How to spot Call of Duty: Warzone cheats and hacks

call of duty warzone hacks
(Image credit: Activision)

Since its release last year, Call of Duty: Warzone hacks and cheats seem to have only become a bigger problem. So far, Activision hasn’t been able to fully seal the cracks through which game-ruining jerks have poured. Compared to other popular FPSes and battle royale games, Warzone is behind the times with its anti-cheat. Despite ban waves, dedicated players are encountering cheaters on a semi-regular basis. It’s possible that you have, too, without even knowing it. Some cheaters are blatant while others hide their 'enhanced' abilities with a bit more guile.

To know if a cheater has infiltrated your match you need to know what to look for. Here’s how to spot the most common CoD: Warzone cheats and hacks, as well as the current state of cheating in the game, how we got here, and what could happen next.

The current state of Warzone cheating

Cheating has been a consistent problem in Warzone since its release. While it’s impossible to be certain without hard data, what we see in-game paints a pretty bad picture. There is no shortage of clips popping up on the Warzone subreddit of hackers stomping legit players just trying to have a good time.

Popular streamers and YouTubers have shared their gripes with rampant cheating in the game, too. Back in August, Jack “CouRage” Dunlop criticized Warzone’s anti-cheat effort on Twitter by comparing his experience with Fall Guys. “I’ve faced legit 200 hackers live on stream in Warzone… 0 have been banned live. I’ve faced 1 hacker on Fall Guys… He was banned on stream,” he said.

Obviously, normal players don’t have game developers tuning into their streams to ban cheaters on-the-spot like CouRage likely does, but it still says a lot about what it’s like to play Warzone at a high level. Rank does seem to influence how often you see cheaters in Warzone. I’m a pretty bad Warzone player with few wins and I don’t think I’ve ever caught a cheater red-handed. Every mode of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare/Warzone uses a certain amount of skill-based matchmaking, so it makes sense that cheaters wouldn’t be matched with my squad of amateurs very often.

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What developers have said

Warzone's current main developer, Raven Software, has been quiet on the issue of cheaters, but Infinity Ward did make a few rare statements last year. It released one blog post in April 2020 roughly outlining its security measures, then in July reminded players that modifying their games in any way can result in a ban. At the end of September, right before the start of Season 6, Infinity Ward announced that it has banned over 200,000 accounts for cheating since the game’s launch. This news came just after a report alleging that the developer quiently banned over 20,000 accounts in a single wave.

Considering Warzone reached over 75 million total players in August 2020, 20,000 accounts is likely a drop in the bucket of total cheaters. It’s clear that Infinity Ward needs more concrete anti-cheat measures, especially if Warzone is going to be supported for years to come.

What a Warzone cheater looks like

Warzone cheats can take several forms, but the most common hacks listed below should be familiar to any FPS veteran.

  • Aimbot: Extreme aim assist that keeps the cheater’s reticle perfectly locked-on to an opponent's body.
  • Wallhacks (or ESP): A magical x-ray vision that lets cheaters see every player’s location through walls at any time.
Win more with these Warzone loadouts

(Image credit: Infinity Ward)

Best Warzone loadouts: The gear to choose
Best M4A1 loadout Warzone: Top all-purpose AR builds
Best MP7 loadout Warzone: Effective SMG setups
Best Grau loadout Warzone: Strong AR builds
Best M13 loadout Warzone: The attachments to choose
Best Bruen Mk9 loadout Warzone: Enhance the LMG
Best Kilo 101 loadout Warzone: Boost the punchy AR
Best FAL loadout Warzone: Semi-auto AR boosts
Best FiNN LMG loadout Warzone: Useful recoil control

You can see both of these in use in the video above by NeMs942, a cheater that has built an audience of over 40,000 subscribers through Warzone cheat videos while (apparently) skirting a permanent ban.

The knowledge afforded by wallhacks is extremely valuable in a battle royale game, where smart positioning is everything. The most common version of wallhacks can optionally broadcast additional information like a player’s distance from the cheater, their username, and what weapon they’re holding. A player’s wireframe color will also turn from yellow to red when they’re in line-of-sight of the cheater so they know when to start firing. If that’s not bad enough, it can also show where every piece of loot is around them.

The aimbots that most cheaters use are also incredibly effective, giving cheaters near-perfect aim while accounting for bullet drop and target leading at any distance that the weapon normally allows. Combined with Warzone’s simulated bullet penetration through walls, these tools let cheaters kill entire squads without ever actually looking at them.

That’s a blatant example. Some cheaters try their best to appear like normal players by faking ignorance or toggling their cheats off. The tools themselves can assist with the ruse. For instance, an aimbot can be tuned to not instantly snap to a target at impossible speeds, instead kicking in only when the player naturally moves their crosshair near the target.

What’s up with Warzone’s anti-cheat?

Here's where things get murky. Infinity Ward hasn’t said too much about its measures for catching and banning cheaters. This is a common precaution developers take to prevent cheat makers from getting the upper hand in the endless arms race.

Based on the April blog post, we know that Warzone has a 24/7 security team that reviews and identifies “all possible cheats and hacks”. We also know that in-game reports are “analyzed and filtered based on key data,” suggesting a certain amount of automation in what largely sounds like a manual process. That’s a little unusual compared to other popular shooters that employ dedicated anti-cheat software. Programs like Easy Anti-Cheat, Battleye, or Valorant’s proprietary kernel-level Vanguard software always run in the background while playing to, theoretically, catch offenders in the act by detecting cheating software. These programs are typically used alongside aggressive manual moderation.

This two-front approach has become common in competitive games where enterprising rule-breakers are eager to boost their player rank or farm XP. It’s notable that now seven months after launch, Warzone hasn’t publicly implemented a known anti-cheat software or announced its own. That’s not to say a proper anti-cheat would solve Warzone’s problems, necessarily. We should always assume cheaters will find their way around the system, but developers should do everything in their power to make that job harder.

When you kill a hacker in warzone and the lobby stays to congratulate you after you win from r/CODWarzone

Can you stop a Warzone hacker?

It’s possible, but not likely. As far as I can tell, cheaters generally don’t have other god-like abilities like invulnerability or unlimited ammo. They are mortals, and mortals can be killed. Assuming you’ve encountered a cheater and haven’t already bit the dust, your best chance at coming out on top is to keep track of where they are and always keep a few walls between you and them.

In the video above, the player smartly goes on the offensive against a cheater by closing the distance while staying in cover. With the advantage of the aimbot slightly diminished by a closer fight, they’re able to outplay the cheater with accurate shots. Obviously, this isn’t an ironclad strategy. The cheater needs to make a few mistakes along the way to leave themselves open to attack. But if you can outnumber the cheater and catch them in the open, they can be overwhelmed before they kill your entire squad.

(Image credit: Activision)

How to report cheaters in Warzone

If you do encounter someone you believe to be cheating, there are two ways to submit a report:

  • If you were killed by a cheater, spectate them after dying to confirm they are, in fact, cheating. Then press X (on keyboard) to access the report screen and select Cheating as the reason. 
  • If you encountered a cheater but weren’t killed by them, press F1 to access the Social tab on the main menu and head over to recent players. Click on the cheater’s username and select Report Player.
  • Remember that getting boosted by a cheater is also considered cheating, but there is a separate option for that offense.

Even with reporting in mind, you should still expect to play with cheaters on a regular basis (especially if you win a lot). That's just what playing Warzone is like at the moment, but I'd hardly say cheaters ruin the game for the millions that play it every day. Just stay vigilant and report the jerks.

Morgan Park
Staff Writer

Morgan has been writing for PC Gamer since 2018, first as a freelancer and currently as a staff writer. He has also appeared on Polygon, Kotaku, Fanbyte, and PCGamesN. Before freelancing, he spent most of high school and all of college writing at small gaming sites that didn't pay him. He's very happy to have a real job now. Morgan is a beat writer following the latest and greatest shooters and the communities that play them. He also writes general news, reviews, features, the occasional guide, and bad jokes in Slack. Twist his arm, and he'll even write about a boring strategy game. Please don't, though.