From our own Gareth Harmer:
Reddit users claim basic security flaws, weeks before Bethesda’s sandbox launch
With the launch of Fallout 76 a short week away, details have just emerged of a huge potential exploit with the PC version. Based on analysis performed during the PC beta, three fundamental flaws potentially exist that could be trivial to misuse. According to claims by some players, the post-apocalyptic sandbox could descend into chaos until Bethesda manages to fix the issues.
The problems stem around three principles that’ll sound familiar to MMO veterans, which makes it all the more surprising considering Elder Scrolls Online is from the same publisher. Firstly, game files should be checked to ensure they haven’t been tampered with, say by removing walls or changing models. This makes it harder to support mods, but it also stops situations like when a Warcraft guild cheated their way through AQ40 by cutting open a hole to the final boss.
Secondly, any information sent from the game client should be verified by the server, such as character movement and rate of fire. And thirdly, information between the game client and server should be encrypted where possible, to avoid injecting fake updates such as enemy location, player health, looted items and so on. After all, there’s nothing like being able to tell the server you’re invulnerable and for it to believe you, right?
Part of these problems stem from the game engine used for Fallout 76, which is built from the same “Gamebryo” core as the studio’s previous titles and adapted for the online experience. Bethesda also has plans to use the same engine for future games such as Elder Scrolls 6 and Starlink.
In an update to IGN, Bethesda challenged the claims, stating the following:
"Many of the claims in the thread are either inaccurate or based on incorrect assumptions. The community has however called to attention several issues that our teams are already actively tracking and planning to roll out fixes for. Our goal is always to deliver a great experience for all our players. Cheating or hacking will not be tolerated. We know our fan base is passionate about modding and customizing their experience in our worlds and it's something we intend to support down the road."
However, with hacks already being published on popular mod site Nexus Mods, Bethesda’s statement is being called into question. As the open beta winds down, we may have to wait until launch before the full picture is known.