Returnal Developer Describes How PS5’s 3D Audio Tech Changed Development

The studio re-evaluated how they recorded their sound


Much has been said about the new features the upcoming generation of consoles will have. Probably the biggest and most obvious one is the SSDs that will improve loading as well as potentially impact game design, and as Sony’s PS5 has started to roll out to more press and influencers, people seem pretty enamored with the DualSense controller. We’ve heard a lot less about the system’s Tempest audio tech, however (no pun intended), but one dev was impressed enough by it that they changed how they implemented sound in their upcoming title, Returnal.

Game Director Harry Krueger was one of many developers who took part in a large scale interview with The Washington Post about the PS5. He said that, for him and his team, the 3D Audio Tempest audio was actually the most exciting feature. Not only was he blown away by it, he said that it basically lead to the team redesigning how they implemented sound in general and leading to a far more realistic experience in how you experience the game’s sound.

“The audio side is now more of a full team blending a wide range of expertise, including level and enemy design,” said Krueger. “Each sound source is recorded in relation to how a real person would hear the sound actually coming from each direction. It’s similar to the way we have always done things, but now we simply record things many times from many directions, apply more nuanced layers, and then of course spend even more time tweaking things in the final product.”

He hasn’t been the first one to talk up the audio tech in the PS5 by any means, but considering how this is a much harder thing to demo for obvious reasons than the controller or SSD, it’s somewhat been a more muted marketing feature. Though, I imagine when the PS5 does launch next week, audiophiles will be all about it. Returnal was announced as an exclusive for the system, though no time frame is currently known.

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