Call of Duty: Vanguard and Warzone will receive kernel-level anti-cheat tech this year
Kernel-level driver-based anti-cheat methods are a concern for privacy-conscious PC gamers, and yet they continue to grow in popularity across an increasingly wide variety of new and existing titles. Valorant was one of the most notorious games to include kernel-level anti-cheat technology known as “Vanguard”, but now, Call of Duty: Warzone and Call of Duty: Vanguard (confusing, we know) are receiving similar tech.
However, the keyword here is “similar.” While this tech will likely be controversial no matter what, since kernel-level access could always pose a security risk, Activision’s “RICOCHET Anti-Cheat” will not be always-on like Valorant’s was at first.
Instead, it will switch on when you boot up a game of Warzone or Vanguard (it’s unclear if singleplayer or offline matches count), and then turn itself off again when the respective games are exited.
RICOCHET’s rollout is part of a broader focus on combating “unfair play” in the competitive scene of its games, according to Activision. Other components of this strategy involve new “server-side tools” that can monitor analytics to identify cheating (whatever that means), an “enhanced investigation process” when someone is suspected of cheating, and improvements to user account security.
The entire RICOCHET Anti-Cheat initiative will arrive with the launch of Call of Duty: Vanguard on November 5, 2021. Warzone’s RICOCHET implementation doesn’t have an exact release date yet, but Activision hopes to implement it “later this year” with the game’s Pacific update.
It’s tough to determine how effective RICOCHET will be. Cheaters and game developers will always be locked in a never-ending arms race. So long as the former group exists, there will be demand for sophisticated, often paid software to circumvent game rules. As a result, game devs will continue to be left playing whack-a-mole. Perhaps one side will come out on top in the future, but for now, the battle continues.