Last night, while playing the Back 4 Blood beta on PS5, I was attacked by a large group of zombies. That’s not surprising; it happens all the time in the game. What was shocking was hearing a sound clip from one of the zombies that made it seem like it was yelling out a racial slur. Based on viral videos making the rounds right now, I’m not the only one hearing that similarity. Other beta players say they’re hearing the same thing: Zombies yelling the n-word.
Back 4 Blood is the latest game from original Left 4 Dead developers Turtle Rock Studios. It plays a lot like Left 4 Dead, which isn’t a bad thing at all! Those older L4D games were some of the best co-op games ever made. But the undead in B4B are more vocal than the infected in L4D, often yelling and screaming more noticeably. Most of these screams are just random noises and grunts. But one scream that I and other players have heard stands out in a way that is 100% likely unintentional but also 100% unfortunate.
Twitter user @HomBKE encountered a zombie in the beta that seemed to scream the n-word as it ran at the player. His response was simple but understandable, asking “What did you call me?” while shooting the zombie attacker.
You can also hear the scream in question in a clip shared by YouTuber and streamer DotoDoya.
In my own time with the game, I’ve heard this scream at least twice and both times I wasn’t sure what to think. I feel safe assuming the folks making this game didn’t intentionally record or include a sound clip of a zombie yelling out a slur. Probably, it’s just a random guttural sound that comes off the wrong way. But the clip sounds so similar to the word that, this early on, before the game is released, it might not be a bad idea to change or remove it from the game altogether.
Kotaku has reached out to WB Games and Turtle Rock Studios about the scream.
The beta for Back 4 Blood is so far proving to be a lot of fun, even if it doesn’t quite live up to the high expectations many Left 4 Dead fans (myself included) might have. Still, Valve ain’t ever making the third game in the L4D series, so this is the next best thing.
Let’s just get rid of that scream that sounds like an n-word, please.
Update 8/8/2021 11 a.m.: WB Games sent over this comment explaining that the slur players are hearing isn’t intentional, as guessed by many. Instead, it is caused by two audio clips playing at the same time. Full comment below:
Our team has been made aware of offensive language that can be heard when playing the game. This was not recorded or ever intended to be part of our gameplay. The audio is a result of two different Ridden growls that are playing simultaneously and when heard together sound like that word. We are working diligently to fix this issue, which should be completed either in time for the Beta, or when the game launches.