Auto-mode: the ultimate farm-while-you-work mechanism.
Well, while the game does take over the role of the player, auto-mode does have its drawbacks. Being limited to only Wanted Challenges, Dailies and Trial of Elements (ToE).
Moreover, it’s rather evident that auto mode takes longer than how a regular human player would take to finish a mission. In fact, if you’re holding a ranged weapon, there are certain spots in the daily maps that allows you to win within 1 minute by just pressing the attack button, considering that you’re sufficiently well-armed for that difficulty.
So what so good about Auto-mode and why choose it over your regular play besides it enabling you to ‘multi-task’?
Let’s break it down.
My observation is that the AI has three primary functions:
1) Search: Run around the map to source for enemies based on a random walk function (ie. it does not follow a fixed route)
2) Kill: The AI tends to use the best skills the character has, even though it might be overpowered against the target monster.
3) Survive: This might be ironic because the AI does not consider environment based damages (eg. swamp pits, floor traps etc.), but generally it pairs up with the ‘kill’ function to minimise your chances of getting hit by monsters. Thus, it will resort to using ranged attacks and spells as often as possible.
Interestingly, Auto-mode has a few extra tricks up its sleeve to improve your character’s survive-ability:
(a) Unlimited Dodge Rolls: Characters on auto-mode can constantly roll around the map as Auto-mode removes the cool-down. You can try this out against bosses where the AI executes >5 rolls at once.
(b) Just-in-Time Dodges: If an AI rolls out of the way just in time from an incoming attack, the game gives leeway and considers it as a successful dodge (‘Miss’). This happens often when dealing with minions with AoE (Area of Effect) skills where the character can roll out of the way successfully without taking damage even within the radius of attack.
(c) In-Built Evasion for Bosses: Mainly against the Wanted Challenge bosses as the AI can evade some of the boss’ attacks without stalling too much.
“While it does have some avoidance built in for Bosses it currently does not do so for champions or anything else…”
– Gameloft_Syrann (source)
However, after seeing my character fight against all of the WC bosses on Auto, it fares worst against the Undead Elemental (Duranti) due to her ability to create a small patch of terrain that causes constant damage to you (like a swamp pit). Characters can literally run into it and die within there if you don’t have sufficient defence.
(d) Ability to ‘sense’ targets: Although more of an offensive than defensive advantage, the AI recognises where flying/ jumping/ teleporting/ underground minions will land and actively attack that spot, giving no room for the opponent to counter especially if you are well-equipped with effects like stun/pushback/fear.
To prove points (2) and (3), I experimented this with my character having a crossbow as primary and dual blade as secondary.
When I use the crossbow on auto, it’ll mix-and-match the skills and ranged attack (say 50% skill usage, and 50% ranged attacks). However, when using the blades, the AI will use mainly skills and only engage in melee combat when its certain that the monsters can be one-hit killed.
(Fun fact: you can swap your primary and secondary weapons during the Auto mode without disabling it.)
Also ironically, this function isn’t well paired up with evading attacks. I’ve noticed AI (when using melee) running up to monsters and attacking them constantly without evading or dodge rolling their attacks (maybe the most once) even though there’s an opportunity for them to do so.
Auto-mode also doesn’t use potions (which I see is a good thing as it doesn’t overly consume your hard-earned potions), so best to stock up and heal if necessary.
Lastly, I want to add that I’ve seen the AI do some weird moves, like activating haste after a set of monsters has been killed and run off elsewhere to look for new monsters; triggering an AoE predatory instinct when monsters are clearly out of its range.
“As for Skill activations, we will continue to improve the AI to use the skills more effectively (There is sooooo many skills!) So feel free to let us know when you feel something isn’t used well, we will strive to make improvements.”
AIs aren’t exactly always foolproof, especially in a game with large number of variables, parameters and possibilities in a game. But honestly, I do hope GL fixes the part where the AIs run head first into a swamp pit and die off instantly, especially in harder difficulties when your ally might aid in the success of the mission.
Morale of the story, when using AI mode, equip your character with the best ranged weapon to maximise its effectiveness and grab a cup of coffee while it’s farming your much-needed runestones/crystals/tails.