The 5 greatest fictional AIs in gaming

There’s one thing cool and meta about interacting with, enjoying as, or combating in opposition to a synthetic intelligence in video video games. AI has captured our creativeness in print, movie, and even track, however video games give us the area to work together with and see fantastical worlds from in any other case not possible views.

To be completely clear, this isn’t in regards to the video games with the neatest “CPU AI.” We’re not discussing whether or not the “AI” in a recreation is hard to beat. We’re speaking about fictional depictions of synthetic intelligence. Right here’s a useful primer on the distinction between the 2 ideas.

This was a troublesome listing to make and I in all probability left your favorites off, nevertheless it’s solely as a result of I made a decision that “greatest” meant: those I felt had probably the most affect.

I hope you agree with not less than one or two objects on this listing, however truthfully, for those who don’t and it begins a dialog about AI in video video games, then that’s simply nearly as good.

On to the listing:

Quantity 5

No, not the spunky little navy homicide machine cum pleasant fugitive “Quantity 5” (AKA Johnny 5) from the Eighties movie “Quick Circuit,” we’re beginning the listing backwards so we will depend right down to primary. 

The Cylons from Battlestar Galactica: Impasse kick issues off as a result of, effectively, they’re the right villain for a hardcore technique wargame.

I really like BSG:DL for lots of causes. So far as turn-based-tactical technique video games go I’m hard-pressed to think about one I take pleasure in extra. In essence, it’s a naval fight recreation with the extra problem of a vertical axis. The scope of the sport is giant sufficient to point out off the enormity of your command vessels and the handfuls upon dozens of ships all taking part within the maneuvers and reactions dance that’s tactical warfare.

However what really units it aside is the enemy. Once I play most struggle/technique video games I’m pressured to reckon with a sure degree of politics. Once I drop bombs on enemy cities in Hearts of Iron IV or ship my warriors to sack a city in a spherical of Civilization VI, I do know I’m killing harmless digital civilians too, I simply can’t care if I wish to win.

And that’s in all probability a very good factor. We don’t wish to get slowed down within the viscera and horror of struggle once we, for instance, play the basic Battleship board recreation. It’s only a recreation, proper?

However Battlestar Galactica: Impasse lets me face the fact with out feeling like a genocidal jerk. The Cylons aren’t people. And, whereas they’re sentient and possibly need to reside, it’s made abundantly clear that they gained’t relaxation till each final human has been destroyed. And that provides your entire recreation a way of gravitas and urgency that you simply simply don’t get whenever you’re portray the map in most technique video games.

Quantity 4

This was a straightforward one: It’s Claptrap, it’s Claptrap, it’s at all times been Claptrap! I like Claptrap. The truth is, I’ve by no means met a gamer who doesn’t.

Claptrap is among the greatest issues to ever come out of the celebrated Borderlands franchise. It first appeared within the authentic recreation as a type of information and his position continued to develop till, lastly, it was made a playable character within the Borderlands Pre-Sequel, which was the third title launched.

There was a little bit of controversy surrounding the discharge of Borderlands 3 as a result of the unique one that voiced Claptrap, a Gearbox worker named David Eddings, selected to not reprise the position. In accordance with experiences, he wasn’t provided cash commensurate with the gig. Gearbox stated that wasn’t the case.

At any fee, whereas I definitely missed Eddings and laud their work as among the many greatest in video video games, their alternative, Jim Faronda, did a wonderful job partly 3 as effectively.

Other than being genuinely entertaining, hilarious, and sometimes endearing, the explanation I included Claptrap on this listing and never, say, LGBTQPIA+ icon FL4K, is as a result of Claptrap isn’t only a supporting character (and one time playable character): it’s a buffer between the gory nature of the sport with its psychopathy-is-the-norm perspective and the random silliness that pervades the sport’s world.

With out Claptrap, Borderlands is simply Mad Max with fart jokes.

Quantity three

My private favourite AI character of all time is GLaDOS. This AI was as soon as a human earlier than turning into a disembodied voice, a chip on a potato (get it?), and finally a robotic. The rationale I like GLaDOS a lot is as a result of it’s simply flat out sassy. It’s the AI I’d most wish to hang around with at a celebration. However, like, in a snarky queer means the place we mock everybody else.

Portal was a type of video games that modified the way in which everybody checked out gaming. Folks weren’t prepared for the sport’s gorgeous mixture of jaw-dropping graphics, gut-busting comedy, and unbelievable recreation play.

However most of all they weren’t prepared for the psychotic, murderous, cake-loving-and-lying-about intelligence that’s GLaDOS.

GLaDOS, for my cash, is probably the most entertaining AI in video games. Not solely is it hilarious, it’s additionally a proficient singer. The top credit for Portal characteristic the entity singing a track referred to as “Nonetheless Alive” that was so catchy it ended up in Rockband 3.

Quantity two

The robotic species from Artificial Daybreak, a Stellaris DLC. There’s nobody character right here I can level out, however that’s why it’s a really shut second to being my favourite fictional AI. You’re the AI in Artificial Daybreak.

Stellaris is a grand technique recreation set in area the place you management a whole civilization. With Artificial Daybreak you’re capable of change into a sentient AI species, and meaning understanding and coping with the distinctive challenges that come from main machines in a galaxy stuffed with organics.

The writing is superb and the artwork and occasions are unbelievable, however what actually shines right here is the little issues. Enjoying as machines basically modifications the expertise of governing in Stellaris in so many small ways in which it, basically, turns into a completely totally different gaming expertise.

With a mid-game disaster beating at your borders, enemies in each path, and not less than half the galaxy beneath the assumption that your species doesn’t matter, life as an AI civilization is hard. Nevertheless it’s additionally stuffed with distinctive conditions. You’re, for instance, given the chance to purge organics and use their life-force as power to energy your progress ala The Matrix. And, in the midst of many video games, you’ll discover historic machine intelligences who’ll reply to your species in methods these dwelling creatures might by no means perceive. 

[Related: Games to play on date night: Rule the galaxy together in Stellaris]

Perhaps I’m biased, however as somebody who will get paid to consider what it’ll be like if AI ever turns into sentient, I discover embodying robots on the political, financial, and navy degree in a recreation to be extraordinarily thought-provoking.


As a lot as I take pleasure in being the machines in Stellaris, Cortana is clearly the winner right here. So far as I do know, there’s by no means been a personality from a online game that actually manifested in actual life earlier than Cortana stepped out of the Xbox and have become everyone’s secretary.

At present, Cortana’s most used as Microsoft’s model of Alexa or Siri. The truth is you’ve in all probability obtained the little circle icon down on the backside left of your taskbar proper now for those who’re on a PC. You possibly can click on that and, identical to Masterchief, ask Cortana that will help you out.

However, earlier than it was simply one other AI we largely use to ask how outdated celebrities are (I can’t be the one one), Cortana was the center and soul of the Halo franchise. You is likely to be pondering that was the dude within the huge inexperienced armor with the gun that seemed suspiciously just like the one from Ridley Scott’s “Aliens,” nevertheless it was clearly Cortana.

Halo was an early graphical science fiction shooter, nevertheless it seemed and performed loads like a contemporary warfare recreation. Warthogs actually simply seemed like fancy Humvees and a lot of the human weapons, buildings, and autos had a reasonably fashionable aesthetic. I can solely assume this was to make them sympathetic protagonists we might establish with when considered in opposition to the colourful, spiky, alien enemies.

Cortana was the far-future plot piece Halo wanted to maintain gamers within the science fiction mindset once they had been trekking throughout brown, inexperienced, and grey landscapes. And, in some methods, it stays the identical in the actual world.

Whereas we reside in a world the place the discourse on AI increasingly more typically issues our fears over privateness, misuse, and misalignment, Cortana sort of, type of, reminds us that issues have modified rapidly up to now few years. We couldn’t at all times simply say “Cortana, what’s the whether or not like in Amsterdam proper now?” and have a pleasant-sounding robotic give us the right reply.

Cortana reminds us that the longer term is now. And, probably, it was instrumental in inspiring the event of the AI programs we use right now. 

Revealed March 17, 2021 — 23:51 UTC

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