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Posted by on Nov 14, 2011 | 28 comments

Battlefield 3 vs. Modern Warfare 3 – Gun Sounds

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I love this kind of thing!

has made up a video showing off the sounds for the same weapons across Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 3 and Battlefield 3. Lining things up back to back really helps gain some perpective on the differences (an similarities) in approach to designing weapons sounds. (Hint: We need more of this!)

While I think it gives a good start, the locational differences of the make it tricky to fully asses. The Battlefield 3 captures are all take from the same mountain surrounded location using the “WareTapes” sound settings, which essentially increases the quieter dynamics, as opposed to Modern Warfare 3 which are captured at various outdoor locations. The extreme mountainside report slapping back seems exaggerated when used in comparison, either due to location or decreased dynamics.

Regardless, the comparison reveals a tremendous amount of time spent by both teams infusing the weapon sounds with a unique aesthetic while adding heaps of meticulous detail throughout.

Congrats to both teams and thanks for the comparison video!

Which one’s are your favorites?

via  Twitter @engineaudio #GameAudio

Also see:

DesigningSound – The Recordist Talks Guns, M60 Machine Gun HD Library

DesigningSound – Battlefield [Tags]

DesigningSound – Call of Duty [Tags]


  1. This is great. My dissertation was based around weapon sound design and I love things like this. It really shows the sound designer’s vision on each weapon. Whether that is a more realistic sound from the shooter’s position, or a more powerful one concentrated on the overall sound of the weapon. For me realism is key and I like my weapons to sound authentic, however a nice boost in low frequencies fed into the LFE gives a real sense of power.
    I also focused on the mechanical aspect of the weapon itself and deconstructed each movement involved with a single cycle of the weapon, I found that by doing this each gun had it’s own character and you can really make each weapon unique. This is something that I listen for whenever I play a new shooter, and I am noticing that this is becoming more apparent within new FPS games.

    The locations and background action in this video could have been better, i.e each gun in the same location, both locations being as similar as possible. But apart from that, It is really great to see the comparisons and also great to know that other people love getting geeky with guns too. ;)

  2. i love getting geeky with guns as well :)
    too bad that this A/B comparison was in a vast open location versus a closed down location. 
    that reverb tail in the open space seems to be the same on all of them. i found that interesting. perhaps i should listen more closely (sitting in my livingroom at a reasonably quiet volume with my girlfriend watching tv and stuff heh).

    • Well, if you play Battlefield 3, as you get closer to buildings, the echo starts to cut out. When you are next to one, it is mostly silent. When you are in a building, the guns sound louder and less echo due to close quarters. Cool stuff, huh?

  3. Yep: too much failscience. The amount of variables between the comparisons practically make it apples and oranges.

    Even so, it seems like even in close quarters, CoD has like zero tail on it.

    BF seems like a more open-space sort of game where whole armies/teams shift and move (like sound traveling across a valley and reverberating off of a mountain)…

    …while CoD is more about getting up close, in your head in a more individualistic sense.

  4. Thanks for putting together this comparison. As others have stated, the two environments are completely different, so judging just the tails of the guns is hard to do. In regards to the sounds of the guns firing, I personally prefer the approach BF3 took (I own this game so I could be a bit biased…) but I find the weapons have a lot of brightness, or in technical terms, they have a lot more of the higher frequencies audible as opposed to MW3 which has a more bassy sound with less higher frequencies. In Battlefield 3, that brightness makes firing a weapon a very engaging and exciting experience. And stating the obvious, it’s very startling to be unexpectedly fired on by enemy soldiers at close range too!
    Battlefield 3 has much larger maps than Modern Warfare, and BF3’s sound team did an amazing job with time displacement in regards to weapons/explosions happening in the distance. Example: A helicopter crashes 500+ yards from you and there is a an accurate delay to the explosion you hear coming from the distance (plus the sound is EQ’d so it sounds like it is much farther away).

  5. I like the concept of comparing sounds this way. But, it would be better if the weapons had been fired in the same kind of enviroment (or in different enviroments to compare the reverb). Still as from what I can hear, I say Battlefield’s weapon sounds win. They sound more realistic. More sharp/detailed.

  6. I think BF3’s sound “better”… it’s like they got the initial pop much down better.  But I’m wondering if maybe it wasn’t a design choice on behalf of the CoD team to lessen ear fatigue?  Even for the duration of that video I can tell which I’d prefer to listen to for a few hours at a time ;)  So winner for me for actual play would be CoD :)

  7. In this video BF3 weapons sounds better but the test is not equivalent. He should have done the BF3 shots in a street and not in a hill. The reverb is different in different environement so this test is no fair.

  8. the BF3 sounds were more consistent, and seemed to have a little better sense of scale to them- the Dragunov in particular sounded pretty quiet compared to smaller caliber weapons in MW3- in general the MW3 sounds where more thuddy, The BF3 sounds seemed to be much more exciting, though the decay level was somewhat loud….

  9. Stupid test. Isn’t there any audio compression in B3 part? Tail sound looks incredibly loud.

    1) Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 are two different games.
    2) We are talking about games. Right? I don’t need such “realistic” loud and harsh guns as in BF3. When I play hours I would better prefer more comfortable and pleasant sound like in MW3.
    3) MW endures its decline and needs in the regeneration.

  10. The Jets flying overhead didn’t get in the way at all…

  11. Lets all circle jerk around the obvious fact that this is not a scientific test (duh).

    Now that we have that out of the way, lets enjoy the fairly direct back to back comparison for what it is.

    This is two distinct different approaches to gun SFX. I think there is a lot of insight to pull from the different perspectives of the audio teams and the larger games themselves.. 

    The thought that goes into the sound of that gun going off and the feeling its meant to evoke in the player is fascinating. This is the reason we do this work.

    I think that you could give these sounds to people who have never played either game and I bet they can give you some descriptive terms that probably describe the games themselves… “realistic/hyper-realistic” etc etc etc. In that sense I think both sound design teams did an amazing job!

    Well done!

  12. I think that CoD is different kind of game comparing to BF3, since CoD is a Team Death Match game, Quake like. if it had lots of reverb like in BF3 it would be too much of sound level in a gameplay of 12 people on a small map. Though I do agree that CoD team should have added more hi Freq to the weapons, I think they kind of sound “dull” almost as if all the soldiers are wearing earmuffs.

  13. Always thought cod weapons sucked. Bf3’s guns start to sound all similar though too. MW has a distinct sound per gun which is nice, although it’s all too quiet and no transients. Sounds like single shots looping..should evolve past that. 

  14. BF3 sounds awesome though, great impact. 

  15. While it is obviously not a scientific test, it was fun to watch. The differences/similarities, how the different designers treated the background, it’s fascinating.
    For me though, the most interesting part is how the players (we) get accustomed to the game’s inner sound environment. And this process takes only a few minutes.

  16. There is NO comparison. BF3’s sound guys went and recorded actual military exercises, the COD team reused old assets (figures). The fine audio hippies at DICE have continuously delivered on every release, even the free ones. I could listen to the ambiance on all of those maps to go to sleep. 

    The ‘sound’ in COD is a joke, and I can’t even believe people are defending it! It lacks any and all dynamics, its dull, dry, uninteresting, and it doesn’t even sound remotely like the weapon it’s trying to sound like. Ugh

    At least BF3 has some friggin’ dynamics and sense of space! There is so much reverb and Doppler in that game. Have you ever listened to jets and choppers screaming overhead? It’s like sex! That being said, I much prefer BFBC2’s audio as opposed to BF3. I feel that BF3 felt it necessary to squash their weapon sounds a little bit more in order to drag some more COD kids kicking and screaming over to their side. Regardless, BF3 surpasses ANYTHING COD in every aspect, audio, visuals, multiplayer, and now, single player. Also, nothing is quite like the new knifing animation, that is just awesome!

    Also, BFBC2 won best sound at GDC for a reason. DICE knows what they’re doing, COD is just a cheap arcade game meant to rake in huge amounts of money off of stupid children and their over-generous parents. 

    If you disagree, then you never played any battlefield, and if you have played it and still feel that way, then you need your ears checked out, or you should leave the audio industry all together. 

    Rant mode off.

  17. @D money
    Well this is another example of noisy guy from BF3 camp. Yes, BF3 sounds extremely better than MW3. But I wouldn’t say about other aspects in the same way.

    BF3 has a lot of trouble in balance and dynamics and the single campaign is just a boring collection of scripts. Many people say that the graphic didn’t change heavily from BC2. And of course a lot of software bugs.

    And again. When Modern Warfare was released in 2007 it was an indisputable killer of all shooters. And CoD players just played in game instead of swearing the opponents. Now DICE did a powerful move and MW endures a stagnation. But BF3 fans behave themselves like schoolgirls and constantly point about weak sides of CoD.

  18. @Conant, 
    Thanks for your ill-needed opinion. Feel free to put slides of BC2 and BF3 (with or without the HD install )next to each other when you’re not busy picking pissing matches with people, and tell me if you think BF3 didn’t improve graphics-wise. Since you obviously haven’t yet, you’re in for quite the surprise. 

    The Frostbite engine has been developed, improved, and enhanced for years and years. I don’t even know what the COD engine is called, but it looks EXACTLY like every MW title to date. 60 FPS? Big deal, I guess graphics don’t matter that much when all you do is run and gun like a kid jacked up on amphetamines. 

    You tell me how COD’s single player is more “balanced” or “dynamic”, and please show examples. Here is an example of a COD mission…”Terrorists, nukes, Task Force 161, “what the hell kind of name is soap?” blah blah blah, shooting pop-up opponents, linear running, shooting more pop-ups, maybe some timed explosions, hop in an indestructible vehicle driving down a linear path, shooting at a helicopter that takes one hit to destroy, more linear running, rinse and repeat”

    Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED MW I and II’s single player campaigns, when they were in their prime, they were fantastic; the Spec-Ops were a fantastic addition as well that kept myself, and many others busy for hours on end trying to beat our scores. That being said, If you think BF3’s campaign lacks balance and dynamic, I urge you to sit down, put headphones on, and play it through on hard. I agree that BFBC2’s single player campaign was a joke, but that wasn’t their primary focus while developing the title. For BF3, DICE wanted a killer single player campaign to go along with their already killer multiplayer. And they nailed it IMHO.

    I’ll be the first to admit that, so far, BF3 is one of the buggiest titles I have ever played. My sound will disappear for minutes on end, my gun has disappeared for entire matches, I get stuck in the air, and I get booted out of games daily, some major tweaks need to occur to the balance of choppers and jets. Still, the sheer satisfaction of every aspect of the game completely makes it worth the wait until the patch comes out. (Which it will)

    Granted, COD is the all mighty single-player campaign king, but BF3’s campaign is one of the best I have played in a LONG time. I have never been so emotionally involved and drawn into a game since ME2. Clearly you haven’t played it yet, so do yourself a favor. Boring collection of scripts you say? Sounds like someone has only seen trailers. Figures. 

    And the fact that you say “And COD players just play in a game instead of swearing the opponents” is probably the most absurd statement I have ever heard, and is completely the opposite. Every COD game I enter is plagued with 14 year prepubescent loud mouths calling me ever vulgar slur in the book; while when I’m in BF3, all I hear is tactic, teamwork, and excitement. 

    I don’t care what MW was in 2007. This is 2011. We have things like 7.1 surround, 1080p HD now, and I expect the 60 dollars I spent on this game to utilize that. DICE did make a powerful move, you’re correct. What did IW do? Rehash an old title with some new twists and turns and ship it. Next please…

    Honestly, You clearly haven’t played BF3 thoroughly enough, or you’re ”just one of those COD guys” I guess. Meh, to each their own. 

    “Yes, BF3 sounds extremely better than MW3”. That’s why we’re here, isn’t it? Case and point. Go troll elsewhere. 

  19. IMHO, both games have strengths and weaknesses. As kfractal pointed out, CoD is mixed in a way that would lessen ear fatigue, but they lose impact. BF3 has a very intense, hyper-real sound to it, but might get exhausting after a short time.

    At first listen, it sounds like all the weapons in BF3, even the RPG, share reflections and they are HUGE. It makes even the smallest weapons sound very big. It FEELS very good and very visceral.

    On the other hand, while CoD mixes reflections lower, they are much more subtle and seem to be unique to each weapon, perhaps weapon class, and to each environment, with plenty of slapback for close quarters, mostly noticeable on the foley.

    I think that BF **sounds more like it feels** to shoot those weapons (as opposed to “sounding more real”), while CoD mixes the weapons better to the OVERALL sound mix, including music and VO, to create a different experience all together.

    Different games, different needs, different mix. Well done to both teams.

  20. The difference in location and reverb play a part, but not enough to sway which one sounds best! They are very different games, and the fact that the BF3 sounds are vastly more entertaining to me personally obviously had no impact on the sales numbers. So from where I stand, BF3 is hands down the best sounding game (perhaps ever) that I have heard. I just spent 7 days recording multichannel military weapons (most of the ones in both of these games) and BF3 is the closest to real life yet. That being said, nether of them sound like a real battlefield, luckkily thats not what the player wants (or needs). Can you say G.A.N.G. awards?   :-) Thanks as always for the great work Damian. Now go buy a copy of each of these! 

  21. The best part is, if you own both, you end up with the best setup. I personally do not believe BF games do not have replayability but of course that’s my opinion, just like everything you say is opinion lol. On the contrary, remaking an engine does make the game good, sure Frostbite 2 is a great engine, but how come they are only pushing 24 players? Maps are too big and too much equipment for 12 on 12. Yes, I know PC is 64 but not all of us have the cash to rock a high end PC. I’d rather grab a console and HDTV instead. Anyways, I think it is bs that they put 24 players. Ground War (18 players) on Call of Duty feels more intense than BF3 because we’re not running around mindlessly looking for someone to kill, the maps are compact and it’s crazy. Personally, Call of Duty would not feel right with vehicles. Honestly, both are great games, but what kills both of them is the players that play these games. There’s always some guy exploiting stuff, or TK’ing and just being a jackass. Like on BF3, guy runs a Humvee towards his team-mates and jumps out then kills them and no penalty. I don’t like BF3 because even though you all brag teamwork and vehicles, there are so many people that waste vehicles and one man army. Also, to say CoD does not take teamwork is wrong, there’s an aspect of running with people you know and you will play better and win more. Not sure what it is but Call of Duty has seemed to run more fluid, and not because of 60 fps, but it seems just smooth. Smooth controls/input and not so weird to me. BF3 is a great game regardless and when I can get around to it I may pick it up but my friend is already bored of it and when it comes to games, I need someone to play it with. Enjoy your games guys and thanks for letting me express my opinion. Happy new year!

  22. The Battlefield 3 sounds have a lot more impact. It makes the Modern Warfare 3 sounds seem weak.

  23. I think BF3 sounds are a much better representation of firearm sounds.. someone noted in a previous reply that many of them sound very similar; essentially i think BF3 kept weapons firing the same caliber (5.56/7.62/308/.45) very similar with minor differences which would reflect weapon reciever and barrel dynamics – I also love the Subsonic sounds (essentially no sonic boom, only the action inside the weapon and low muzzle velocity). I have to be honest i think the MW3 sounds are quite tame, it seems they have actually dulled them down compared to MW2 sounds?

  24. Hey! This post couldn’t be written any better! Reading through this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept chatting about this. I will forward this write-up to him. Fairly certain he will have a good read. Thank you for sharing!

  25. maybe its just me but i think some of the gun sounds from MW3 sound better.

    location based reverb sounds better in BF3. but the gun itself, MW3 sounds better.

    the ump in MW3 is so friggin beast, great low end, maybe its cause i got a decent sound system. so it depends on what your using to listen to the sounds. if your listening to this video with ipod headphones then it will all be crappy.

    and no way they have dulled down from MW2, compared that to MW3, and MW2 just plain sucks, overall and with guns. the ump in MW2 sounds like a cheap plastic toy or something, in MW3 it sounds so beast, especially with a subwoofer.

  26. I’ll give you a slight hint in regards to the call of duty sounds. They still sound like shit indoors, outdoors and all around everywhere. It’s like 0 effort has been put into sound design at all.

  27. Keep in mind that BF3 dynamicaly adapts the sound of the guns according to the environment.
    The sounds are different indoors, in woodland or desert.

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