How 'Call of Duty: Vanguard' Has Cheats Before It's Even Out

Players are getting killed by cheaters even in the game's beta, but there is no reason to panic yet.
September 21, 2021, 1:00pm
Call of Duty: Vanguard
Image: Activision/YouTube

The new and highly anticipated Call of Duty: Vanguard is coming out in early November, and cheaters are already ruining it for the players who are testing its multiplayer beta. 

Cheat developers are already offering lifetime access to Vanguard cheats for once the game launches properly on November 5. But the cheats won't necessarily work on the final release of the game, according to posts from the cheating platforms reviewed by Waypoint and a source in the games industry.  

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Several players have complained about  being killed by cheaters in the Vanguard beta, which is open until September 22, as multiple videogame blogs reported in the last week. Some cheat developers are already advertising and selling cheats for the upcoming game, according to multiple listings viewed by Waypoint. 

"You can use the product NOW during beta as you get your lifetime key instantly & automatically just like with any other product," one cheat developer, which makes a cheat platform called Phantom Overlay, wrote in an announcement on one of the platform's Telegram channels.

"Our new COD Vanguard Hack will be better than our Warzone Cheats and all the features will work with the new Warzone map releasing with Vanguard," another cheat developer, called IWANTCHEATS, wrote in its official website. 

The reason there's already cheats for Vanguard is that, fundamentally, most of the code underlining the new game is the same as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare and Warzone, according to a source who works in the games industry.

"The core of the [Call of Duty] engine hasn’t changed much during the life of the franchise so porting a cheat from one game to another has always been very easy," the source, who asked to remain anonymous as they were not authorized to speak to the press, told Motherboard. "Cheat developers have extra incentives to get that working during beta: it’s good publicity for them to be the first and that allows them to capture screenshots and videos for marketing. Most usually give the cheat free to their existing customers. Some even go free for everyone."

Do you develop cheats for games or reverse engineer anti-cheat software? Or do you work on anti-cheat software? We’d love to hear from you. You can contact Lorenzo Franceschi-Bicchierai securely on Signal at +1 917 257 1382, OTR chat at lorenzofb@jabber.ccc.de, or email lorenzofb@vice.com. You can contact Joseph Cox securely on Signal on +44 20 8133 5190, Wickr on josephcox, or email joseph.cox@vice.com.

Phantom Overlay acknowledged that its cheat currently only works on the beta, writing on their website "only working for the beta of the game."

The cheats themselves offer the usual abilities you might expect. They include so-called extra sensory perception (ESP), which allows players to see enemies through walls; an always-on radar that shows player locations on the mini-map; and an aimbot that automatically positions the cheater's crosshairs over an enemy making killing them much easier, according to a marketing video from Phantom Overlay advertising Vanguard cheats.

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ESP is especially easy to port in games as it is a passive system that doesn’t require the cheat to mimic mouse or keyboard movements in the game, according to the source.

At the time of writing, Phantom Overlay is offering Vanguard cheats at a pre-order price of 150 Euros. On its website, the platform says its cheats are suitable for streamers. These are players who may want to use cheats while not raising suspicion from viewers who can see them playing or other players.

Some players are apparently already paying for access to Vanguard cheats before the game itself has been launched.

"Im gonna buy vanguard lifetime before buying the game lmao," one potential user in a customer support channel for Phantom Overlay wrote.

But there is no guarantee the cheats they are using now will work in the final game. 

Activision, the publisher of the Call of Duty series, has said that Vanguard will include an all-new anti-cheat system at launch, even going so far as to mention the system in promotional trailers for the upcoming game. Warzone, the massively popular free-to-play Call of Duty battle royale mode which Vanguard will later integrate with, has a bad cheater problem, prompting some high profile streamers to play other games.

Activision did not respond to a request for comment.