s suck ability seemed especially whooshy. The most egregious change, however, was the volume of teammates’ voice lines.
Normally, if your squadmate is far away on the map, their voice lines commenting on the state of the game will sound like they come in over an in-ear communication device. If they’re right next to you, you’ll hear them talking normally, as they wouldn’t use the in-ear walkie to send you a message when you’re in earshot. But now, no matter how far away your teammates are, it sounds like they’re right by your side whenever they say a line. So Torbjorn’s off-hand comment about resurrected enemies seems like it’s being shouted directly in my ear, even though he’s well over 20 meters away from me.
It doesn’t help that my Bastion makes a few “bleep-bloop” sounds in the middle of Torbjörn’s line, but the biggest issue here is the new Overwatch 2 audio mixing is so borked that Torb’s line is even that loud in the first place. It’s hard to hear exactly what he’s saying because of the volume match between his line and Bastion’s line.
This specific Torb line was already hard to parse six months ago, as seen in this Reddit post, but with the tinnier sound of the new audio making everything so much more loud and flat, it definitely sounds like the man is saying “fuckers” and not “suckers.” However, according to Kotaku’s Ashley Bardhan (who has a psycholinguistics degree), Torbjörn is saying “suckers.”
“I think you’re hearing ‘F’ because ‘S’ and ‘F’ are both voiceless fricatives,” she wrote in Slack. So, this Kotaku investigation can confirm Overwatch 2 has not randomly become a game no longer appropriate for kids ages 13 and up. Torbjörn is saying “suckers” not “fuckers” – it’s just the audio mixing that fucking sucks.
Kotaku reached out to Blizzard for comment.
Luckily, the same Overwatch patch notes that detail the audio change also write that it will hopefully be fixed “in an upcoming patch,” so we shall see. I’m annoyed at how horrible everything sounds right now as it makes competitive play even harder, so I look forward to a fix on the horizon. The “fuckers” bit is funny, though. It can stay.
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