Not everyone plays video games in a way intended by the developers. Some are harmless with their exploits, and do it for personal amusement to the detriment of none. Others are more mean-spirited about it – and now, one infamous Dark Souls 3 player named Malcolm Reynolds has now found his way to the Lands Between in FromSoftware’s Elden Ring.
The Dark Souls franchise has always had a reputation as being rife with cheats and exploits, and perhaps the most notorious incident occurred in Dark Souls 3, when the discovery of a major vulnerability allowed hackers to remotely run code on another player’s computer, potentially taking control of the device – and therefore obtaining access to sensitive and private information.
While the anti-cheat in Elden Ring does not have such panic-inducing exploits for now, given that FromSoftware vowed to fix the issue in time for Elden Ring’s launch, it is remarkably effortless to bypass the game’s Easy Anti-Cheat (EAC) software and play online without EAC protection. Anyone in the Dark Souls community familiar with Malcolm Reynolds already knows where this is going: invading other people’s games, spawning illegal items in their inventory, and slaughtering them with hacked abilities.
The fun for Malcolm Reynolds, as he claims in an interview with Kotaku, lies in finding these exploits and causing trouble loud enough to highlight the shortcomings of the anti-cheat implemented in FromSoftware’s games, forcing the developers to address the issues and fix the vulnerabilities. Though he professes to have noble goals with his malicious cheating, Malcolm Reynolds regularly posts videos of his handiwork on YouTube and even admits that being on the receiving end of his rampage can’t be fun.
The way Malcolm Reynolds gets Elden Ring players soft-banned is simple. He circumvents the game’s anti-cheat and through various altered spells injects a debug item called “pavel” used by the developers for testing purposes that still lingers in the game’s code. Once the player inevitably gets killed by Malcolm’s hacked spells, the game registers the item as invalid, interprets the player as a cheater, and subsequently soft-bans them from the game – allowing them to only play with other cheaters.
Malcolm describes himself as a necessary evil for Elden Ring: “You might be asking if getting caught is part of the plan, and yes it is. If I pull it off will the game die? I don’t think so, but maybe Bandai will fix it. Time to go mobile.”
While Malcolm Reynolds is obviously being cheeky by quoting Tom Hardy’s Bane from The Dark Knight Rises, the best advice for Elden Ring players if they get invaded by the hacker would be to quit to desktop using the ALT+F4 method (and potentially risk data corruption in the process) until the vulnerability is addressed by Bandai Namco.
Elden Ring is available now for PC, PlayStation 4 and 5, and Xbox One and Series X|S.
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