I need to put a disclaimer here in big bold letters: THIS IS NOT ABOUT THE SILENT SPECIAL SPAWNS. That’s a very obvious bug, and one that slimdolphin never seems to quite get rid of (even if right now the cause seems more so that they spawn so close they don’t have time to announce themselves). I’m raising a different issue that I’ve seen almost no one ever bring up.
That now said, the actual sound design of the enemies is lackluster. This affects both flavor (a much more valuable aspect of the game than most players realize) and gameplay. I’m going to be going over problems with enemy soundwork by using V1 as a comparison, meaning it’s hardly invalid critique when these devs have already got so much right at one point.
I’ll start with what’s absolutely the greatest issue, and one that affects the gameplay the most:
- Maulers are completely indistinguishable by sound.
I’ve played V2 for 220 hours. 40 more in the closed beta. I have no idea what in the blazes Maulers sound like. Do you know how long it took me to learn what a Stormvermin sounded like? One run of Horn of Magnus.
You can never tell that there’s a Mauler close by in a fight using sound. Maulers are incredibly dangerous enemies, yet they seem (?) to just blatantly reuse the voices of regular marauders. If somebody’s fighting a Mauler and you don’t see them, you don’t know there’s a Mauler there. That’s kinda bad.
It boggles belief that one of the main enemy types in this game has absolutely nothing to distinguish it in terms of sound design.
But moving on from here, it actually gets worse! Less damaging though.
- Shieldvermin use slave rat voice sets.
You… can’t even copy the stormvermin voices?.. Really? This isn’t as big of a deal since they aren’t as deadly as Maulers (annoying, sure, deadly, not so much), but it’s just…
I mean, you gave CLAN RATS WITH SHIELDS their own voice sets (!!! ???). But not SHIELDVERMIN? Uh, if you can’t be bothered, then can you at least take the shield rat voices and give them to the shieldvermin? They already kinda sound like stormvermin. V1 had nothing like this. It’s just so unbelievably cheap…
Oh and speaking of unbelievably cheap.
- Maulers, Shieldvermin, Savages and Plague Monks are never called out by the heroes. Neither are Chaos Patrols.
You give us a gorillion of Stormvermin tag lines, but none of these new elites get their own? Did GW take all of your lunch money away? Did all the VO budget go into making all the endless wasted heal conversations? How is this even a thing? I bet you that most people playing this game don’t even know what a Mauler is. Or a Savage. They’re NEVER acknowledged under these names in the game, aside from loadscreen tips no one reads.
I do not understand how, now that more lines are being added, these still aren’t in. Though, actually… some of them are.
In the voiceline dump that shartfart gave us a few months ago - which contained almost nothing from the game but instead gave us pretty much everything from V1 so that’s nice - there are lines for the Shieldvermin and the Plague Monks. Yeah. They EXIST. They’re recorded. They’re THERE! But they aren’t used. Don’t you guys think that we might want a little more warning for:
Maulers - arguably the deadliest elites in the game; Shieldvermin - definitely the most annoying enemies to fight, ones that are visually very similar to stormvermin until they put their shield up; BERZERKERS THAT CONVENIENTLY STOP DOING THEIR SOUNDS WHEN THEY BEGIN ATTACKING? And if the Chaos Patrols don’t start with their HUH! HUH! chant, you can’t tell a mini-patrol from a real one often times, cause all those are to our heroes is chaos warriors.
There’s no explaining this other than with laziness. All of these enemies need their own callouts. V1 gave you an idea of what to do with each enemy judging by how the heroes reacted (aside from telling you to duck under hookrats, that’s a lie). There’s absolutely room for this. We can tell if there are berzerkers if somebody’s told to parry, but that’s extremely slapdash and not enough.
Maulers are big and heavy and hit very hard, so topple them; also, don’t shoot them in the head, enchanted helmets or whatever. Shieldvermin need to be opened up and killed before recovery. Berzerkers are to be taken out either at range or keeping your calm in melee.
Among other things, actually reacting to like half the enemy types you encounter most frequently will give your heroes more flavor. Flavor is something that V1 brimmed with, and the enemy reaction lines emphasized it. And speaking of flavor…
- Trash mobs no longer recognize you.
This is now seemingly something only Chaos Warriors do, taunting your specific hero before attacking them. I refuse to believe that just because of this, rats and northlanders are no longer taunting your hero. Actually, the northlanders never did - even though it’d be very cool and interesting to know what these marauders shout at you. But cool and interesting isn’t something bloatfish does a lot of, is it?
If anything, I personally expected for this to be emphasized, with different careers getting one or two different reactions - maybe not all of them, but at least some (can’t call Zealot a hat-man thing since the devs didn’t even give him the hood he was marketed with).
Fighting ambient trash is way more boring without hearing their occasional taunts. It’s just sad. Both the Skaven and Chaos forces lose a lot of character for this not being in the game. Chaos Warriors, the sorcerers and the flame rats try to make up for it with their own chatter, but it isn’t the same.
- Gas rats forgot how to speak.
All of their lines are in the files, yet they’re now walking around completely silent, only their mechanism causing any noise. I honestly fail to see what stops their responses from being hooked back up. It’s got to be something that got bugged out at some point and then no one stopped to pay attention to the fact none of their VO was in use. They’re meant to signal when they throw, to comment on a good/bad throw, and to warn you that they’re about to kill themselves.
So yeah. Our heroes aren’t the only ones whose VO is full of gaping holes. The pactsworn suffer just as much, and to the extent where it’s honestly sad to see such a thing happen half a year after release. V1 had very good enemy sound design, but in V2, even if the glitches are fixed, there’s things blatantly missing. Bigger and better sequel, eh? I won’t even get into how I hoped we’d get new lines for existing skaven units, or that the Chaos grunts would have more to them than “GRUMBLE GURGLE KILL KILL CHAOS DIE”. Geh.