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BioWare ramping AI and enemy design for Mass Effect 3

Enemies in Mass Effect 3 are to be smarter and more complementary, BioWare has said, resulting in tougher combat all round.

"If there's one thing the programmers always want to do better it's definitely the AI, so we've done a lot of work on that," Mass Effect 3 gameplay designer Christina Norman toldXbox 360 World.

"We still have some more work to go, but we want you to feel that the enemies you're fighting are more complex, that they have multiple behaviours, and that they're reacting to what's going on. "

Norman, who recently left BioWare Edmonton for a new position in Los Angeles, said that turning the difficulty up in Mass Effect 3 will trigger different enemy behaviour, some of which never occur on lower settings.

"Now we look at enemies as a force, with units within the force, and each of them has a role," she said.

"You end up with this really cool chessboard thing, where you have a knight and a bishop, they'll work together in one way but if you have a knight and a rook, they'll work together in a different way. It's giving our level designers and combat designers a lot more opportunities, not with heavy scripting, but just by combining these pieces that work together in new and interesting ways."

For smarter enemies, you need smarter players, and BioWare are pushing for players to think about mobility.

"So the player is never thinking, 'I'm walking into this safe place with great cover, I'll stay there and fight' but more 'how am I going to move through the battlefield as the enemies move through the battlefield against me?'" Norman explained.

Bosses and heavy enemies will see a makeover too, with fewer "bullet sponge" situations.

"If you can interact with the enemy in specific ways by shooting at weak points? Use the environment against them? Those are the factors that make larger enemies more interesting to fight," Norman commented.

Mass Effect 3 is due on PC, PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 in March 2012.

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