Call of Duty: Warzone’s anti-cheat efforts are most commonly seen in the form of banwaves as developers — at least briefly — clean the house by dropping the hammer on thousands of cheaters at once. But this system is data dependent: you can’t roll out a banwave until you know who to ban, right? The newest Ricochet anti-cheat update shows how developers get this information without scammers benefiting from it.
Warzone developers use a number of different “in-game mitigations” to prevent scammers from wreaking havoc on legitimate players while they figure out how to deal with them. The latest is called Damage Shield, an interesting trap in the game that doesn’t kick players if they’re caught cheating, but instead prevents them from dealing “critical damage” to others in the game. An Activision representative has clarified that this means their overall damage output will be drastically reduced.
“This nerf makes the cheater vulnerable to real players and allows #TeamRICOCHET to gather intel on a cheater’s system,” the anti-cheat team explained. “We track these encounters to ensure there is no way for the game to randomly or accidentally apply a damage shield, regardless of skill level. To be clear, we will never interfere in shootouts between law-abiding community members. Damage shield is now untested and deployed around the world.”
The system can be seen in action in this video by TimTheTatman:
It’s an interesting (and, let’s be honest, entertaining) way for Warzone developers to study cheaters in the wild, but I can also see where it could be an effective anti-cheat measure in its own right. Getting booted from a server sucks, but it’s also instantaneous and unmistakable – you’re out and about with other things. But greatly reducing your damage on the fly and without notice isn’t something you can see coming, and that makes it hugely frustrating and time-consuming. It reminds me a bit of Serious Sam 3’s anti-piracy scorpion: it not only stops you from cheating, it messes with you. it makes you angry Call me a bad person if you will, but I find that pretty funny.
Now that Ricochet’s Damage Shield is public knowledge, I’m curious if the scammers of the world will find a way around it. Despite Ricochet’s fancy new defenses, some cheaters still squeak through the floodgates, thanks to the efforts of dedicated cheat makers who are constantly working to thwart the latest anti-cheat measures. Hopefully this is a hurdle they cannot jump.
Other mitigation schemes already exist and more are on the way. The anti-cheat team said it’s seen a drop in cheat reports since these systems were activated a few weeks ago, “but we know the work is never done.”
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