Are CSGO bots becoming too powerful for players to handle?

Steven Rondina • May 27, 2022 5:24 pm

Calling someone a bot in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive has traditionally been an insult. Should that change, though?

CSGO fans will occasionally see clips pop up of a heroic bot leading its team to victory in clumsy fashion. Those clips seem to be happening more and more frequently, however. Most recently, a clip on social media popped up showing a bot making a shady play.

Instead of the bot awkwardly panning its sights around, it walks into a smoke grenade’s cloud in connector on Mirage. From there, it shoots an enemy with an AWP from within the smoke. On the one hand, it’s profoundly unfair. But on the other, it hints that bots might have learned to leverage their inherent strengths against human competition.

So are bots actually becoming too powerful to handle for the average CSGO player? Here’s what we know.

How good are bots in CSGO?

Anyone that has played CSGO for a few years now knows that bots are much stronger than they used to be. For years, bots struggled to perform even the most basic feats. It wasn’t unusual that you could get caught out by a bot while holding your knife, but still have the time to stop, switch weapons, and spray them down. CSGO bots almost never made a good decision, but things may be changing.

In 2019, the company started to improve bots in unranked game modes by using an “experimental decision framework based on behavior trees.” It’s unclear how Valve developed them, but it resulted in a marked improvement in terms of bots’ strength. But has Valve been improving them since?

It’s definitely possible. In 2021, Valve made the perplexing decision to change the rules of ranked matchmaking in CSGO. While an AFK or kicked player would be automatically replaced by a bot, this was changed to instead give teammates extra cash. No rationale was given but the decision makes sense if Valve was improving bots to the point where they were better than a significant percentage of the player base.

Valve has also been implementing more PvE modes into Counter-Strike with operations. This likely necessitated some improvements on the classic awful bots.

There’s no question that bots can play at a level beyond anything capable of an elite player. Counter-Strike 1.6’s bots were notoriously vicious and other games have had similarly strong AI opponents. CSGO bots also inherently have wallhacks but are programmed to behave in a way that emulates the behavior of a real person. With a couple of tweaks, one bot could consistently annihilate an entire team of pros every round.

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