Audio Priorities Issue/Bug

In this Deathmatch Petra video, in a quiet corridor a McCree completely blindsides me because his footsteps are extremely quiet. Minutes later in the exact same spot, I can easily hear the loud footsteps of a Widowmaker who’s actually further away.

Obviously there’s no reason that the McCree footsteps can’t be as loud as the Widow’s, logically it’s not an issue with my sound system (the video was uploaded direct from PS4 to Youtube and the volume discrepancy is the same across devices, laptops, soundbar, smartphone, etc.). The loudness and quietness is being decided by the game. You will notice, strangely though, that the volume of the McCree flashbang IS loud and noticeable as it should be, but specifically his FOOTSTEPS are very quiet.

Obviously, a McCree at close quarters is an immensely greater threat than Widowmaker, so you would think his steps would be even louder than Widows. Someone shared a GDC conference video with me about how the Overwatch sound design team uses a modified version of HDR with an “Importance System” that adjusts the volume/filtering to address just this kind of issue by prioritizing enemy sounds according to “threat levels”:

But apparently, something funny is happening in the system that is categorizing certain enemy sounds at incorrect threat levels, as shown in the video. This has happened to me other times as well, e.g. as a Widowmaker a Mei will walk up to me from the side and kill me completely unannounced: I won’t hear the footsteps at all until she’s already freezing me dead.

The issue is that SOME footsteps will be extremely loud and very hearable as they should be, but then the most DANGEROUS ones won’t be heard until it’s too late. This is actually costing players matches and needs to be fixed. If at all possible, could a mod please send this thread to someone in the sound design team to look over? Thank you so very much, any help is greatly appreciated.

Do you use external speakers on your PS4 set up?
I use a computer monitor on top of my desk as a screen for my PS4, and was using a pretty cheap set of speakers to make the audio louder, but found recently that it would silence things like ults and footsteps similar to what you’re experiencing.
The system would usually make footsteps above me sound as though they were behind me, silence the footsteps actually behind me, silence particular enemy ult voicelines, and anything that would generally be considered something that should be a priority threat and was seriously hindering my ability to play well since I rely on audio cues.

As I said in my original post, I uploaded my video directly from my PS4 to Youtube and have checked on multiple devices (laptop, smartphone, TV surround, quality Sennheiser headphones, etc.) and the sound is the same: the McCree footsteps are so quiet that I have no idea he’s right next to me, while the Widow’s are very loud even in the same location.

Unless this is an issue with how the PS4 outputs the game sound, I can only assume that the game sound programming itself is causing this issue by incorrectly de-prioritizing the sounds of the McCree (and other characters as well, like Mei).

Another player named Shadowfox, this time on PC, also posted about experiencing this issue as well today, so I’m led even more to believe this isn’t a PS4-specific or sound device issue but something happening with the game itself:

After watching your deathmatch playthrough a couple more times, It seems like your game is really boosting the sound of things like health packs or wall climbing. You can very faintly hear when the McCree approaches to stun you the first time, but it’s basically inaudible due to the unreasonably loud health pack and Hanzo’s reaction to being healed.
The only thing I could recommend is to keep on the devs about this (I’ve been trying to get their attention about the audio bugs for a while) and to try adjusting your sound settings for the time being to try to get around it as much as possible. (Try turning down your sound effects, it might help a little bit until they patch out the bug.)

I have the music volume and in-game voice volume turned down near 50, but unfortunately it hasn’t helped. There’s only one bar for sound effects which I guess includes all environment and character sounds like footsteps, shots, explosions, etc., so I maxed that out. Problem still happens.

There are other audio bugs that you’ve encountered? I wonder if they’re all related to my issue… Well I hope it all gets fixed eventually and that the sound design devs take notice (if they haven’t already). I want to be careful not to necro bump this or other related threads, but it really is a big issue that others are experiencing as well that definitely deserves attention.

Here’s a new video indicating the problem, you can’t even hear the Venom Mine when I trip it. A Hanzo runs next to me and you can’t hear him at all, but a Widow meters away shooting her machine gun is loud as all get out.

See, here it is happening again. I’m wandering through a Petra corridor when suddenly a McCree pops out of nowhere and flashbang kills me. His footsteps ARE there if you turn up the volume, but they’re so dang quiet it’s practically impossible to react in time. And what’s weird is that you can hear the footsteps of a Symmetra walking above me clear as day, while his are inaudible.

You’ll also notice his gunshots completely drown out the sound effect of his using the jump platform, which momentarily confuses me to his location when I peek around the corner during the fight.