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Elite Dangerous hacks are becoming a problem, and Frontier is investigating

While unscrupulous smugglers, bounty hunters and pirates might be welcome in Elite Dangerous, some rogues have been ruffling their fellow pilots' feathers by using hacks to augment their ships. Programs used to exploit the game aren't new to Elite, but members of the community have noticed a rise, with a recent Reddit thread highlighting a specific group that's been active since at least August 2018. 

Reddit user ryan_m17 claims that a private Discord has been distributing a trainer for the game that allows players to significantly enhance their ships and tweak any module. This gives players using it an obvious advantage in PvP, and while that means they can then be reported, the trainer is still apparently in use. 

The problem doesn't seem to be recent. One player told me that cheating has seen their guild numbers decline over the last couple of years, and while these invincible ships cause lots of issues in PvP, the hacks also interfere with the PvE background simulation. Some players say their groups lost systems to people using hacks or bots. It's a galactic threat, that affects multiplayer and singleplayer.

Frontier routinely bans reported players and investigates cheating, and a ticket was submitted to Frontier, along with an export of the Discord. But without feedback from Frontier, players aren't sure if these problems are being tackled. From their perspective, they're being ignored and the cheating continues. 

"We take activities of this nature seriously," a Frontier representative told me. "Our support teams are aware and investigating." A similar response was given to viewers of a recent livestream when the subject came up in chat.

The problem with acknowledging and discussing these things is that it draws attention to them, but it also means players are better able to look out for people exploiting the game.

Some players are calling for harsher punishments for cheating. Temporary bans to to solo followed by a permaban on the third strike is how Frontier deals with players chaught cheating, but even relegated to solo these hacks could still affect the game for other players.

"Even as a solo explorer, this affects you," DarthHM said. "Imagine getting to the far side of the galaxy and finding a system first discovered by some goober who can insta-jump anywhere. Perma ban to solo is not severe enough."

While players were no doubt hoping for more information, at least Frontier is looking into the issues. And it should go without saying, but using these hacks will probably cost you access to a big portion of the game.  

Fraser Brown

Fraser is the UK online editor and has actually met The Internet in person. With over a decade of experience, he's been around the block a few times, serving as a freelancer, news editor and prolific reviewer. Strategy games have been a 30-year-long obsession, from tiny RTSs to sprawling political sims, and he never turns down the chance to rave about Total War or Crusader Kings. He's also been known to set up shop in the latest MMO and likes to wind down with an endlessly deep, systemic RPG. These days, when he's not editing, he can usually be found writing features that are 1,000 words too long. He thinks labradoodles are the best dogs but doesn't get to write about them much.