Bot games are something of a staple in online multiplayer PvP games. Sometimes, if you want to just have a stress-free round or a warm-up session before a proper match, you boot up a bot game and spend some time clicking on robot heads. Sometimes you want to test out something you came across for the first time, or maybe you just want to know how many shots does it take to kill someone with a particular gun. And sometimes, if the playercount of a particular game is too low in your region, or the servers are down or gone, it might be your only way of experiencing that game.
There are a few different types of bot games out there, so today I’ll like to just go through the few types I’ve seen and what are the best possible ways to use them.
#0: The Tutorial
Most of the time, tutorials will feature bots that interact with you as you learn the basics of the game. So in that sense, the tutorial is technically a bot game.
It may sound silly for me to have to say that beginners to a game should really play the tutorial to learn the basics of the game, but some players I have encountered makes me feel that I really need to drive this point through their jaw-droppingly thick skulls. That is, if they even know how to read.
#1: Shooting Range
The shooting range is another rather common type of bot mode. In general, this is the best for testing the more theoretical stuff, like how much damage a particular combo does, the spread of a weapon, maximum range of a particular attack or movement ability, things like that.
Having played both Overwatch and Paladins, I say I generally prefer the Paladins shooting range more than the Overwatch practice range, because Paladins uses the actual champions as dummy bots for testing. This makes it easier to know the effectiveness of a particular attack/combo in the real game. For example, I can tell, using the room in the top right of the above picture, how good I am against high-health, mid-health, or low health champions immediately. Overwatch uses Training Bots which I find to be a bit less intuitive to work with. However, the moving target range in Overwatch is much better because of the larger area and more varied environments that the bots roamed around in, and the more open space allows for better testing of movement abilities. In essence, the Paladins shooting range feels more like a lab while the Overwatch practice range feels more like a sandbox.
#2: Bot Match
Next up will be the classic bot match, where you and your bot teammates fight against a whole group of bots.
Bot matches is one step up from the shooting range in accessing the effectiveness of a particular combo, loadout or even strategy, short of leaping into an actual game against other players. In a slightly more controlled environment that is still a reasonable facsimile of the actual game, you get a better idea of how well your idea works in the game, as well as some practice to get it right reliably.
When I am back to TF2 after a long hiatus, I generally prefer having a few bot matches for me to readjust to the game again. Granted, the bots are not the brightest thing in the world, but they formed adequate opposition, especially if I spent too long playing other games and I need some time to get back into TF2 again. For new players, bot matches may also be a good way to get your feet wet before jumping into the game. And as mentioned in the first paragraph, it could be the only way to experience an online multiplayer game that has been dead for some time, assuming that the game is still available.
#3: Players VS Bots
This is pretty much PvE, except that the bot team is supposed to be balanced against the human team. In theory anyway, since in practice the humans generally demolish bots if they are clear on what they should be doing.
I find this to be the best bot mode for someone to teach a new player about the game. It has the bot match’s advantage of being a controlled simulation of the actual game, while the coach and the newbie are both playing in the same match, allowing the former to instruct the latter and point out important details for him to take note of.
Aside for that, it’s a decent way of testing out or practicing team combos.
Bot games are incredibly useful for new players to understand the game, and for old players to warm up or practice as well. For less confident players, it’s a good way to build up some confidence before they begin to play. For new players, properly utilizing bot games will allow them to better learn the game before jumping in to their first match. Just remember not to sink too much time into it, otherwise you’ll be in for a rude awakening once you are facing actual people and got wiped because your expected them to act like bots. As I did when I first got into TF2 proper.