The era of Man might have finally come to an end because a bot army has risen in the League of Legends. After almost a year, League of Legends is finally receiving a much needed overhaul to its bot roster. It was asked many times at the forums and many valid reasons have backed the petition. For instance, while the community has improved with the addition of the Tribunal you often stumble on less than exemplary fellow Summoners. Moreover, it provides a good practice environment and a nice entry point for new players.
The Beginning of Co-Op vs. AI
Let’s check some history, the initial bot roster for the then new ‘Co-Op vs. AI’ mode was introduced on the 15th of February, 2011. It consisted of: Ashe, Annie, Cho’Gath, Miss Fortune, Nunu, Renekton, Ryze, Shen, Soraka, Taric, Trundle and Warwick. Each bot was chosen to fill two roles so that team composition would vary and players wouldn’t always face the exact same opposition.
Before the addition of ‘Co-Op vs. AI’ Custom games were the only available way of playing with computer controlled team-members. The roster for custom games was limited to Annie, Master Yi, Sivir, Soraka, Malphite, Nasus and Shen. Additionally their AI was quite simple having only ‘Basic’ difficulty at their disposal.
Needless to say, while bots were great fun to many players they presented little challenge for the more experienced. Although ‘Co-Op vs. AI’ ‘Beginner’ bots were smarter than bots used in Custom games they still had their flaws. Even ‘Intermediate’ bots couldn’t keep up with a human challenge in spite of their improved builds and actions.
A Bot Army Rises
The 24th of January of 2012 saw the announcement of a big change for fans of PvE: the much awaited and requested expansion to Co-Op vs. AI. With Ziggs patch, the bot roster expands from the original twelve to forty different champions from many variable roles. Besides, it’s not only comprised of classic champions, many recent champions from 2011 are included; even champions previously restricted to Custom games, like Sivir, have been updated.
Old bots that have been improved are: Annie, Ashe, Cho’Gath, Miss Fortune, Nunu, Renekton, Ryze, Shen, Soraka, Taric, Trundle, Warwick, Malphite and Sivir. The new bots are: Amumu, Brand, Caitlyn, Cassiopeia, Fiddlesticks, Galio, Garen, Graves, Irelia, Jax, Karthus, Kayle, Kog’Maw, Leona, Lux, Malzahar, Morgana, Rammus, Shyvana, Sona, Swain, Tristana, Udyr, Wukong, Xin Zhao and Zilean.
A better AI is available for the bots which makes them much better at playing in Summoner’s Rift and capable of playing Dominion at the Crystal Scar. Improved map awareness, team coordination, use of skill-shots, Summoner spells and items with active abilities are just a few of the new features that the upgraded AI brings. Bots even make use of Speed Shrines and the powerful Storm Shield in Dominion.
There’s Still Room for Improvement
According to Producer Mark ‘Deathstryker78/DeathstrykerLaw’ Norris’ declarations to Joystiq the bots are far from perfect. On the one hand, they are able to use skill-shots using predictive targeting and are better able to coordinate attacks and retreats together. On the other hand, bots work with available information so if an enemy isn’t visible they simply lack information; this makes it difficult for bots to predict a gank, for example. Moreover, the AI is not advanced enough to let them jungle; so Udyr Bot will not be invading and stealing buffs for the time being.
The upgrade to bots AI is a welcome addition to anybody that wants to enjoy a relaxed match without having to worry, at least not much, about ragers, feeders, leavers and many other assorted specimens of the League of Legends’ fauna. Moreover, they provide an ideal environment for practice: new champions, builds, masteries and runes can be easily tested and compared with minimal risk: Co-Op vs. AI doesn’t affect ELO while IP gains have been increased and the IP daily limit removed.
Further improvements are possible and it could be said necessary to keep the PvE aspect of League of Legends fresh. It’s the primary choice for a large portion of players, not to mention the best training ground available; with the exception of regular games. Better AI opens many possibilities and the applications are practically without end. Let’s see then, where this trip on artificial intelligence takes us.
Update: Nautilus Patch
The Nautilus patch incorporates five bots to the forty already available: Ziggs, Master Yi, Nasus, Ezreal and Nidalee. Moreover, more ‘Beginner’ bots were made available for custom games.
Update: Fiora Patch
Blitzcrank was added to the bot roster with the Fiora patch. Additionally, the bots AI was improved to better last hit while pushing less their lanes, call for help to nearby bots and increase the precision of skill shots and ground AoE abilities.
Update: Hecarim Patch
The Hecarim patch brought quite a few additions to Co-Op vs. AI games, not only to the bot roster but also to the AI. Sion and Vladimir were added as available bots. Moreover, the AI has been improved to reduce tower diving, better the assitance between bots, use elixirs after bots complete their builds and prevent random strolls to the enemy base. Finally, the bots’ difficulty level will be displayed at the End of Game screen and Custom Dominion games will be able to add bots to the teams.
Update: League of Legends v126.96.36.199 and PvP.net v1.61 Patch
This update adds quite a few features to Co-Op vs. AI; for starters, Alistar and Mundo are incorporated to the bot roster. There are other relevant though less visible changes: Intermediate bots sell Doran items to complete builds, Beginner bots abstain from buying Elixirs and several bots’ item builds were updated.
Further modifications related to IP rewards are also included, most important of all: the daily IP limit is finally removed. However, after 180 minutes of play rewards are reduced to 75% the usual rate. On the upside, custom games have a separate restriction of 120 minutes. Both restrictions apply to Summoner’s of level 15 and up. Moreover, the IP reward formula was tweaked so that short games yield less IP but medium to long games yield more; which discourages steamrollering bots. Short games are defined as 12 minutes or less on the Crystal Scar and 24 minute or less on Summoner’s Rift.
Twisted Fate Game Update
Since last update there have been several minor changes and fixes to Co-Op vs AI. but nothing really significant. However, the visual upgrade to Twisted Fate not only came with a slew of bug-fixes but also an eagerly awaited feature for Co-Op vs. AI fans: intermediate difficulty bots can use skins at random. It’s a nice addition that further helps break the monotony of playing against the same faces time and again.
Update: Shadow Isles Patch
The Twisted Treeline remake brings forth a new Co-Op vs AI. mode: 3v3. Bots can again join players in the Twisted Treeline; a mode that used to present huge problems to the AI. Additionally, Veigar joins the slowly but steadily expanding bot roster; however, only as an intermidiate difficulty bot. A new game mode and a new bot make this patch quite valuable for Co-Op vs AI. fans.
Preseason 3 Balance Update 2 Patch
A few changes were added in the second balance update like better use of activable items. However, the addition of Darius Bot may be the most significant. Darious Bot will provide very clear demonstrations of how to punish mistakes. Beginners and advanced players alike now have an interesting sparring opponent to train with.
Update: Patch 3.01
Season 3 starts with an interesting patch for Co-Op vs AI fans. Three changes are incorporated but all of them relevant. First, bots will sometimes chat at the beginning or end of games. Second, Jarvan IV is added as a bot. Third, bots with dashes receive an improved AI for better escapes.
Update: Patch 3.12
After practically a whole season without any additions the end of Season 3 has another bot waiting to unleash her coldly calculated wrath: Zyra. Unfortunately, the Rise of the Thorns is the only feature incorporated in patch 3.12.
Update: Patch 4.5
There was a long list of AI improvements in this patch with the aim of making the behave closer to a human. For instance, they consider the opponents spells’ cooldowns to assess threat and dodge skill-shots. The full list of changes is here:
– Improved evaluation of enemy and friendly strength.
– Improved understanding of tower mechanics and power.
– Improved behaviors while under high threat.
– Improved lane rotation decision making.
– Improved last hitting with auto-attacks both when farming normally and when pushing.
– Lane behaviors (harassing vs. farming, etc) are now more in line with human behaviors.
– Bots now attempt to dodge some skill shots.
– Beginner bots now build recommended items, while Intermediate bots now make more advanced item choices.
– Bots now scan their surroundings at variable rates depending on difficulty setting and in-game threat level.
For further information on these changes you can check the Dev Blog.
Update: Patch 4.6
Continuing with the improvements to bot AI, this patch added a new set of changes. Here they are:
– Bots will now purchase and use Warding trinkets, Sightstone and Sight Wards
– Wards are placed as bots roam, granting vision of the jungle
– Wards are used to try to gain vision of enemies in brush when bots are chasing; LESS FACE CHECKING!
– Bots now have a 50% chance of playing Blue-side in Co-op vs. AI, with players on Purple-side
– Fixed a bug where bots would stop to cast instant-cast items and spells (e.g. toggling Ashe’s Frost Shot, using a potion)
– Removed some abuse cases that could be exploited while bots were recalling
Update: Patch 4.7
The bot army keeps spreading their territory as this patch allows both Beginner and Intermediate bots to join custom games. On top of that, Intermediate bots have also learned how to use Flash to attack and defend.
There’s only one change to keep the bot army at bay: the Beginner roster will remain unchanged between matches. This might maintain consistency across games but could also help the bots experiment in a controlled environment.