Battlefield 3 hackers use exploit to ban innocent players

Battlefield 3 - manshoot in Operation Metro

Like every competitive shooter, Battlefield 3 has a problem with hackers and cheats who use exploits and aimbots to boost their stats. Recently the problem seems to have become more serious. The unofficial BF3 blog mentions an instance in which one of DICE's own moderators was uncovered as a hacker. Now a group of hackers are advertising an exploit that allows them to get innocent players banned.

The author of this Reddit post got in touch yesterday with links to hacker forum discussions revealing exploits that would trick Punkbuster into ejecting honest players. A number of threads on the Battlelog forums have been started by players claiming to have been banned from Battlefield 3 games without cause. There are plenty of reports of servers and leaderboards dominated by bots racking up hundreds of kills.

DICE have recently said that they're ramping up anti-cheat measures and have been issuing bans en-masse to cheaters they've been catching, but among Battlefield 3 players there's increasing scepticism over the levels of security offered by anti-cheat program, Punkbuster.

Battlefield 3 community manager crash7800 responded to the Reddit post saying "we're absolutely looking into this issue." They're currently looking into the hackers' claims to establish how much of what they say is true. "We definitely know that something isn't right and we're working to fix it ASAP." DICE's most recent Battlelog post recognises that some players have been having problems dropping from Punkbuster servers. Their advice to affected players is to "join servers that are not running PunkBuster."

If you encounter a cheater in Battlefield 3, DICE recommend reporting them through Battlelog. To do this, you can "enter the profile page of the person you suspect and click the triangle in the top right corner of his name." This will lead to a report screen where the devs encourage players to "enter as much detail as possible, describing what specifically makes you believe this player has used unfair methods, and preferably include a link to the Battle Report for the match in question."

We've contacted DICE for comment on the hackers' claims and more detail on ther their plans to counter cheaters. It's not just hackers that Battlefield 3 fans have to contend with. Many players, including ourselves, have constant difficulty getting into games. Once in, disconnections are a regular annoyance. I wrote about why Battlefield 3 deserved our Online Game of the Year award. I still think the game underneath the connection problems and cheating scandals is world class, but with so many problems three months after release, player patience will understandably be wearing thin.

Tom Senior

Part of the UK team, Tom was with PC Gamer at the very beginning of the website's launch—first as a news writer, and then as online editor until his departure in 2020. His specialties are strategy games, action RPGs, hack ‘n slash games, digital card games… basically anything that he can fit on a hard drive. His final boss form is Deckard Cain.