High ping, VPN and Source executables

06 Jul 2020

I am having high ping recently, and I can see it in Team Fortress 2, Left 4 Dead. For example a European server I get 105 ms, but it should be 50-70. So I started looking for solutions.

I already have ExpressVPN, and connecting to Germany Frankfurt helps a little, making it go down to 90. Similar with Dashlane Password Manager's VPN, which is provided by Hotspot Shield. Both were freezing from time to time, ExpressVPN for 20 seconds every couple minutes and Hotspot Shield for 3 seconds every minute.

I saw WTFast before, offering better routes to the servers than the ones ISP provides. So I started the trial, tried many options and did many tests. Lowest ping was 70 which is really good but it was hanging for a long time as well, around 20 seconds. This is unacceptable so I removed it.

I looked for alternatives and found ExitLag, and it is amazing. Allowing me to add maximum of 4 routes, best combination is 1 TCP and 3 UDP I think, since FPS games work with UDP. And TCP is there for other stuff, I’ve heard that Overwatch uses it sometimes.

ExitLag is a lot easier to use than anything else because it shows me more useful information about latency, paths etc. Ping went from 105 to 53-61 and zero freezes, it is just perfect.

Even though ExitLag has over 400 games including Team Fortress 2, it did not have Left 4 Dead, and that was a big deal breaker for me. However I know that TF2 and L4D are using the same game engine, Source Engine.

I know that TF2 executable is hl2.exe so I thought ExitLag was just looking for that name. I renamed left4dead.exe to hl2.exe but it did not launch, saying Setup file 'gameinfo.txt' doesn't exist in subdirectory 'hl2'. Check your -game parameter or VCONFIG setting. Then I made a basic shortcut to the hl2.exe and added the -game left4dead to the shortcut path. It worked, but launching the game from Steam is looking for left4dead.exe. So I didn’t go with this route since I want to put game launch options at Steam like -novid -lv.

To solve all these, I renamed left4dead.exe to hl2.exe and then I ran CMD as Administrator. Then I ran mklink "D:\SteamLibrary\steamapps\common\left 4 dead\left4dead.exe" "D:\SteamLibrary\steamapps\common\left 4 dead\hl2.exe". It made a shortcut called left4dead.exe (not left4dead.exe.lnk) which points to the renamed hl2.exe.

Steam was able to find and launch left4dead.exe and even apply -novid -lv -freq 280 -noborder -fullscreen launch options. And yes, ExitLag detected Left 4 Dead as Team Fortress 2 and worked the same way!

I thought it would be good to save this experience here, for future myself or a random stranger.

You can try ExitLag for free using my referral link: https://www.exitlag.com/refer/3250737

Edit: ExitLag froze for couple seconds only once during a long match. Also had very rare ping spikes.

I tried VPNGame after writing the post, it’s also really good alternative to ExitLag. Ping is near ExitLag. It does not have trial but it’s possible to purchase 1-Day which is ultimately cheap, 12 RUB. And monthly payment is only $2 so I will probably prefer this instead of $6.50 ExitLag subscription. I did not have any freezes so far. Though some servers did not connect, I don’t know why. This has an option to add a custom executable which is great, like left4dead.exe!

My VPNGame referral link: https://vpngame.net/?rl=MjkwNTA3