‘PUBG’ Hackers: What They Can Do and How to Kill Them

Joab Gilroy
PC Gaming Games
PC Gaming Games

Playerunknown’s Battlegrounds is a brilliant game, featuring 100 players pitting their wits against one another in a battle for life, glory and that precious, precious chicken dinner. It spawned from similar Last Man Standing style mods in the Arma series, those in turn searching for a way to speed up the gameplay loop of another groundbreaking Arma mod — DayZ. Similar to DayZ, PUBG has attracted hackers — bad players who use cheats as a crutch to find unearned victories at the expense of other player’s experiences. Luckily, we’ve seen it all before, and we know what to look out for.

PUBG Corp is banning tens of thousands — sometimes hundreds of thousands — of hackers a week. They’re developing new ways to beat them all the time, implementing new elements to their anti-cheat systems. According to interviews, they’re even working on their own FairFight type system to work alongside BattlEye. It’s something they take very seriously. Nevertheless, hackers still exist and they can spoil a round if you let them. Here are our tips on how to minimise the amount of impact a hacker can have.

Land Away From Everyone

This is actually just generally good practice, but if you can manage it, you should land as far away from anyone else as you can manage. Something you might have noticed if you’ve ever encountered a really blatant hacker is that they will often try to shoot you even when you’re behind cover — this is because their cheat programs simply find targets for them to shoot at and then they see what they can get away with.

A far-off cursor in Battlegrounds map Erangel.
Try to land at least 1.5 grid squares away from the plane to maximise your chances of being alone.

The way hacks work is that they generally need to have line of sight on you to do any damage, so landing at a town away from other people means they won’t have that. If someone does land near you anyway, do your best to get a high powered close range weapon immediately, and see if you can track where they’re moving. If you can get a shotgun and a helmet early, ultra blatant hackers are often overconfident to the point that you can wait for them to come to you. Hide in a house up a stairwell and pop them in the chest when they try to come up.

Watch the Killfeed

Assuming you landed alone, the next best bet for dealing with a hacker is to keep an eye on the killfeed. It’s in the bottom left corner of the screen (although if the Test server’s new UI is any indication, it will soon move to the top right). If you see a player constantly appearing in the killfeed — especially if they’re consistently getting headshots — then keep that in mind. Obviously not every headshot king is a hacker — often a kill will appear in the killfeed as a headshot because the player who died was down but not out first, and finishing someone who is DBNO with a headshot is efficient and quick. But if you see them show up as a headshot beast over and over — and they don’t share a name with an official two time Blockbuster video game champion or have a C9 in front of their name — it’s worth keeping track of.

Knowledge is key. As the circle closes in, you can use the repeated headshots to give you more information about the hacker’s location. If you hear a shot to your east and it coincides with another headshot kill to your east, then you know that’s where your cheating nemesis will be. One of the other things hackers can do is know exactly where you are at all times — but if they’re being blatant about it, you’ll have a pretty good idea of their location as well. Use that to get close to them and to ambush them as best you can.

Play Duos or Squads

Solos might be your preferred way to play, but it’s far easier to deal with hackers in Duos and Squads. The ability to be DBNO in the team modes of PUBG means you can get a second chance against a hacker (provided you’re in cover quickly). If you can’t play Duos or Squads because your friends aren’t about or aren’t playing at the moment, queue in with randoms using auto matchmaking — the quality of your teammates can be a mixed bag, but 60% of the time it works every time.

The real trick in Duos or Squads is that most aimbots wig out when they have too many targets. The AI in aimbots isn’t particularly sophisticated, so one of the best ways to kill a hacker is to attack them in a coordinated effort. If you and your three pals launch your ambush attack at the same time, the hacker’s aimbot will flip between all four of you as it attempts to acquire a target, giving you ample extra opportunity to kill them. Killing an obvious hacker who has wiped out most of the server feels almost as good as getting a chicken dinner.

Plan For The Worst

A lot of hackers are much more subtle than the goofy morons who pop speedhacks and then flit about the server as fast as they can trying to rack up kills. Instead of using aimbots, some of the more insidious cheaters will use something called ESP to tell them where everything in the game is. They’ll know where the best loot is as soon as they land, they’ll know where you are hiding, they’ll know what to do to take you on — but because they’re trying to be subtle, they’ll either not be using an aimbot, or they’ll have it on ‘toggle’ where they only turn it on when they ‘need’ it (because they’re too hopeless to play without help).

The fact of the matter is, the best way to deal with this is to assume everyone knows where you are at all times. Never stand in front of windows for more than a moment. Never approach a house from a position you can be shot from. Don’t hide behind a door and imagine you’ll get free kills on anyone who enters. This is a good idea regardless of whether you’re accounting for the presence of a cheater or not — the price of victory is eternal vigilance in PUBG.

Record and Report Hackers

The best way to deal with hackers is to record evidence of their crappy behaviour and to report it to PUBG Support. The team has shown that they’re serious about dealing with hackers, so it’s definitely worth the effort. Thanks to the “Death Cam” in version 1.0 it’s now even easier to tell when someone is hacking, as you can see from their perspective. I caught the following scumbag not even trying to hide it.

If the death cam doesn’t show the suspicious behaviour, try having a look at the Replay in the main menu. From there you can assume their perspective (provided they’re inside a 1 kilometre radius of you) to watch what they do. It’s a brilliant tool — you might find that someone you thought was hacking simply had more information than you, and better still you can learn a lot from watching better players!

If you don’t have Shadowplay, your best bet is OBS Studio and the Replay Buffer. You can set it up to output the last however many seconds you like — I recommend at least 60 — and when you press a designated hotkey you’ll have captured the evidence you need. Instead of going through the hassle of Youtube, you can share it straight to Streamable.com to easily hand the evidence over to Bluehole.

Have Fun

The worst thing a hacker can do is make you feel like you’re not having fun any more. Hackers are losers, they’re doofuses who can’t earn a chicken dinner and so they’ve resorted to spoiling other people’s games instead. If you never stop having fun, they continue to lose.

Thanks to PUBG Corp’s advancements in their own anti-cheat measures and their efforts to work with companies like BattlEye, hackers are actually fairly uncommon in PUBG. I’ve played the game for more than 660 hours and I’ve encountered maybe 10 hackers.

Remember, hackers aren’t all that common, but if they do get you, you can just requeue — your next chicken dinner is just around the corner!

Joab Gilroy
Joab is a games critic from Australia with over 10 years of experience and a PUBG tragic.
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