One of Battlefield 2042‘s main selling points is that it’s similar to Battlefield 4, but bigger — like, the Texas version of bigger. On current-gen consoles and PC, Battlefield 2042 games can house up to 128 players, twice the 64-player standard for just about every other large-scale shooter out there, including previous entries in the Battlefield franchise. Naturally, the inclusion of bots presents some surface-level problems, but one other issue became immediately clear once I started playing the game: These bots are dumb as rocks.
Dumb A.I. should not drive
Subpar A.I. isn’t new to anyone who’s played some of Dice’s recent games. Star Wars Battlefront 2‘s story mode, for instance, was chock-full of enemies that would walk into walls, get caught on random bits of geometry, or just stare at players blankly before getting domed by a laser. But bad A.I. in a single-player story mode and bad A.I. in a multiplayer mode are two very, very different things.
The former impacts a mode that players will likely spend around six to eight hours in (for your average shooter games, at least), while the latter can potentially ruin the game modes meant to devour players’ hours. For Battlefield 2042, bad A.I. doesn’t necessarily ruin the experience of the game’s multiplayer, but it absolutely left a bad taste in my mouth.
During my six some-odd hours playing Battlefield 2042‘s beta, I saw A.I. walking into walls, move unnaturally, not react to getting shot, and even line up to get shot. They don’t lend any extra challenge to the game, instead serving as targets for players to shoot at with little to no risk.
Battlefield 2042‘s A.I. is at its worst, however, when something inside their code seems to say, “beep-boop, time to take a helicopter or tank.” I feel like it goes without saying, but if an A.I. can’t walk, can’t react to threats, and has a problem attacking enemies, placing one in a vehicle amounts to that vehicle being totally wasted. In 2042, this is a pretty huge deal. Vehicles can turn the tide of battles, and while some of 2042‘s vehicles have been nerfed, one being thrown away because an A.I. can’t tell when it’s being shot at can sour a player’s experience.
The Halo Infinite difference
Admittedly, I might not be so annoyed with the shoddy performance of Battlefield 2042‘s A.I. if I wasn’t just coming off of a weekend playing Halo Infinite‘s own technical beta. While both games are still half-cooked, Halo Infinite‘s A.I. blows Battlefield 2042‘s out of the water, making it jarring to switch immediately over to the latter.
For those who haven’t tried out any of Halo Infinite‘s betas, the A.I. in that game is properly impressive, performing more like a player compared to Battlefield 2042‘s computer-controlled soldiers in every way. Infinite‘s Spartan bots are aware of their surroundings, use the environment to their advantage, and by all measures, play like actual players. Battlefield 2042‘s aren’t quite sure what planet they’re on.
The difference between the two games is essentially night and day. In Halo Infinite, I don’t mind playing in a bot-packed lobby, because they’re just as engaging as regular players. Being stuck with 127 bots in a Battlefield 2042 lobby, on the other hand, sounds like the fastest way to get a headache.
What’s genuinely worrying about all of this is that Battlefield 2042 releases in about six weeks, on November 19. That gives the game’s developers, Ripple Effect and Dice, just over a month to improve the game’s A.I. The way things are looking right now, though, players might have to deal with the unhelpful bots when Battlefield 2042 officially launches.
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