Something’s Missing: AI Allies (Criticism)

by Ragashingo ⌂ @, Official DBO Cryptarch, Monday, January 29, 2018, 18:08 (893 days ago)

One of the great joys in a Bungie game from Marathon to Halo was finding some way to keep most or all of your AI Allies alive.

In Myth, this often meant making sure your Archers weren’t shooting the rest of your guys in the back and that your Dwarves and their molotov grenades were kept well well clear of everyone and everything... especially themselves!

In Oni, it felt awesome to make your way up floor after floor of the besieged TCTF Headquarters singlehandedly saving scientists and officers from Strikers, Tankers, and Furies. I can still picture a base level Striker going for a “Striker slam!” at one of the large TCTF Elites only to skillfully maneuver Konoko into the correct position to deliver a devastating back breaker attack just in the nick of time. Not only did you save the day, you also often got things like health regenerating hypo sprays out of the deal.

Then, of course, there was Halo. Your UNSC Marine allies in the various Halo games tended to be somewhat ineffective on their own. I’m sure all of us classic Halo:CE players will remember freezing in terror whenever we heard a Marine call: “Frag out!” But when grouped up, or handed the correct weapon, or coerced into a vehicle, they could become very helpful. A passenger Hog with Rocket and Fuel Rod Gun Marines riding in back was one of the most powerful forces in all of Halo.

Going beyond their combat usefulness, Marines in Halo provided some pretty powerful in-game confirmation that, yes, you as the Master Chief were a badass. From the earliest battles on the Pillar of Autumn, Marine-yelled phrases like “Look! A Mark V” and “I knew there was one on board.” served to help define your place in Halo’s sci-fi world. I can still very nearly recite Sargent Johnson’s “It’s a mess sir...” speech he greets you with when you find his group hiding among the structures early on in the level Halo. And the Marines of Crow’s Nest perking up when they see the Master Chief is pretty classic.

Marines were also very often useful for showing the player just how bad things were getting. From Marines getting swarmed by the Flood to Pelicans getting shot down, Marines were a great way to see the enemy’s power without having to find a way to barely keep the player alive. Of course, Marines could also serve as warnings of imminent doom. Remember Truth and Reconciliation’s Belly of the Beast?

What, there's no Covenant here? I think maybe nobody's home.

Immediately afterwards the screams of dying marines horrible deaths were the first indication that a new player had to the fact that cloaked Elites with plasma swords had slipped into the room!

So, what about Destiny and Destiny 2? The amount of in-game AI Allies amounts to pretty much zip, zilch, and nada. Admittedly, it would be somewhat harder to include friendly AIs when battling against things like Minatours and Wizards, but back in Halo: CE many of us managed to escort Sargent Johnson and his team safely across Assault on the Control Room on foot past tanks and banshees with little more than an Assault Rifle and a couple of grenades.

In Destiny 2, there is a partially surfaced theme of Guardians keeping non-light-bearing Humans, Exos, and Awoken away from the front lines because of their inability to come back after death. But in Destiny’s lore there’s groups like Takanome’s Rangers who were out there fighting before many Guardians showed up and people like Suraya Hawthorne who became vital after the Red Legion cut off the Traveler’s Light.

From serving as distractions or reinforcements to being wiped out by a powerful enemy to show how dangerous a situation is to providing unscripted confirmations of our Guardian’s place in the world, it feels like Destiny could use a few AI Allies. Besides, nearby friendlies provided one other critical function that sometimes feels pretty lacking in Destiny 2: Fresh supplies of ammo!

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