Phone Destroyer is Totally 100% Cheat Proof

Posted by Daeity On Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The /r/southparkphone subreddit is arguably the largest and most popular community forum currently dedicated to fans of South Park Phone Destroyer.

What's highly unusual about this subreddit, however, is that Ubisoft employees are actually moderators of this unofficial fan forum. Meaning that they have direct control of all narratives and reviews involving their own game. That's like Ubisoft being owners of Metacritic where they can delete posts critical of the company, ban dissent, and change public opinion.

I suppose the Community Manager job description has evolved from "engaging the online community in an open and honest way" to "controlling what people are permitted to say about their game."

New-hire Steve is the current overseer of the Phone Destroyer community. When he's not shamefully trolling redditors, you can find him on the Phone Destroyer subreddit angrily stating and re-stating.. ad nauseam.. the same arguments that cheating and exploits within the game are impossible. And, that all of the problems users experience are their own fault. It's never a server or software issue, it's because they "stepped in an elevator", "it requires a good connection", they have a bad phone service plan, they're lying, or they are a terrible human being.

There are also claims of a 100% effective anti-cheat system, but which was interestingly implemented after Steve said that cheating was already not possible. If cheating was impossible, uh... why would to need to implement a client side anti-cheat update then? You need to protect against cheating on an already hack-proof game?

I feel that many of the hacking complaints came to a boiling point in July 2017. Customers were complaining non-stop about unfair cheating within the game, and rightly so, but Ubisoft's Community Managers were screaming back at the customers, telling them they were clearly wrong. It's just a bug, there are no exploits, there are no cheats, it's network related, it's your cell phone, your internet sucks, you suck..

Finally, in late July the fucking hammer came down and Ubisoft laid down the law in the Phone Destroyer fan subreddit. Redditors were no longer allowed to complain about the rampant cheating. You used the word "rampant"? Banned. If anyone complained about unfairness, their post would be deleted and/or they would be banned. Even posts about "emulation" were classified as bannable, even though they were perfectly acceptable under the ToS. But, Steve apparently had enough.

I think what makes this mildly interesting is that the other, non-Ubisoft moderators, are known cheaters. Cheaters telling other people not to cheat, claiming that the game is cheat-proof, and deleting posts related to the rampant cheating. That's not irony, but it is fucking sad.

So while Ubisoft and their moderators are adamant that there are no cheats or exploits possible in the game, and excuses such as "we're still only in open beta" and "this is just a soft launch" are constantly being thrown in people's faces, here's what's happening in the real world for those who haven't drunk the Kool-Aid.

Even after their most recent patch, cheating is still very common. Hacks and mods have always been fully functional within the game since day one. They have just required some minor tweaks after certain patches. Most recently, a new iOS mod was even released publicly right after their most recent "huge" patch.

However, don't put any trust in these public hacks. They are very simple, and easily detectable.

Here's why: the Phone Destroyer team doesn't exactly have highly proficient security developers, so their anti-cheat methods are very rudimentary. The problem with these public hacks is that they use basic level patches like freezing the energy bar at max levels, but Ubisoft is specifically monitoring and logging energy levels for numbers that don't fluctuate or make sense. Luckily, that's pretty much the limit to their anti-cheat system.

I have been cheating since day one and have never been caught, on dozens of accounts. There are a hundred other ways to cheat the system. If you slowly increment the energy flow to regenerate faster, rather than simply fixed at 10, you'll be undetected. If you alter your card attack speed, it will be undetected and barely noticeable by your opponent. If you change card energy costs to be less than actual, you'll be undetected. If you manipulate damage or health regen numbers, you'll be undetected. You can also keep your primary health bar regenerating, or reduce damage to your main character, without detection. And so on.

Basically, as long as you're not freezing memory addresses and you don't get reported, you'll never get caught.

I feel that a lot of this subreddit drama can be used to your advantage. Moderators (some of whom are cheating themselves) are screaming that cheating and exploits are not happening, and that it's all coincidental network latency issues. They are also deleting posts and banning users who complain. Not only that, but Ubisoft has a very convoluted and frustrating way to report users, and there is no instant-reporting feature available, so most victims are completely discouraged from reporting abuse. Maybe the Catholic Church gave them some pointers. Even if you do manage to take a picture demonstrating proof and report it, they still need to manually investigate (like I said, it's a very poor anti-cheat system) and review reports, with most being written off as network latency bugs or some such nonsense. It's a great system that protects hackers!

While the game runs rampant with cheaters and hacks, there's a kindly gentleman telling everyone "Move Along. Nothing to see here." Just like Officer Barbrady.

Seeing everything they've written, it reminds me a lot of Trump. If he repeats something often enough, he'll actually believe it himself.

The problems with their anti-cheat system actually open up some other security holes. Because they depend so much on player snitching, they can be easily manipulated by butthurt opponents.

It's very much possible to create a Photoshopped image of a "cheating" player and report them. They'll take the image at face value and ban the innocent victim. And because of this same broken reporting process, their innocent cries for assistance will be completed ignored... twisting the knife even further. Without an adequate cheat detection system, framing innocent players is currently quite easy. This used to commonly happen in popular online games, like World of Warcraft, for several years before it was even noticed.

If you suspect that some of your opponents are generating energy just too fast, they are instantly regenerating health, or hitting too hard, you're right to suspect they are cheating. Of all the cheating complaints I've seen, that have been written off as latency bugs, I haven't found any that I wasn't capable of reproducing using simple mods. If your suspect is constantly winning, it's definitely not a coincidence.

High and Mighty Mods (and Cheaters)

Posted by Daeity On Monday, July 17, 2017

We've all read the new articles and factual accounts of the massively widespread and rampant corruption of power by redditor mods. Whether it's a corporation who has bought the loyalty of a moderator to promote certain products, or a political party deleting posts and peddling propaganda, it's something that permeates all levels of popular subreddits.

But, it happens in very small subreddits as well. It amazes me at just how quickly people can be bribed or corrupted with small amounts of power. I see it in every day life, and power is abused in the most petty of circumstances. But the king of a shit pile, is still a king in their eyes.

It's similar to how cheating works. You're abusing power over another individual. World of Warcraft has a very high number of cheaters (e.g. botters, exploits, hacks), but Blizzard worked on having safeguards in place to prevent cheating as much as possible. South Park Phone Destroyer, however, did not seem to anticipate cheating at all.

The RedLynx/Ubisoft team did a fantastic job on their micro-transactions and payment systems, ensuring that they would securely receive their money quickly. And, they did an adequate job integrating South Park Studio's art into their game. But the rest of the game, especially security and PVP netcode, is a bug-ridden mess. Much like the Achievement system, it seems like PVP was just thrown into the mix as an afterthought. Seriously, who creates client-side authoritative PVP matches these days?

The cheating is so bad in the game right now, that there's practically a 90% chance you'll be faced with a cheater. There are so many cheaters trying to cheat other cheaters, that most cheaters have just given up, and now they're trying to desync the other player so that they win with match instantly when the game starts. And, legitimate players falsely believe that the issues are related to their phone or internet service.

I wouldn't even call it the Wild West, at least there was some order there.. this... is just absolute madness. Some of the early cheaters were pretty sneaky about it for the first month, but most aren't even hiding it any more, and they know that RedLynx/Ubisoft have no tools to monitor, address, or catch cheaters.

It feels like everyone is cheating since the last "hotfix". It was supposed to stop cheating.

What bothers me the most though, isn't the cheaters and complainers on various forums, but rather the long list of hypocrites who are the most vocal advocates against cheating. The ones that doth protest too much. There have even been obvious cheaters that have (hilariously) made PVP Guides, made YouTube videos exposing other cheaters, the ones who "reason" why certain glitches happen in-game, and even /r/SouthParkPhone mods who have been cheating. I don't care if you cheat, but stop trying to fool other people with your lies. That's the aspect I find most annoying. Big deal, you cheat.. now stop being so petty about it, and just accept your role.

I do enjoy, though, when cheaters try to explain why glitches happen. They're quite funny.

So, what kind of cheats/hacks are available today? Since the "hotfix" came out (ie, it's not really a hotfix, it's an update patch), hacking has intensified. The new patch they promised to fix woes really just moves memory addresses around, but the game is still quite exploitable. You can pretty much tweak anything in PVP or PVE.

Many of the hacks and trainers are being passed around within small circles or various hacking groups. I haven't seen too many trainers in the wild, but I see that many cheaters are still using hex/memory editors on their iPhones, Androids, or emulators (like a certain reddit moderator). When you've tested out the hacks on different platforms, you get a pretty good idea of how players are exploiting the game.

Here are some examples of what is currently possible today (using glitches, memory hacking, or pre-made trainers):

  • one very common exploit is a quit-lock glitch. If you pause your game for several seconds during certain periods of PVP gameplay (by changing apps) and loading, you can cause your players' client to crash, giving you an instant win. And typically, you will be rematched with the same player so that you can exploit them again.
  • when you see a player suddenly "explode", two things can happen: you'll receive a window that the game has been interrupted, or you'll see them with 0 HP then suddenly they will jump back up with HP again. In either case, you'll receive a "DEFEATED" window and lose a star.
  • there are also hotkey trainers and scripts that allow you to crash the other player, or speed up your own movement (which is different than the speed-hacking I detailed before.)
  • energy bars can still be altered, giving you unlimited energy or mana (whatever you want to call it)
  • you can set the enemies energy bar to zero, which is helpful in PVE.
  • you can receive locker rewards without requiring to watch an ad, or open an unlimited number of lockers (I haven't tested this myself, I've just seen other users talking about it.)
  • duplicate charge script, when you activate your charge you can trigger it multiple times such as triple AOE damage (that the player never notices, assumes it's a graphics glitch), trigger multiple healing arrows, bombs, or Timmy can summon large quantities of rats. It's not an accidental bug or network lag related, it's an exploit/hack if you see it happen.
  • prevent your units from dying, even if they hit 0 HP. Only way to kill them is with Unholy Combustion or Cock Magic.
  • scripting method to insta-gib your opponent at any point during the game, a simple network injection will do the trick.
  • injection methods allow you to duplicate player drops, so that you can summon 2 sets of a card at a time or my personal favorite: summoning 12 rats instantly. Players are often being told this is a glitch, but it's quite intentional.
  • you can alter your charge time to make it charge faster or allow you to use your ability even if locked out by a spell.
  • you can change the stats on any card, such as giving the character or spell higher damage (+900 hits), AOE or poison damage, more HP, faster attack speed, or faster walking speed.
  • one common card to hack is the Lightning Bolt or Arrowstorm because opponents won't see what level it is, so you can give it a huge amount of damage that gets unnoticed.
  • HP and regeneration are usually tweaked because they don't attract much attention.
In the past, cheaters were _very_ careful with their tweaks, so that they wouldn't get noticed and be reported. Little was known early on about their security mechanisms. But, the developer has made it clear that they have no systems in place to monitor cheating, and must rely on users providing video proof (if you can find out how to report opponents). Yes, it's completely ridiculous. Almost anything about the cards can be edited during PVP matches, but they've just restricted money/cash/etc to be server authoritative (ie, they put all programming emphasis on their payment systems, instead of fair gameplay.)

For example, using injection tricks, you could summon double cards, or cards from other decks. Then, just blame it as a "bug". Or you could make your characters have unlimited HP or regeneration.

But the really sneaky players would tweak their cards just enough so as not to raise suspicion. Like, increasing all card HP by 30%, or all damage by 50%, and give them +15% movement speed. Spells work best, like direct damage or mind-controlling other players for longer periods of time typically allowed. And all of these cheats are completely undetectable at present. I suspect they'll even launch the game like this too, which is a shame.

In some groups I'm involved in, several people already have bots setup in the game too, running on multiple simultaneous Google Play accounts. That's just in case one of the accounts gets reported and banned. They use simple injection to summon "modified" cards, and then just steamroll the opponent. Very little AI is required, since the game AI does all of the work for you! They have been farming PVP locker rewards all day long. They'll likely never be caught either, just wait until a major security patch comes out, and continue using all of their overpowered cards and play legitimately moving forwards. =]

So for now, go crazy. South Park Phone Destroyer has no tools to combat cheating or catch cheaters. Just don't make PVP Guides or be a vocal dick about being against cheating. We all know you're a dick already.

A new update is scheduled for tomorrow, so many of the cautious cheaters will be playing it cool for a week or so, just to ensure that no new security measures have been put in place. But, cheating will eventually resume again since the patch is merely to balance the game and they won't be able to improve cheat protection or detection for some time.

Current hacks in 'Phone Destroyer' Early Access

Posted by Daeity On Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Time to Cheat

After playing for a while, I got tired of the game and decided to test out some theories. I broke out some classic hacking tools available to the public, and discovered some interesting things.

For one, there are a ton of hackers currently in-game. During certain times of the day, I found that 50-75% of my opponents were cheating. Usually, it's fairly obvious: too many characters drop at once in the beginning of the game. Or, if it looks like they could lose early on, they suddenly drop too many cards that they don't have energy for. They might also heal quickly too.

I tested out the usual stuff, like tweaking money and point values, but they are all stored server side. LuckyPatcher obviously doesn't work either, it's mostly for old titles these days. So no surprises there.

However, during PVP battles it appears that they don't use server time to syncronize the events, but rather both of the clients are syncronized together (via the server) with time updates generated from both competing clients. This allows speed hacking, which can have some very interesting effects.

Now keep in mind that this desync bug can occur naturally or unnaturally. The game is very demanding on your device, and if you have a slow mobile, slow internet, unreliable internet, or on a cellular network - this bug can still happen. With a speed hack, you can typically force it to happen, but it's not always reliable.

If it works though, you can ensure victory on every PVP battle with a rooted phone and GameGuardian. If you already have a rooted phone, jump ahead. Otherwise here are instructions on how you can start cheating right away in 'Phone Destroyer' on your own PC.

Install & Play 'Phone Destroyer' on your PC

Nox is probably the best Android emulator out there right now, and it comes pre-rooted. It's such an awesome tool and you can get it up-and-running very quickly.

1. Download it here: https://www.bignox.com/
2. Install. Go into Settings, and turn on Root. Reboot.
3. Download the GameGuardian tool: https://gameguardian.net/download
4. Drag and drop the .APK file to your Nox screen, and you can select to install it.
5. Then just go to the Play Store, search for "South Park Phone Destroyer" and install it.

What's helpful about 'Phone Destroyer' is that your progress is saved on the cloud. So, if you link your Google Play account within Nox, you can continue playing the game from where you left off on your phone/tablet. OR, you can create a new Google Play account, cheat away, and link it onto your phone later after you've maxed out your rewards and ranking.

What's also cool about Nox is that you can customize keys and automated tons of scripts to make in-game activities and PVP very easy.

How to cheat in PVP

Speed hacking affects the energy bar, allowing you to generate energy very quickly. When you use speed hacking in PVE, the computer will also accelerate, so it's not very effective in single-player missions. You can slow the game down however, to make more calculated decisions.

The GameGuardian tool is typically used for memory editing, which is (*mostly) useless in-game. However, it comes with a great Speed Hack tool that you can find under its options. Run South Park, run GG, link SP to GG, and then launch the Speed Hack tool. You'll see an onscreen speed controller that you can move anywhere on the 'Phone Destroyer' screen.

Okay,

  • When the PVP match starts, you can ramp-up your speed by 1.5x, 3x, 6x, 9x, etc. However, really weird shit happens (including some Mutually Assured Destruction stuff when playing against another cheater) when you do this, so be prepared.
  • Cheating, normal experience: After you ramp up speed to 2x, your opponents players will freeze in place but you can still attack them. They will remain on screen and appear to be immortal, but your players will eventually ignore them and attack the player. At this point, you might as well go back to normal speed. Just focus all attention on the main player. You can't do ANY damage, unless it's poison or direct spell damage. So get your spell cards, and characters who poison the main player. All you need to do is get them down 1 of their 3 bars, and you'll receive a Victory when the countdown ends.
  • Not cheating, normal experience: You're doing well early on and don't need to cheat. If you suddenly freeze and the game hangs, it means that the other player is cheating and you've been disconnected. They will receive an "Opponent has left the game" message and they get the victory.
  • Cheating against another cheater: If it appears that they are cheating (dropping too many cards at once), ramp up your speed to 3x or 4x. There's a good chance you'll disconnect them, and you'll get the message "Opponent has left the game". Then change back to 1x, and finish up the PVP battle against the player with any characters or spells (they will all work this time.)
  • Cheating against another cheater: Occasionally if you ramp up the speed right away when starting the game to like 3x or 6x, the Opponent will leave the game or they will automatically die for an instant Victory. This is also an indication that they had a speed hack running in memory too.
  • If the normal player or cheater does not disconnect: Typically, you'll get to a Sudden Death stage if the player does not disconnect. Focus everything you have on knocking down each bar of the players. You only need to eliminate one bar to get the win.
Hacking to get more lockers opened?

I mentioned that memory editing *mostly useless in-game. However it does work on the locker selection menu, in a weird way. Apparently, when you open the first three lockers, the reward is generated from the server. But you can still open the others to receive rewards, but it's a weird client side glitch.

Simply use GameGuardian to search for the lockers remaining number (ie, 3, 2, 1), use BYTE field, and keep changing the value back to 3. Do NOT freeze the number, or the game will hang. And leave a couple lockers still closed so that your number expires and you can move onto the next screen. You don't want to be stuck on the locker menu. The rewards you receive after the first 3 will be weird, and you will NOT get the "Top Rewards" since they are only server generated.

I think this menu can be further exploited in the future with a mod pack (simulating Ad rewards) so that players can select all lockers and actually get good rewards from them though.

This is a weird hack, but if you try it out, you'll see what I mean: the lockers don't initially have the "best rewards" behind them - so you can't peak using a hack. When you open a locker, the reward is randomly generated from the server. However, they all contain client-side one item simple rewards that you can receive, after getting all of the server rewards. But this might not be worth the effort as the items likely won't stick with server authority.

Exploiting PVP without hacking

This is a very simple and old-fashioned method that works in 'Phone Destroyer'. Create more characters by running multiple instances of Nox. Keep them all around the same rank. Create a different VPN for each instance, so that your client has a different IP address. Click "Join" at the same time on two instances, and you'll keep getting paired up by their Match Making engine. Occasionally you'll get another opponent, but you can win-trade with your own characters.

If you're not familiar with VPNs, an alternative is to use Nox normally on one PC but connect your phone (with 2nd Google Play account) to your cellular data service.

PVE Mission Energy Hack

Apparently, the energy bar is all client-side during PVE missions. So, you can easily blast through all of the zones with a full energy bar!

Here are the steps:

1. Start one of the missions.
2. * If you are extremely paranoid, turn on Airplane mode during the battle. You can still fight, but WiFi and Data is turned off.
3. Pause the battle.
4. Launch GG. You are going to search for the Energy Bar value which is a decimal. For example: 3.23332554454000
5. If the bar is between 8 and 9, search for "8~9" as a FLOAT value. You can use the tilde ~ character for a range of decimals.
6. Go back to the game, unpause, change the energy bar.
7. Pause the game. Search for the new value like 3~4.
8. Continue until you find one value that seems to match the energy bar, like 2.23933720589 (which is 2 plus a little bit on the bar.)
9. You'll get the hang of it pretty quickly, and it usually only takes 2-3 searches to get the right number.
10. Change the first number to 9, leave the rest alone. For example, 3.23332554454000 becomes 9.23332554454000.
11. FREEZE the value in place. (A main feature of GG.)
12. Unpause the game, and your Energy Bar will be locked at 9 and a bit.
13. Go crazy.
14. Watch the bosses health. Before you're about to kill them (25-40% HP), pause the game, disable the FREEZE and continue.
15. * For the extra paranoid: Turn Airplane mode off, and wait for WiFi to reconnect.
16. If you leave the FREEZE enabled, you risk the chance of the game locking up during the following loading screen.
17. Boss dies, collect your reward.

Whether WiFi is turned on or not, the Energy Bar trick still works fine. Rinse & Repeat for the next stages.

If you know what you're doing, you can grab the offset of the Energy Bar and import it each stage to speed things up. I suspect this will also work in PVP, if you don't want to use the Speed Hack, but you'll need to understand offsets and pointers and lose some matches at first. Then you can cheat the energy bar with little detection.

Alternatives: Using an Emulator and Cheat Engine

If you're not comfortable using GameGuardian active while SPPD is running, you can also use a program like "Cheat Engine" _outside_ of the Nox emulator. It does make a lot of activities much faster, especially in PVE. You can have two windows open, and just jump back and forth to exploit the energy bar.

All you need to do in Cheat Engine is go into Settings, turn on MEM_MAPPED option.

Select the process 'VoxVMHandle.exe'. Select 'FLOAT' value, leave the 'Truncated' button turned on, and search for the exact number (like, 2, 6, or 9). No more ranges are needed, CE will do the work for you.

Finding offsets within the emulator is much more difficult, but if you happen to find any online instructions that the average user can follow, let me know and I will post it here.

Seeing how easy it is to manipulate the energy bar (not server controlled), it won't be long before dedicated hacks or modded .apks come out for SPPD that allow players to generate energy quickly and without crashes. Likely something for the single player missions too, that will allow you to progress through all of the missions and zones very quickly for huge returns.

These bugs/exploits should be a quick fix for the developer, Redlynx. There are even many super simple bandaid patches that can be applied to prevent cheating, and very quickly. It will be interesting to see if the developer/publisher respond, and how long it takes them to address these issues.

If you found this information helpful, please credit the blog link. A lot of content gets stolen from this blog, and it would be nice for someone to actually credit the origin every once in a while. =]

Opinions on the 'South Park Phone Destroyer' early access build

Posted by Daeity On Tuesday, June 20, 2017

I've been playing the 'Phone Destroyer' game on-and-off for the past several days, and I thought I would write about it given that most websites just contain regurgitated press release statements.

It's a perfect time to release franchise games during their TV show hiatus since all of the fans are desperately clawing for any new content. Fans have just been watching the same gameplay videos of 'Phone Destroyer' and 'The Fractured But Whole' over and over just to satisfy their cravings until new episodes come out. The same is happening with 'Rick & Morty', where any fan-made videos become instant viral hits.

Before I write any further, I wanted to remind everyone of what Matt Stone & Trey Parker actually think of Freemium games.



So,

Matt & Trey found it offensive that shortly after playing the game, they were asked to spend $100 on tokens. And, they had ethical problems with freemium games built like slot machines or contained intentional frustrations programmed into the game in order to force the player to buy something. They also mentioned how "fucked up" it was to prey on psychology weaknesses and create an addiction machine.

The audio and visuals for South Park Phone Destroyer are awesome of course, which is to be expected when working with the teams from SP Studios. However, after playing the game for a long time, it's obvious that Ubisoft must have spent a lot of time planning their game design strategies around neuroscience practices and also spending a lot of time deciding how they were going to pitch the game idea to Matt & Trey. I honestly believe that Ubisoft must have sent a highly skilled salesperson to convince them that this game was different than other exploitative games.

Here are some of my various observations:

  • Whoever designed the card-opening mechanic was brilliant. All of the card packs are essentially pinned to a corkboard. They swing back and forth based on feedback from your motion sensor, giving it a great feel. After you select a card pack, you rip open the top and the cards spill out. It's a really great alternative to the classic tap-to-open-treasure-chest mechanic. A nice feature, like the Fallout Shelter 3D effect when turning the phone, that I'm sure certain other games will copy.
  • PVE and PVP gameplay is really fun, but it will take you a while to learn which combinations of players to use, and when to use them.
  • The game requires a persistent online connection. This has both it's pros and cons. It's helpful in mitigating certain types of cheating, but if you have weak connectivity, you're going to have a very bad time.
  • The game has a great start but I was hoping for more story development and South Park videos as the game progressed (ie, a reward system as you progress to different stages.) However, it appears that they blew their load on the new user onboarding experience instead of lengthening the foreplay.
  • The story writers put in very little effort. The startup South Park video you see is the only one, there aren't any more after that. So, the rest of the game will be fairly disappointing. I was expecting video sequences after each zone. There's nothing really too funny after the first 30 minutes of the game, there's no story development, all characters are pretty much the same... and, when you finally reach the end and beat level 60, the South Park characters criticize you for not spending enough real money, brag about how they took advantage of you, and beg you to spend real money on the game. I suppose it was meant to be funny, but it really wasn't. I was expecting a really great ending, and they just kick you when you're down.
  • I've never played a mobile Ubisoft game, but I always suspected that they were extremely bloated based on my experience with their PC offerings. Even on a high-end Android device, I endured very frequent and long loading times, graphical slowdowns, and many crashes. Especially during any loading screens: if you lose connectivity, or even just a minor traffic bump, expect the game to hang indefinitely.
  • The game will frequently freeze during PVP matches, and I'm assuming that opponent bandwidth is also a requirement to have a positive experience. If they lock up, you'll probably crash too. During any online matches, also make sure not to switch windows or you'll return to a black window unable to target anything while your opponent pummels you. If you won the game, but the proceeding loading screen hangs for any reason (which is often), you'll lose your win.
  • If the opponent leaves the game, or swipes to another screen, while you are waiting searching for an opponent or "Waiting for the Opponent..", it will cause your game to crash as well. It will hang indefinitely until you restart. If the game starts acting buggy after multiple restarts, you'll need to reboot your phone to correct South Park.
  • 'Phone Destroyer' is an apt name. It's a huge memory & CPU hog, and it can drain my batteries faster than any other app I've ever used. I'm not even mad, it was amazing to watch.
  • The PVP matchmaking system is very fast (ie, less than 2 minutes), but it's also very unfair. Be prepared to fight players several levels above or below you. I feel bad for those who will be joining on the official release day, they are going to be viciously steamrolled by players who have been levelling their characters during early access. It's extremely unbalanced leaving most new players with a sense of unfair treatment.
  • After seeing how the matchmaking and PVP ranking systems work, however, I'm sure this is all likely intentional and very little changes will be made in the future. Being steamrolled by another player certainly gives you an incentive to purchase all of the P2W microtransactions that are available in-game.
  • Almost no effort went into the achievement system, demonstrating a complete lack of understanding of what they're attempting to achieve. It seemed like a rushed afterthought, and they threw it in merely to mimic other competitors. So, after your hard work collecting achievements, you'll be rewarded with some incredibly unrewarding rewards. They essentially made the achievement system the opposite of what it was intended for.
  • The achievement system was also designed very poorly, likely because of it's hasty implementation. It will break if you get too many achievements too soon. For example, say you receive an achievement for killing 10 rats, then 50 rats, and then 100 rats. If you killed 100 rats, but didn't claim for your achievements each time, it will freeze on 0/50 rats and you can't claim any rewards at all or increase the number after that. The "claim" button just disappears.
  • And, there was very little wisdom and inspiration invested in the notification system. I was really curious if Ubisoft would finally get mobile notifications correct this time by ensuring that notifications only arrived during normal human operating hours. But, I was unpleasantly surprised when I started receiving IAP reminders at 12AM, 3AM, etc. Even _after_ I turned off notifications in-game.
  • During PVE missions, if any asset or NPC is slightly off-screen to the right, you can target them with direct damage spells, but they will actually be immune to damage. Random damage immunity of this nature often occurs in PVP as well.
  • The game has an automated Cloud Save feature that you can't exactly control, and linked directly to your Google Play account. As far as I know, there's currently no way in-game to delete your character and create a new one. So, I'm stuck with the same player I created on day one. What's cool though is that the cloud save will carry through to any other devices that you install the game on. So, you can play it on your desktop (via Android emulator), and continue playing on your mobile device when travelling.
  • Due to the online nature of the game, changing money variables will be impossible. But I'm not sure if everything is governed server side. There has been some evidence of speed and health hackers during PVP matches, and I would imagine the game could be botted quite easily as well. Even an AutoIT script (through an emulator) can run nonstop PVP matches for you. There is also a modded APK available for rooted devices which makes the game region-free, however it requires the hacked version of the Google Store as a prerequisite.
Minor Notes:
  • The screen focus handling is a little different than other games I've tested, likely due to some responsive resolution code they have in the game for multiple screen sizes and devices. So, it may mess with your swipe controls or go to a black screen when switch back-and-forth.
  • During a couple of my PVP battles, I noticed that the sprite frames of custom characters were glitchy. I'm surprised this was missed in QA.
  • Notifications will happen at inconvenient times, I would recommend turning them off from your O/S settings. You can turn off notifications within the game settings menu, however they may randomly turn back on.
  • The Bandito Sally (kindergartner Sally Bands) character was renamed to Kenny's Sister. So, when you see the Kenny's Sister card - that's not actually what she looks like.
  • There is Character Art used in various menus, Environment Art, and then Combat Art used during the battle sequences. The developers took some of the Environment art and tried to recycle it for Combat Art, resulting in very blurry and improperly scaled images. The Holy Water asset is a good example. Same with the Character Art, if you jump through the various zone selection menus, the characters appear crisp and clean, but one of the Cartman images is all blurred out and scaled wrong. The Cartman character with the staff is the wrong asset, but the one with the phone in hand is the correct one.
  • In-game interfaces that require scrolling are very sluggish, and randomly unresponsive. It doesn't feel smooth when scrolling. This is due to the bloatyness of the game unfortunately. And likely the reason why they have the Deck Builder menu built the way it currently is: I suspect that scrolling horizontally was very frustrating in earlier testing.
Levelling your characters or cards in the game can be very confusing. There are many Upgrade Items, that only work with certain themed cards, and also require a combination of other duplicate cards, and vast injections of cash/points.

You will also be very confused about what they mean by a "Stage". For example, right now when you receive in-game ads ("NEWS"), Early Access users are notified that they will be rewarded greatly for "Destroying the Indian Fortress in Stage 10". However, what the hell is "Stage 10"? There are neighbourhood stages that represent Card Themes, and each neighbourhood has a Stage, however each of those Stages also has up to 15 replayable stages. There are also different Episodes with their own Stage numbers too. For example, you can be in "Stage 3 of Stage 25 in Episode 5 of Stage 5". No, I'm not joking.

The freemium game that Matt & Trey described could might as well be 'Phone Destroyer'. In the beginning, you'll collect a lot of money points and upgrade items. However, the difficulty curve quickly goes from easy to cruel. Moreso than most other similar games. Shortly after you're able to construct your first deck, it becomes extremely difficult to progress in PVE or PVP. In PVP, you never go down in ranks, and the rewards for winning are met with quite unfair diminishing returns. In PVE, as you progress through the different zones, the difficulty suddenly curves up as well and you're forced to replay old zones to collect upgrades. However, since you move up in ranks as you replay old zones as well, so you get quickly locked out of those in terms of difficulty.

In a nutshell, here's how the game works (and please note that it happens very quickly):

You play through the Story PVE stages. You hit a road block. You switch to PVP. Rankings significantly diminish rewards. You switch back to PVE. Even more diminishing returns, making the climb very difficult until you hit a road block. You're forced to replay older PVE zones, but you can only play each once or twice, since they _also_ ramp up in Stages, becoming exponentially difficult. Then, you hit an obstacle where you can't progress at all unless you buy packs and upgrades. This can all happen in one or two days of playing.

The art and sound effects are great, but other than that, it's hot garbage. The game will crash on you very frequently. And it won't give you any error codes to research, it will just simply freeze up on you indefinitely.

Now you could wait for the free pack every 4 hours and collect unpredictable cards over several days to overcome the obstacle, but the road blocks happens exponentially faster each time. Or, you can take the easy path that all human beings are wired for, and visit the IAP store to keep up with the Joneses.

Since everything in the game uses a specifically crafted ranking system with exponentially diminishing returns, the entire game very tightly squeezes you from every single side, and the only way out of it are making payments to Ubisoft. I'm feeling claustrophobic by just writing about my experiences. But, this is how they hide everything that's going on behind the scenes. They cover the game in glitter, bright lights, several varieties of "upgrade items", too many different point systems, and rewards. All of these keep you distracted from how the game is influencing your behavior.

But in the end, I think Ubisoft is going to make a ton money from this game. They are using some very classic and highly manipulative successful casino game design strategies that work very well on addicts players.

I have to wonder if Ubisoft managed to convince Matt & Trey by telling them that they would give players free card packs on a regular schedule. To the inexperienced, this sounds like a altruistic gesture. But heroin dealers have a common term for it.. it's just "a taste."

IAP sales from the game should impact their stock price positively, especially with fears of a take-over attempt looming.