The latest patches for AOE3 DE have bring many improvements to AI behaviour, making them use their units more efficiently and improving their decisions. There is, however, one aspect that makes it not develop its full potential in game (aside from walls, but that is other topic). I know some builds ago, the AI had this problem where their vills got very far from their base to gather resources, making them easy pickings and delaying the AI. The solution that was given, restricting their gather only near base and then use farms/states, can seem like a safe way to protect vills, but I feel that it hurts the AI more than it helps.
The problem with this behaviour is that the AI does NOT contest the map, leaving you massive amounts of resources that gather faster than their infinite counterparts, making defense easier for the player and basically allowing you to slowly surround your enemies and trap them in base, something that shouldn’t happen if you have a resource filled area near your base and far from the devastation of an enemy army in base.
To me, they should have added the ability for the AI to build TCs on areas on the map that are: a) not much contested in the moment the decision to build a second base is given and b) have a medium to large stash of resources nearby. That change, along with vills gathering near TCs, would be a big improvement for their economy, would make their vills safer and it would allow the AI to have multiple bases from where to create and army, as of right now, once you are done with their one and only base, they will never recover.
Interestingly, the AI has the ability to build military buildings near enemy bases, and they’ll train soldiers and still fight from those buildings. That is good. If that ability could be replicated for TCs and secondary bases, with it’s own secondary economy, it would make skirmishes more fun, not so repetitive, and every game would develop it’s own “narrative”, so to speak. (Note: I don’t want TC’s and secondary maps to replace military buildings near enemies, that is good).
This change could even work amazing with water or island maps, as I’ve seen the AI are much better at disembarking armies at your shores or even travel to other islands to claims TPs and explore (it still has problems embarking, tho, as sometimes a unit is waiting on the shore to be picked up and his designated ship just changes course and does another thing). Having AI make their TCs far from the original base could allow AI to claim other islands, which it has never done in the history of AEO3, and it would make some maps viable and fun against AIs (Caribbean, Honshu, Ceylon, Northwest Territories, the new Swahili Coast and many more). Even in the new Niger River map, the AI’s starting TC wagon, that is on the other side of the map for the very reason of taking advantage of the resources and TPs on the other side, just goes back to the original TC place and it builds it there, losing time and access to a better part of the map.
REMEMBER: Not all people play MP or don’t play it regularly, many people play only SP and others sometimes just want to to have a “relaxed” game without worrying about ELO all the time. The game has a SP content base and this change would be amazing for them (I know it would be for me too, as the only way I have to play these maps “as they should” is on MP, but many of my friends don’t feel totally comfortable yet to go MP).
I’m going to post some examples now of why I think this should be changed in the near future:
In this game, I’m red. Look how the pink player has a lot of resources JUUUST outside of their base: hunts, trees, mines. But non of the AI would take advantage from it, not even my purple ally. Look in the minimap how I took advantage of that same area on my side of the map. Having access to those resources while the AI does not feels a little like cheating.
See how many unused resources are on their side
And here is a video from the last PUP build for October, where my ally (blue) start farming when having berries nearby and hunts just a bit ahead, and building 5 estates when they have mines nearby (one is good for the upgrades but 5?). In this game the AI could have build a second TC near their TPs, that had 4 hunts and 2 mines nearby. A second base there would also make the TPs more defensible.
Finally, I will post some maps where I personally think the AI can’t get their full potential based on this posts. Keep in mind that the AI suffers from this problem in ALL MAPS, but in these the issue is aggravated based on the geography of the region:
Amazonia: You can cross and build bases in the enemies shore, but they can’t.
Bengal: Plenty of resources down south that the AI will never contest.
Caribbean: The enemy will never take nor defend the TPs island (they will build the TPs but only that), and you can build a base in enemy shores, but the AI will never do it. Here you don’t even need a TC, just a few military buildings, outposts and a few walls, as a TC is better used in the other island, but it still could work)
Ceylon: I don’t even need to say anything about this one
Gold Coast: Those islands will never be mined, also, outpost in those islands would hurt the player navy a lot.
Great Plains: Plenty of resources on the sides that the AI will never gather nor control
Hispaniola: Players start at the west coast but the east side will never be touched by the AI, leaving you all those free resources.
Honshu: The TP and gold mines island will never be contested.
Horn: The island will never be contested, and some outposts there could provide and interesting bottleneck
Indochina and Indonesia: Similar maps, the AI will never contest the island nor gather from there.
Korea: AI will never gather nor build on the peninsula.
Mongolia: Northern side has more resources and TP sockets, but the AI will never gather nor build defenses there
Niger River: The AI will ALWAYS send its extra TC wagon to be built besides the original TC, disregarding the northern more resource filled area for the rest of the game.
Orinoco: Players start at one side, AI will never gather resources on the other side.
Rockies: Map description: “teams are separated by a resource-rich valley”. The AI will never take advantage of that valley.
Swahili Coast: With the introduction of this Ceylon like map, I hoped the AI could now escape their little island, but alas, it was not the case (yet).
Yukon: gold mines across the ice-cool river, that the AI will never gather nor secure in any way.
To me, the layout of these maps work against the AI current programming and it’s detrimental to the SP game experience. As for other maps, they have a more balanced start and resources are evenly spread, so they don’t feel so unfair, but still, they will never fight for resources.
I hope I made my point clear, I love how you have been refining the AI behaviour and it works better than ever, but this area is one that has never been addressed and it will completely change how SP skirmishes play and feel. Hopefully we can see some improvements for this issue soon, as I’m confident the game is in good hands and there is a vision to iron out all features.