After this many years the AI can’t build ships properly?? I would think that this would be pretty easy to bake into the game - cost/damage analysis and perhaps a racial preference.
The AI doesn’t even bother to make sure they have ships anywhere near the person they are about to declare war on. It doesn’t take distance into account when selecting offensive targets, so it will happily path its main fleets multiple years to circle their targets entire space to reach a hard to access starbase, losing the entire war before their fleet ever arrives in the first system.
The AI can’t do much properly. This is the case in all Paradox games, sadly. Just kinda gotta make your own fun.
Do the AI mods improve things (Glavius, or Starnet)?
Maybe it’s differing expectations, but I’ve been happy with the EU4 AI and feel it’s quite good as far as strategy games go. I’m not just referring to it’s performance/competitiveness, but the game provides a lot of interesting systems for you to interact with the AI. The way alliances form and fall apart feels a lot more organic than other strategy games. You might be natural allies due to a shared rival and that alliance might last a century, but once you start competing over the same strategic objectives then they often fall apart. The fact that the AI works in a consistent manner where this can play out in a more believable/organic manner is pretty impressive, IMO.
Stellaris AI has always been at the bottom of the heap, unfortunately. It’s another victim of the massive overhauls the game has seen, IMO. I have to imagine the economic AI had to be rewritten from scratch with MegaCorp and that has impacts throughout the game. And teaching the AI to design competitive ships is tough in a game where the meta shifts from patch to patch, often in unpredictable ways.
Oh I play EU4 more than Stellaris, though I’ve been holding off for the expansion. And the actual diplomatic AI for EU4 is decent and feels believable which is a claim I can’t make for Stellaris. Even with the diplomacy expansion, diplomatic gameplay still feels inorganic and largely meaningless.
If EU4 had two features - a button to have your army chase another army until they intercept it which can be toggled, and another toggle to give over army stacks to AI control which you could designate to seize unoccupied territory so you could focus on only micro’ing your main force and not be moving around a bunch of 1k armies every 10 seconds or whatever, or another control which might just set them to pursue certain AI armies or to intercept AI armies entering a certain region or something… then I’d love the game pretty unconditionally. But we can always hope for something better even when what we’ve got is pretty good.
I don’t love how micro-tastic the wars get from the early 1600’s on. Early on all that stuff is fine but when you’re trying to conquer 100+ provinces at a go that is an ungodly number of unimportant clicks if the war is extremely lopsided, which they often are.
I swear I end up playing Britain half the time just because you get that free PU over France if you can win the 100 years war and you basically don’t have to manage the occupation stuff any more from a very early point in the game.
And I don’t love that the AI doesn’t know how to use Fort exclusion zones, and it does insane things like run to the opposite side of your empire with half their forces, dividing themselves up and turning what should be a hard fought war into a slaughter.
But compared to the problems the Stellaris AI has, that stuff is trivial.
A couple of Ai’s out there, Glavious in my opinion does very little, but might make the empires a bit more competitive lategame. As for Starnet, its like a rabid dog, it will utterly own you, and keep kicking your ass, however say goodbye to any hopes of some diplomatic game, this is best used as an eternal war thing…
Yeah, it’s definitely not perfect. Can you think of other 4X (using that as shorthand for deep strategy games) that has better AI? That isn’t rhetorical, I’m having a hard time coming up with other games where I feel the AI is better. It’s certainly not the Civilization or Endless Legend/Space franchises, that’s for sure, haha!
Sword of the Stars 1 evolved into one of the best 4x A.I.s I’ve seen in a game. Although there wasn’t great diplomacy, the tactical A.I. was very good, countering your weapons and working their way around you defenses. It could even handle multiple jump mechanisms which Stellaris originally tried to copy and then had to dumb down for the A.I.
Yeah, SOTS1 had some great AI, that’s true! It’s a far simpler game in terms of how much the AI had to learn, but in my opinion that’s smart game design.
I’ve been playing Endless Space 2 & I enjoy it, but it’s not the massive 4X game that I want… but you guys are scaring me away from relearning Stellaris.
I also enjoy Endless Space 2, but picked up Stellaris after the recent expansion & patch. I prefer it to ES2. The exploration, pop management, minor civs, planetary governors, etc. all seem better implemented in Stellaris.
The problems I see with it (weird AI and a lingering feeling that fiddling doesn’t matter) I think it shares with Endless Space 2.
Mostly I think it comes down to whether you like ES2’s civs or if you want to design your own.
Haha, please don’t let me scare you away. I actually haven’t had a chance to play the game yet since Federations released so don’t take any of my thoughts commentary on the state of the game as of today. And if you’re enjoying Endless Space 2, whatever complaints there are about the Stellaris AI would be doubly so for ES2.
I’ve played Stellaris before but I know so much as changed that it’s almost a new game to me… but I hate dropping time to learn a game and then not enjoying it (which is likely why I have a decent Steam backlog because I can’t commit!).
I think SotS1 was pretty decent about moving fleets about the star map and choosing what designs to build. It helps that the planetary economy was dead simple in that game (SotS2 AIs suffered complete economic collapse from just a slightly more complex economic model). I think the AI was also pretty good at smacking around players who didn’t realise that 6 destroyers and a few satellites wasn’t much of a defence. It also made good use of stealth fleets.
For the tactical battles, I don’t recall it doing anything smart. Basically it was wait for wave to warp in, charge with auto-targeting. Maybe I am forgetting something. It speaks to the game design that the tactical battles were so much fun, even if it was sometimes like shooting fish in a barrel.
SotS’ movement systems were better than pretty decent. They were a fundamental part of why each race felt so different even though planetary management was simple. They married theme and mechanics in a way that Stellaris never could. There’s a reason PDS cherry picked this feature.
Yeah sorry, I meant the AI was pretty good at the operational movement. Having distinct movement modes was a core and very awesome feature. And Stellaris shows that it’s not that easy to pull off.
Also great was how the racial ship design and weapons probabilities influenced everything.
SOTS 1 is good fun, its simple, like an early Total war game, Shogun 1 Total war had actually a pretty good campaign AI :)
That said, right now, Stellaris is the best 4x space opera game out there, ES 2 is cool, but an odd bird, and space combat while pretty, is just weird and tedious to get into, ES 1 was actually better…
The rest are just Moo clones that just time has run away from.¨
Quick edit : Forgot Galciv 3, its a snorefest of a game.
Honestly I only even have these qualms with the AI on games I’ve got hundreds of hours in because at that point I’m invested in the game enough to really understand the nuts and bolts behind what is going on and you realize that the AI is pretty unfortunate at playing the game. I also understand in something like Stellaris most players don’t actually want an AI to defeat them 15 hours into a campaign, which is why the Crisis is such a pitiful thing on default settings.
As far as examples of actually good AI in strategy games (beyond the obvious ones that AI has mastered and can’t really be defeated anymore like Chess and Go), I don’t know that there really are any that I could point out as being a worthy opponent without massive cheats or flatly playing a different game than the player. I just like to complain about stuff that bugs me. Obviously I still play the games but there is always room for improvement.
I’m told by people in the game industry that the main reasons AI remain kinda hot garbage are vaguely 3-fold.
People on average do not enjoy losing to an AI that isn’t cheating or playing by somewhat different rules than they are. Of course programmers could just input generically strong build orders for the AI to follow, but then new players would lose on normal every time and games are many hours long.
Marketing says “Fantastic AI” doesn’t sell units. I find this one harder to swallow because there really hasn’t been a game with fantastic AI, how the hell do they know? But I understand that you can show a video of beautiful graphics and that sells games a lot more easily than you can with vague promises of a good AI.
Good AI is hard to program, and most of the people who are any good at it are working at places like Google and not on video games.
And I get it. I don’t really want the AI in Stellaris to just run exact build orders or anything. But I’d be happy if they could get it together a bit on the war front. Stuff like adding in a check before they declare war to make sure their fleets are any where near their war target. They clearly don’t, I’ve seen the AI declare war on smaller enemies, but oops their fleet is on the other side of the galaxy and proceed to lose what should be un-loseable wars because their homeworld gets devoured or whatever in the literal 3 years it takes to get their fleets into position. That stuff makes me face-palm pretty hard.
EU4 still feels somewhat better here because the static world with asymmetrical starts doesn’t really lend itself to having the player micro-analyzing what decisions the AI is making outside of combat.
It wouldn’t surprise me if Stellaris 2 is set in a static, asymmetrical galaxy with pre-made races, and an option to have custom ones like in EU4. I think it would address a lot of the issues people have with Stellaris in general.
And despite all my nit-picking I still agree with @Janster that if you want a 4X space game, Stellaris is probably as good as you are going to get unless you want to play something with 90’s eras graphics or a MoO reskin.
The first reason is bullshit because of the third reason. If you somehow made a fantastic AI, you could always gimp it for “normal” levels. IE: Just make it collect half the resources of the player or something.
Also the third reason is somewhat bullshit (but not totally). For anyone who says the AI is super hard or impossible, I would just point to Age of Wonders 3. The strategic AI is not brilliant, but vastly better than the strategic AI in nearly every other game. The tactical AI is actually quite good.
I’m sure there are a number of examples of strategy titles with good AI and I’m simply unqualified to speak about them. I’ve played Age of Wonders 3, but didn’t find it compelling enough to consider myself good (let alone expert) enough to tell how well or poorly the AI is performing relative to a human that is making min-maxing decisions.
And you can call bullshit all you want on point one, but I’ve spoken to numerous people in the industry about this topic because I’m at least somewhat passionate about it, and they all agree that setting your “Normal” difficulty to be “Beatable by anything with a pulse” has become the industry standard because of the sheer amount of negative comments and posts they get when people lose on Normal. Older people would consider that “easy” or “beginner”, but that’s the new Normal. No one wants to feel like they can’t beat a game on Normal.