If there's one thing that's clear about Halo Infinite, it's that 343 Industries is aiming to propel the Halo franchise back into the limelight with what looks to be one of the most exciting multiplayer experiences ever (check out the Halo Infinite multiplayer gameplay reveal if you haven't already).
Between Halo Infinite's excellent approach to its battle passes, its three-month long seasons that give players plenty of time to engage with new content, its return to sandbox-driven gameplay that the original Halo games were famous for, support for 120 FPS on Xbox Series X|S, and support for crossplay between Xbox and PC, the game is poised to take both the casual and competitive gaming communities by storm when it launches later in 2021. But there's one thing that threatens to keep that from happening: a recent surge of hackers that have hit PC games hard, damaging gameplay integrity and generally making the experience frustrating for thousands of players.
Popular PC games like Destiny 2 have faced severe cheating issues in recent months.
Developers have generally been able to keep ahead of cheaters and their malicious tools for the last several years, but sadly, that has changed during the pandemic. The companies behind some of the largest shooter games on the PC platform have struggled to effectively counter the "new wave" of aimbots, wallhackers, and more that has crashed onto titles like Destiny 2, Valorant, Call of Duty: Warzone, and many more. Recently, Riot Games and Bungie teamed up to sue a cheating software creator, but it's clear that legal action alone won't solve this problem.
Even Valve's insanely popular CS:GO has seen an increase in cheaters recently, although its VAC countermeasures seem to be more effective than the solutions being used by other developers. The same can't be said about VAC in Team Fortress 2, however, as players have reported the presence of aimbots in nearly every matchmaking server for months. A recent update has alleviated the problem somewhat, but will the improved security hold?
One of the reasons why these games are suffering at the hands of cheaters so much is that the majority of them are free-to-play, meaning that making new accounts to continue cheating with after the banhammer comes down is incredibly easy. Halo Infinite's multiplayer will be free-to-play as well, meaning that 343 Industries will need to be prepared to combat this. Another concern is the game's cross-platform nature; if Halo Infinite fails to keep cheaters under control like many other PC games have, those cheaters could ruin the fun for players on PC and console. The developers have stated that the game will implement input-based restrictions for ranked matches, but just because a PC player has to use a controller to match with console players doesn't mean that cheating software won't work.
Notably, 343 Industries have commented on Halo Infinite's anti-cheat measures in a previous blog post. "We've done a lot of work securing the Slipspace engine and developing novel ways to protect and change the game to slow down cheat development," said Halo Infinite Security Engineer Michael VanKuipers. "When people do cheat, we're focused on catching them through their behavior ... Combating cheaters is an ever-evolving arms race, but we're making the tech investments needed today to continue the fight for years to come."
Halo Infinite's anti-cheat needs to be effective for the game to succeed.
Whether or not Halo Infinite's anti-cheat measures will be as effective as the developers are suggesting it will be remains to be seen, but if Microsoft and 343 Industries want Halo Infinite to be the game that truly puts Halo back on the map, they need to be, both in the short and long term. Halo's relevance will likely soar to new heights with Halo Infinite if the multiplayer is as fun as it looked during the Xbox E3 2021 show, but that's possible only if hackers don't clip the game's wings.
Cheaters completely ruin the experience for everyone, and if they're allowed to run rampant throughout servers, Halo Infinite's gameplay will be completely overshadowed by the hacker problem. Ultimately, I'm incredibly excited for the game's arrival later this year. But with complaints about hackers in PC games growing daily, I can't help but feel nervous, too. Hopefully the developers at 343 Industries are able to succeed where Bungie, Riot, and others have failed.
Halo Infinite looks like it's going to be one of the best Xbox games ever. We can't wait to play it when it comes to Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S, Xbox One consoles, and Windows 10 (and Windows 11) PCs later this year. You can preorder the game now for $60, but keep in mind that if you're only interested in the multiplayer, it's completely free-to-play.
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