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Head Related Transfer Function (HRTF) in VALORANT’S Patch 2.06?

Reddit’s r/VALORANT page there was a link active for only a short amount of time displaying notes for patch 2.06. Although retracted for the time being, the address mentioned the potential for players to toggle HRFT in their Audio settings. This should mean that we can see an update as soon as March 30. 

What is HRTF?

Head Related Transfer Function, or HRTF, is a response that characterizes how the ear receives a sound from a point in space. In terms of VALORANT, there have been gripes from players regarding sound effects, specifically how players listen for enemy footsteps. With HRTF, if configured correctly, players should be able to better determine the position of other teammates and the enemy team. This would be accomplished by listening for the sound of footsteps. HRTF allows the audio to be configured and “heard” at either the front, back, or sides of the players.

HRTF is commonly used in first-person shooters such as CS:GO, which VALORANT is often compared to. Audio is a huge component of the competitive FPS scene. Without the proper sound cues, players are left guessing about their enemies’ positions. VALORANT has been infamous for its lack of development as far as sound effect balancing goes, and HRTF would be a huge step for the development team and quality of life for the players.

Courtesy of u/Apexe on Reddit

Potential Drawback for HRTF

HRTF’s processing and its success is reliant on the accuracy of its programmed measurements such as head size, ear shape, distance to the ear canal, etc. Because of its reliance on measurements, developers, especially at its release, can not guarantee that HRTF will be able to accommodate every player, “This implementation uses a profile based on a single set of measurements, and may not feel natural at first to all listeners depending on how closely the profile matches their own measurements,” developers wrote in their patch notes. Players are encouraged to try out HRTF when it releases, but it may not work well for them. This is in part why HRTF will be able to be toggled by players within their Audio settings. 

HRTF Applied to VALORANT Sound Effects

As mentioned in the retracted patch notes, not all sound effects will be able to be rendered in HRTF within patch 2.06. Only footsteps, reloads, and Deathmatch respawns will be rendered in 3D with HRTF. Although this is the case, it is still a huge step in the right direction for VALORANT’s development. The increased ability to determine enemy footsteps will be a huge improvement for players and should encourage an even stiffer competition in Ranked. 

HRTF and Yoru

Yoru has been on the backburner after his release failed to live up to the marketing hype. In part, Yoru’s weaknesses have been due to his abilities’ obnoxiously loud sound effects, as well as his Fakeout, which does not sound remotely close to regular footsteps. The patch 2.06 notes also mentioned that Yoru will be reworked. The decision to release Yoru rework with the inclusion of HRTF shows that the development team is beginning to look more closely and modify how sound is working within the game. 

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