As the game is 100% multiplayer, I was surprised when the developers told me that the game had still kept the "Custom Battle" -feature from the original Mount & Blade, (which was incidentally a result of me personally suggesting it to the original developers.) Upon hearing this, I was initially apprehensive. A singleplayer "Custom Battle" -mode in this multiplayer-only game? Why
Don't get me wrong; I think that if they made it right, it could be bloody awesome. But I immediately pictured a half-baked feature they had reluctantly included despite having an almost fundamentalist complete lack of interest in the entire subject. So I was surprised when the developers made the following statement in this thread: http://forums.taleworlds.com/index.php/topic,223478.60.html
You can have up to 10 squads of different bot kinds, with a count up to 50 bots per squad.
These squads can be commanded around separately so you could make any impressive formation, think of having 20 rifleman in front spread out, behind it, 50 highlanders of foot and just your horse guard cav ready on the left flank to charge when the enemy gets too close, all these things and much more are added to enhance the native quick battle.
You can assign a army to the AI opponent in a similar fashion, he will control his squads with tactics and so on.
That made my jaw drop. They were actually going to make it... decent
Please don't misunderstand me - I know developer hyperbole and exaggeration when I see it. He is, after all, trying to sell me a product. Of course
the AI opponent isn't going to be as good as they say. By "he will control his squads with tactics and so on", this of course only means that the AI might sort of try to keep them in some vague formation with each other as they move towards you. Or something like that. And you know what? I'm actually cool with this. It still ought to be a fun mode to play.
In the thread I described above, I had urged the developers not to half-arse the "Custom Battle"-mode. In my own words: "When you do choose to include a "Custom Battle"-component, people expect you to make that mode as good as possible for what it is. It is always better to not
include something at all, than to include something in an uninspired, half-assed way. I'm sure you agree with me on this." To my disappointment, it turned out that they did
half-arse it in one incredibly important part
. I'm sure some of you have guessed it, by now - the AI
I've ran several tests on several different maps with several different factions and several different setups, and have noticed the two
ways in which the AI operates:
1) They break formation and charge mindlessly at you. This way, their cavalry will arrive way before the infantry and thus become isolated and cut to shreds. The infantry won't remember that they actually carry guns and start shooting before they are so close that they could just as well have thrown rocks. (That is, if there are
any infantrymen left by then, of course.)
2) They just sit in place. Literally. They just take up position where they spawned, just like your guys will do if you don't give them any orders. If you just leave them standing there for a long, long while, they will eventually completely drop that behaviour and instead spontaneously start charging at you as described above.
This is... really, really bad.
The worst part about this, is that it completely nullifies all the effort the developers have made in creating that mode. What's the point of having nine different maps, with more to possibly follow, if the AI can't actually play alongside you
? Don't get me wrong
: Like I said, I wasn't expecting much. Just that the AI would march their soldiers at you, stop within effective range, and start shooting. Perhaps perform a cavalry charge if it saw an opening. That is all, and would in my opinion be sufficient for fun gameplay.
In the original Mount & Blade, enemy AI-controlled "Lords" are able to perform rudimentary tactics in battle. They'll keep their parties in formation, and move them together. If they have a large number of ranged troopers, they'll find a nearby hill and park there, forcing you to come to them. This isn't particularly amazing stuff, but damn
, it's effective in making gameplay just that much more fun and engaging. I merely expected this to have been "ported" over to Napoleonic Wars
to some degree, and tweaked a bit to become suited to the new gameplay. But as it stands, we're left with a mode that's completely throwaway and pointless, and just a waste of development time. And all simply because the AI you made isn't actually able to play the game. Such a shame, and so completely, completely avoidable. I'm very disappointed, and sincerely hope that this is either merely a bug and/or that it will be improved in a patch somewhere down the line.
I'm hoping a developer will respond to this thread, and clarify a bit.