10 Best Enemy AI In Video Games

Pac-Man has some of the most impressive video game AI known to man.

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Competent — advanced, some might even say — AI may have only become a hot topic in technology, but it's not a new concept by any stretch of the imagination. Something has to govern the behaviour of every non-player character in our favourite video games and it's all too easy to overlook just how much skill is required to create something convincingly human.

Only if artificial intelligence fails to perform its job properly is its existence noteworthy, else it's completely invisible; hand-waved away as complimentary to immersion.

That being the case, it's only fair to give some of the best examples of intelligent antagonists their due, many of which aren't even tangible aggressors, but a concept made manifest with code. Left 4 Dead is a prime example of the latter.

There's nothing particularly noteworthy about how the hordes of special and ordinary undead behave in Valve's team shooter, but they're not the real enemy, anyway. That's The Director, an AI that acts behind the scenes and curates a custom gameplay experience based wholly on how players engage with the digital world around them.

10. The Director - Left 4 Dead Series

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Faceless enemies are the scariest of all, which is why, even compared to its creature collection of Tanks, Boomers, Witches and Hunters, Left 4 Dead's benevolent Director is a far more frightening foe. Intangible to players, Valve's aptly named AI acts as a guiding hand for the undead horde, endlessly crunching numbers and calculating possible scenarios behind the scenes, all in the name of variety.

Despite every entry in the trilogy having but a handful of static stages, no two attempts ever play out identically. Think you or a member of your quartet has a lock on where restoratives, ammo, or a nasty special Infected is lying in wait? No, you don't. The Director has already learned from your last tour on the merry-go-round what not to do.

Every choice it makes depends on your actions, down to health status, team skill, and location. These variables are never the same, nor is the path destined to unfold before you.

It's also a little-known fact that the Director has a sibling. Unlike its counterpart, which you should consider Left 4 Dead's game master, the other is responsible for dictating audible cues and soundtrack changes, making tweaks on the fly to deliver a bonafide, personally tailored experience.


Joe is a freelance games journalist who, while not spending every waking minute selling himself to websites around the world, spends his free time writing. Most of it makes no sense, but when it does, he treats each article as if it were his Magnum Opus - with varying results.