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What's better: air control, or an AI-controlled friend just running about helping me fight?

A question of control as we continue the hunt for the best thing

Last time, you decided that undo is better than invert mouse. For many people, this result will turn the world on its head. And if those otherworldly beings with horrifying ideas about piloting meat puppets take this personally, maybe we can hit undo to save ourselves. This week, it's a question of control. What's better: air control, or an AI-controlled friend just running about helping me fight?

Air control

"Every body continues in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a straight line," says Isaac Newton's first law of motion, "unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it." I don't think he had considered that one such force might be sheer force of will.

Sprinting through vaporwave Heaven in a Neon White screenshot.
Zooom!

I have been playing Neon White lately—so very much Neon White—and I am enjoying the near-terrifying degree of control I have over my movement and momentum while in the air. Our boy can move forwards, back, side-to-side, and stop at will, dodging around obstacles and towards faster routes in the speedrunning FPS. Then Quake, and Destiny, and... I've adored strong air control in many first-person shooters, another avenue to learn and demonstrate skill, another challenge to overcome from players who know the same. And of course air control is vital to many platformers from any camera perspective.

Why should we accept restrictions placed upon our movement by someone who once went temporarily blind from staring at the sun? We can imagine a better world.

An AI-controlled friend just running about helping me fight

In some games, the vast allied force on a battlefield is fully under my control. In some games, the warriors are all in my party, following my commands. And in some games, some AI-controlled guys are just running about mindlessly helping me fight. Thanks, AI-controlled guys! You are near-useless but I'm very glad to see you!

When any game gives me AI-controlled nameless mooks as backup, I will do my best to keep them alive. By god, they will resist my efforts with all their might. You're welcome, Half-Life security guards. I'm especially delighted when a game has 'civilians' who are mostly doing their own thing but will, when a fight kicks off, join in. I will do my best to draw them into any fight, and then try to protect them. And I even like when real-time strategy games give me an ally who is basically, yeah, just running about helping me fight. It's a delicate balance: they both make a game feel more alive, and are so patently unalive and useless that they themselves become a spontaneous objective. I like that weird tension in games.

Ha ha you idiot, you don't know how to use a gun, who gave you a gun? Come on, I'll follow you and try to keep you safe.

But which is better?

I am universally delighted by AI-controlled friends just running about helping me fight. You're useless and I love you. Some of my favourite FPS movement offers heavy air control, but some games offer really weird air control that just doesn't feel right, and its presence is a net negative for me. But I think air control offers higher potential highs and entire genres of game would be awful without it, so yeah, air control for me. What about you?

Pick your winner, vote below, make your case in the comments to convince others, then we'll reconvene next week to see which thing stands triumphant—and continue the great contest.

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