I’m am annoyed by the NPCs that help you in most games. They get in your way, are never effective enough and you really wish they were. Tom Francis has blogged about his grievances with Far Cry 2’s buddies. There are only a few games Ive played where I felt that the AI for the buddies was something a little special.

The Republic Commando buddies were charismatic and effective,  they’d obey your orders yet would also automatically do things you wanted them to do, like get health. They didn’t get in your way and they were powerful. Republic Commando got a lot of things right and I wish someone else picked up on it and improved it further.

Alex in HL2 was slightly better, you felt in a mutual partnership with her, she would help you and you would help her. Occasionally she would get in your way but would move away soon after. She was the nearest to the perfection of an ally I can think of and the coders at Valve are getting better and better so in EP2 I cant think of a way to fault the coding of her.

Sadly the same cannot be said of the rebels. They feel very human and I care about whether they live, however they are stupid and thus annoying. The first time you meet them in the city section of the game they will get in your way, they wont stay back even when they cant make any difference to your situation. it could have been so much better though if Valve had done it a different way, so here is my idea.

The rebels will all be positioned and have taken cover at an obstacle. You have to clear that problem and then they will proceed, they then take cover at they next obstacle and you progress, they can then help you in removing an obstacle in your path and will lock down one path whilst you deal with a different threat.

For instance, remember the snipers near where you rescue Barney? The rebels will follow you like idiots and get killed. What about they are all trapped, hiding behind cover, a medic cannot reach and injured rebel with a bomb that can clear the barricade ahead. You take out the sniper and the rebels will move forward. You proceed and rescue Barney, removing all the snipers and the rebels will setup the bomb and allow you to progress.

They would no longer feel like morons if they let you handle what they cannot handle, whilst they hide and then they help you when you need it. For instance you must reach an objective (a wounded vortigaunt with a way to eliminate advisers) and defend him against waves of ant-lions and combine. If you free-up some rebels on they way they will hold off the ant-lions coming in one direction whilst you eliminate the combine. That i think is better than me constantly shouting at the screen for them to:

“STAY THE F*** BACK”

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