Bots are a gameplay feature that not every player enjoys. While they are the bane of MMOs, where they can be used to cheat, these AI characters can be used to populate servers in games like Counter-Strike, DOOM, and Overwatch, giving people someone to play against when human ranks run low. But can these elements actually improve a game? Do they make things better and more interesting for the players?
Quake Champions is one of the most recent games to get bots. These will be AI players with varying difficulty levels, to allow people to train against them. They will act in the same way players do, performing strafe or trick jumps and searching for good weapons and items if their difficulty level is high enough. They will even be able to use champion abilities. They are currently only confirmed for online matches, but id Software was coy about whether they will eventually be usable offline so people have another way to play the game. This has the sort of effect you expect from bots in a multiplayer game. People can use these bots to build up their own skills, so they will be better when playing against other actual players. Or, if there is an online match that has space, the bots can fill it so you do not have to wait to play.
Friday the 13th: The Game is another title where bots were brought in and let people go ahead and play offline. Now, this is a free addition that has been growing to suit people’s needs. People who do not have a set group of friends to play with can go ahead and create their own match. They can be Jason or a counselor, whichever they prefer. While the bots started out rather stupid, in that they might even walk right up to Jason, updates have been planned for them and tweaks have come in to try and improve their AI. Which means people playing can learn more and become better.
But then, we do have games like PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds Mobile, which is using bots in a way that might frustrate people. In the mobile version of the game, bots appear to help fill space in matches or ease people into the game. The more people play and better they get, the fewer bots they may encounter. While this does make playing the game on the go easier, since it means less time waiting for enough people and allow you to more quickly enjoy a round, it does decrease the difficulty level. What merit is there to a coveted chicken dinner when it does not take much investment to win one? This is a case where bots bring both good and bad things to the table.
There is really only one game where the bots might not enhance the experience. For Honor has offered them since its launch, and some of its are absolutely brutal. The bots available are quite challenging and cunning, especially the level three ones. While this does mean people have to work for their victories and are not facing stupid drones that do not behave like actual players, having opponents that are too strong is not always ideal. People might consider bots a way to build themselves up and prepare for an actual enemy, and these bots can just beat you down and taunt you when they are done, which hurts morale.
With Quake Champions, PUBG Mobile, and Friday the 13th: The Game, we have situations where adding bots does more to improve the situation than it does to harm it. In For Honor, an evolving situation offers bots that can be as fearsome as actual opponents. While these Ai opponents may not always be ideal, the opportunities they offer often benefit the people playing it by making more choices available.