The Daily Grind: Which MMO has the best sound design?

    
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I’ve long held the opinion that one of the most underrated elements of effective MMORPGs is a really good sound design. I’m not just talking about the soundtrack — although I love that music too, mind you — but all of the other noises that the sound production team adds to give heft to the visuals.

Great audio can add “punch” to combat, deeply immerse you in regions, and help to transform a game world into a living one. Sound design also extends to the foley noises your character makes, emotes, and even voice acting. It’s much harder to share sounds the way we do with visuals, but I figure that we can at least talk about it today.

My nominations for best sound design? Guild Wars 2 is amazing with this, as is Lord of the Rings Online and World of Warcraft. All three excel with sound in different ways. What do you think? Which MMO has the best sound design?

Every morning, the Massively Overpowered writers team up with mascot Mo to ask MMORPG players pointed questions about the massively multiplayer online roleplaying genre. Grab a mug of your preferred beverage and take a stab at answering the question posed in today’s Daily Grind!

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Yuge McBigly

SWG (RIP)

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2Ton Gamer

Amazon’s now maybe defunct New World. When cutting trees or hearing animals in the distance it was crazy how the sounds bounced around and sounded authentic.

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Mark Macheta

Elite Dangerous has the best sound design of any game I’ve played by far!

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Schlag Sweetleaf
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Bruno Brito

Wildstar.

Mordyjuice
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Mordyjuice

I’d give that award to GW2, the sound team created an ambiance which sucked you right into the world, won’t be that way next season though as they gutted that sound team in the lay offs.

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Sorenthaz

FFXIV. They put a lot of attention into the small details, even on the sound side of things.

Bereman
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Bereman

FFXIV is definitely a top contender due to its overall sound design, from the music to the combat sounds to the weather sounds to the ambient sounds of wildlife and other aspects of the environment…but I’ve found it has an attention to detail that other MMOs seem to miss, which might be most apparent in the sound design of the following element:

Footsteps.

Walk along a forest path of dirt when it is dry, then walk along that same path when it is wet. Move from dirt to grass. Switch between a metal grate and a concrete or wooden walkway. Listen to how you can hear the sound of your feet hitting the ground with something as simple as changing your idle pose, and the sound is consistent with what you’re standing on.

Then notice that, if you have a minion out that walks along the ground…that it also has footsteps that match the material that it’s on.

It’s an attention to detail thing that extends to other elements of the sound design.

On the flipside, as an example of sound design that actively drags a game down…that “Raid Boss Emote” message and accompanying sound that WoW started using in Cataclsym. I’m struggling to think of a more obtrusive and jarring sound that you end up hearing far too often (with a completely non-intuitive way of turning off the sound – it’s tied to the “Error” sound option, despite it not, in any way, shape, or form, being an error sound).

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Anstalt

I was always too busy chatting on vent to listen to the sounds of an MMO. I would, admittedly, leave action noises (footsteps,combat) and background noises (wind, rain, birds etc) left on. The action noises would occasionally give you clue/triggers in a fight, and the background noises are what make it feel like a world.

But, I almost always turn off the main music.

Even if it’s good, repetition of anything gets boring. If I left the music on in an MMO, it would eventually make me quit, so it’s a good thing they give me the option to turn it off!

Single player games are different – first, im not using voice chat so there’s nothing different. Second, I’ll likely only play for max 40hrs, so repetition is minimal. Third, if I do get bored, I’ll turn the music off and put netflix on a second monitor!

laelgon
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laelgon

Foxhole. Every vehicle and weapon has its own sound effect. You’ll hear tanks or incoming artillery long before you see them. Great for causing tense moments as you judge whether to fall back or try to hold.

Also Elite, just all around great spaceship noises.