Bots that cheat, spam racist comments, and generally ruin have become and remain a big problem in Valve’s Team Fortress 2.

The newest solution by an unknown player (or group of players) pits the “good” bots against “bad” bots. Called extermination bots, these new non-human players target cheating bots, and according to a Twitter user who shared screenshots of the bots in action, “they’re friendly with true players, [and] they will help you.” They’ve also been sighted in-game in bot takedown video compilations.

Team Fortress 2’s recent bot issues began with players noticing a disturbing level of bot infiltrations earlier this year, outlets reporting on it, Valve taking minor steps to address the bot issue, and lately, a subset of players taking the matters into their own hands by creating extermination bots.

Valve tried to implement an anti-bot fix in June 2020 by preventing “certain new accounts” from using the chat function in official matchmaking modes. But commented that it is still searching for ways to “mitigate the use of new and free accounts for abusive purposes.”

Team Fortress 2 players have made attempts to resist the bots, created communities like TF2HackerSwat (formerly TF2HackerPolice) to share information about them. A moderator of that Reddit community, WordpuzzleQ, shared with Kotaku what players in the subreddit do against bots: “We use TF2’s wide array of unlocks to be as resistant to the instant headshots as possible. Second priority are high-DPS loadouts. We try to get the Steam accounts of the bots and report them, as that’s the most we can do.” A player also developed a TF2 bot detector that automatically detects and votekicks bots.

Unfortunately, even with the players’ efforts, bots still remain an issue in Team Fortress 2. And though the extermination bot is a fun twist in the war against bots, it’s hardly a final cure. A fix by Valve looks uncertain as well, since a Valve employee confirmed in 2019 that “there’s hardly anyone working on it.” Until a more effective solution is released, the Team Fortress 2 community will have to continue fighting against bots on their own.

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