Saber Interactive released a new gameplay trailer focusing on the zombie AI in World War Z. The AI is powered by the studio’s own proprietary technology called the Swarm Engine. This enables the developers to produce hundreds of lifelike bipedal actors on-screen at once.
The developers worked to reproduce the kind of movement and thrilling swarm effect that the zombies had in the Brad Pitt movie of the same name.
The dynamic swarm simulation sees the zombies toppling over one another in order to get the player characters by any means necessary. This is coupled with what they call an “intensity director” in order to moderate the challenge of the AI, along with a gore system that allows for dynamic gib and dismemberment. You can see what the Swarm Engine’s capabilities are like with the gameplay trailer below.
The trailer doesn’t waste any time getting to the action, showcasing how the dynamic swarm simulation works, and we can see how they navigate stages, both in open areas and in more enclosed environments.
For the open areas they swarm around players like a herd of predators flanking prey. Players will have to use very different tactics when out in the open to deal with the swarming AI horde compared to more narrow enclosures where they can be demarcated and picked off.
We do see that even in enclosed spaces the horde can still adapt, moving and finding new ways to reach the player-characters by creating flesh walls.
To keep the action feeling fresh there is also adaptive spawn control, not unlike what Valve used for Left 4 Dead, where the hordes of zombies were managed by the AI Director.
The spawn points are designed to be organic, so you just don’t see guys popping out of thin air as if emerging from the void that tears a hole in the very fabric of reality.
Not all of the swarm behave the same way, either. There are different types of AI behaviors for different types of zombies. Some will charge at you, some will leap at you, some will run fast, others will stalk you, and some will be heavily armored.