The Division on PC will succumb to hackers without a “complete rewrite”

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Division

Ubisoft’s The Division is a pretty damned good game – but it’s got a number of issues that, especially on PC, are causing many of even its most ardent supporters to give up. Mostly, the game’s become a bit of a hacker’s paradise. There are glitches, exploits and hacks that allow less scrupled players to farm for items or stack bonuses.

But worse are the third-party software hacks that have made the PC version of the Dark Zone somewhere you just don’t want to be. And it’s getting worse, with the hacker problem becoming endemic.

Ubisoft vowed to fix the problem, of course. Cheats of this ilk were noticed in the beta version before the game’s release last month

“We are aware of the cheating issues in the closed beta on PC. The team is fully committed to providing solutions against this and a system will be in place to ensure a fair experience for players when the game is released on March 8,” Ubisoft said back then.

Hackers still run rife – and according to one developer, it’s something that won’t be going away, unless Ubisoft Massive rewrites the game’s entire netcode.

Speaking on his blog, networking developer Glenn Fiedler said that fixing The Division would take a rewrite to fix. Fielder worked for five years as  lead network programmer at Sony Computer Entertainment, and worked on the frankly excellent networking code for Titanfall and its sequel, so he very probably knows what he’s talking about.

“A lot of people are complaining online about cheating in The Division lately,” Fiedler wrote on his blog. “So much so that it’s starting to hit mainstream media.”

“The first videos I saw were the usual overly smug glitchers out there, super proud to have discovered things the QA department should have probably picked up when testing the game. [It’s] not a great thing to see in a shipped game, but also not the end of the world.”

And then he saw a video (now removed) that shows how hackers are using client side software to change variables – which means there’s close to no server side authentication of any of The Division’s data.

“Here we have a client-side cheat program that is poking memory locations and giving players infinite health, infinite ammo, and teleporting players around the level,” Fiedler said, which suggests the game is using a trusted client network model. “I sincerely hope this is not the case, because if it is true, my opinion of can this be fixed is basically no. Not on PC. Not without a complete rewrite.”

The Division would need to be rewritten to use a server-authoritive network model like “top tier FPS games like Call of Duty, Overwatch and Titanfall” do, where the decisions about what hits, what doesn’t, and what the variables in play are done by the servers.

Without that, The Division’s long-term success, at least on PC, is likely doomed.

Last Updated: April 28, 2016

Geoffrey Tim

Editor. I'm old, grumpy and more than just a little cynical. One day, I found myself in possession of a NES, and a copy of Super Mario Bros 3. It was that game that made me realise that games were more than just toys to idly while away time - they were capable of being masterpieces. I'm here now, looking for more of those masterpieces.

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