Dark Souls 3 On PC Has A Massive Cheating Problem

Dark Souls 3 PC Has A Massive Cheating Problem

Dark Souls 3 is excellent on PC, but it's a haven for cheaters. From Software's solution seems to be blaming the fans who love their game. A number of players found this upon loading Dark Souls 3 last week:

Dark Souls 3 PC Has A Massive Cheating Problem

The game didn't explain what it meant by "invalid game data", but in the past, this can mean altering the game code, running mods or cheating.

It can also mean you did nothing wrong.

I've been writing about the abhorrent cheating situation in Dark Souls ever since I joined Kotaku. Though a PC version of the original game exists, it wasn't until Dark Souls 2 that From Software took PC players seriously. So while Dark Souls 2 had its issues, I was hoping they'd clean up their act for the sequel. Unfortunately, it's been more of the same — it's a trainwreck.

Like many online games, Dark Souls 3 scans player data for cheaters and hackers. If corrupted data is found they're "softbanned", which means they can continue to play the game online, but only with other cheaters. Other games have used this gaoling technique, but From Software's ban hammer is large, sweeping and ensnares players who did no harm.

It's possible to trade items with one another, and in Dark Souls 2, if a player dropped a hacked item, it would "infect" your game and you could get banned for picking it up. Eagle-eyed players might be able to tell if an item is hacked — a telltale sign is a weapon being upgraded past what the game should allow — but it's easy to see how someone might get tricked.

This can happen in Dark Souls 3, too. The game's publisher, Bandai Namco, calls this "taking candy from strangers", according to its customer service website fielding a question about why a player might find be banned.

That's bullshit.

Trading items in Dark Souls 3 is encouraged — it's a feature. It's the job of the developers to protect their fans from malicious players, not blaming them for the audacious act of playing the game they paid money for.

"I started getting the invalid data msg after I got invaded by 2 hackers, one using unlimited flasks and one that took 0 DMG from me," one user wrote to me this week.

They ended up reporting the players to Bandai Namco, but as of right now, they can no longer play the game online with friends and strangers.

"I just let them kill me so I could move on," said the player.

You might think that avoiding other players entirely is the best course of action, but going offline means you don't get access to the helpful community messages. Furthermore, if you repeatedly quit the game after being invaded, the game will eventually punish you for quitting!

According to Bandai Namco, players can shield themselves by trying to avoid hacked players and items... or backing up their saves to the cloud.

"This would allow any players who end up receiving a hacked item/equipment unknowingly from an online player," reads the website, "the ability to restore their original game data from the cloud or separate backed up game data."

Wait, Dark Souls 3 doesn't already back up saves to the cloud through Steam Cloud? Nope. Instead, Bandai Namco wants you to sign up for an outside service to protect yourself from the game you bought.

I asked Bandai Namco for clarification on this point; they told me this:

Back up a clean save to either USB or cloud storage. If you encounter a hacker that corrupts your character delete the local save and download the clean backup save data. The next time you connect to the server it should clear your account of any flags that deemed you as cheating because your backed up save file from before does not have the item from the invader that caused the problem.

That's asking a lot of players. What happens if your backed up save is from 20 hours prior? Dark Souls 3 is a terrific game, but having to fight through a bunch of bosses all over again might break my hollowed spirit.

According to Bandai Namco's website, when presented with the error, players "have a chance" to replace flagged data with clean data. It's unclear how long they have before the game will permanently mark them.

It's worth pointing out that Bandai Namco is the publisher, not the developer. From Software is the one building these games, and this has been a problem for years now. The PC version of Dark Souls 3 is excellent, the best PC version of a Dark Souls game yet, but they have serious problems dealing with the PC community. They're punishing their fans.


Comments

    As the consoles are getting more and more powerful, there's less incentive for devs to effectively police things like this.

    The consoles aren't just walled gardens, they are closed optimised systems that are working as intended.

    I was considering upgrading my PC and getting DS3 but after reading this i might just buy a PS4 and play on there. Then i'd be able to give Bloodborn a go to.

      As someone who is among those penalized when I didn't cheat (not until after I was penalized and it was due to anger) I'd really suggest doing so. Besides, Bloodborne is fantastic.

      Last edited 29/04/16 12:38 pm

    One of the most effectively tools for avoiding some of this issue in Dark Souls 1 on PC was a fan-made mod. It wasn't bulletproof, but it was better than anything that came from official sources...which is really sad.

      And being a mod, was probably considered cheating as well... Insanity prevails.

    TL;DR Does this affect the single player experience in anyway?

    Last edited 29/04/16 11:31 am

      A little, if you are flagged, you can only be pooled with other flagged players, that means you will have lesser summon signs appearing in your game.

      Most likely the people you summoned can one hit KO a boss as well which somehow ruins the game.

      Last edited 29/04/16 11:35 am

      DS is mostly a singleplayer experience anyway, you just miss out on some things like community messages.

    I don't get why people saying things like "I was planning to get on PC just this turned me off and I'm going to play on consoles now".

    What the hell, the only way you could get banned is if you mod/cheat the game OR pick up an item dropped by another player online, which the latter is already a rampant issue back in DS2 because hackers are intentionally invading people and giving around the weapon to make people get banned.

    Simple solution: Don't mod/hack the game, don't pick up items that strangers dropped.

      “I started getting the invalid data msg after I got invaded by 2 hackers, one using unlimited flasks and one that took 0 DMG from me,” one user wrote to me this week.
      They ended up reporting the players to Bandai Namco, but as of right now, they can no longer play the game online with friends and strangers.
      “I just let them kill me so I could move on,” said the player.

      It'll also apparently happen with hackers just coming into your game too.

      Last edited 29/04/16 11:54 am

      So if I change the .exe file so the game runs in 21:9 should I expect to get banned and be ok with it?

        You probably should think of why 21:9 is not supported and deserve the ban before bringing that up in discussion.

          A ban for 21:9, jokes right?
          I presumed it wasn't support because the developer was too lazy to add it.

          I play Dark Souls for single player only. I play 21:9 because it looks amazing. Now I deserve to be banned for owning a certain type of monitor?

          If 21:9 is hax, why do most games support it these days? BF4, Battlefront, The Division and Arma are just a few multiplayer games that its "allowed".

          As someone who has played 21:9 for a while, let me tell you it offers no advantage. If anything its a disadvantage in FPS games. So often I will be looking to the side of screen and be killed by what I didn't see in front of me.

          Is 120 or 144hz hacks?

          Last edited 29/04/16 12:31 pm

            Not gonna even try to go into this discussion as is has probably been discussed everywhere all the time.

            That is the developers stance and if you are not happy with it feel free to not support them.

            And btw you said you play single player only, why does it matter to you if you get banned or not?

              I presumed banned meant banned from playing the game at all. If its just from multiplayer, then thats fine with me. I'll continue basking in my 21:9 "cheat" glory, and only supporting the devs that support the whole gaming community.

              Last edited 29/04/16 1:58 pm

                Na the ban is just soft ban. You just get pooled into others that are flagged as cheater when you do any multiplayer stuff like summon phantom to help you or if you invade other people.

                They only pop that message when you start the game saying that you are flagged. It won't stop you from doing anything else.

            As someone who has played 21:9 for a while, let me tell you it offers no advantage. If anything its a disadvantage in FPS games. So often I will be looking to the side of screen and be killed by what I didn't see in front of me.

            Mate that's a user problem. You have an advantage but you just can't make use of it - where as someone more skilled might be able to. It's still an advantage.

        I got softbanned for modding the .exe file (that is all I do for the game) for the ultra-wide resolution. I have no idea modding will put me into softban. Now at least I can still play witcher 3 for the upcoming DLC.

      Very wrong. They can have a hacked weapon that gives souls to the person they hit, they hit you a couple of times and the game now thinks YOU'RE cheating. This is all I am aware of, for all we know there could be multiple other ways to softban people as a hacker. Furthermore, don't defend that garbage. "Don't pick up items" No. No. And once again, NO. It's a feature, it's a great feature and it shouldn't mess up your game if you use it, that's the bottom line.

    Jeeze i think it's still worth it for the glory that is 60fps (imo such a huge difference). Really wish i could play bloodbourne like that.

    Me too! I've been thinking about that ever since Dark Souls 3 came out. They have the BloodBorne engine on PC now, it would be so easy for them to release a PC version. Imagine BloodBorne at 60fps and whatever resolution you want!

    Unfortunately, this will never happen. Never, it's just too profitable for Sony as an exclusive on PS4 (That's the only reason I have a PS4 and a PSN subscription).

    It is a shame to hear about their being cheaters in DS3.

    Personally, i've been playing since about 2 weeks ago on PC (40+ hours so far) and haven't encountered any cheaters, although thank you for the reminder that i shouldn't "take candy from strangers".

    It sucks that people would want to cheat themselves out of such a great game by hacking the game and 1 shotting players/bosses and being invulnerable.

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