AI Arena is a 2D platform brawler with a unique twist: instead of fighting other players, you train an AI champion to fight for you. This can be a bit overwhelming at first, as you have to familiarize yourself with AI jargon and training principles, but the game's developers have provided helpful resources and tips to ease the learning curve through their YouTube Crash Course series as well as countless docs for those who like to read.
The gameplay consists of three stages: data collection, where you record yourself playing the game; AI inspection, where you analyze the collected data and use iterative learning to reinforce specific areas; and ranked matches, where your AI champion battles other players' champions. Initially, it might be tempting to just record yourself fighting against a dummy bot, but this can lead to your AI learning strange habits.
Instead, it's best to gradually build up your AI's skills by recording specific actions repeatedly. While this process can be a bit tedious, the game's developers have implemented a checkpoint system to allow you to make changes without starting from scratch. At the same time, it kind of imitates real life training where you need to repeat the same move several times before becoming actually good at it. As the legendary Bruce Lee quote goes: "I fear not the AI who has practiced 10,000 kicks once, but I fear the AI who has practiced one kick 10,000 times."
Once you get the hang of training your AI, it can be quite satisfying and rewarding. And if you want to blow off some steam, you can always fight against your own AI to try and spot your weaknesses and work on them afterwards. The AI Arena ranked matches against other players are handled server-side, so there's no concern about lag affecting the fast-paced gameplay. Plus, the matches are asynchronous, allowing you to train and battle at your own pace.
Watching the simulations can be surprisingly exciting, as you root for your AI to execute the moves it's meant to rather than just falling off the platform. Some champions are also depicted as little robots with screens for faces, and you can customize them with any profile picture, making it easy for different communities to get involved.
One potential concern is that once you reach a certain point with your AI, you might be better off leaving it alone, which could reduce your active playtime. However, overall, an enjoyable game style whilst challenging engaging, despite the more tedious aspects. At the same time, AI Arena at the moment only features the Ranked Battles mode, so there is little content for anyone who doesn't want to just always compete against other players.
Watching the simulations can be surprisingly exciting, as you root for your AI to execute the moves it's meant to rather than just falling off the platform. One potential concern is that once you reach a certain point with your AI, you might be better off leaving it alone, which could reduce your active playtime. Being too good at training your AI fighter in AI Arena can be both a blessing and a curse.
Unique game mechanics
Incredible use of AI technology in gaming
Potential for esports
Steep learning curve
Some areas are repetitive
Lack of PvE mode in Beta 1.0
About AI Arena