Cheating

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Not to be confused with Cheats, which are console commands that need sv_cheats 1 to work.
"Cheater" redirects here. For the hat, see Cheater's Lament.
Material wallhacking on 2Fort.
Material wallhacking on 2Fort.
Cheater using ESP on Dustbowl.


Nothing stokes my ire like a cheater. Deception, duplicity, murder — these are merely tools in a toolbox one can use to ensure a job done well. But cheating? I cannot even wrap my head around the point of it. Wouldn't you know you had cheated? How on Earth could you maintain crisp certainty of your superiority to all others? And if you're unable to do that, what's the point of anything?
The Administrator

Cheating is a term that describes the use of third-party programs or material changes in order to gain an unfair advantage in gameplay. Valve has a strict policy against cheating and will ban detected cheats with the Valve Anti-Cheat system (abbreviated to "VAC").

Players can be reported in game via the scoreboard or by pressing ESC and clicking the Report Player button on the main menu, or by sending an abuse report (default key: F7).

Most cheats take the form of:

  • Engine hooks, which "hook" parts of the Source Engine and use them for their cheat.
  • Material cheats (also known as chams, short for chameleon skins), which use custom materials to lower the opacity of walls or make players easier to see.

These cheats are referred to as "internal cheats".

"External cheats" do not "hook" but instead read/write game memory externally. These are fairly uncommon in Team Fortress 2.

Working cheats

These are features in cheats that work in the latest version of Team Fortress 2.

Aimbot

Aimbots automatically aim at an enemy for the player. This can be customized to ignore Spy's cloak, disguise, or Medic's Vaccinator and have "legit" features (features which attempt to disguise cheating behavior) such as smoothing.

There are many variants of aimbot, including Hitscan, Melee, and Projectile aimbot.

  • Aimbot: Locks the crosshair onto the enemy and automatically shoots or swings.
  • Projectile aimbot: Projectile aimbots lock onto the predicted location of the enemy, rather than the enemy itself, and fires. Each aimbot variant listed below has a projectile-specific variant that works with predicting the position.
  • Silent aimbot: Shoots at the enemy without facing the enemy, however, the flicking or locking on is visible in Spectator.
    • pSilent aimbot: Identical to silent aimbot, but does not show flicking or locking on in Spectator or demos.
  • Smooth aimbot: Identical to aimbot, but applies smoothing when locking onto enemies to prevent sudden flicks.
  • Aim assist: Helps move your crosshair to the enemy, but does not automatically fire or swing.
    • Projectile aim assist: In addition to helping your crosshair move to the predicted position, also draws a dot on the predicted position.
  • Auto backstab: Automatically backstabs a target once it is possible to backstab, the viewmodel also silently changes angle depending on the enemy's location.
  • Melee swing prediction: Predicts where the target will be after the swing delay.

Triggerbot

  • Triggerbot: Automatically triggers certain actions under certain conditions:
    • Hitscan/melee triggerbot: The opposite of aim assist, fires your weapon or swings your melee whenever your crosshair is over an enemy, but does not help with aiming. Melee triggerbot also checks if an enemy is in range.
    • Airblast projectile triggerbot: Automatically airblasts projectiles towards targets. Silent variants also exist, which do not face the enemy when airblasting. Note that although rare, it is possible for a normal player to airblast a projectile that is behind them due to the large airblast hitbox size.
    • Extinguish triggerbot: Automatically airblasts teammates that are on fire when in range.
    • Knockback airblast triggerbot: Automatically pushes enemies away using the airblast.
    • Detonate triggerbot: Automatically detonates Detonator flares and stickybombs when in range of an enemy.
    • ÜberCharge triggerbot: Automatically activates ÜberCharge under certain conditions, works with different Medi Guns. The stock variant triggers upon taking enough damage, the Vaccinator variant automatically changes resistance based on the type of damage that is being taken, and the Kritzkrieg variant triggers under certain conditions.
    • Sapper triggerbot: Automatically places Sappers on builds when in range.

Anti-aim

Anti-aim is to constantly change the direction you are looking to prevent being headshot. This is sometimes done by modifying the view angles of the player by editing the values in pitch or yaw into an out-of-bound value, so the player can appear facing one direction, when in reality the real hitbox is facing the other direction. This is often referred to as a "fake angle".

Anti-aim is also used to create a "spinbot", which is when a cheater rapidly spins around (usually while facing the sky or facing the ground), while their client view remains as normal.

A limitation of anti-aim is that the visual hitbox cannot be facing away from the direction of fire, i.e. when the cheater fires forwards, the model snaps forwards.

  • Anti-backstab is also achieved with Anti-Aim. It detects if a Spy is near your back hitbox and snaps the real model backwards, making the Spy miss his stab.
    • However, backtrack cheats can backtrack the cheater and still result in a backstab.

Anti-anti-aim

Anti-anti-aim, or Aim resolver, attempts to brute-force the enemy's real model by shooting at certain locations until a headshot occurs. Certain cheats can also "force" an enemy cheater's viewangles, so that they may manually resolve their anti-aim.

Autostrafer

Autostrafing, or auto airstrafing, refers to automatically airstrafing left or right when your mouse moves left or right. Also has a silent variant, as well as a directional variant which allows pressing movement keys to move in directions that the cheater is not facing.

This is usually used in conjunction with Bunnyhopping, as simply strafing left and right on the floor no longer gives extra speed.

Backtrack

Abuses the Source Engine's lag compensation to "send people back in time". Cheats can backtrack up to 200 milliseconds, or ~13 ticks on 66 tick servers. A common use of backtracking is to backtrack people into being straight in front of you as Spy to easily backstab. This is easily noticed by people walking backwards into you and then getting a backstab while being in front of you. Backtrack should not be confused with using high cl_interp values, which more often than not hinder a player rather than benefitting them.

If a player or bot is holding the Intelligence or Mann vs. Machine bomb and they get backtracked, the Intelligence (or bomb) gets teleported to the position they were backtracked to. NPCs, such as the Tank Robot or ghosts, can not be backtracked due to them not being lag compensated. Cheaters cannot backtrack with projectile weapons due to the same reason.

Bunny Hop / Bhop

Automatically jumps when you land, which prevents the game from slowing your velocity down.

Partially fixed in the October 31, 2007 Patch by lowering the maximum air velocity while in a 'jump' state; however, bhopping still gives a slight speed boost when combined with air strafing.

Bypass sv_cheats

Can bypass sv_cheats to access commands like mat_fullbright. noclip and buddha that don't usually work.

Crit Bucket Manipulation / Crit Hack

To fix constant criticals, Valve released a new random Crit system which requires players to "fill a bucket" by shooting before they can receive random Crits.

It's possible to "store" random Crits by filling up the "crit bucket", which can then be used at will by a cheater. Melee weapons do not follow this Crit bucket system, which allows them to Crit 100% of the time with cheats.

This cheat does not work on servers with tf_weapon_criticals and tf_weapon_criticals_melee set to 1.

Custom Item Schema

Cheaters can load a temporary custom item schema that normally defies the rules of the item schema provided by the game.

Things custom item schema can do:

  • Remove any equip_region restriction, which can be seen by everybody.
  • Add attributes to any item in the game, which only shows up for them and disappears once the schema is unloaded.
  • Add any item into their backpack, which only shows up for them and disappears once the schema is unloaded.
  • Increase the amount of backpack slots they have, which can trick websites that use Steam's API to get false backpack data.

This does not allow for any economy-breaking exploits, as Valve has added extra measures to prevent that from happening.

ESP

ESP stands for Extra Sensory Perception. ESP is considered anything that gives extra information visually. Examples include:

  • Showing player positions, health, ÜberCharge percentage, class, and weapon.
  • Chams (changes the colors of the model, making them easier to spot & visible through walls).
  • Making the players glow constantly, similar to how your teammates glow after you respawn.
  • Showing information about the player, such as the currently equipped weapons, or if the player is zoomed in.

Fakelag

Abuses packets so the server doesn't update your position for a maximum of ~23 ticks. To others, it looks like they are "lagging", but their ping will be relatively low and from their view the game looks fine. Due to the nature of fakelag, it is mostly used to counter cheaters to make their aimbot miss.

Fake Latency

Fake latency refers to artifically increasing or decreasing ping to the server. Decreasing ping has no effect on gameplay and the real ping can be found by typing ping in the console. Increasing ping will also increase the amount of lag compensation done by the Source Engine, allowing cheaters to shoot people behind walls much easier.

Fast queue

Exploits the queue region matchmaking system to result in much faster queue times.

FOV Manipulation

Allows for the FOV (also known as Field Of View) to be manipulated beyond the range of 55 to 90, the range normally accessible.

Force Halloween

Allows for attributes such as spells to be usable in non-Halloween games. Unlike Custom item schema, this allows spells to be shown to other players, rather than being just client-sided.

Noisemaker Spamming

Allows cheaters to use any noisemakers that have limited uses without actually using their limited use.

No Recoil

Removes any bobbing received by shooting weapons or getting hurt; this is mostly cosmetic, but can help with aimbot accuracy.

No Projectile Inaccuracy

Under the same category as No Spread, this removes any inaccuracy projectile weapons have, such as Beggar's Bazooka deviation or Huntsman charge inaccuracy.

Roll Speed Hack

When Valve patched "viewangle speed hack", they only patched it for people standing; the patch does not apply to cheaters that crouch and can be easily seen as they crouch and walk backwards.

This will allow cheaters to crouch at walking speeds.

Server Seed Prediction

If a server runs long enough, the seed value (which determines the spread for client weapons) will be a big floating point.

This introduces a big imprecision (as it gets rounded more and more). The client can predict the pattern generated by the server as you only need a value approximately close to that of the servers, and the rounding will do the rest, which will allow for no spread-like properties to work. Casual servers generally do not stay up long enough for this cheat to be effective, but some community servers may.

Thirdperson

Allows cheaters to go into thirdperson regardless if the server has sv_cheats set to 1 or has any plugins installed if it is a community server.

Taunt Slide

Originally a bug that would allow player actions when taunting if you taunted right before you fell off something. Cheaters took advantage of this so they could taunt slide whenever they taunted, without needing to fall off anything.

This was fixed in an update but is still partially possible, using moving taunts to instantly turn without any turn delay, or moving sideways while using the taunt.

Anti-Cheat Bypass

Also known as VAC Disabler, this cheat causes VAC or community server anti-cheats to be bypassed. This does not remove VAC bans.

Tickbase Exploits

Allows the client to "warp" on command up to ~23 ticks on Valve servers (value is dictated by sv_maxusrcmdprocessticks) by sending multiple usercmds after faking packet loss. This will cause the player to teleport ~23 ticks (roughly a third of a second on 66 tick servers). This feature exists due to the way the game compensates for packet loss, and can be broken down into airstucking and speedhacking for a short period of time.

This can also be utilised for another feature commonly referred to as doubletap, which allows firing in quick succession.

Patched cheats

These are features in cheats that have been patched by Valve within content updates.

Achievement Spammer

Cheaters could rapidly unlock and relock achievements, which would spam the chat and constantly play the achievement earned sound.

This was fixed sometime in 2014 by Valve adding a limit of how many achievements can be displayed in chat at once.

Airstuck

Causes a cheater to float in mid-air by sending no usercmds to the server.

This was found to contain various exploits, such as:

Fixed in April 20, 2017 Patch by introducing a new command sv_player_usercommand_timeout which will require cheaters to send a usercmd depending on the value set; setting to 0 disables the fix.

Constant Criticals

Originally, cheats could get 100% Crits by setting the tickcount to when they would get Crits.

Fixed sometime in 2013 with the introduction of the Crit bucket system.

Hitscan Silent Aim

Hitscan refers to weapons that use hitscan to hit players, like Shotguns or Pistols.

"Perfect Silent Aim" (commonly known as pSilent in cheats) used to hide silent aim snaps from spectators.

Fixed in July 23, 2015 Patch by introducing a new command sv_maxusrcmdprocessticks_holdaim, which allows servers to hold client ticks for multiple ticks; setting to 0 disables the fix.

Minigun Jumping

Normally, when you're revved up with the Heavy's Minigun, you cannot jump. Cheats could remove this restriction by simply telling the game that you're not revved up.

Fixed sometime in 2013.

No Spread

Predicts or changes the seed of a weapon to remove/reduce weapon spread.

Fixed in July 23, 2015 Patch by making the server control the seed instead of the client.

Scope Hack

This hack helps you charge the scope of a Sniper Rifle faster/instantly.

Server Lagging

Sending too many commands per tick could cause the server to rubberband or completely freeze players, often causing connected players to time out.

This was partially fixed in the June 7, 2018 Patch by limiting the number of commands a player can send per tick; however, some Community servers are still affected.

Sequence Freezing / Remove Conditions

Abused the netchannel to skip sequences. Nearly all conditions could be removed, such as fire/bleed.

Depending on how many sequences you skipped, cheaters could break player lag compensation, making it hard for people to hit the cheater with hitscan-based weapons.

Other side effects included:

  • Prematurely ending taunts (Phlogistinator included, giving extended ÜberCharge protection).
  • Removing stuns applied by ghosts.
  • Duping Health Packs.
  • Duping Ammo Packs.
  • Infinitely throw Sniper's Jarate or Scout's Mad Milk.
  • Instantly or speed up captures on control points.
  • Instantly decloak as Spy, skipping the decloak animation.
  • Instantly reload, depending on the weapon.
  • Instant spinup with Heavy's Minigun.
  • Reverse capture control points, allowing the defending team to capture points for the attacking team. This also caused sequence breaks, causing no MVP screens and long setup times.
  • Getting ignored by NPCs, such as an Engineer's Sentry Gun.
  • Using the Sniper's Huntsman to deal negative damage, giving enemies massive overheal.
  • Shoot twice at once with weapons that have delays before their next shot (ex. Shotguns or Rocket Launchers).
  • Firing Demoman's Stickybomb Launcher stickies all at once.
  • Abusing Healthpacks to give infinite overheal using Heavy's Gloves of Running Urgently.
  • Delay charges on any weapon that could be charged, such as Soldier's Cow Mangler or Demoman's Stickybomb Launcher.

The remove conditioning effect could be done by legitimate means by purposely freezing the game (such as spamming snd_restart) to desync yourself from the server.

Condition removing was fixed in November 7, 2017 Patch, but some of the effects still remained, which were patched at a later date.

Viewangle Speed Hack

Another form of speedhacking rose soon after the original speedhacking was patched out, known as "viewangle speed hack"; it would allow for higher than normal velocities, but wouldn't have the same effects of normal speedhacking.

Viewangle speed hack was fixed in July 24, 2014 Patch.

Bots

Since late 2019, bots (semi/fully automated cheating programs with little to no input from humans) have been created to join Casual servers using aimbot cheats, server lag, spinbot, walkbot, and votekicking real players, among other things.

Several updates have attempted to fix or mitigate the voice and text chat spam, name stealing, votekick initiation, team name changing, server lagging, and the unequipping of cosmetics.

See also