AMD’s solution to further reduce latency in video games, Anti-Lag+, has led to numerous bans in games like CS2, Apex Legends and PUBG. How will AMD get out of this quagmire?
A busy start to the school year for AMD, which publicly released important updates for its graphics drivers. If all eyes are turned towards the Fluid Motion Frames, its alternative to Nvidia’s Frame Generation, another major novelty is making headlines in recent days: Anti-Lag+. After numerous setbacks and banned players, AMD has simply deactivated the option in its latest update. But what exactly happened?
What is AMD Anti-Lag+?
AMD’s Anti-Lag+ functionality, officially launched in September 2023, succeeds Anti-Lag introduced in 2021 by the manufacturer. This is concretely AMD’s response to the Nvidia Reflex with the sole objective of reducing latency as much as possible, including in scenarios where the GPU is heavily loaded. It is integrated into the HYPR-RX suite of tools, which also includes Radeon Boost (dynamic resolution) as well as its FSR upscaling solution.
If Nvidia Reflex is integrated on a case-by-case basis by the developers of a game, the Anti-Lag+ function stands out in that it operates at the graphics driver level by injecting code directly into the game’s DLL files. therefore AMD which chooses to integrate Anti-Lag+ into certain games during each update of its drivers.
The problem is that some games don’t seem to like this feature at all.
Anti-Lag+ bans online players
Last week, Anti-Lag+ was introduced to Counter-Strike 2 in AMD Software Update 23.10.1: Adrenalin Edition. Very quickly after the activation of the functionality, essential in this type of competitive game, many players saw themselves banned by Valve’s anti-cheat system (VAC, for Valve Anti-Cheat). The culprit: AMD’s Anti-Lag+, which by its operation was detected as a cheating system.
The cases are far from isolated for this reason alone, as other players from PUBG, Apex Legends and Call of Duty Modern Warfare 2 have also received ban notifications for cheating. AMD first advised players to deactivate Anti-Lag+ within its drivers before simply making it unavailable in version 23.10.2.
The manufacturer is working with developers to reactivate the functionality within affected games so that affected players can regain access to their titles. But it could turn out to be much more complicated than expected.
AMD must review its copy for multiplayer games
In theory, AMD’s approach could be a good idea: it is the manufacturer who decides which games in which to implement Anti-Lag+ and not the developer. Its deployment could thus be very rapid within the most anticipated games. AMD’s objective here is to catch up with Nvidia, whose Reflex functionality is present in nearly a hundred games.
But while this strategy may pay off in the short term, it poses a problem for a very specific type of title: multiplayer games. Lots of single player games like Starfield, Control Or Cyberpunk 2077 have no problem being modded, in some cases with significant modifications to the game files.
But in the context of multiplayer games, particularly competitive games, systems are put in place to avoid any addition of external scripts and command lines which could offer any advantage during gameplay. AMD will therefore have to seriously review its copy: while many games use turnkey solutions like Easy Anti-Cheat, others have developed their own protection system.
We of course think of CS2 with VAC, but also of Valorant with Riot Vanguard or even Call of Duty and its Ricochet. AMD will therefore have to work on a case-by-case basis with each studio in order to work on an implementation of Anti-Lag+ that would not be harmful to honest players. And return to a model close to that of Nvidia.