Destiny 2 Cheaters Up 50% Since January, Trials Addressed by Bungie

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While the Guardian Games is in full swing in Destiny 2, Bungie still has a lot on its plate regarding the live shooter looter. In the studio’s latest update, Bungie addressed Destiny 2 cheaters and what steps the studio is taking against them, and more.

According to Bungie Production Director Justin Truman, they are taking a new approach in communicating with the player base. Every week for the rest of this season, the studio will provide updates from different members of the team covering the “most important topics” in Destiny, and what the studio is planning to do.

For this week, Bungie’s focus is on Trials and the studio’s war against cheaters.

Bungie on Trials:

Our goal for Trials is to encourage players to chase seven win tickets. Resetting tickets should not be the most effective way to earn Trials gear. Rewards should show players that the further you progress, the better the payout. Players that have already gone flawless once over a weekend should be encouraged to repeat the experience on passages other than Mercy – to strive to earn more rewards and not sit at the bottom of cards picking on fireteams struggling to hit three wins or even just win a single match. 
Trials has always had a problem of being approachable for players who aren’t highly skilled PvP gods. We believe that players should be encouraged to make an attempt every week, regardless of skill. You should feel some value in dipping your toe in each week to see if you can get a little further than last week, to push yourself to improve and get better. While every single player won’t make it to the Lighthouse, you should feel like you can get meaningful rewards by pushing yourself and still get some rewards for spending time in the activity.
So what are we doing about it?
  • Problem: Token Rewards incentivizes players to farm to three wins and reset their card.

    • Solution: In Season 11 we’re planning on creating token payout milestones at 3/5/7 wins that give successively larger chunks of tokens. Bonus Tokens Passage should increase these payouts, and on a flawless run it will generate a significant token payout. 
  • Problem: Trials is unrewarding for players stuck at 1-2 wins.

    • Solution: Create a weekly bounty that encourages participation each weekend and does not require match wins. When redeemed, the bounty will reward the same item that comes from the three-win passage unlocking the engram for purchase that week.
  • Problem: Trials feels unrewarding compared to other endgame activities.

    • Solution: Inject more chances to earn Masterworking materials from Trials. Masterworking/infusion materials will come from 3/5/7 win payouts in Season 11. We’re also looking into possibly adding a new material-focused farming card in Season 12.  

For now, these are the studio’s plans for the short term, though they are investigating improvements that can be made in the long term.

Destiny Engineer Director David Aldridge weighs in on Destiny 2 cheaters and some of the steps the studio has taken to alleviate this issue. There are loads of stuff to soak in, such as cheating in Destiny 2 has risen 50 percent since January 2020, how Bungie is working with Valve to integrate Steam Datagram Relay into the PC version, and bans.

Cheating in Destiny 2 is up roughly 50 percent since January, and significantly more in the highest skill echelons. We expected a significant bump with the return of Trials, and we made a number of careful preparations, most notably partnering with Valve to integrate Steam Datagram Relay into our PC build to mitigate DDOS attacks. While many of those preparations were successful (e.g. DDOSing on PC is nearly extinct), we’re still not happy with the amount of cheating happening today, especially in Trials. When your pinnacle achievements are denied by encountering a cheater on a high Trials ticket, or devalued by seeing someone else with ill-gotten goods, that’s frustrating. Those frustrations are happening too often right now, and the vengeance of the Banhammer is often too far behind.  
That said, the Banhammer has not been idle. Before Season of the Worthy launched, we were averaging 656 bans or restrictions per week. In the first four weeks after launch, that rate more than tripled to 2133 punishments per week.
When it comes to tracking and punishing cheaters, we have to keep some of our plans and knowledge secret for obvious reasons, but we still wanted to give you a brief overview of the worst types of cheating we’re actively combatting: 
  • On PC (where most cheating occurs, unsurprisingly):
      • Memory-poking attacks to gain gameplay advantage (e.g. infinite ammo, infinite ability energy, infinite respawns, teleports) 
          • To acknowledge a valid point that we often see come up in community discussion, some of these attacks leverage Destiny’s unique hosting model, discussed here and at much more length here. We designed Destiny’s model to optimize for the feel and consistency of high-complexity, high-action, high-fidelity PvE experiences, while allowing the seamless blending of PvE and PvP. Unfortunately, that model comes with some unique challenges in providing PvP security guarantees. That said, we continue to invest in preventions and detections in this space, leveraging the servers that host and monitor every match. This is a subtle point we’ve struggled to convey over the years: we do have servers hosting every match, but in our hosting model, those servers don’t have complete authority over the game simulation to prevent all of these sorts of attacks naturally. This makes it more difficult (but not impossible) to mitigate these attacks. 
  • Aimbots 
      • <We have plans to address this problem, but will keep the details close to our vest to prevent further hacks and workarounds.> 
  • Wallhacks 
      • <Same as above> 
  • Lag switching 
      • We have detection and banning systems in this area, and we’ll continue to hone those. We want to be cautious here because some players suffer with unreliable internet through no fault of their own and aren’t using it to gain advantage. 
  • On consoles:
      • DDOS in Trials 
          • We have detection and banning systems around this (we’ve been evolving them since the original Destiny) but they’re imperfect because DDOS occurs entirely outside of the machine running the game. One long-term mitigation to this is adopting SDR on consoles as well, which we hope to do at some point in the future. 
      • Lag switching 
          • See above.
But you didn’t come here just to hear us describe the types of cheating in Destiny. The more pressing question is: What do we plan to do about it? 
  • We’re shifting more people to help work on this space. More eyes analyzing cheater reports, more developments in our anti-cheat systems, more people developing and testing new ban rules, and more fuel for the hammer. There are many details about new detections and preventions, but sharing those would give the bad actors a head start. The one thing I can say is that a big focus is rapid response – we want to get cheaters out of the pool more quickly. This is key to reducing the value of cheating, especially in selling access to cheats.
  • We’re changing a key policy – fireteammates of cheaters are no longer innocent. We now reserve the right to restrict or ban any player who has benefitted from cheating, even if they didn’t cheat themselves. This includes scenarios where players group up with or provide account information to a guide or carry service, which then cheats on their behalf. We want you to find new friends out there, but be sure they have your trust before you go. If you LFG your way into a fireteam with a cheater, get out and report them. If you ride them to a flawless, the Banhammer will come for you as well.
  • We’re considering requiring a much higher player time investment to play Trials. We’re interested in your thoughts on this. What if you had to have ~100 hours of play on an account to participate in any Trials match where a ticket with more than four wins was at stake on either side? Increasing the time it takes for a new account to become Trials-ready increases the power of our Banhammer (since cheaters can always create new dummy accounts), but it also adds barriers to honest, law-abiding PvPers that want to check out Trials. Would the reduction in cheaters be worth the increased barrier to getting your T-1000-aimskill buddy who’s running behind on Light to join your fireteam?
  • [REDACTED]. Because this is a cheating discussion, know that we have additional initiatives we do not intend to share publicly, in order to stay one step ahead of attackers. 
There are a couple of common misconceptions about Destiny security that are worth discussing here as well:
  • “Destiny does not have an anti-cheat”

      • Destiny does have anti-cheat that consists of custom security code and a third-party security product used by many other AAA games. We have a team of senior security engineers working on anti-cheat.
      • Anti-cheat isn’t a yes-or-no thing, it’s a constellation of possible mitigations. We’re always looking to add new stars to our constellation, and to strengthen existing ones.
  • “Destiny relies on player reports or humans to identify cheaters”

      • The vast majority of punishments issued come from automated detections. We use player reports to help us identify emerging threats. All automated detections are reviewed and verified by a human before punishment to minimize the risk of false positives.
  • •“Destiny should use Valve Anti-Cheat (VAC)”

      • Destiny does utilize some of VAC’s security features, and we have plans to utilize more. Bungie’s security team and Valve’s security team meet regularly to discuss the latest attacks and mitigations.

Hopefully, this new level of communication is appreciated by the community. If you have a tip regarding Destiny 2, send ’em over and we’ll credit you if we run it.

Source: Bungie

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