Driveclub‘s AI-driven cars have been the target of harsh criticism from quite a few sources. It was defined abysmal, rigid, overly mechanic, abusive, hopelessly ignorant and more in reviews, as it allegedly “ignores the presence of other vehicles, including your own” and “prefers collisions to deviations from the line.”
It’s a quite common complaint between the most negative reviews, but is it true?
Since I know that there are a whole lot of variables going on with AI design, and a myriad of situation with which the computer-driven cars have to cope, I actually ran a few test while writing my own review.
Judging this kind of element based on the superficial impression that inevitably falls into the “if they bump into me, it must be their fault” reasoning. tends to be rather imprecise. Unsurprisingly I found out that the AI does indeed take notice of the presence of other cars and of the player’s vehicle, and definitely attempts to deviate from its line to avoid collisions.
But words are easy, so I ran some of my tests again, and this time I recorded them.
This isn’t to say that Driveclub‘s AI is perfect. No racing game AI is. There are times in which its routines will fail and it will bump the player, as every AI in every racing game ever designed.
Driveclub‘s tracks are often quite narrow, which means that both the AI and the player will have less maneuvering space. Driveclub’s AI is also very competitive, which raises the chances of collisions. It won’t simply give way as soon as the player gets in range, but its avoidance capabilities are actually quite advanced, and often collisions can be triggered by the player himself as he brakes too early or moves too erratically, suddenly invading the AI’s line beyond its ability to physically react in time and fully avoid a crash.
Again, there are also times in which it just fails, but that’s par for the course for racing games. Yet, the video below will demonstrate beyond any reasonable doubt that defining the AI in Driveclub unable to detect the player and unwilling to avoid collisions is hyperbole at best and factually false at worst. Interestingly, I remember the same claims made for Gran Turismo 5, a few years back, and they were disproved exactly in the same way.
You can check it out for yourself below.