Naughty Dog has given the enemy AI in The Last of Us Part II a big upgrade, so the foes you’ll be going up against are smarter and will try to take you down with some deductive reasoning and tricky tactics.
“Our AI now has a new state of awareness between complete awareness of your position and totally unaware of where you are,” The Last of Us Part II co-director Anthony Newman said in an interview with GameSpot. “We sometimes call that vague knowledge.” For example, even if you were to stealthily take down an enemy with a silent weapon–such as a bow or pistol with a silencer attached to it–another enemy can still find the body, look at where the arrow or bullet is lodged in their comrade, and infer in which direction they were attacked.
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They’ll then begin their search for you in that general direction, using any other bodies you drop to hone in on your position. Of course, you can prove to be smarter by utilizing the enemies’ own search patterns against them. “Not only does this make them more intelligent to new situations where these systems can cause more intense moments to transpire for the player, it also gives the player the opportunity to make predictions,” Newman said. “We all know human beings, we interact with human beings every day. We can make predictions about what they’re going to do next. By having these more refined and nuanced layers of knowledge and perception and coordination, players can make better and better predictions and make more refined strategies about what to do next.”
Even if you’re able to consistently outsmart the new enemy AI, don’t expect combat to be a walk in the park. Naughty Dog wants there to be an emotional toll to combat as well. “[The Last of Us Part II] is meant to be unsettling,” Newman said. “I think along with, honestly, every aspect of the game–narratively, mechanically, and technologically–the AI was just one facet of the game that we really wanted to take to the next level and ask, ‘What can we do that’s next-gen?'” In this regard, individual enemies now have their own names, and their friends will mourn and call out to them when they discover their murdered corpses. It’s just another aspect of the game that helps to really highlight that, within the context of The Last of Us Part II’s story, your actions are questionable even if they seem motivated by what feels like truth and justice.
The Last of Us Part II releases for PS4 on February 21. For more on the game, make sure to read our hands-on preview of The Last of Us Part II.
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