last year, we had a look and one of the biggest problems in World of Tanks, botting. Now, we are going to have a look at another – and that is cheating.
They say that you cannot cheat in World of Tanks and it is true – to a certain extent. You can’t use the most notorious cheats such as wallhack or cheats that allow you go or fire faster, simply because these things are calculated server-side. It’s the only way to go really and is one of the biggest advantages of World of Tanks.
On the other hand, yes, there ARE cheats in this game and they DO give you an advantage, sometimes a pretty massive one. Practically all are in the form of illegal modifications (AKA “mods”) and are forbidden (how “strictly” that is, well, that we will talk about further below”). The existence of these mods is a public secret and, well, sort of an elephant in the room really, but in any case it’s something generally avoided (discussion about cheats in World of Tanks is banned on the official forums, unlike bots). Amongst the most notorious cheat are the following:
- defoliants (leaf removers, that allow much easier aiming through bushes and forests)
- lasers (that show where every enemy player’s gun is aiming in the game in the form of a “laser”)
- 3D hitboxes (reworked models, that show you where exactly internal modules of the vehicles are, these are rare though, as in the new models, the location of internal modules is no longer a part of the client data and has to be tested manually, which is time consuming and imprecise)
- breaking object indicators (these mods will show on your map, where an environmental object was broken, for example if you run over a wall and break through it, the other player gets a warning like “someone breaking a wall detected here, with an indicator of your position on minimap)
- automatic fire extinguisher (a mod, that will activate credit fire extinguishers literally a split second after you catch on fire, much faster than manually pressing the extinguisher)
- vision mods, that allow you to “cheat” bushes and look through them or behind a corner
- hacked artillery tracers, that allow you to exactly see the position of enemy tank based on the shell path
Let’s have a look at an example. The following video (provided kindly by Plazmakeks, thank you) is of a player using an illegal modifications from a cheat pack, named Stealthz Hack Pack.
The first thing you notice probably (apart from the messy UI) is the black sky. To be quite honest, I have absolutely no idea what kind of advantage does THAT give you apart from looking creepy. Performance increase by removing sky texture? Easier spotting of enemy tanks against black background? In any case, this hack pack has a lot of the forbidden mods included in it – lasers, auto extinguishers, enemy reload timer, you name it. There is also a mod that displays the silhouettes ALL the time (not only upon mouseover), I don’t find that very useful, but it’s forbidden as well (IIRC).
As you can see, especially the lasers can give you an insane advantage, since you know exactly who is aiming at you and can react extremely quickly (much more reliable than the light bulb, providing that the enemy is spotted – you cannot see lasers from unspotted enemies since a laser is basically a changed vehicle model, the barrel is prolonged and painted red).
Notice the enemy reload indicators, allowing the cheater to precisely time his shots between the reloads.
At around 7:40 of the video, if you look closely at the minimap, you will see in the lower right corner (enemy base) white spots, that’s the indicator of destroyed objects, showing you that someone’s down there. I am sure you can see what an advantage would that give you, should you be for example alone against one enemy tank while not knowing where he is. He breaks a wall on the other side of the map? You’ll know.
These are of course only the basics, there are much more sophisticated cheats out there, the most infamous of which is the Warpack cheat pack.
For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Warpack is probably the nastiest modpack available. It has one big disadvantage (for players), it actually costs money, monthly, if I recall correctly. The rest of the lesser cheat modpacks (like the one linked above) are free, but they come with the inherent danger of downloading something you really didn’t want to download with them (virus, trojan, you name it).
So, what is Wargaming doing against these cheats?
Well, you guessed it. Not much.
Currently, Wargaming is not capable of detect these modpacks during their use.
Enemy players will not detect these modpacks either of course and thus you are in no danger of being reported for “cheating” (you are just THAT good to dodge as soon as someone aims at you, right? ;) ). Well, unless you brag about it or are stupid enough to make a video.
Okay, here comes the good part. Wargaming doesn’t accept videos of cheaters as evidence, as it might be staged (for example, by running a replay with a mod that removes the secondary FPS counter in the upper left corner to make the game look live and not like a replay), so even IF you are stupid enough to make a video where you are cheating, you won’t get punished either.
It is possible (but unconfirmed) that Wargaming uses some sort of method of getting the mods used from your replay. How do I know? Well, let’s say it was tested (granted, on RU). In 9.3 and 9.4, several players ran a nasty cheatpack for cca 400 battles total. They were not banned by cheating, so if there is any “runtime” detection in WoT client, it probably sucks (but I think there is none).
What they did as the next step was getting a replay from several players participating in battles with one of the cheaters and sending the replays to support, claiming he was cheating. He was not banned for that either. As the last step, one of the cheaters took his replay where he was cheating and gave it to one of his friends, who then reported this replay along with a claim that he “found it”. This resulted in a temporary ban.
Personally, I believe there is no special tool for this, that they are simply looking at the replay looking for clues that it might be a cheat (like constant split-second reactions to being aimed at).
So, unless you are stupid enough to upload replays where you are cheating somewhere, it’s very unlikely you will be caught using the illegal cheat mods. These mods are also very easy to access and are mostly free (save for Warpack), so it is my theory that these cheat mods are used FAR more than we suspect – it is always so, when something illegal is
a) easily accessible
b) safe to do
it WILL be done, a lot and often. It’s our human nature I guess. Wargaming made a big deal lately out of dealing with bots, but will they deal with cheat mods as well? Who knows. But I’d really love to see some cheat mod statistics, if there is such a thing.
To the people thinking “OMG SS U SUX 4 LINKING HAX MODS FFS!!11ONEELEVEN” – remember the bots? “There are no bots”. Until the Russian streamers stepped hard into that pile of shit. Where have you EVER seen Wargaming react to something that was not an immediate issue?
To be absolutely clear: I want this shit gone and I want the cheaters banned. Permabanned, if possible. I also think Wargaming should name people, who get banned for botting and cheating the way they do on RU server. In a way, I think that these mods pose even more danger to the quality of the game than the bots. A bot is usually a clear, visible threat that can be detected by players, so an outrage can be formed based on what everyone see. But how will you tell whether the guy that just reacted to your shell in a split of a second was simply THAT good, or he was cheating? Or perhaps he is cheating and therefore appears that good? Who can tell?
A solution would probably lie in World of Warcraft-style resident software checking for cheats/mods/whatever, something like the Punkbuster. After its implementation to WoW (very, VERY long time ago), it practically wiped out series of cheaters (vanilla and 1st expansion veterans might remember “underground miners” in Nagrand and around Scholomance). Sure, they returned eventually, but just like the war with malware, this is not a conflict that can be won. Only fought and contained.