Halo 4 Would Be Awesome If It Included Bots
Posted on Monday, September 24 @ 07:18:43 Eastern by Pierre_Bienaime
Earlier this year, and well before we’d gotten a first peep at Halo 4, there floated an underhanded rumor that the game might include bots. To that I say, "Yes, please." Since then, though, there have been doubts about their inclusion, which would be a shame. Somehow this feature has been largely dropped this generation, and now’s a good a time as any to bring it back.
I don’t know why they ever left. Games suffer and cut their own potential short by omitting bots. Take the recent Hybrid, for example, a shooter that avoided the cookie-cutter nature of many games in the genre by introducing a fresh gameplay mechanic. It’s equal parts rail shooter and free form (if you’re confused, watch some of this). To play Hybrid, though, you have to be online and, the game’s tutorial aside, you’ll never be squaring off against AI.
There are many games out there relying on internet play exclusively, but they usually carry a little more clout than 5th Cell’s downloadable title. The result is that in a few years’ time—and especially if Microsoft’s next console closes the book on the current version of Xbox Live)—Hybrid will probably have near-empty lobbies populated solely by aloof newcomers on one end and perfectionist head-shotters on the other.
Unless, of course, bots become part of the formula.
The original Perfect Dark for N64 saw its replay value skyrocket with their introduction. Lone players or couch colleagues could take on a pair of disciplined agents or a horde of bumbling incompetents (the lowest level of bot-skill was affably called “meat”). Personality types from cowardly to revenging only ramped up the number of permutations. While many of these combinations might make for lackluster gameplay, a community as burgeoning as Halo’s would find those that don’t.
The virtues for including bots are many. They allow for story-less bouts on multiplayer maps, offline and without the lottery of human opposition. Even for those who do have an eye for the online octagon, bots unlock the possibility of learning the ins and outs of each map, and low pressure experimentation with weapons and strategies. In short, they help address this point below illustrated by Penny Arcade:
And that’s only if a game offers bots in the most basic sense as lobby-filling dummies. Bots can excel well beyond that function; specifically, they can be made to replace dropout players. Jumping into a four-on-four game of Halo: Reach only to see your team immediately drop to three Spartans is an avoidable inconvenience. Bots should replace truants, their prowess determined by a team’s or that player's average kill/death spread. If a brother in arms loses connection in a hotly contended endgame, defeat need not be spelled for those staying the fight. Give us an AI on par with our proven merit, and play on.
The Forge first introduced in Halo 3 empowered fans to create all sorts of novelties, from home-brewed game types to more manipulable machinima (and even a few Rube Goldberg projects). The result kept the game relevant years beyond its release. Surely, the inclusion of bots in 343 Industries' first original opus would do something similar, and Halo 4 would definitely be more awesome for having them.
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