DISCLAIMER: I am aware that BSG have stated in a recent post that they are looking at further improving AI scavs. However, it took Veritas to spend hours upon hours making a very in-depth video proving that, during 11.5, their coding was essentially broken in terms of center-of-mass aiming. Hopefully this post and your guys' input can have at least a fifth of the effect that video had! I'm going to cover a lot here, so apologies for a hefty wall of text.
Also listed this as a "Discussion" even though it's part-Rant and kinda part-Issue, my bad.
Since the beginning of 11.7 I've noticed changes in AI scavs and their shooting behaviors/patterns. Over time and looking back through various footage from my vods, especially since the beginning of .12, I'm 95% sure that the devs have coded them in accordance to the weapon they have and the ammo they use.
AI scavs using shotguns will almost always aim for your legs and occasionally your arms, and those using pistols, SMGs and ammo types with very low penetration values will almost always choose to aim for legs and arms, with the exception of crouching/proning and being very close to the PMC they're attacking. They even seem to lock onto your respective limbs through terrain and attempt to shoot it even if it means their shots don't come close to landing on the player.
As far as other AI scavs with different weapons go the results vary a little more, but the general pattern is that those using ammo types with higher penetration values (e.g. Hunters and 209 VEPRs) predominantly aim for your thorax. I want to elaborate that they seem to also hit your arms whilst attempting to zone in on your thorax which also extends to Boss Guards, which leads me to believe that the center-of-mass detection in these cases is now too high. More on that later though. As far as Raiders go it differs a little more since their weapon tables are almost totally different to regular scavs, but the "rules" with their ammo types and their respective pen values remain the same.
Onto Boss Guards. Multiple encounters with Glukhar and his guards (and also reflecting on my engagements with Reshala's and Shturman's guards) have led me to believe that nearly all of them with the exception of Glukhar (mostly) have been hard-coded to aim for your arms from the beginning of your engagement with them. It's particularly nasty with those wielding M4A1s, taking the flesh damage of M856A1 and the fire rate of the weapon leads to kills on PMCs being extremely quick if they aimlock onto a limb.
In regards to scavs, raiders and boss guards and them spawning with mid-tier ammo types and their shooting patterns/behaviours, it leads me to three conclusions in terms of their coding;
- They have been purposely coded to aim for either your chest/arms indefinitely. Hunter scavs seem to be especially accurate with aiming for your chest.
- Their center-of-mass coding was set too high, and their attempts to shoot your chest lead them to instead shooting your arms and attempting to pen through to your chest.
- They have overall been coded to bypass your armour, no matter what you're wearing and what it protects.
In terms of overall behaviour, with the exception of boss guard and raiders since they're supposed to have higher tuned behaviour, regular AI scavs have also been granted pretty insane ranges/lanes of detection on players and very high accuracy most of the time, even when they're re-positioning and firing at the same time. Slight nitpicks are also when scavs run at you and powerslide underneath your chin and blast your chin away, and scavs who upon detecting you at a very close range go immediately prone and begin shooting mid-prone animation. This has been the case since 11.7 and leads to some pretty hilarious/frustrating encounters between players and scavs.
To re-state again, this is all stuff I've noticed over the course of playing since 11.7 after reviewing Twitch vods, clips and other footage from other friends/streamers. I play the game 5-7 hours a day for 5 days a week, so what I've determined above I have a lot of confidence in. I do not have any experience in coding or game development, and the opinions I'm about to list in the next section are exactly what they are; opinions.
So, what's the point I'm getting to?
A big frustration for players who bring in armour is that, with how the scavs are now, is that the very armour they invest hard-earned roubles into (especially those with values of 200k+) essentially becomes useless against the AI. It feels super cheesy when your armour, even those with stomach/arm protection, provides little to no resistance against AI which have been programmed to shoot only for your limbs. All it does is just slow down and frustrate players who then have to over and over and over again patch up their zeroed limbs, which would be fine if their armour was hit at all. I personally have taken single shots from scavs which have completely ignored my armour in favour of shooting my arms or legs. Obviously there's no armour for legs yet, but when shotgun scavs ONLY go for them it feels super cheap.
I believe that BSG need to focus on completely overhauling the AI in the coming months of development. Right now with how AI are in general it honestly feels like they have just decided to overtune them rather than code them in a way that they still present a threat, but not to the insane levels they are at right now. Their intentions are their own, but PvE is a big aspect of the game and they obviously want to further add to it and I don't think that essentially making AI near-broken and cheesy in terms of what I've talked about above is how you make them challenging.
In regards to "low-tier" regular AI, which for the sake of them being the most common on all maps I'll stick to only in this post, I've compressed my own suggestions down into a "patch notes list" of sorts;
– Scavs accuracy will vary depending on distance to target. Within 20 meters to target will provide very high levels of accuracy, up to 50 meters medium and beyond that will have generally low results.
– Scavs accuracy will also be modified depending on whether they are stationary, crouching or prone or not. Scavs remaining still will have a 25% increase to accuracy within their range to target, but those strafing and re-positioning to cover will suffer a -25% decrease. Being still and leaning around cover will also provide a 25% increase.
– Scavs firing at players will also have varied results, with the general aim to fire at center of mass (area of chest below arms when holding a weapon). Results will vary in accordance with the above changes, but closer engagements will also have a higher chance of being shot in the head (even though this will be a lower % of happening) whilst further engagements have more chances of limbs being shot/grazed or total misses.
– Scavs will not run at players in a hyper-aggressive way and crouch-slide right next to them. They will instead hold angles on players last known locations or, and this is what they already do, crouch-walk towards last known locations.
– Scavs may still drop into a prone stance upon detecting a player within a 50m/+ range but not a 20m range.
– Scavs detection range pre-engagement is shorter now, but will heighten to .12 levels of detection upon being engaged.
There are more things I could suggest, but these are more for the current aspects of regular scav AI that I think are the most frustrating. Once again, for the second time, I'm not going to pretend to know anything about the process of coding, nor do I think my suggestions are simple/easy. I do think that they will provide a higher quality of life in PvE in Tarkov, less ridiculous engagements but still a level of challenge that should keep even endgame-geared players on their toes.
Let me know what you guys think, either with your own experiences with the AI in Tarkov and whether they align with mine and my friends' own or your own suggestions to make regular scav AI more of a genuine challenge and less of a cheesy enemy to constantly lose limbs too!