Respawn Lays Out Plans to Combat Cheating in Apex: Legends

Whenever a new Battle Royale game makes the rounds, it naturally attracts a lot of attention. Some Battle Royale games take their sweet time to build their audience. Well, that’s not the case with Apex: Legends. The overnight success hit the scene from seemingly out of nowhere and somehow took the world by storm. By the beginning of this month, it had a combined total of 50 million players on all platforms. Growing the playerbase is well and good, until you realize that becoming very popular, very fast comes at a cost. And I’m not talking just about toxic players. I’m talking about cheating.

It’s always the bot that gets the most suspicion

When a new online multiplayer game comes out, it tends to attract cheaters. Especially if it’s a competitive shooter. Overwatch had it’s fair share of cheaters back in the day. The same can be said about Apex’s contemporaries, Fortnite and PUBG. Eventually cheater activity went down in all those games because either the anti-cheat program is doing its job and keeping them at bay or the hackers move on and ruin some other game. Whatever the case, it is in the best interest of the game to keep cheating at a minimum. Something Apex is addressing right now.

Most cheaters use standard wall hacks and/or aim bots. While others take it one step further and use cheats that enable them to see enemy health and distance away. It’s worth considering that all weapons in the game, minus the Havoc, are projectile based. The way cheaters get around this is by playing extremely close. At a point where distance does not matter. But the cheats seem to be evolving to grow beyond that issue as well. There are reportedly aimbots so detrimental that they can calculate bullet drop and bullet speed. These wouldn’t cause so much problems if only there a way to actually report the cheaters.

That’s a lot of unwanted behavior

The problem with Apex right now is that there is no proper way to report someone for cheating in-game. Currently, the only way to report cheating activity is through the EA website. Well, good luck trying to remember the offender’s name or recall the exact moment when the cheat happened. (The best way is to capture the act on video and send it to EA support to help your case.) It’s not the best system to report cheats and Respawn have acknowledged this.

So, what is Respawn doing to combat this? It seems they are taking steps towards beefing up security. The details of which cannot be explained because hackers are crafty and the developers don’t want to lose the element of surprise.

In any case, in a recent Respawn Check In, the developers announced that nearly 355,000 players on PC were banned through Easy-Anti-Cheat. A small victory, for sure. But that’s only the beginning. The development team also laid out their plans on improving their anti-cheat capabilities. They are reaching out and working directly with expects, in and outside of EA. Scaling up the anti-cheat team so they have more dedicated resources. Having more staff on hand will greatly improve their response time and ensures that cases are do not get glossed over. Finally, they also announced that they are adding a report feature on PC to report cheaters in game that goes directly to Easy-Anti-Cheat. This is going happen sometime down the line, however.

The developers have also taken notice of bots queuing up into lobbies. Their intent is to spam links into the feed and disconnecting before or during the drop. This is highly detrimental to the game since Apex is currently a 3 person team shooter, and the loss of even a single player puts the entire team at a disadvantage. In this regard, they are formulating strategies to combat this. Naturally, they are keeping us in the dark, for our own safety.

The rest of the Reddit post talks about addressing crashes related to the AMD and Nvidia architecture. PC crash reports will go a long way in preventing problems in the future. They are also considering the possibility of allowing players to reconnect into a match. But seeing as how the feature runs the risk of player abuse, the developers are not actively pursuing it. And finally, they are addressing slow server performance at the start of matches. The details of which are in the Reddit post.

A tale about two lonely hearts

To wrap this up, what can we attribute this wave of cheaters to? Is it because Apex is free to play? Well, I don’t think so. Fortnite used to have a massive cheater problem. Until Epic Games finally put their foot down and used their used their vast resources to tackle the problem. Eventually, they managed to reign in it and even started to go after the people who make the cheats. I’m sure cheating is still present there, though not as wide spread as it once was. Games like Overwatch used to have this problem too. But since it’s a paid game, there is only enough times a cheater can buy the game over and over again until they get tired of giving money away to Blizzard.

What about the Engine itself? It’s easy enough to make cheats for the Source engine. However, the one Apex is using is a heavily modded version of the Source Engine. The architecture is similar but it would take more effort than just plugging in a 10 year old cheat and expecting it to work right off the bat. There are articles on Reddit discussing how to extract character models and textures, and somehow they the same file formats found in Source. It wouldn’t be a stretch for hackers to reverse engineer Apex’s engine, regardless of how different it is from the standard engine.