Often when we discuss the potential of a new MMORPG game we head straight into combat, questing, raids and PvP but seldom do we look at behind the scenes features that can be just as vital. The Elder Scrolls Online is arguably one of the most anticipated MMO titles of our time, building on decades of success with Bethesda’s Elder Scrolls franchise; but will it rise to the high expectations of players or just get branded as another World of Warcraft clone?
There are plenty of people that have taken a detailed look at the combat and questing but I found very few actually took an in-depth look at some of the games more impressive background features. One aspect of these features that has me really excited is the adaptive AI; a unique system that promises to provide players with a challenging experience at every turn. Every enemy in the game, from regular humanoids to Dwemer machines, has their own selection of exciting abilities, each of which can be used in conjunction with abilities from surrounding monsters. There are multiple depths to this system, ranging from basic to complex actions. A basic example would be one enemy unit attempting to attack you from range while the other gets up close in a tanking role. A more complex example of this unique system is the ability of enemy units to combine attacks, such as an enemy soldier throwing down a protective aura while an enemy caster moves into said aura for increased protection.
Boasting an evolution in AI mechanics is thrown around far too often in today’s industry; it seems like every other game boasts some ground-breaking AI features only for players to see ancient issues such as AI taking cover behind an invisible object, or running into walls and other obstacles. However, Bethesda haven’t created a ground-breaking, award winning franchise with false promises and lackluster features. Changing their approach to combat, the abilities they use and the roles they take, based on the classes of nearby player characters is a depth of AI that we don’t often see in the MMO space.
What are your thoughts on this unique take of an AI system? Will it deliver or will we experience yet another disappointingly lackluster AI system in the online space?