EA recorded a rocket-powered death-sled for Battlefield 5's V1 engine sound

A new Battlefield 5 "Dev Talks" video features UX designer Nathalie Ek, senior audio director Bence Pajor, and lead sound designer Andreas Almstrom discussing the game's audio: How the developers went about capturing ambient sounds, explosions, gunfire, and all that sort of thing. It's fairly dull stuff—mainly an excuse for the developers to shoot some cool guns—but then it gets to the part where they explain how they captured the audio for the V1 missile.

The V1 used a pulsejet engine (the only production aircraft ever to do so, according to Wiki), a relatively simple and cheap form of propulsion that makes a very distinct sound—sort of a dull, staccato droning noise. It's a bit like a real-life TIE Fighter engine, in that the sound is as important to the overall effect as the look, and so it was important that its unique engine noise be properly rendered in Battlefield 5. But how does one record audio from a cruise missile that hasn't flown in half a century? 

One goes to Arsunda, Sweden, as it turns out, for "Speed Weekend 2018," an event that includes runs by a pulsejet-powered snowmobile. The narrator calls it "The Black Pit," but other references online name it "The Black Hole." Whatever you want to call it, it's basically a V1 engine rigged with skis, a handle, and someone nuts enough to hold onto it. EA set up two microphones in front of the pilot, two just behind him, and one above the exhaust; it also placed several along the track, to catch the sound as it went by. 

The machine doesn't come close to setting any land speed records—the top indicated speed in the video is about 240 km/h, or about 150 mph—but I'm sure that probably feels plenty fast when you've basically got your legs wrapped around a howling motor that was built to bomb England. Anything for authenticity, I guess. (Although the Svarthålet team actually runs this thing just for kicks—you can find out more about what they do at svarthaletracing.se.) 

The whole video is interesting if audio is your thing, but the good bit starts at 8:00. Battlefield 5 comes out on November 20.  

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.