From Software is cracking down on cheaters in Dark Souls 3, but as with previous Dark Souls games, it appears to be impacting innocent bystanders.
“Tons of LEGITIMATE PC PLAYERS have now been banned,” is the title of a panicked thread on the Dark Souls 3 subreddit, and there’s plenty of discussions on Steam, too.
This is the error that’s been popping up for some folks:
Players fear they’ve been permanently softbanned from Dark Souls 3.
If you’re softbanned, you can still play the game online, but you’ll only connect with other people who have been softbanned. Thus, you could potentially be playing with a room full of cheaters at all times. Not great.
Update 5:45 pm: Bandai Namco told me it’s possible some accounts have been flagged wrongly, and they’re going to examine each report. “Our team will review their account information to see if the player has been using any sort of hack/cheat or if the flag was a false positive,” said a company representative.
In a message to customers that was passed on, Bandai Namco explained that players cannot fix the error re-installing the game, as “the game will continue to display this message until the Dark Souls III server team has had enough time to research the player data to determine if any hacks/cheats were used.”
It’s unclear how long it will take the company to sift through the accounts.
In theory, players are softbanned from Dark Souls because they’re cheating, whether it’s making their character invulnerable, giving them access to overpowered weapons, etc. But in the past, From Software has softbanned people for using mods or getting tricked by a cheater.
In scenario one, a player might be using a mod to address an issue that From Software has ignored, as has been the case with previous games. In Dark Souls 2, for example, it took years for the developer to address a durability glitch with weapons and it was possible for players to create characters with invalid names that would immediately crash your game. Before From Software solved these issues, there was a mod for it.
In scenario two, a cheater might offer you a weapon on the ground, but if you pick it up, the game will realize it’s a hacked weapon and softban you.
Dark Souls 3 is the best PC version of a Dark Souls game yet, and so players haven’t been driven to use these kinds of mods. Right now, the threads are devoted to rooting out what might be triggering softbans for players. Is it external software to make it easier to connect a Dual Shock 4? Does it have to do with connecting streaming software? What if you play offline, make progress, and then come back online? What if your Xbox 360 controller disconnects? So far, people haven’t been able to nail it down.
The game’s publisher, Bandai Namco, has acknowledged something is up.
“It’s frustrating,” said one user. “The people who would cheat would also lie about cheating so there’s never a sure way to know if someone is having legitimate problems or is reaping the results of their actions.”
“Played for nearly 20 hours no issues,” said another. “Two characters, one pretty far into the game and the other just starting out, and all of a sudden I’m getting this error out of nowhere after the recent update with the next patch’s info and I don’t know why. I deleted the characters, re-installed and restarted, nothing. It’s still there. Help? I don’t want to get banned for no reason.”
It’s possible that everyone who’s been softbanned is a dirty cheater who won’t fess up to downloading external software to mess with their game. Given my past reporting on the Souls games, though, I’m inclined to believe From Software may have spread the ban hammer too wide again.