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EA are training self-learning agents to play Battlefield 1 - and it’s terrifying

Logitech Battlefield 1

EA are training self-learning AI-agents to play Battlefield 1 multiplayer in an effort to create “truly intelligent NPCs” in future games. 

Wanting to get in on the action? Check out our Battlefield 1 PC port review.

The project is being undertaken by SEED, a division of EA which explores the future of interactive entertainment. The team let each AI-agent watch 30 minutes of human gameplay from Battlefield 1, before letting them train alone. EA released a demo, showing how the agents have progressed after six days of training among themselves – the equivalent of over 300 days of gameplay. The results were…varied, to say the least.

While agents have taught themselves to perform behaviours in response to certain triggers, like picking up health or ammo when they are low, sometimes they simply spin around in circles. Ultimately, it’s a lack of planning which is their downfall.

“They’re constantly improving but not particularly fast learners,” SEED’s technical director, Magnus Nordin, said on EA’s website. “Battlefield is about so much more than defeating your opponents. There’s a lots of strategy involved, stuff like teamwork, knowing the map and being familiar with individual classes and equipment. We will have to extend the capabilities of the agents further for the AI to be able to crack these nuts.”

Battlefield 1 demo

So, how have the agents faired when pitted against real humans? SEED have only conducted playtests in a simplified game mode so far, restricting weapons to hand guns. Though the humans outperformed the AI-agents, “it wasn’t a complete blowout by any stretch.”

“I think it’s reasonable to expect AI agents capable to defeat human players in a limited competitive game mode…in a couple of years from now,” Nordin continued. “However, at SEED we’re not necessarily out to build AI that will defeat human players. Our aim is to help create new experiences that enhance games and make them more fun.”

The project’s short-term goal is to help DICE improve quality assurance, and testing. However, in the future, SEED hopes the AI-agents will become part of the games themselves, as intelligent NPCS who can engage with players, and master a range of tasks.