Hello everyone. I am a bit hesitant about rejoining this game, despite my former love of it in years gone by. I am hoping that you all will be able to relieve me of my worries, or possibly confirm them so I don't waste time getting addicted again. Fair warning that this post is a bit long so if you want to quit reading to respond, then a good summary of this entire post is "How popular is the game, and how bad is the current cheating problem in 2023 compared to early in 2017?"
So according to my Steam profile, I last logged in to APB Reloaded on April 17th, 2017. Yet it remains my highest played game according to Steam's hours check with several thousand hours of gameplay logged - and I never left the game online when AFK so I suspect it to be a truthful glimpse at how addicted I once was to APB Reloaded.
I used to love the game, and would spend hours of every single day playing it. The best thing I liked about it was mainly the epic customizations, the way I could create a completely unique look to any other person in the game unless they tried really hard to copy me. It was no wonder that out of all the online games I ever played including LOTRO, FFXIV, and hundreds of others, that this was the game that I spent the most time of my life actually playing. So what was it that made me quit? More importantly, will those things still be a problem for me now in 2023?
First was the issue of popularity. There were times back before I finally quit where I would have to waste time for ages before a match would pull me in. Waiting more than a half hour during off-peak times was common and sometimes wouldn't start even after several hours of waiting. You can only rob stuff, or pretend to be a patrol officer for so long before the fun dies. Inevitably I would find myself having to break my immersion just to keep myself entertained. I mean, yeah, it was fun at times to hang out with people and do weird stuff just to pass the time while ignoring which side everyone was technically on... but it certainly didn't feel like what an actual pseudo cop or gang member should be doing. So... if I rejoined today will there actually be enough people playing that I can immerse myself in my characters?
Next is the big one.... cheating.
Is the cheating prevention now in 2023 better, the same, or even worse than it was in 2017? Is the cheating level, including the more subtle ones, so bad that anyone remotely good is getting pretty much automatically assumed as part of the cheating crowd? Is the cheating so bad that even ignoring the subtle cheaters you will at least once a day see either a speed hacker zooming through the streets faster than a fighter jet / or someone flying and firing down at you / walking through walls / firing from the ground? Are there still people proudly using cheats without getting busted for hours or even longer?
What I absolutely did not like at all back then in April of 2017 and earlier was the sheer mass of cheatery going on. It had become so prevalent by that time, that even when you did not cheat you were accused of it simply because people _expected_ it of the golds. I mean it made sense to be seen as too good when you would deliberately de-rank down to play as you 'were' showing skill levels that seem too good to those lesser skilled people. But even in Gold matches, if you had any skill with aim at all then aimbot would be called out quite common. Even worse if you had spent any time at all studying map layouts and figuring out common entry routes / hiding spots people would use and based on that try to predict stuff by being ready to cover that place if any movement or shots happen... well cue the cheat callouts for daring to use your brain and not just your mouse clicks.
I understand why these accusation existed of course, wallhacks do exist after all, but anyone who actually has taken the time to study videos of gameplay can quickly tell the difference between someone who generally knows where to aim, and something that instantly lock on aims. In games where cheating isn't a big issue those things are treated as the skills that they are... but back then in APB:R the cheating was so prevalent even among the more subtle users that pretty much all of us were suspect as a result.
I never considered myself an expert or anything, but towards the end of my time playing the game, (if I wasn't deliberately dropping my ELO so I could play with friends / group members who were lower ranked) playing naturally between my decent reaction times and some good brain usage I would stay in Gold status 99% of the time with the occasional brief drop to Silver which would instantly revert itself after just 1-2 matches back to Gold.
But, as a result of that skill level and knowledge, I semi often in matches got labelled by one or two players as a cheater a few times for being "too good", this despite my switching to live streaming on twitch everything I was doing just for full transparency. I very rarely ever had to snap react, as I usually kept my aim at rest position in the general location of where I expected people to show up and usually was correct.
After 6 years of inactivity, inactive even from any fps game for most of those years plus also being in my 40s now with slower reaction times, I suspect I will quickly plummit if I start playing again until I regain the hang of everything... ...but is there even any point? Are there so many cheaters in the game currently that it is hard to find a fair fun match? Or also even if the overt cheating is gone, is the subtle cheating still so prevalent that I will just get the same calls of cheater in a few weeks, months, or years when I will have relearned everything I had lost by quitting?
So those are my big concerns. Is the game population healthy enough, and is the curtailing of the cheaters good enough that a person can actually enjoy time in the game now? I feel that there is no point in getting addicted to something which will just cause me stress after all. Especially when my purpose for playing would be to destress from life. I get enough stress from my job, I don't need it from my entertainment.