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The unprecedented rise of AI has been the most disruptive technological shake-up of a generation. Its use has filtered through just about every field of technology, including enhancing gameplay.

But just what does it bring to the gaming table? And how are developers integrating this into their games and platforms? These are the questions that we set out to answer as we look at the games that are showcasing the future of AI in gameplay.

AI in Gaming: A Potted History

Despite AI hardly being out of the news over the past year, it is not a new concept, and the use of AI in gaming can trace its roots back a lot further than the latest generation of LLM-based AI.

How far back these roots go is open to interpretation. Early attempts can be dated to 1952, when players could pit their wits against a “digital” opponent in a basic form of tic-tac-toe. An even earlier candidate is the mathematical game Nim, which dates to 1941. But perhaps the strongest claim, in the modern context, is IBM’s Deep Blue, which managed to defeat a reigning world chess champion at his own game.

Since then, it is fair to say that the pace of progress of AI in gaming has been relatively sedate. But all that is changing as the rapid and dramatic evolution of AI is proving to be a metaphorical and actual game changer. This ongoing development is increasing in pace, especially as gaming has moved from being a niche hobby to a global phenomenon, with AI increasingly at the forefront of this rapid evolution.

The Role of AI in Gameplay

Before we look at the games in question, it is worth taking a look at how developers are using AI to improve gameplay. The current tools available are highly flexible and can be used to enhance games in many ways, some of the most common techniques and strategies are listed below:

  • Dynamic game environments: AI algorithms create ever-changing game worlds, offering a unique experience with each playthrough.
  • NPC behavior: Non-player characters (NPCs) exhibit more realistic and complex behaviors, making in-game interactions more profound.
  • Game balancing: AI ensures a fair and challenging experience by adjusting game difficulty in real-time based on player performance.
  • Player behavior analysis: By understanding patterns and preferences, AI personalizes gameplay, making it more engaging for each player.

There is also something of a gray area to consider – just what constitutes AI in gameplay?

For instance, Pong is perhaps the most distant ancestor of modern gaming, a simple concept in which players bat a few pixels about the screen hoping to beat their opponent. When playing against the computer, the software made strategic decisions about where to place the paddle based on the human opponent’s move – depending on how you define AI, this could qualify.

Games Pioneering AI in Modern Gameplay

We need to define, then, what we mean when we refer to “AI in gameplay”. In the context of this article, we can simply say that AI is a technology that uses advanced algorithms and sophisticated techniques to enhance gameplay by enabling dynamic, adaptive, and intelligent features in games.

From mobile battle royale games to the sprawling landscapes of Mordor, here are some innovative examples of how AI is transforming gameplay:

Fortnite – A Battle Royale Pioneer

The cultural “last man standing” phenomenon that is Fortnite has always boasted advanced features. The gameplay is usually multiplayer, although AI-powered bots can be introduced for practice purposes or to add a little “spice” to games.

But bots aren’t the only way that the Fortnite range of games is integrating AI:

  • Dynamic environments: AI algorithms continually alter the game’s landscape, ensuring no two matches are the same and keeping players constantly adapting.
  • Player interaction: AI influences not just the environment but also player strategies, with features like auto-generated challenges and events that shape the gameplay.

Apex Legends – Revolutionizing Team Strategy

Another entry on the list from the Battle Royale “stable of games” is Apex Legends. The twist with this game is its innovative use of teamwork. Players must work together in “squads” if they have any chance of success, and good communication is critical in achieving this.

Hardly surprising then to find that smart communication is one of the ways that this immersive epic of a game is utilizing AI:

  • Smart communication system: The game’s ping system uses AI to enable players to communicate complex information quickly and effectively, enhancing teamwork and strategy without the need for voice chat.
  • Balanced character abilities: AI helps in dynamically balancing characters’ abilities, ensuring fair play and maintaining the competitive integrity of the game.

Call of Duty: Warzone – Mastering the Art of Battle

Last but not least from the Battle Royale genre is another true legend of the realm – Call of Duty: Warzone. Set in another sprawling universe of immersive battlefields, it requires a blend of skill, strategy, and more than a little cunning to become master of the battlefield.

Among the ways this game is using AI to enhance gameplay are:

  • Skill-based matchmaking: AI algorithms analyze player performance to create balanced and competitive matches, ensuring a fair challenge for all skill levels.
  • Large-scale battle management: AI helps manage the complexities of Warzone’s vast battlefields, optimizing the player experience and maintaining the fast-paced action the series is renowned for.

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt – Crafting a Living World

The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt is an acclaimed open-world RPG known for its compelling narrative and immersive world. The game’s rich story and environment are brought to life with complex AI, making it a benchmark in gaming.

Here are a couple of the innovative ways developers are using AI to create an ultra-real gaming experience:

  • Dynamic NPC behavior: NPCs in The Witcher 3 have daily routines and react dynamically to both the player’s actions and changes in their environment, creating a living world that feels real and reactive.
  • Adaptive enemy AI: Enemies use sophisticated AI to provide varied and challenging combat experiences, adapting their tactics based on time, player strategies, and other environmental factors.

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor/War – Personalizing Conflict with AI

Set in the mythical land of Middle-earth made famous by Tolkien, the Shadow of Mordor game and its sequel, Shadow of War, have always made a “Hobbit” of integrating advanced AI. This is most obvious in its celebrated and innovative Nemesis system, which uses AI to create personalized rivalries and storylines:

  • Nemesis system: This unique AI system remembers the player’s interactions with specific characters, altering their attitudes, memories, and behaviors based on past encounters. It creates a personalized web of allies and enemies, making each player’s game experience unique.
  • Dynamic world: The AI also influences the world around the player, with factions and characters dynamically reacting to the player’s actions, further immersing them in the world of Middle-earth.

Game-Changing: The Increasing Role of AI in Gaming

The role of AI in games is hard to define, in some form or another, the use of digital code to influence the outcome of games has been around since the dawn of gaming. What has changed is the rapid development of the underlying technology that defines AI.

It is worth noting that we are still at the dawn of a new technology and game developers have a whole new toolbox available to them that promises to deliver game experiences we can only begin to imagine.


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