Valorant's Vanguard anti-cheat technology proved deeply controversial when it was revealed last year. Players were unhappy about the fact that it loads at boot by default and lurks quietly in the background, waiting and watching even when Valorant isn't running. Riot made Vanguard more visible and easier to disable in response, but the basic requirement remained: If you want to play Valorant, you've got to run Vanguard.
A year and a half later, Riot's strategy appears to be paying dividends. Riot anti-cheat analyst Matt “K3o” Paoletti said in an update posted today that the rate of reports for cheating in Valorant are the lowest they've ever been.
Combatting cheaters is "a continual arms race" which has seen an uptick in hardware-based cheats and "machine learning algorithms," but Paoletti said Riot has so far been able to stay ahead of those efforts.
"Despite what developers may say, the words 'artificial intelligence' do not make a cheat undetectable," he wrote. "Not only that, we’re tackling unique forms of cheating outside of the typical aimbots, such as cheats that look to tamper with the game engine and assets. As of today, report rates are at an all-time low."
Paoletti acknowledged that there are still, and always will be, cheaters in Valorant, but said that Riot's goal is to ensure "that cheating is never a viable way to long term competitive success in Valorant." To that end, developers will continue to develop Vanguard while taking advantage of more general advances in cybersecurity, including "security upgrades in operating systems that enable us to better identify and prevent cheaters"—presumably a reference to the requirement for TPM (Trusted Platform Module 2.0) on Windows 11-based PCs.
It's also going to increase focus on players who use cheating accounts to boost other players, "knowing that their account would get banned but the boostee would keep the ill-gotten gains," Paoletti wrote. "We’ve created automated measures to take actions on the boosted account, and we’re still committing to those."
The effectiveness of Valorant's anti-cheat can also be seen in more subtle ways. Activision recently announced that it's launching a kernel level anti-cheat for Call of Duty: Warzone, a testament to the overall effectiveness of the technology in itself, and this time around players seem happy to embrace it (or at least, willing to put up with it) as long as it works.