Video game AI technology gets better with every passing year. Case and point, the upcoming Hitman is set to feature 300 individual NPCs per level, each with their own behaviour and movement patterns while last year’s Alien: Isolation featured a Xenomorph and android employees that learned from and reacted accordingly to your style of play.
However, while AI becomes more sophisticated, this does begin to raise questions about the actions of the following four organisations (comprised of NPCs):
1. The Golden Path- Far Cry 4: In Far Cry 4, you play as Ajay Ghale- the son of a revolutionary in fictional Kyrat- as he returns to the country of his birth to spread his mother’s ashes. However, he gets caught up in the nation’s civil war and sides with the The Golden Path, the insurgent organisation founded by Ajay’s father. While the troops of The Golden Path are valuable allies when charging an enemy position, they have one crucial weakness- Kyrat’s wildlife. The crafting mechanic that allows the player to kill and skin the wildlife in order to make better equipment returns in Far Cry 4 after making its series debut in Far Cry 3. However, predatory wildlife will attack you and if an eagle or a honey badger happens to encounter a group of Golden Path fighters, more often than not, the animal will win. This raises the question- how successful was the Golden Path before Ajay turned up? Sure, they are a strong resistance but a single eagle can kill four fighters if you, as Ajay, don’t intervene.
2. Los Santos Police Department- Grand Theft Auto V: Where to start with these guys? Firstly, there are no female police officers- if you are involved in an altercation with the police, every officer you will encounter will be male. In addition to that, they have no regard for civilians- in a chase, they will crash into bystanders without hesitation. You may think rampant sexism and a complete undermining of the ‘serve and protect’ motto are bad but the worst thing is their 0% arrest rate. No matter what your crime is, you can be sure that if you are caught, the police will kill you. It really makes you wonder what sort of world Rockstar have created for their hit game.
3. United States Colonial Marines/Xenomorphs- Aliens: Colonial Marines: Before beginning to write this segment, I had to exhale sadly for about half a minute. Colonial Marines has a mulitude of problems, one being the now legendary AI. Apparently every Marine in the game had a high ranking family member who passed them through basic training because none of them know how to use cover properly and will often stand in a position that blocks your shot. It would be no question as to why the Xenomorphs are so rampant…except that Xenomorphs are just as bad. The usually stealthy, silent killers choose to walk towards you head on and will often overshoot when jumping at you, giving you plenty of time to turn around and kill them. While this game is sadly official Alien universe canon, maybe we can just attribute bad Xenomorphs to having spawned from an incompetent Marine host?
4. City Guards- Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim: While better at incarcerating criminals (they offer you the chance to go to jail or fight them and possibly die), their problem is remembering faces. If you decide that prison is not for you and escape the city, you can wait it out before returning to the city. The only thing the guards will now say to you is something like “Hey, I know you” or “One moment, you look familiar” and then allow you to go about your business. But hey, maybe you decide to go to jail- that’s okay! The sentence for any crime is a single night in jail or escape by picking the door or grate in the floor with the single lockpick you are always left with. No wonder there is a room in my Solitude home devoted to all my stolen cheese…
So, I know that a lot of these are a result of pathing and coding but because they are in the game, we have to deal with them and it just makes you think about the implications within the world of that video game. What are some of NPC groups whose actions make you raise an eyebrow? I’d love to hear from you!