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AI System in Call of Duty Franchise; Which Game Had Everything Right

Call of Duty has come a long way since its advent in October 2003. There have been some bad ones and exceptionally good ones, memorable and disastrous, but the franchise continued to grow into becoming one of the biggest IPs in video game history.

Though the game always attracted fans to its multiplayer component, the singleplayer campaigns indeed had their moments. All three developer studios continue to innovate the franchise’s singleplayer component whether it is visual fidelity, immersive story, or technical advancements such as better AI.

Improved AI behaviour can generally give players a more engaging experience. Throughout the history of the franchise, all three developer studios have focused on brining improved AI behaviour with mixed results. To each his own, but following is my rating of Call of Duty games based on AI behaviour:

Call of Duty 3
Even if we put aside AI behaviour, Call of Duty 3 is certainly one of the worst COD ever created! The game not only suffered from an abundance of glitches and repetitive singleplayer campaign, but featured the poorest AI I ever came across in a Call of Duty games. Both your squad members and enemies would stand like stiff cardboards placed in the game’s world. This certainly made the game an experience which players neither relished nor revisited again.

Call of Duty: Ghosts
One of the highlights of Call of Duty: Ghosts launch ceremony was how Infinity Ward improved the AI behaviour. The developer boasted the fact that with the new engine, AI fish move aside when a player approaches them – something which had been done back in 1996 as seen in the video below:

In addition to AI fish, the companion dog was nowhere near good, both in multiplayer component and singleplayer campaign. To sum it all up, the game provides a reminiscence of Call of Duty 3 for being equally bland if not worse.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II
Call of Duty: Black Ops II is bound to make it to the list of COD games with best AI across the series. Second to Advanced Warfare, the game features one of the best AI bots behaviour in Local Play. The only complaint that I have from the AI bots is that their weapons have zero recoil, especially on harder difficulty.

The AI algorithm in this game is truly remarkable. Each bot in the game possesses different tactics such as camping, knifing, running and gunning, and drop-shooting/jump-shooting. They also make very human mistakes which makes me play against them more than online players, but then again, that’s due to online lag.

Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare
Advanced Warfare took the franchise into a new direction, but it did improve a number of things wrong with Call of Duty: Ghosts including AI behaviour. Both Gideon and Ilona are one of the finest AI companions in the entire series. Unlike many Call of Duty installments, they actually help you out during heated engagements – and this behaviour changed with players’ opted difficulty setting. The final running sequence with Kevin Spacey remains one of the best sequences in the series.

Aside from singleplayer campaign, the bots behaviour in Local Play was equally enthralling which changed with their difficulty setting. Even at ‘Recruit Difficulty Setting’, the AI bots did shoot at you, but missed a lot instead of facing walls like idiots.

Call of Duty 2
If Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare was the overall best Call of Duty game to date, Call of Duty 2 was certainly the hardest. The game featured a lengthy singleplayer campaign which took 8-9 hours to complete even by seasoned COD players, thanks to its aggressive, gung-ho AI enemies who didn’t hesitate even for a second before tossing down a few frags down players’ throats. Personally, I believe that Call of Duty 2 is the only game that served the singleplayer campaign right with a mix of being hard and equally fun.

The Future of Call of Duty
We already know that the next Call of Duty is coming from Treyarch in November 2015 and is called Call of Duty: Black Ops III. Set in a futuristic setting, Black Ops III will pit players against robots and other forms of AI enemies. Speaking of the game, Treyarch boss Mark Lamia stated that the 3-year development cycle enabled them to bring all sorts of improvements to the game AI system which includes both human enemies and robots:

“Without a three- year cycle, we wouldn’t have been able to take the kind of risks that we took on this game, frankly. We would not have been able to overhaul our entire AI system, which supports the kind of engagements in an open play space like we have.”

Players will notice that the human enemies have a will to will and preserve themselves and will therefore, use cover while shooting at you. Robots, on the other hand, won’t have any will of the sort. All in all, the game will bring more complex AI interactions than what players have witnessed to this date.

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