Total War: Rome 2 Video Highlights "Very Hard" AI

StewShearerOld

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Total War: Rome 2 Video Highlights "Very Hard" AI


Creative Assembly has released a video showing off Rome 2's AI in action.

I will admit to not being the best Total War strategist. While I've had my moments of greatness, my usual strategy tends to be building an army so overwhelming that I can pretty much grind my opponents into oblivion. Generally speaking, I'm doing pretty good if I walk out of a battle with more than half of my troops still breathing. That in mind, Creative Assembly recently released some gameplay footage that demonstrates just how easily Total War: Rome 2's AI can destroy players like me when it really wants to.

The video, narrated by communications manager Al Bickham, pits a player controlled army of Macedonians against a Roman force controlled by an enemy AI cranked up to "Very Hard." The results are painful to watch. Bickham seems to do well enough at first, maneuvering and commanding his units with some hint of experience. It doesn't take long however for the AI general to start picking his forces apart, countering each of his moves with ease and using buffs to enhance its army's abilities. "AI generals are very much more able and eager to hunt around for situations where their activated abilities are going to be of use the army," explains Bickham, as own his own troops begin to waver.

In less than ten minutes Bickham's Macedonians are in full retreat, while the Roman's come out looking fairly unscathed. All in all, it's an impressive demonstration of the AI's abilities and one that's likely to leave middling players like myself feeling even more inadequate about their tactics. Meanwhile, more skilled players eager to test themselves against Rome 2's AI don't have much longer to wait. The game is set for a worldwide <a href=http://www.eurogamer.net/articles/2013-05-09-total-war-rome-2-release-date-is-tuesday-3rd-september-worldwide>release on September 3rd.

Source: <a href=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_9qkAC4b5c#at=499>YouTube


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Gethsemani_v1legacy

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Is it just me who remember the AI videos for Empire, which promised awesome, responsive AI that would be able to utilize dozens of different tactics depending on how the player behaved. The actual AI in game, before a year worth of patches were applied? It lined all its' units up in a line and marched bravely into fire, never using special formations or attempting flanking maneuvers.

Ever since, I am very skeptical whenever CA claims to have drastically improved their AI.
 

StewShearerOld

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I hope they also improve the campaign map AI. Even a military genius level AI can't win when they attack with scattered units and no infrastructure to back them up.
 

RandV80

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Yeah I'll believe it when I see it. It looked good in the video but the guy didn't play it very well, he must have invested a lot of points in his calvary then pretty much ignored his two units in the woods on the right while the AI peppered him with range units and what looked like a single strong counter. That left him over matched on the field, where he talked for a minute or two about the AI general using buffs before he finally did anything with his own.

That said if the AI can recognize and counter calvary that will go a long way towards increasing the difficulty, as that was always the most basic way to exploit the enemy. Hold a strong line in the middle while you maneuver you're cavalry (general included) to the flanks/rear for a moral crushing charge.

As much as I love these games the tactical combat has always been sort of a problem for the 4x elements. Same with a game like Fallen Enchantress which I'm currently playing. Where as in the Civilization series unit combat is a roll of the dice, give me direct control in tactical combat and I'll pretty much always win unless they bring an overwhelming force.
 

Eri

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The biggest thing with AI's in my mind is letting them play well against you but at the same time, not allowing them to cheat. If they can cheat, they aren't winning fairly end of story.
 

Bad Jim

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RandV80 said:
As much as I love these games the tactical combat has always been sort of a problem for the 4x elements.
No, the AI has always been a problem in 4X games period. Tactics? Terrible. Long term strategy? Doesn't have one. Diplomacy? Thats what they put in when cheat codes went out of style.

I can't think of anything that any 4X AI does better than an experienced player.
 

Falterfire

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Bad Jim said:
I can't think of anything that any 4X AI does better than an experienced player.
To be fair, despite not be an expert in every game genre, I don't think I've ever heard of a game (Not counting Chess, okay?) where the veterans didn't find the AI to be fairly trivial to best unless it's cheating rampantly.

The real question is whether the AI provides enough of a challenge that you can have fun beating them.
 

RandV80

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Bad Jim said:
RandV80 said:
As much as I love these games the tactical combat has always been sort of a problem for the 4x elements.
No, the AI has always been a problem in 4X games period. Tactics? Terrible. Long term strategy? Doesn't have one. Diplomacy? Thats what they put in when cheat codes went out of style.

I can't think of anything that any 4X AI does better than an experienced player.
What I meant was that a 4x game like Civilization you have to be really good at the 4x part because unit combat is a role of the dice. But for a series like Total War I can be an amateur at the 4x part but still win the game because anything short of a mongol invasion the enemy throws at me I can repel. Well Civ V has stepped a little bit into the latter category with it's hex grid and 1 unit per square. While I love the change as it makes the game funner I can now repel what in earlier Civs was known as the dreaded 'stack of doom' with just a few well placed units. Though I here the recent expansion has done a better job with this, I just haven't checked it out yet.

And I can give you one 4X game that actually has a great AI: Galactic Civilizations II. Stardock managed to make an AI here where the computer doesn't treat you as the 'PC' but rather just another competing race, and increasing the difficulty only increases the effectiveness of the AI, no handicaps are given out.
 

Pyrian

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Bad Jim said:
No, the AI has always been a problem in 4X games period. Tactics? Terrible. Long term strategy? Doesn't have one. Diplomacy? Thats what they put in when cheat codes went out of style.
Still? I remember things being like that ten, fifteen years ago, but I figured they'd improve at some point. Especially in a long running series like Total War.

...I don't have time to play these kinds of games myself any more.
 

Bad Jim

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Falterfire said:
Bad Jim said:
I can't think of anything that any 4X AI does better than an experienced player.
To be fair, despite not be an expert in every game genre, I don't think I've ever heard of a game (Not counting Chess, okay?) where the veterans didn't find the AI to be fairly trivial to best unless it's cheating rampantly.

The real question is whether the AI provides enough of a challenge that you can have fun beating them.
AI flaws are worse in 4X games for several reasons.

1) The genre is far more complex, with so many more ways that the AI can do something stupid. Other genres avoid concepts that will give the AI serious trouble. In 4X you are expected to be able to do stuff like diplomacy, which AI never handles well.

2) The genre is a pure mental exercise. You spend your time analysing the situation and you notice all the subtleties that the AI completely ignores. In a lot of action games you can just turn your brain off and stab or shoot your way through, so you don't notice how stupid the AI is.

3) Multiplayer is not practical for grand strategy. It just takes too long. People who are dissatisfied with the AI cannot look online for better opponents.

4X is still fun, but I think the endemic AI flaws do detract from the experience.
 

Bad Jim

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RandV80 said:
And I can give you one 4X game that actually has a great AI: Galactic Civilizations II. Stardock managed to make an AI here where the computer doesn't treat you as the 'PC' but rather just another competing race, and increasing the difficulty only increases the effectiveness of the AI, no handicaps are given out.
Sorry to burst your bubble but the wiki says otherwise

http://galciv.wikia.com/wiki/Difficulty_level

In older versions prior to v1.31 it was known to be the following.

Fool - The AI's economy is run at 10% of normal; no higher level algorithms are enabled
Beginner - The AI's economy is run at 25% of normal; no higher level algorithms are enabled
Sub-Normal - The AI's economy is run at 50% of normal; no higher level algorithms are enabled
Normal - The AI's economy is run at 75% of normal; AI evaluates common human tactics
Bright - The AI's economy is run at 100% of normal; AI evaluates most known human tactics
Intelligent - The AI's economy is run at 100% of normal; from this level up to the highest AI expertly picks abilities and all known human tactics are searched and countered
Gifted - The AI's economy is run at 105% of normal;
Genius - The AI's economy is run at 125% of normal;

Updated for newer versions of the game (DL 1.5 and DA)

Incredible - The AI's economy, production, and research are run at 200% of normal and it gets a ~20% bonus to miniaturization and +4 sensors,
Godlike - The AI's economy, production, and research are run at 300% of normal and it gets a ~40% bonus to miniaturization and +4-5 sensors;
Ultimate - The AI's economy, production, and research are run at 400% of normal and it gets a ~60% bonus to miniaturization and +5-6 sensors;

The AI is as smart as it will ever get at the 'Intelligent' (tough) level. Beyond that, it's just getting material advantages.
 

Darks63

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Gethsemani said:
Is it just me who remember the AI videos for Empire, which promised awesome, responsive AI that would be able to utilize dozens of different tactics depending on how the player behaved. The actual AI in game, before a year worth of patches were applied? It lined all its' units up in a line and marched bravely into fire, never using special formations or attempting flanking maneuvers.

Ever since, I am very skeptical whenever CA claims to have drastically improved their AI.
Don't forget the AI wasting its Cav in unsupported frontal charges which mostly wiped them out leaving their own Inf vulnerable to counter charges by your own Cav units. Even Darthmod didn't fix how easy it was to pull a Fredricksburg at every single battle.
 

Terminal Blue

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Gethsemani said:
Ever since, I am very skeptical whenever CA claims to have drastically improved their AI.
Yeah, I remember those!

It's worth remembering that Empire was particularly bad for AI. Even now, it has a strange habit of sending unsupported cavalry riding back and forth in front of infantry. I think Darthmod fixes most of these truly silly problems though.

Generally, I think complex games will always have problems with AI. The idea that an AI will be able to compete on equal terms with a skilled human player any time soon is kind of overly optimistic. I really don't like the argument that it's somehow laziness on the part of AI techs to fail to produce an AI which can beat you without awarding itself bonuses. They aren't working for Cyberdyne Systems.
 

Jamous

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I swear he was both outnumbered and out maneuvered. Seriously, he really misused his cavalry.
 

A_Parked_Car

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While I won't agree that the AI looks super brilliant, it does look functional. That is a pretty vast improvement over Empire: Total War. It is also reassuring to see that this battle doesn't look overly scripted like the 'AI showcases' from Shogun 2 and Empire. I actually recognize some AI moves in the video that are very similar to how the AI does things in Shogun 2. It will take a long time for AI to be able to compete with a skilled human player. I find Total War AI easy to crush, yet I know friends who are totally helpless against even a normal difficulty bot.

I hear this kind of whining in the Hearts of Iron III forums, but I actually think the AI is brilliant in that game. If people just stopped and thought about how much the AI in HOI3 is managing, it is pretty incredible. Sure a skilled human can stomp all over it, but that is to be expected.
 

Shamanic Rhythm

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What would be even more appreciated would be if they fixed the campaign map AI so that it occasionally behaves like something other than Skynet towards the human player. I have studied enough history to know that occasionally there did exist a few nations who developed in a slightly different fashion to the North Korean model of 'stuff all economic development and park a big fuckoff army on your neighbour's doorstep'.
 

Yelchor

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I'm surprised the presenting player survived for as long as he did, considering the blunders he made from start to finish. He got himself locked and didn't manouver when opportunity arose. He could have gotten steamrolled much earlier had the AI been slightly more aggressive as well. Despite all this, he -still- had a decent chance to pull through near the end, but instead he felt the need to pursue routing units with his general when the frontline was in dire need of his support...

I understand that player skill isn't mandatory when showing how the game works. But considering the intent of this video was to show how difficult the AI was, this looked far from promising. A larger force, facing a human player that had no understanding of how to utilise cavalry (Alexander would probably be weeping if he had seen this video), and it still had to struggle and take heavy losses.

It just feels like a poor attempt at making the AI appear capable when they clearly throw advantages at it. I'd like to see it fare against someone who seemingly isn't with a bias of anything that the company says is true.
 

1337mokro

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Am I really the only one out of all these supposed seasoned generals commenting on the AI here that noticed that the two cavalry in the forest were pinned down not by ranged troops, but cavalry? Sure he could have pulled out way earlier and moved his second cav to get the velites off his back. Sure he's showing off the AI, cutting it some slack or is genuinely one of those people that find the AI challenging (yes those actually exist). For example he made the absurd choice to not instantly withdraw his light skirmishers after the first volley of arrows. He could have literally dodged that first volley and then start to move in his spears.

There isn't a single AI in the world that can beat an experienced player and they aren't supposed to! The AI is meant as a hurdle, something you CAN pass. No matter the amount of training I do I ain't going to be the #1 Starcraft guy. However I will beat the AI, because the AI should be designed as something fair, smart and beatable.

To me I saw an AI that had lost most of the horrible quirks of the older versions. Like charging out their general alone, or keeping their general absolutely stationary or chasing a single cavalry regiment with half their forces or shifting their entire force to face towards a newly discovered enemy. It seemed capable of actually directing units separately and not as a gigantic blob.

A GOOD AI is a not stupid AI, one that you cannot exploit, not an AI that plays like an experienced player. For that we will have to wait till Skynet comes on.

My main points are however Diplomacy, Campaign AI and Unit Variety. Those are the three things I want to see changed the most. If they can fix it so Diplomacy is clear and logical and a city that you are besieging with 4x the amount of troops doesn't stubbornly refuse your surrender offer or that the AI doesn't spit in your face by offering you a treaty then breaking it the very next turn, thus ruining your relationship with EVERYONE for some reason because you broke a trade agreement.

Unit variety really should speak for itself. Playing as another faction shouldn't feel like just playing the same game from a different geographical position. Shogun 2 was quite bad at this but that was also a limitation of the game's subject. Here however I hope that a Barbarian will require a complete new way of managing units than for example Carthage or an Eastern Empire.

Those are the things I want fixed. Those to me are way more important than a hyper intelligent Battle AI, all I ask of the Battle AI is that it can prioritize properly. Hold and break formation when necessary. Doesn't get baited easily into exploiting it's behaviour. However most off all, that it actually recognizes lost battles.

The AI in Rome: Alexander actually often did something that fucking BLEW MY MIND! It RETREATED!!! Have you ever seen an AI actually order a full out retreat on the battlefield when things went poorly for it and the match became impossible to win? I sure haven't.