A very strange and unexpected issue has cropped up in co-op zombie shooter Back 4 Blood, as some players of the early access beta test noticed that the game’s zombies seemed to be growling the n-word at players. Publisher WB Games has had to issue a statement saying that this is a strange audio blending mishap that will be fixed in due course.
The first video of this came from HomBKE on Twitter, who captured and shared a video of what sounded like one of Back 4 Blood’s zombie “Ridden” groaning the n-word while rushing toward players. That was then followed by other players that heard it replying, and it was picked up by Kotaku, with writer Zack Zweizen also reported hearing the racial slur.
These zombies a different breed pic.twitter.com/1GMXlsSYse
— Da Homma (@HomBKE) August 6, 2021
Obviously the chance of this being intentional are vanishingly slim, and Warner Bros. issued the following statement to explain how such a vocalisation could occur.
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.
Audio blending is very common throughout the entertainment industry, including iconic sounds like the TIE Fighter in Star Wars combining elephant shrieks with cars driving through puddles. As audio designers seek to make otherworldly sounds, they will often delve into audio banks and mix and match things together.
For Back 4 Blood’s zombies, Turtle Rock Studios will have got voice actors in to make all manner of hellish sounds, and then started to blend them together. Similar to how games can now blend together multiple animations for more fluid and realistic looking character motion, it seems that Turtle Rock has employed a similar concept to mix and match individual zombie growls together for the audio, exponentially increasing the different number of sounds that can be made while keeping the number of audio samples comparatively small.
Back 4 Blood’s open beta is set to take place this weekend, starting on Thursday 12th August. It’s worth checking out for fans of Left 4 Dead, just beware that the zombies might still say some rather unfortunate things…