Call of Duty is such a huge series that it faces a never-ending war against cheaters. In recent times this has led to the creation of its proprietary Ricochet software, a kernel-level anti-cheat that runs across all its games.
A new blog post from the Ricochet developers summarises the team's findings since launch, and outlines some of the major anti-cheating measures they've put in place. Since Ricochet launched last year, "we’ve seen both significant drops in cheaters invading our games as well as some unfortunate increases—an expected ebb and flow that is a frustrating reality in game security."
That ebb and flow is because cheat makers are constantly making new tools, and the Ricochet team has to work out how to spot this behaviour and then squish it. One of the principles that's come to be at the heart of what Ricochet is doing is what the developers call 'mitigation' which is going above-and-beyond the act of simply banning cheaters.
"Cheaters, for some reason, feel superior using software to win games they have no business winning. Hitting them with mitigations transform those euphoric feelings of being fake-best into glorious pangs of annoyance. We’ve seen the clips."
It turns out that these are pretty funny. So 'Damage Shield', for example, makes a cheater's gunfire do almost no damage to the player they're targeting. The reason it does any damage at all is so that the target gets the visual cues to "take care of business" themselves.
Then there's 'Cloaking.' If a cheater's been slapped with this, then everyone they hit becomes invisible to them, and to their cheating software, leaving them running around levels filled with players they can't see. And presumably dying a lot.
These two have been mentioned before, but now the Ricochet lot have shared one they're especially proud of: 'Disarm.'
"Like the name implies, when cheaters are detected, we simply take their weapons away from them (including their fists).
"We don’t expect many clips of this to find their way online, but we have seen it in action and the reactions from cheaters are always priceless."
How could you not love that, especially when you think about the kind of scrote that likes cheating. Just make 'em a non-lethal headless chicken and let the legit players have a field day.
Incidentally, you may wonder why these measures are necessary over and above a simple banning. The blogpost makes clear that banning remains the ultimate sanction, but that these measures let the Ricochet team track and analyse cheaters for a longer period, without those same cheaters negatively impacting other players. Then they get included in a huge ban wave at some point.
Or as the blogpost puts it: "Problem: Cheaters have any level of lethality. Response: Put cheaters in time out." I actually quite like the attitude in this blog post: you can tell these folk don't like cheaters. "Beyond its mission to combat unfair play, we have a second somewhat secret mission to annoy as many cheaters as we can."
The next Call of Duty will be Modern Warfare 2, which is out October 28 and, for the first time in years, coming to Steam. Meanwhile Call of Duty Warzone is coming up to Pacific Season 4, and here's everything we know about that.