Each morning, the creators of the biggest games on PC rejoin their ceaseless battle against cheaters. They face players who want to win at any cost, and hey, if that ruins the experience for everyone else, that suits them even better. In this unending arms race, we’re sorry to say that the good guys do not always win. In fact, the better angels of our nature quite often have seven shades of Shinola kicked out of them by aim botters, wall hackers, and all sorts of other weaponised software designed to bust your favourite game open. In this article we’ve scoured our collective memory to find some of the most egregious examples of players begging for the ban hammer.
Please do not view on an empty stomach.
1. Destiny 2
Cheat: Sniper rifles fired like gatling guns
The PC port of Destiny 2 is a marvel, running beautifully on even relatively low-end rigs, but Bungie’s approach to anti-cheat on PC has been little short of a shuttle crash. Things were largely fine on Battle.net, but somewhere in the swap to Steam the floodgates of bullshit swung open and haven’t shut since. The video below from D2 content creator Fallout Plays contains cheating so obvious that it’s almost operatically evil. In the first clip, we see one cheater firing an Eye of Sol sniper rifle like it’s a goddamn machine gun. As the sniper is supposed to have a 90rpm rate of fire, this confers a considerable advantage in PvP. “What the fuck” laughs iLulu through the tears.
Stick around for the rest of the montage and you will also witness: players flying around like literal superhumans, infinite rocket fire, and whatever the hell is happening at 1’40’. Many of these exploits have since been fixed, but rest assured that high-end PvP is still blighted by suspiciously accurate snipers. Bungie, not for the last time, please fix your game. —Tim Clark
Seriously, though, the cheating in Destiny 2 is bad, and might soon make its presence felt outside of PvP. As ridiculous as flying laser superheroes might be in Crucible, the release of any new expansion is followed by an important event in the Destiny 2 calendar: the world’s first raid race. Teams compete to be the first to finish each new raid, and sometimes—as was the case with The Last Wish—that completion marks a change in the game’s world, too.
For Beyond Light’s raid, the concern is that the first completion will likely go to a team of cheaters. D2 content creator Righty recently interviewed a cheater planning to compete in Beyond Light’s raid race, and even got him to show off the tools he’ll be using. The footage shows raid, dungeon and Nightfall bosses being deleted solo in seconds by rapid-fire Whisper of the Worm rounds. Unless Bungie starts taking the issue seriously, there’s a high chance that Destiny 2’s new world’s first will need an asterisk next to it. —Phil Savage
2. Fall Guys
Cheat: Super speed hack
I know I should be mad when I see a cheater cheating, but I can’t help but laugh at this clip of a bean absolutely bolting out of the gate like he knows something the rest of the beans don’t. Someone’s making a three bean salad and he ain’t gonna be a part of it. —Tyler Wilde
Cheat: Wall hacks
Remember how the original Titanfall had the smart-pistol, a gun that basically aimed for you? It was great! But apparently that wasn’t enough for some players, who used a cheat from Hackers Advantage to auto-aim their way to victory. You can see it in action in the video below where a player who keeps changing their name—they’re called 420BlazeIt at one point, because of course they are—gets perfect kills without aiming, through walls, even when they’re in a titan who can’t even use the smart pistol.
Respawn began using FairFight to catch cheaters, exiling them to servers that only contained other cheaters. “You can play with other banned players in something that will resemble the Wimbledon of aimbot contests” the studio said at the time. Five years later, Titanfall had another problem with cheaters. The population had dwindled to single digits, and yet even then someone was running a script that kicked players out of the game and back to their desktop. —Jody Macgregor
4. Red Dead Online
Cheat: Turning players into human dynamite
I am not hard to kill in Red Dead Online. I never shoot first. I’m very trusting and helpful to strangers. My aim sucks and I usually have a metal detector in my hand instead of a gun. Yet cheaters seem to think I’m the most dangerous gunslinger in the west, and choose to attack me with some hack that turns me into a walking stick of dynamite. It’s happened several times, months apart, and so far it doesn’t seem like Rockstar has done much about it.
I rarely have any idea where the cheater actually is, and the one time I did find them and fought back they seemed invulnerable to damage. Once, someone even used what was apparently an orbital death ray to incinerate my horse. I’m clueless as to their motive, unless it’s just a laugh because, okay, I’ll admit seeing my dumb cowboy start spitting sparks before becoming a smouldering ragdoll is kinda funny. At least once or twice. Six or seven times, though? It gets a little old. —Chris Livingston
5. Call of Duty: Warzone
Cheat: Aim-assisted death from above
We all know there are cheaters in Warzone, some players have even been caught running cheats during live streamed tournaments. After spending hours in CS:GO’s Overwatch review system, part of me has grown to enjoy watching the most absurd cheaters do their thing. A small part, admittedly.
For some cheaters, there’s an additional appeal to trolling high-profile streamers and making them tilt off the face of the Earth. In this particular Warzone match, Tim ‘TimTheTatman’ Betar finds that he’s being consistently sniped by one particular player, but neither or he or his teammate can pin the culprit down.
At one point, while in a moving vehicle, TimTheTatman even starts switching between seats to avoid getting shot, and the cheater still manages to down him. TimTheTatman finally spectates the player, and the kill cam confirms his suspicions. The cheater is circling in a helicopter, which he’s firing through in order to one-shot Tim. The cheater closes out the game with a few more aim-assisted kills from miles away, racking up a whopping 58 kills over the course of the match! It turns out that the cheater was ranked 69th in the world back in July, and rocking a 14 K/D stat, with an average of 21 kills per match. Disgraceful! —Emma Matthews
Cheat: The “Olofboost,” the Piggyback Seen ‘Round The World
The Olofboost isn’t isn’t some common hack you’d find on a sketchy Russian site, but an undiscovered ace card that was played at the highest echelon of Counter-Strike—a Major tournament. In 2014, this piggyback maneuver shook the Counter-Strike community and altered the result of one of the biggest esports events of the year: was it a dirty cheat, or a brilliant exploit?
It’s not uncommon for CS:GO teams to reveal newly-developed tactics in big tournaments, but no exploit pushed boundaries quite as much as the Olofboost. At Dreamhack, Swedish favorites Fnatic (still the team that has won the most Major tournaments in CS:GO history) trotted out a triple boost on de_overpass where players stood on each others’ shoulders in order to achieve a towering, above-the-map view well beyond what the designers had intended. With only a single Scout sniper rifle in Fnatic’s hands, Olofmeister secured two key frags that set up a comeback. Round after round, their opponent appeared totally disoriented, unable to find an answer for this preposterous new gambit.
Fnatic achieved this advantage by “pixelwalking,” stepping along some invisible geometry they’d discovered within the map. It turned out to be a desperate move—pixelwalking “where the textures, walls, ceilings, floors become transparent or penetrable” was banned by Dreamhack.
Tournament organizers initially struggled to make a ruling in the midst of the match, but under community criticism and official pressure, Fnatic eventually forfeited the match. The move is preserved today in infamy on Overpass as an in-game sign at the location of the crime that reads in German: “Climbing on this railing is prohibited!” —Evan Lahti
7. Grand Theft Auto 5
Cheat: Nick Breckon’s troll clone nightmare
A classic “you won’t believe this shit that happened to me” story, but with video evidence of what has to be one of the strangest hacking incidents in GTA Online history. (Or maybe not—GTA Online gets weird on the regular). Idle Thumbs podcast co-host Nick Breckon was minding his own business, running around in GTA Online, when someone hacked his character to have millions of dollars and every gun in the game. But every time he fired a gun, he exploded and instantly died, and after he respawned he’d be “gifted” the money and weapons again.
Then things escalate: a green-haired player pops up riding piggyback on his character and repeatedly strokes his neck. And as soon as he starts to run away in fear and confusion, green-haired clones start popping up behind him and giving chase. Somehow it only gets stranger from there. The hack is bizarre and wildly entertaining to watch, but the real joy is listening to Breckon narrate exactly what happened to him with the panicked confusion we’d all feel in that situation. —Wes Fenlon