Warzone Ricochet Anti-Cheat is a bespoke security initiative for Call of Duty titles, including the upcoming Warzone 2 and Modern Warfare 2, that includes a kernel-level anti-cheating driver for PC. Like other anti-cheat systems, Ricochet Anti-Cheat seeks to restrict and ban accounts that it associates with cheating. We also understand that it has a range of other measures to make playing Call of Duty games a terrible experience for cheaters, even before they've been banned, effectively shadowbanning them from games like Warzone 2 and Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2.
Call of Duty games have infamously been affected by hackers, cheats and aimbots for years, and with Ricochet Anti-Cheat entering its second year of use and launching with Warzone 2 and Modern Warfare 2, it's an important time. In this guide, we'll explain everything we know about the Ricochet Anti-Cheat system, and what the implications of it might be for your game and potentially your privacy.
What is Call of Duty Ricochet Anti-Cheat?
Broadly, Ricochet Anti-Cheat is a security system and initiative for Call of Duty games that seeks to improve games by reducing the number of cheaters. One major part of this is the kernel-level driver, which is a PC-only driver system that is installed as part of various Call of Duty games, including the upcoming Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2 - more details on this below.
Ricochet Anti-Cheat also includes other security measures, such as matching suspected cheaters with each other in multiplayer, SMS protection that requires all PC players to link their Steam or Battle.net account to a phone number, and mitigating systems that seek to reduce the impact of cheaters in matches. Meanwhile, the honest non-cheaters can spend wholesome time backstabbing and bombing each other in their own games, just as god intended. You can read the latest progress report from the recent Modern Warfare 2 beta here, which details the efficacy of numerous security measures.
How does the Call of Duty Ricochet Anti-Cheat kernel-level driver work?
It's a little complicated and the developers have a full explanation available, but the kernel-level driver is a part of the game's software that checks your computer for certain data or information that might indicate that you've been cheating. As the explanations says "Kernel-level drivers are given a high level of access to monitor and manage software and applications on a PC", that means the system can check applications that try to interact a game that is using Ricochet Anti-Cheat. If it finds code or files associated with cheating or hacking the game, this information is sent back to the developers, and suspicious players will probably be hit with a number of anti-cheating measures, or will be outright banned from the game.
What happens if Ricochet Anti-Cheat says you're cheating?
Despite how technically complex it will be, Warzone 2 on PS4 is happening and you can find out about all the other platforms it'll be on too.
From what we understand, there are three main consequences to being marked by the Call of Duty Ricochet Anti-Cheat system. First of all, if the system detects that you are using cheats, likely through the PC kernel-level driver, you will almost certainly be banned. For the recent Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 beta test, the Ricochet Anti-Cheat team reported that they banned 60,000 "illicit accounts before the beta even started, denying them access, and a further 20,000 accounts were banned during the beta.
A new security feature that has been added to the Ricochet Anti-Cheat initiative is in-game mitigations. These are systems that will be active from the launch of Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2, and they aim to make the experience of playing a game as miserable as possible for cheaters without an outright ban. This allows the Ricochet team to analyze the behavior of cheaters to hopefully further improve security. These mitigations are Damage Shield (causes cheaters to deal minimal damage and make their weapons effectively useless), Cloaking (causes players hit by a cheater to become completely invisible and silent, making it significantly harder to get kills), and Disarm (detected cheaters will have their weapons removed, including their melee weapons and fists, during a match).
The third and final method is less severe, but is meant to reduce the odds of regular players running into cheaters in their matches, while also making matches for cheaters much harder. A Q&A between Activision and content creators revealed that players can be allocated into matchmaking pools for "trusted" and "untrusted" accounts (thanks CharlieINTEL), meaning accounts that are marked by Ricochet Anti-Cheat as "untrusted" will only be matched with other untrusted accounts. Activision have said they don't plan to share the details of their rating system, but if you're not cheating, you probably won't have anything to worry about.
As part of the Q&A, Activision mentioned that RICOCHET will create "trusted" and "untrusted" matchmaking pools to prevent those who are suspected of cheating from playing against those who aren't. Activision says they don't intend to share publicly how it rates each player.October 14, 2021
Is Warzone Ricochet safe to use for privacy?
Kernel-level systems like Ricochet have been viewed pretty unfavourably by many, owing to the fact that their function is basically to go through your computer and send data back to the creators - something many view as an infringement of privacy.
That being said, Activision have made these claims regarding privacy safety while using Ricochet:
- RICOCHET Anti-Cheat's kernel-level driver operates ONLY while playing Call of Duty: Warzone on PC.
- RICOCHET Anti-Cheat's driver is not always-on.
- RICOCHET Anti-Cheat's driver monitors the software and applications that interact with Call of Duty: Warzone.
- When you shut down Call of Duty: Warzone, the driver turns off.
Activision have also stated that "player privacy is extremely important", and emphasise that protection of that privacy is a priority. However, don't consider this guide either an endorsement or renouncement of Warzone and the Ricochet system.
Do you have to download Ricochet Anti-Cheat to play?
No, you do not have to manually download Ricochet Anti-Cheat as it will be a part of the installation process for any game that has it, such as Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 and Warzone 2. However, Activision have stated that Ricochet Anti-Cheat is required to play relevant games, so even if you could uninstall Ricochet specifically, you would not be able to play these games without it.
Is Ricochet Anti-Cheat on consoles?
As far as we're aware, the kernel-level driver used to identify cheaters is for PC players only. But, the broader security improvements that have been brought in with the Ricochet Anti-Cheat initiative should benefit console players too. Regarding the kernel-level driver's exclusive implementation for PC, Activision said that "by extension, console players playing via cross-play against players on PC will also stand to benefit."