Counter-Strike 2 may look great but without new anti-cheat it’s doomed

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Since 2014, Counter-Strike: Global Offensive players have had one complaint: cheaters. Instead of upgrading the FPS game‘s anti-cheat software, VAC or delivering a one-time solution, Valve has deployed a series of annual ban waves. The paywall update in 2021 did little to help solve the problem; CSGO hackers, it turned out, were pretty loaded – a lot of them could simply buy their way back in. Now, with the Counter-Strike 2 release date approaching, there is hope of a new and more robust anti-cheat solution. The CS2 trailers however seem to have doused those hopes in cold water.

Besides a leak here and rumour there, nothing substantial has been revealed regarding a new Counter-Strike 2 anti-cheat. That said, there is high chance Counter-Strike 2 will have the same old VAC, so it’s not too late to lower your expectations and stick to third-party platforms.

Counter-Strike 2 without a new anti-cheat means nothing

Counter-Strike 2 is supposed to be game-changing, but as the limited beta test rolls on, players are already reporting cheaters. It seems CSGO’s decade-old issue has returned in Valve’s shiny new shooter.

Every multiplayer game has malicious actors, but hacking and cheating in CSGO seem especially prevalent. In 2021, Valve banned 304,655 cheaters in three months, illustrating how the lack of an active – or rather, proactive – watchdog can allow the problem to swell and spread. Valve doesn’t actively pluck out the hackers, meaning they get to wreak havoc until the arrival of a new ban wave.

Besides tick rate, the poor performance of VAC has been the biggest catalyst in pushing players to third-party platforms like FACEIT. Now, Counter-Strike 2 has been released with three major changes regarding maps, smoke grenades, and the dreaded tick rate, but with regards to anti-cheat, the only hope we have is some minor print at the bottom of Valve’s announcement.

“The Limited Test only evaluates a subset of Counter-Strike 2’s features so that major issues can be resolved before the summer. But there’s much more to come. In just a few months we’ll reveal all of the details of Counter-Strike 2,” Valve says.

Two soldiers, one in combat gear and the other in shades, stand on an orange and white background

If Valve had any plans for a major overhaul to its anti-cheat system, it probably would have been announced by now. It’s starting to feel like Counter-Strike 2 may use the same, or at least a very similar form of VAC that we’ve encountered already in CSGO. If that’s the case, it will be a real disappointment for fans looking forward to games on the Valve official servers.

Counter-Strike 2 is offering better visuals, responsive smokes, and even visible legs! But, without a new and improved anti-cheat, the shooter may become a real test of patience. As much as we want to enjoy all the shiny new features, the truth is that nothing else really matters if you can’t play fair. As always, serious players will turn to FACEIT and ESEA for healthy competition. As for matchmaking, well, it might just become a breeding ground for trolls who create funny YouTube content.

A Counter-Strike 2 match where one player shoots at another in an industrial location filled with pipes and archways

Will Counter-Strike 2 have any new anti-cheat features?

So far, data miners have been able to find clues in the CS2 limited test spaghetti code that suggest tweaks to VAC, but nothing like an overhaul. A new feature called VAC Live may work to detect third-party software in real-time, instantly cancelling matches if a cheater is detected, similar to Riot’s Vanguard system in Valorant. That sounds like something, but the issue with VAC Live is that it’s still, fundamentally, VAC. If Live detects cheaters using the same methods as ever, don’t expect a lot of cancelled matches in CS2 – the hackers will still be getting away with it.

If, however, Valve makes VAC Live more invasive, with better access to players’ CS2 info, there’s a sliver of hope for MM beasts. While an invasive anti-cheat will raise concerns about privacy, personally I’d sacrifice a little more player data if it meant ridding my game of cheaters. Most serious CSGO players gravitate towards FACEIT anyway – a similar program for official matchmaking would be welcomed with open arms.

While it’s unlikely Valve will announce any more major changes, it never hurts to remain optimistic and keep those fingers crossed for an anti-cheat upgrade. In the meantime, get prepared with all the Counter-Strike 2 maps confirmed so far, some of which are being totally rebuilt using Source 2.

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