About Private PvP Bots and How To Improve Them

This came up in another topic, so I thought I could go a little more in depth with what I think about the situation of the Battleborn Bots right now. Because of the current problems with matchmaking in some regions and some Lore Challenges I think this is a relevant thing. There are also people who just happen to enjoy playing multiplayer modes against bots. It’s a good option to have.
There is a limit to what we can make the Battleborn Bots do because AI calculations can become very taxing, but I think they could be improved in a few ways. Some things might not be fixable but I’ll still point them out.


TL’DR; Overall bots act like they aren’t familiar with the game at all. They are approximately at a level of a total rookie with good aim.**

I’ve ran about a few hours worth of bot matches, mostly on Meltdown and Incursion. Here are some experiences I’ve had with them;

  • No ability to issue commands to bots - How could this be achieved? With a ping wheel. * Being able to issue simple commands to bots like “Go here” “Attack Target” “Defend” “Need heals” “Capture Thralls” “Retreat” “Need Help” etc. There are a ton of possible commands, so I’ll let the Devs think about it if they decide to add more pings.

  • General behavior (Role) - First I’ll bring up Mobile and agile characters who, when controlled by a bot, are not mobile or agile. All bots seem to stay rather stationary when attacking. Thorn for example will just stay still and shoot, she’ll only start running if you run away or she is low on health. I’ve seen melees just stand still and hack away until they realize they won’t hit you like that. Then comes my biggest gripe - a Miko that ignores you. They’ll do their buggy bot thing and run past your poor low health arse. You cannot trust a bot support to actually support you.

  • Skill/Ult Usage - The bots seem to use skills whenever they are off cool-down and they see an enemy, and don’t have any more complex algorithms in place. The Developers have an idea on how a character should be played and how it should perform, so I trust they should have some idea when to use skills. Some basic rules could be set for the bots to follow based on how and when the skills are intended to be used.
    The biggest problem are skills that do not (generally) deal direct damage to someone.
    For example Ambra and Kleese place down Sunspots and Rifts. They have a health bar which depletes under fire. Bots seem to not care and will place them wherever and whenever.
    Another example is Toby, who puts up a shield. He is most powerful standing behind that shield, but has no interest in standing behind it. Galilea also has a territorial skill, but will just pop it down when she engages the enemy but won’t fight inside it’s AoE.*** Or Alternatively, she will stick in the Desecration Field, even when she can’t attack anyone from inside of it.

  • Pathfinding and Collisions (Or alternatively, Standing still and stressing about The Algorithm and their inevitable demise, probably.) - Sometimes, for whatever reason, bots will just stop in their tracks for extended amounts of time. Especially if there are shards nearby. Saw an Ambra bot stand in front of a shard for a full minute.****
    Sometimes they will get stuck on collisions. (Problem with everyone, not just bots) Sometimes they want to jump over something but can’t. That doesn’t mean they’ll stop trying, though.******
    They’ll also get stuck running back and forth, like they can’t decide what to do. These problems lead to you being a man down for however long it takes for the AI to sort itself out and get back on track.

  • Bad prioritization - Bots will attack anything that has a health bar, but have no strategy behind it. They will target players over minions (Which in meltdown is baaad. It’s almost as bad in Incursion.) They seem to target absolutely anything else but the thumper turret that’s wrecking their face. They will target the tank, completely ignoring the healer that is constantly topping off the tank. They will target a random Battleborn far away from them instead of the one that is hacking at their health. They also like to ignore the game objective over other things.

  • Bots have a death wish - After every kill, they taunt. No matter what. This usually leads to their death. Was it worth it? No, you are a bot. The bot you killed does not care about your taunt. Or do they? I haven’t asked. Currently bots only use their default skins and taunts, and getting to see taunts you don’t yet have used by bots was the only point to them taunting. I’d still like them to taunt, but maybe only when they kill you, the player?

  • Diving too hard - As long as they have health, they will chase their kill to the ends of the world and beyond.******

  • Bots do not have loadouts - It’s not a big thing since you can do just fine without gear, but would still be a nice addition. Maybe some preset loadouts for every character (If you want to go the extra mile) or the easier way;pick gear from a random pool with some certain conditions on different classes. (So that they can actually benefit from the gear.)

If you see any errors in my observations, please point them out. I am not able to do extensive testing on specific characters to check how exactly their AI performs!!

*This is something that we need in public matchmaking too.
**This would actually be fine if there were difficulty levels. Beginner, Normal, Advanced and Hardcore. I’ve seen people find the bots that we have now tough while I feel they offer no challenge. So, difficulty levels!
***This is interesting since otherwise bots don’t move around that much.
****Maybe she got pissed and decided to AFK as punishment. The life of a support is a frustrating one.
*****I congratulate their determination. You show that rock, Montana! Ain’t no “mountain” high enough to stop you!
******Can someone tell the bots that if they want Team Deathmatch they should go play capture? :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

I don’t want to make this too long so I’ll have to compress some points a little. I’ll also probably add more points if I come up with anything. Hope you get what I’m trying to say. You can comment and ask if you feel something was unclear and you want me to elaborate!

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Sometimes they get stuck on shards and wiggle back and forth to try and get free, which is rather nauseating if you happen to be spectating at the time.

You’ve exaggerated some things (they will turn and run at low health; they don’t actually taunt after every kill) but these observations are on the money.

To me, the biggest change I’d like to see (and seems like it wouldn’t be horribly difficult) is to have enemy bots auto-level with a solo player. It’s much too easy to out level them and get the wrong impression of what you are capable of doing with a character (even beyond playing against AI). They might even implement an option (edit: for a separate difficulty level) to have the enemy team stay one level ahead of the player as a handicap of sorts. That won’t fix the AI, but it would help, IMO.

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This is another point I wanted to make, but didn’t have time yet. But we can assume that a low health bot is essentially dead because they will drop everything and leave, either dying while doing this or be at the base. So if they survive a kill (do not run away or taunt) they will taunt.

Auto-leveling with the player would be a good idea, actually!

I don’t like keeping them above you one level though, because just as being over-leveled can give you a wrong impression of the characters power, so can being under-leveled. Getting wrecked by a bot definitely doesn’t leave a good impression. Maybe if they added the difficulty levels, this could be added to the hardest one. That would work. If you are going for first impressions, the Hardcore difficulty probably isn’t the best place!

Yeah, I don’t know that it is a great idea (a level above) but popped into my head as a way to compensate for the AI. The start of games would be rough, though. But yes, the thought was that this would be for a more advanced difficulty (even half a level ahead might be enough).

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I don’t think they will invest anymore into enhancing the bots. The cost just wouldn’t be justifiable for the amount of use the bots get.

I do think it would be interesting if they would add a bot short handed games as a place holder for someone who quit. Maybe if the 4 player team is down a sentry they get a bot place holder.

They might not, but as stated at the start of the post that there are quite a few reasons why they should be looked into, if possible.

It would be nice if the bots were made more viable, but I do understand that that might not be possible.
And issues with Lore and Matchmaking which prompt people to suggest that bots be used to patch the problems(which prompted this post) can be fixed without fixing the bots.

I’m not sure the bot AI is much deeper than the regular minion AI, just with a little extra logic (go to point x, use skill y) that seems more responsive than contextual. They don’t appear to have a game plan as such.

Also, if you play as Marquis, you can get ridiculous K-D ratios in private: the bots amble patiently in a straight line toward you, heedless of cover, so you can headshot them all day long!

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If they enhance the bots, they could make them take over disconnected players (unless the player reconnects, in which they resume control).

That would just be amazing for PvP as well as Story. Nothing is more annoying than being 80% of the way through an advanced hardcore mission and having your partner drop out and be unable to rejoin because dropping out ‘kills’ them. Making a bot take over their character on the instant of disconnection means you could still support them and keep them alive for when they reconnect.

And GBX always seems to have a high standard for satisfying their players, I think it’s a fair thing to consider.

With a bit of extra pathing work, they could even make these improved bots capable of doing story missions, allowing players without a lot of friends to enjoy the game with a larger team. It’s a bit lonely playing a healer with nobody to heal.

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This is the exact kind of thread I’ve been looking for. Have you also noticed that bots no longer select skins or random taunts after the last couple of patches? I have no idea why they would disable that. They also REALLY need to fix friendly bots getting stuck on the large shards in the Outback map; it can be quite irritating to babysit them.

I was thinking it wasn’t intended to go like that in the first place, but they couldn’t find the time to fix it. Or maybe it was just a momentary tease to get us excited about the skins before the Marketplace got announced.

And yeah, the bots pathfinding and the map collisions really don’t work well together.

I’m not sure Gearbox has the expertise to make the bots that much better. They’re not exactly known for their quality AI.

Haha, well then it’s about time to start practicing ;D

Good points about playing against bots:

  • They never quit at the character select screen if they don’t get to play their character
  • They don’t call for surrender the second your first sentry gets tickled
  • They don’t sit AFK in base the rest of the match if their call for surrender fails
  • They don’t call you a loser noob over the mic if you pick Boulder / Kleese or a character they think sucks
  • They don’t over extend into enemy territory chasing after weak enemie heroes on a regular basis
  • They don’t complain loudly when you play the objectives instead of charging into a team fights
  • They provide a way to enjoy the PvP in this game in a stress free environment for casual players
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All other points are very true, except this one :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: I had an enemy bot Attikus charge after me the whole match. I just watched him get killed by our thumpers. I wasn’t even half health… It was funny.

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Yeah, it’s quite funny when a bot get’s obsessed with doing something like that. Or when they take out the Thralls at a camp but don’t bother to stand on the platform to activate friendly Thralls…I’m constantly checking the camps to see if it’s still waiting for somebody to stand on the activation pad.

My long term wish would be for a ‘Players Vs CPU/bots’ mode as several other games have. Lots of casuals like me avoid player vs player modes for lots of reasons. But as this thread points out, the AI needs some work first.

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