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Valorant vs CS GO: Will Valve’s new anti-cheat solution be more potent than Riot’s Vanguard? Probably not!

  • Valve's new anti-cheat measures have been a hot topic of debate among fans over the last couple of days.
  • The community is widely divided on whether to consider the changes a step in the right direction or not.
ANALYST
Feature
Modified 29 Jun 2020, 15:58 IST
Image Courtesy: Pinnacle Image Courtesy: Riot Games
Image Courtesy: Pinnacle Image Courtesy: Riot Games

The release of a new shooter aside, nothing really gets the FPS community more riled up than the talk of the latest anti-cheat in town.

So, if you were living under a rock over the past couple of days, then here is a bit of a recap on some of the latest anti-cheat developments in CS: GO and how it can ultimately affect Valorant.

Valve testing new anti-cheat changes in the beta

So here is a bit of gist for you. A few days ago, Valve rolled out new, but optional changes for CS: GO. These changes aim to bring some much-improved upgrades to VAC, which is the anti-cheat for CS: GO.

Well, it literally took them years to do something significant for tackling the hacking issue in the game, and in theory, it finally seems that a potent solution is here which fans have been wishing for.

So what are the new changes that Valve brought?

On the 26th of June, Valve announced an open beta update for CS: GO which “significantly restricts the types of programs and files that can interact with the game.”

In the unlikely event that you launch the game with incompatible files, you will receive a warning indicating the incompatible file and may be blocked from joining VAC-enabled servers. To resolve the issue, you can disable the ‘Trusted Launch’ in your game settings, however, this may temporarily impact your trust score.”

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Hence, the program will be operating in the background while the game is running. It will warn players of incompatible programs or files (.dll ones especially) on their system and let them know that they will be at a risk of getting VAC banned in the future if they continue running them.

Well, in theory, it might seem like the ideal anti-cheat solution for CS: GO fans, who finally want to enjoy long hours of play without having to encounter a Rage hacker in the game. But there is a distinct difference between what theory states and what is actually practiced.

Ideally speaking, this new VACnet update is perhaps a bit intrusive, but not as intrusive as what Valorant’s Vanguard is turning out to be.

So, before we go into the pros and cons of the new Valve anti-cheat update, let's first take a look at Valorant’s Vanguard and how it actually fares to CS: GO’s anti-cheat update.

How does Riot’s anti-cheat Vanguard work?

Riot Games’ new anti-cheat Vanguard comes as a package with Valorant, ‘and helps protect the game from harmful third-party applications’

“It has two different parts to it; one is a ‘kernel-mode’ driver which runs as soon as you boot up your PC. The second is the client, which constantly checks to make sure that you aren’t running a cheat as soon as you start Valorant.”

Now the kernel-mode is a very invasive program that, ‘looks at other drivers and blocks them from running if it detects that they have a known vulnerability.’ 

The Vanguard controversy

Even after being a very potent anti-cheat solution, Riot’s Vanguard wasn’t all that well-received by many players. They felt powerless as to what programs they were and weren’t able to run while launching the game and they had to uninstall and then reinstall Vanguard every time they log in and out of Valorant.

In a comment to a Reddit post, Chamberlain had said that “We’re working on ways to make the experience better. Our current notification pop-ups aren't as good as they could be and we’re looking for ways to give you more control over how Vanguard works.”

Vanguard has created a lot of system issues as well. It’s still a work in progress but we feel it’s the right step towards curbing the hacker issue that FPS titles are plagued with.

Vanguard hardware bans cheaters

If you feel that buying a Valorant hack is expensive, then imagine how much lighter your savings will get when you have to invest in new system hardware every time you’re caught hacking. 

Riot is serious about the competitive integrity of the game, and it’s precisely why Vanguard is so very merciless with hackers. The program, hardware bans players that it catches hacking, as account banning is not enough.

As we see in the case of CS: GO and VACnet, bypassing the Valve anti-cheat is incredibly easy. Your account is the only thing that gets banned, hence creating a new one and starting your hacks up once again is a very simple process.

Vanguard works by identifying a particular cheat and then issuing an HWID ban for it. As a result, the hardware specifications of that particular system get recorded when the ban is issued. Hence, even if you’re creating a lot of alternate IDs, you will not be able to play Valorant from the same PC again.

Riot is not a strong believer in second chances when it comes to cheaters. So to them, once a hacker is always a hacker.

Is VACnet’s new update a more potent anti-cheat solution than Vanguard?

We would like to answer the question with a ‘Yes’ first and then a ‘No’.

In theory, the new updates that Valve has brought out for VACnet in the PBE is a much better anti-cheat solution than Vanguard. However, there are certain issues (in practice) about the new update that make it less than optimal, and fall short of expectations:

1. It’s optional. Cheaters can opt not to go for it.

As it’s an optional beta update, people who use hacks in CS: GO may just choose to not update their game. The sole purpose of having beta patches is to test out newer updates with the wider community and seeing how well it fares and make tweaks accordingly before the final release.

So if your regular cheat user is not going to use the beta, how is Valve even testing its new anti-cheat software for the hacking pandemic?

The only ones we feel who will be downloading the update will be regular players who want to get their trust scores up, and hack makers. The ones who make the CS: GO cheats will have ample time to create programs that will be able to bypass the new VACnet security measures and have an absolute field day with it.

2. It can be easily bypassed.

The normal cheat user will generally inject a .dll into one of the more popular injectors out there. They will need to select the process named csgo.exe and then inject the files into it. So if they are turning on the ‘Trusted Launch’ feature in CS: GO after the update, the chances of them getting detected are only high if they aren’t using a signed DLL.

In the subreddit VACsucks, Valve’s new beta update has opened a vast thread of discussion, in which the Reddit user BuntSiftLecker mentions a very easy way of circumventing the new VACnet update.

He writes:

“Only allowing signed DLLs is worthless.

  • Create a CA-Certificate
  • Create a software signing certificate
  • Create the DLL
  • Sign the DLL
  • Import the self-created CA-certificate into the certificate store of the computer
  • Load the self-signed, self created DLL without error
  • Be a happy camper

As long as Valve does not make sure that only DLLs signed by specific certificates are allowed this is as worthless as going without.”

So, it wasn’t all that surprising to us when the update was bypassed by hackers just 1-hour after its launch.

3. It’s causing massive FPS fluctuations for NVIDIA users.

The new update in the beta is riddled with bugs and has been causing massive FPS issues for a lot of players, especially those who use NVIDIA graphics cards.

Former CS: GO professional turned streamer ‘fl0m’ has also taken to Twitch to write about how disappointed he is with the latest CS: GO update.

“dont opt into the @CSGO beta. it is beyond scuffed. stutters that make it unplayable, and i cant revert it because the steam library is scuffed. im so pissed right now”

The issue is occurring because NVIDIA didn’t properly sign their driver DLLs, which is why CS: GO has been blocking those drivers from working in the game, causing a lot of FPS issues.

The above video shows how ridiculous the lag spikes really are. And the uploader even goes as far as injecting a hack to see if it works, which unsurprisingly it does.

The Silver Lining: It’s better to do something than nothing.

Even though it took Valve 8 long years to get serious about the hacking issue which has been plaguing the community for so long, we can’t help but feel that the CS: GO devs have their heart in the right place.

The VACsucks subreddit thread wasn’t all complaints and negative comments about how Valve is letting the community down. Some users like BigRigs63 came out in defense of the initiative that Valve is taking with their latest anti-cheat updates and wrote that, “I think the positives of the beta branch so that it can be tested and work properly on release outweigh the negatives.”

The user even went on to say that, “beta branches like this need to be used more to test out experimental features of the game before they are pushed to the entire player base.”

The user IceWall0wC0me69 wrote, “Something is better than nothing! Right?”

Yes! Something is obviously better, and looking at some of the current hacking incidents that have been taking place in CS: GO, a change is definitely required.

The Chaos Esports Club vs. MIBR Incident

Hacking accusations against Chaos Esports
Hacking accusations against Chaos Esports

On the 22nd of June, Chaos Esports Club beat MIBR in a hard-fought best-of-three series to move on in the CS: GO Summit NA regional qualifier. 

Talking about the clip from
Talking about the clip from 'leaf'

However, as soon as the matches ended, accusations of cheating and hacking were thrown against Chaos Esports members, especially against their youngest member ‘leaf’.

Now, it’s important to note here that we are not going into the debate of whether any of the chaos members cheated. However, take a look at how toxic the CS: GO community has gotten around the entire ‘is a cheater, not a cheater’ situation.

FalleNCS
FalleNCS' take on the matter

As soon as the accusations started to fly, the 16-year-old ‘leaf’ started getting death threats from the Brazilian CS: GO community.

Some of his clips against MIBR have gone viral and everyone joined in on the bandwagon to accuse ‘leaf’ of doing something which is yet to be proven.

The Brazilian CS: GO community has a reputation for being some of the most outspoken Counter-Strike fans in the world. But that doesn’t justify sending ‘leaf’ or any other player death threats in their personal mail or social media for cheating, or for being accused of cheating.

The CS: GO cheating problem has gotten to the point where players are not being able to discern between a cheater and someone who has insanely high mechanical skills.

Even a fragging god, like ‘Ropz’, was harassed and bullied when he was accused of being a cheater, and he had to personally go into FACEIT to clear his name. 

The sheer amount of psychological damage that these threats can do is staggering, and it’s quite unfair on players like ‘leaf’ and ‘Ropz’ when pro players and influencers like ‘Gauls’ jump the gun on their accusations. They rile up their followers as a result which honestly leads to nothing good or positive.

‘fl0m’ took to Twitter about this issue as well, and talked about the sad state that the CS: GO community is at the moment. 

Hence, Valve’s latest VACnet update is quite a welcome initiative for the wider CS: GO community, but the devs will have to kick it up a notch, as the changes are just a disappointment at this point. 

Published 29 Jun 2020, 14:34 IST
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