Cheating might be an issue in VALORANT but one man is determined to bring an end to the prevalent problem
When Riot first unveiled VALORANT, fans were understandably excited for what new gaming experience the FPS is capable of and the Beta phase saw record-breaking numbers in both player-base and viewership on Twitch. As with any competitive game, the enormous popularity also saw some major issues in regards to cheating but it seemed that Riot was prepared for this and they had an answer for their players’ concerns.
In comes Vanguard - Riot’s custom game security software that the developers proudly gushed over and exhibited whenever they were questioned about how they planned to combat cheaters. While the system is by no means perfect, it has been effective when it comes to detecting and blocking certain cheats. But unlike how it was functioning in the Beta, it seems Vanguard isn’t blocking as many programs and there have been complaints that the system overheats users’ PCs among various other grievances.
Despite the fact Riot themselves have already issued thousands of bans in the Beta stage as well as after the game’s release, it’s still a problem that players across all skill and rank levels experience. From high-profile players’ complaints to some more casual instances in the unrated games, it’s become apparent that while the prevention system isn’t perfect, the ban system desperately needs to be improved – which leaves us with the question: Is it better to have manual detection and ban checks where a large team of actual humans are responsible for catching cheaters and banning them?
Well, GamerDoc reckons that’s the best way forward and it’s something he’s actively trying to implement with his own efforts of catching out cheaters. GamerDoc, who’s a 24-year-old former esports pro, has taken on the task of being the anti-cheat police with FPS games. Primarily known for his work in Overwatch before moving to VALORANT, GamerDoc revealed that his investigations have led to hundreds of cheaters, including some high-profile ones to be permanently banned from the game.
He said: “Currently in terms of, visual and footage, there is nothing that I can use that's to say, "yeah, you're cheating", because there's no replay and clips and such is really hard to obtain. I would love to have a demo or kill cam to find cheaters in a more efficient way. But currently, right now I just have a system set up where some pro players or semi-pro players can just report to me personally.
“Then, I just collect all that report and then give it to riot for them to do internal reviews to those players. And most of the time they are cheating, I would say 80% of the reports that I've received. And in terms of how many people that is, I would say it's in the triple figures for sure.”
So why are there so many cheaters in VALORANT already, despite the fact the game is only around two months old? GamerDoc stressed that the game’s engine is a huge contributing factor as to why people have been able to create cheats.
He said: “There are so many cheaters in VALORANT is because of its engine that it has, which is an Unreal Engine 4. It's an open engine, anybody can use it, anybody can make a cheat for it. The real thing is about actually bypassing the anti-cheat and finding the vulnerabilities in the anti-cheat and such to actually cheat. Most cheaters just use pixel aimbots or macro scripts or memory aimbots. And most of them are just really bad and scuffed and it's really blatant to see, or know if someone is cheating.”
GamerDoc publishes his findings via his ‘Anti-Cheat Police Department’ Twitter account, where it drew mass attention after he accused now G2 Esports player ardiis for cheating in VALORANT. ardiis, who maintained his innocence, was later cleared by Riot over the accusations which GamerDoc then publicly apologised for. When pressed on what he makes of the ardiis situation now, GamerDoc simply said he wanted to move on.
I can't really talk much about the case anymore because it's already been solved. I don't think I can even make a personal opinion about it, I did my part in the entire thing. I've apologised to ardiis publicly. I have my own opinions as well, but I guess you could say it's just a chapter that needs to be moved on from now.
Though he was wrong when it came to ardiis, GamerDoc revealed he is currently actively investigating some other high-profile players on whether they could be cheating or not.
He said: “There are two people that I am personally looking at. One of them that has pretty damning evidence, but it's just not enough evidence to really expose them to the public. There isn’t very much evidence for the other one as well so it doesn't really make sense to talk about it. Although from the French community pro scene, I've found a couple that are pretty high profile cheaters in that area and pretty much have exposed those players”
From the statistics alone it’s clear that GamerDoc’s work has had a tremendous effect on the VALORANT community as both casual and pro players are now actively reporting to GamerDoc when they think someone might be cheating in their game. But GamerDoc’s motivations for catching cheaters doesn’t just stop there, he has some very specific and well-thought-out goals that he’d like to pursue with the community he’s built.
He said: “My goal is to remove the automated process to ban in a cheater. That's my goal here. It doesn't matter if it's a high profile over a low profile cheater, what I'm trying to do is to bring back live game moderation and I'm also trying to build an anti-cheats community. There's cheating communities out there where they can break game software and anti-cheats and everything, and then they share tactics and drivers and bypasses and everything just to cheat or create their own business with it. I want to break their cheats. I want to destroy their business and such as that. That is, that is goal pretty much. I want to be that opposite force that probably other companies need.”
Riot have kept their players up to date with each ban wave and despite thousands of players who have already faced the consequences of cheating, GamerDoc makes a good point. The problem won’t be stamped out until we find a better system to catch cheaters and issue bans and the more the anti-cheat community thrives the more we’re likely to see a true decline and termination of cheaters.
Images via Riot Games