Few things are as divisive in game as AI companions. They’re everywhere these days in open-world games, providing players with a helping hand, a polygonal shoulder to cry on, or just as a vehicle for some exposition. The problem is, if most AI companions had a brain cell, it would die of loneliness, such is the vacuous space between their ears we like to call 'intelligence'.
We’ve all got tales of a monstrously stupid AI companion stumbling blissfully unaware onto a live grenade, or running headlong into traffic. For all the intelligence advancements your foes make, your AI buddies still seem incapable of keeping their heads attached to their necks.
That said, it’s easy to see why AI companions are added to certain games. In Fallout 4 they add an additional layer of character, story and realism, making your trek around the wasteland that little bit less lonely. It can be more immersive to hear Cait agree with you when you take a less than saintly approach to a quest in Fallout 4. Or just turning around for a chit-chat with your Dragon Age: Origins companions, learning a little more about their back-stories.
In Fallout 4 though I basically resorted to using Dogmeat all the time. Mainly because he never stole my kills, but also because he didn’t talk. The post-apocalypse is lonely, and I felt wandering around with another person broke the sense of desolation. The only reason I stuck with Dogmeat was to load him up as glorified pack mule. You wouldn't believe the chaingun, power armour and jet stash he had hidden under his fur. If he attempted anything like the clip below, he’d be sent straight to the doghouse.
There’s some truly terrible AI companions out there as well. Anyone who struggled through GoldenEye 007 will have had nightmares of escorting Natalya, who seemed determined to walk in front of each and every bullet. She didn’t even speak! Then there was Bioshock Infinite’s Elizabeth. She was pretty great for story reasons, but her gameplay involvement extended as far as throwing you ammo clips.
So are you a fan of AI companions in games? Can you think of any standout characters? Let us know where you stand!