Thomas Andrew Hansen
Game Audio
Advanced Sound Design | Weapons | Part 1

Weapon Sound Design


This demonstration uses the game ‘Unreal Tournament’ by Epic games to showcase advance sound design and implementation in the Unreal Engine.

All sounds you can hear in the demonstration were created by Thomas Andrew Hansen.

Enforcer Handgun

The introduction to this video shows a character's arms, bringing up an invisible handgun and shooting it. Then bringing it back down. The sounds you hear during this period are used for the equipping and un-equipping of the Enforcer Handgun

Weapon Sound Design Breakdown

Enforcer Handgun Bring up/ down

Enforcer Handgun Raise Up

Enforcer Handgun Raise Down

During the process of the handgun being lifted up, we can imagine the player wearing heavy apparel. So there are two major sounds needing to be incorporated.

  1. Handgun sound - For this we needed some dampened ruffling metallic sounds. With the combination of putting some heavy objects in bag and recording it crash against a bed or something damp, we can recreate a organic imitation of what sounds real.

  2. Arm / Armour Foley - Purely by grabbing by the middle of a heavy snowboard jacket (with filled pockets) and shaking it with close proximity to the microphone, we are able to create this sound.

Specific transients from these folio recordings were aligned with the player movement. When timed correctly, this creates a realistic representation of sound.

Enforcer Shooting Main Fire

Enforcer Handgun Main Fire

Let's look at the Enforcer Gun. It is a rather chunky looking hand gun, as you can see in the picture. A bullet shell flies out to the right of the player, once the trigger has been pushed. (This is not seen in the video). We can break this sound down into 3 main parts:

  1. Attack - The initial attack of the Enforcer gun was made using multiple samples of real recorded handguns being shot. The transients where matched and the pitch was altered on one, to add extra weight in the low end. The tails were shortened on both.
  2. Bullet Shell - This sound was not created using an actual bullet shell sound. However instead, a different shortened gun foley sound was used to imitate it. This was panned a little bit to the right in placement with the character. Listen carefully and you can hear the metallic sound in the mix to to the right.
  3. Extended Tail - From a variety of different Tail decays, we chose the best one.


The Linkgun is a reasonably big powerful looking weapon. Because of this, less focus was put on the foley sound of the arm / armour movement, and more so on the weapon powering up / powering down. Also note that it fires a digital / electrical looking projection so we should match this by using digital types of sound

Weapon Sound Design Breakdown

  1. Link-gun Bring up - There is a combination of layered sounds that include, Foley sounds of a industrial printer and a shotgun reloading which have been spliced up for different timing to create a unique sound. It also has slow attack sub bass (same as the 'Gun Barrel' seen in the video sound) that rises in pitch. Along with a static type sample used in the first fire, which has an automated band pass filter rising through it.
  2. Link-gun Bring Down - This, made using the same samples and Instruments as the Bring up, however was modified to seem as though the weapon was powering down and put away in a very short space of time. Automating the sub bass to pitch down and differentiating the band-pass filter on the static sound made the biggest difference to this.

Shock Rifle

The Shock Rifle can be seen at 1.39 in the video. As you can see, we have another, digital non-mechanical type of weapon. This time it is shooting an orb like bullet that moves relatively slowly. Since it has a softer and slower shooting characteristic, a feeling of a slower attack can be applied to the most definitive character/ layer of the sound.

Weapon Sound Design Breakdown

  1. SR Rifle Main Fire - This sound was reasonably complex using multiple different layers. For a large orb object appearing, a typical digital 'wub' dub-step type bass was used. Circling the orb is an electrical field, so adding a little electrical static type of sound helped for this.
  2. SR Rifle Impact Far - After the initial attack, there is a volume automation subtracting from the sound. This helps create the illusion of a huge hit; as after the point of impact. For a brief moment in time, it is so huge that no mic or hearing can withstand the sound pressure.
  3. SR Rifle Impact Close - As mentioned in the video, sound has been added,  to represent the very visible blue particle effects on point of impact. Blending between both sounds depending on the distance of the impact point can be tricky. Careful consideration was given for any phasing issues.


When creating weapon sound design, there are a lot of things to keep in mind.

Implementation is very import part of the process, as you will need consider what sounds will be created for what purpose and for which time it is to be triggered. Then we can create the sounds accordingly. For example, the Link-Gun had to be broken into three mains sections for implementation process. First it was the initial attack which was just a simple sound cue. Next we had the Gun Ray sound that needed to be looped for the extent of how long the player held the trigger. Finally there was release sound to be triggered once the player had stopped firing. Not only to get rid of the very fast sharp release, but to also have a organic powering down approach. This maybe very subtle, but these differences help create a real feeling to help immerse the player.

Visual Details

When creating the sound for the weapon, make sure to pay close attention to how the weapon moves and responds during different time intervals Also note, which sound characteristic is most important. For instance, trying to play all the layers you see at once may end up sounding like a giant mess. To help with this, automating the volume and other effects between the different layers can clear up the mix and help the player focus on what is important at the time. Surprising this can be focused on a millisecond level.