On a biiiig update post by EA answering a lot of questions about Battlefield 2042, what caught my eye were the fine details about Ranger the robodog. The military mutt isn’t tied to any particular class or character, meaning anyone can drop one into battle at any time. There’s no word on if you can pet it, but it sounds like a feisty companion, capable of lots of tactical tricks.
Daniel Berlin, senior design director for Battlefield 2042, is a cruel man. He said: “Once safely on the ground, Ranger will follow and protect you and even put your life above their own! You’ll also be able to issue orders such as scouting a location, having them return to you and follow you. If a situation becomes dire, you can also command Ranger to self-destruct.”
I won’t be doing that. I will also not be sending it into battle with an explosive strapped to it, even though that’s also an option. It can be used as decoy, or to draw fire, but these are all terrible things to do to an endlessly loyal dogthing. You are monsters.
Ranger isn’t the only in-game AI on a hiding to nothing. The game will fill empty Conquest and Breakthrough server slots (up to a limit) with bots, meaning you’ll always have something to shoot at, even if the server isn’t full. It must be a tough thing to balance. The ideal experience is to have 128 real players, but the internet and people are both flaky, and drop out all the time.
Berlin said: “If there are 120 players out of 128 players currently playing in a server, 8 AI soldiers will join the match to help even out the teams. Should a player leave, another AI soldier will temporarily replace them until a new player joins the game.”
AI soldiers are limited in how they play. They won’t use the game’s traits or specialties (so no wingsuit). They can call in vehicles and help to capture objectives, though. They’ll even revive a downed player. EA are clearly betting a lot on their AI’s capabilities.
It makes sense that they’re limited. BF2042’s specialties, traits, and loadouts can build some very bespoke characters. Class is no barrier to the weapons you can bring into battle. So even a combat medic specialist can have an aggressive loadout, built to take down vehicles.
If you’re all hyped up about this (I am, admittedly, a little hyped), more will be shown at EA Play Live on July 22nd. Until then, there’s always Brendy’s preview. The game is out October 22nd.