Do you ever play games with the sound or music off?

Dandelion's music does not find an appreciative audience
(Image credit: CD Projek Red)

One of our team plays games muted on the weekends to avoid attracting the attention of his children and because "putting headset on wastes precious seconds". Dark Souls players swear it's easier to win boss fights with the music off, and James would like to mute at least one character in Genshin Impact. What about you?

Do you ever play games with the sound or music off?

Here are our answers, plus a few from our forum.

Alan Dexter: It really does depend on the game. I played World of Warcraft for years with no sound at all (apart from raiding, where I'd have Teamspeak on, but still no in game audio). I had the master volume at zero, and even experienced cutscenes purely through the magic of subtitles. I found the audio added very little to the game, plus given I prefer to use speakers this was out of respect for the other people in the house. 

First-person shooters are a different beast entirely: the likes of Apex Legends is really difficult to play without sound, and I now reach for my headset when I load it up. The game that is absolutely impossible without sound though is Vermintide 2, the audio cues in that game are not only awesome, but vital to knowing where enemies are and what sort of specials you're dealing with. If your party is too slow to react, you can be looking at a wipe before you've even had a proper glimpse of a Gutter Runner (aka Aargh, an assassin), Leech or Blightstormer (seriously, screw those guys).

Andy Chalk: Very rarely.  I'll often turn the music down a little, especially in games where there's a significant amount of dialog, but generally I want the full experience, and music and audio play a huge role in setting a game's overall tone. Could you imagine roaming the fields of Ark Skellig without The Fields of Ard Skellig? One exception that I've recently started to enjoy, though, is playing The Room (now The Room 2) late at night with all audio turned off, while listening to ASMR streams on Twitch. It's almost a stretch to call it gaming, since I'm really just clicking on some random thing every 10 seconds or so as I ooze ever-deeper into my chair, but man, it sure is relaxing.

A red truck

(Image credit: SCS Software)

Andy Kelly: If an open world game has really good ambient sound design, I'll often turn the music off when I'm exploring and listen to the wind howling, birds chirping, etc. I find it quite relaxing. But whenever I'm doing anything story-related I'll put it back on, because it feels a bit empty otherwise. And for games where not much happens, like Euro Truck Simulator 2 or World of Warcraft, I'll usually replace the music with a podcast or a TV show on my second monitor. I don't think I've ever played a game with the sound fully off, though.

Chris Livingston: I have to turn Fall Guys' music off. I like it, but it's an earworm. The moment I launch the game it wriggles into my brain and stays there all day. Sometimes I even play with my headset off because all the beans hooting and whooping can get to be a little much.

Jody Macgregor: I get annoyed by repetition pretty easily, so I often turn music off once I've heard it enough. I put my own music on instead, which is why I haven't been annoyed by Skyrim's combat music popping up before I even see an enemy in years. With The Witcher 3 I turned the music off so I could hear the wind in the trees better.

More recently, I turned off the sound in Paradise Killer completely. A lot of people love its music but too much of it sounds like elevator jazz for me. Plus, the way save points are telephones that ring whenever you're near them, and the constant dinging noise during conversations as notes and evidence are added to or referenced from your case files made me want to rip off my headphones.

Lydia Daybreak poses for her vaporwave album cover

(Image credit: Fellow Traveller)

From our forum

Frindis: Let me tell you a story: I am a huge fan of Borderlands 2 and obviously went on the hype train for Borderlands 3, even if it left me with a bitter taste in my mouth when you look at the recent Gearbox activities. I just HAD to play the game, no matter what. So, I started the game, got introduced to an adrenaline-pumping intro, and then the **** hit the fan.....

Fart jokes, annoying character screaming ALL THE BLOODY TIME!! and a story so bad I had to bang my head at the desk a couple of hundred times to understand the point of it. I swear, I went from hyped to shriveling in a matter of a bucket of ice-cold water. So, I turned the dialogue completely off and somehow managed to sell my soul to satan and slowly grind myself to the end. Thankfully that music was really good and the weapons felt and looked cool. It is the first game I have ever played where the dialogue has been so obnoxiously bad, that I had to mute it to keep a little of my sanity.

The obnoxious villains of Borderlands 3, pictured here being obnoxious

(Image credit: Gearbox)

badman: When my kids were younger and the wife was outdoors, I played all of my games without sound during the evening. Maybe, just maybe, with one ear on the headphone. You just can not ignore a crying kid, or the wife will throw your PC out the backdoor :)

Dakkon: Never, sound and music is an integral part of game experience and playing without only makes experience less enjoyable. Plenty of games I've played lately won me over mostly due to sound design and soundtrack.

mjs warlord: Background sound either turned down low or off because as some have said it is repetitive.

Kaamos_Llama: Depends on the game. In any kind of action game, RPG or anything where the story is important the sound is always on, music and game sounds, totally agree with @Dakkon. If I'm into something slower paced like a grand strategy game, city builder or 4x then I can put music on instead.

drunkpunk: I never play without the sound, sometimes the in game music but it's rare. As mentioned previously in the thread, sound and music design are integral to the game. Great sound design can be such an important part of a game, from sound queues to immersion. Great music can lend so much to setting a scene or the atmosphere for a fight, or it can create a more soothing environment for those actionless moments. I find far too much value in the sound design to ever ignore it, unless it's just not implemented well, which isn't that often IMO.

The dressing room for Football Manager FC.

(Image credit: Sports Interactive)

OsaX Nymloth: Only few times played without sound at all - doing some achievement run in a horror game (forgot the title) makes the spookyness go away and makes the whole experience of "speedrunning to get my achievement" a bit hilarious. But other than that? No, not really, always have at least sound on.
Well there's one exception: Football Manager series, but hey, that doesn't count! Does it?

On the other hand, I tend to turn off music for some titles, mostly strategies where I have over 100h in and OST can be amazing, but at some point, I am done with it. So in Kohan series (I miss these games) I spent long hours commanding my armies to Summoning's music. I have spent countless hours in StarCraft II since 2012 and some mixture of death/trash metal always pumps my APM. Session with Civilization? Sure, just let me get my Foobar2000 up.

No Man's Sky

(Image credit: Hello Games)

McStabStab: Certain games I want to change the vibe with some different background music. As a teenager I would often listen to Deltron 3030, a hip-hop sci-fi themed album, while playing Starcraft. Lately I've been disabling the soundtracks and radio stations on BattleTech, GTAV, and No Man's Sky to replace them with some smooth synthwave tracks. However most games I like their default soundtracks so I vibe to those as well.

DXCHASE: I usually bring the music down to 50 percent or less because it gets overbearing and annoyingly loud to me when i'm in the heat of battle. Some games, when a situation gets tense, the music gets so much louder and becomes distracting to the point where i wind up missing dialogue or key sound effects because i can't hear that stuff well over blaring "SHITS GETTING INTENSE" music lol. Sound effects tho. All the way up.

Zloth: Some games have really good music but it's the kind you actually want to listen to, which works great the first two or three times they pop up. If they show up more than that, they start to get annoying to me and I have to turn them off. The Tropico games have this issue. More ambient background music that just sets the mood without distracting can go on forever and work fine, though.

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