From poker, to chess, to Counter-Strike, there have always been unscrupulous players looking to cheat in games. The only thing that’s changed is the method.
Now, cheaters in online shooters such as Rainbow Six: Siege and Battlefield V are tweaking their graphics settings to gain an unfair advantage over other players. It’s called level of detail (LOD) bias tweaking, and it involves adjusting the graphics settings at the hardware level so that games looks shitty, but advantageous.
When a beautiful game like Battlefield V suddenly looks like Minecraft, the visual field becomes less cluttered. When there’s no grass or shadows in Battlefield V, it’s much easier to see and kill opponents across the map. A player may think they’re hiding in a patch of long grass, but to the the player on the other end who tweaked the game to show less details, they’re lying out in the open.
This is different than simply playing a game on low graphics settings, which some competitive players do. There are a few advantages to this—the less graphically intense a game is, the better it will run, improving reaction time. Reducing the level of detail also removes some visual clutter, which could make it easier to spot the enemy. Tweaking a game’s settings below what the software allows is another matter entirely.
As explained in a recent video by YouTuber jackfrags, cheaters are using simple text editors and, for players using NVIDIA graphics cards, programs like NVIDIA Inspector to tweak graphics beyond what the game would normally allow.
NVIDIA Inspector allows in-depth tweaks to the settings of specific programs that are running on a graphics card. There’s plenty of legitimate reasons to use NVIDIA Inspector—a gamer may want to adjust power consumption and fan speed for individual games, for example. But cheaters can also use the program to tank their LOD settings.
Some players are reportedly receiving bans for exploiting LOD bias in Battlefield V.
Redditor Gudboiharvester streamed themselves playing Battlefield V on Twitch with an LOD bias and claims to have received a permanent ban from the game. “What. Did I get banned for cheating finally?” they said when the game logged them out, according to a video that Gudboiharvester allegedly deleted from their Twitch page, but not before a Redditor uploaded it to Streamable.
When Gudboiharvester took to the Battlefield V subreddit to complain about the ban, a verified producer (meaning a DICE employee) going by Merson316 called them out on their behaviour.
“So I'm not allowed to publicly state why you were banned,” Merson316 said. “What I will say though, I think you know why you were banned. So much so you deleted the Twitch VOD showing it happening live on your stream. Afterall, I was watching it at the time.”
When another Redditor asked if messing around with NVIDIA Inspector was a bannable offense, Merson316 replied, “Using it to abuse LOD bias can land you in trouble,” adding, “We're investigating potential fixes.”
The visual elements of Battlefield V are a huge part of the game. There’s places to hide in the shadows on the expansive maps, the terrain provides cover, and camouflage can help players blend into their surroundings. LOD bias tweaking circumvents all that and turns the game into a cel-shaded shooting gallery. Where’s the fun in that?