AI War is the sentient grey goo of gaming. Released in 2009, its design and uncanny artificial intelligence received praise from many quarters, including our own Alec, then writing for The Other Place. "This out-of-the-blue one-man passion project is one of this year's finest strategy games", he wrote, little realising that the very same 'passion project' that he so admired would continue to evolve. The sixth expansion, ominously titled Destroyer of Worlds, is due on August 18th, and with it Arcen's flagship game will become even more cunning. Trailer and feature list below.
Nomad Planets introduces dynamic topology to AI War for the first time, giving the player new challenges and opportunities beyond the previously-static wormhole network.
One of the Nomads also holds a secret weapon of truly dire power (that gives the expansion its title, hint hint).
The Exodian Blade is a powerful alternate way-to-win, but getting there is a multi-stage journey with a great deal of desperate fighting once things get going.
8 new AI types, from the humorous/annoying “Kite Flier” and “Cowardly” to the monomaniacal “Starship Fanatic” to the aptly named “Brutal”. There’s also “Mime”. Never trust mimes.
A new “Encapsulated” map style.
4 new Bonus Ship Types, including the Neinzul Combat Carrier (with Beam Drones, Rail Drones, Spider Drones, and Grav Drones) and the Maw-gone-mad Powerslaver.
2 new AI Guardian types, including the Combat Carrier Guardian (so humans don’t get to have all the ludicrous-drone fun).
A new “Preemption” optional AI Plot that lets the AI start taking more direct action against you from the start.
More awesome music from Pablo Vega! (that’s still being worked on, but will be added for the official release)
That's a decent amount of content. The 'Preemption' AI plot sounds particularly dastardly.
Arcen consistently release interesting games but it's no insult to the rest of the catalogue to say that AI War is still the best of them. One of those games I suspect other studios would have tried to emulate if they could work out how.
It's surely only a matter of time before AI War infects other space games. Sometime next year, you'll be merrily playing Elite Dangerous and suddenly, enemy ships will exhibit previously unseen traits. A couple of hours later, the game will be actively plotting your doom. Destroyer of Worlds.