You're playing a multi-player game with one player and several computer opponents, set to free-for-all. You'll probably see the AI players fighting each other quite a bit, right?
In many games which feature AI players, those players usually gang up on the human player(s). Even if it would be to their advantage to attack each other, they'll go for the human player every time. Can be an effect of Spiteful A.I.
This is usually done to discourage the player from hiding and letting the computer players weaken each other and swoop in for easy kills. Also, in a deathmatch that scores by kills made, having the AI gang up on you is preferable to them staying away from you because you are in the lead so the AI players can catch up.
Naturally enough, this trope can also be inverted
when multiple humans play in a free-for-all and gang up on the AI before dealing with each other.
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- The Bakugan game on the DS. In a battle royal, any time your bakugan is in combat, expect to see two of the following on the opposing side of the power meter: 2P, 3P, 4P. They NEVER aid you, and they do nothing when two computers are battling. you can attempt to return the favor, though, by aiding someone who has fewer captured gate cards to stall for turns.
- Bomberman 64: The Second Attack! has Battle Mode AI that HATES human players, especially in the Challenges. The ones that get killed off and return as ghosts almost ALWAYS chase the human player if he's alive. This gets very annoying when two of them take turns grabbing you, forcing you to drop bombs, and holding you near those bombs, inevitably long enough for you to get killed because you can't escape.
- In Star Wars: Bounty Hunter, there is a level in which the player has to escape from a prison during a riot. Theoretically, the guards and prisoners are supposed to be fighting each other, but in reality, they all gang up on the player for some reason.
- The AI in LEGO Adaptation Games mostly only shoots at the human-controlled character(s), even if there's friendly AI-controlled characters shooting at them. It doesn't help that the human-controlled characters are the only ones that can deal or take damage.
- In all of the Monster Hunter games, your job is (usually) to take out a large wyvern or something similar. However, there are often normally peaceful animals (such as pig-like things) that will, should they be attacked by the boss monster (or even hit by a gust of wind), turn on the players, charging into them and knocking them down.
- Although, in tri at least, you can occasionally see an attacked peaceful monster turn on the wyvern instead of the player, but if it leaves the range then the monster will turn on you instead.
- In Marvel Ultimate Alliance 2, all the enemies will attack the guy that you're controlling. Combine this with the fact that you can block indefinitely without taking damage, and the game gets a lot easier.
- For some reason in Tales Of Graces, the CPU will focus on whoever the player is controlling. Play as Pascal and try to use her spells? They'll run right for her and interrupt them, ignoring Asbel and Hubert running around wreaking havoc. Play as Sophie or Cheria? every time you try to heal they go right for you. Try to play as Richard and go as far as you can from the enemies to cast Holy Lance? Then (at least one) will run right on over and interrupt you.
- Most bosses in the Kingdom Hearts series focus entirely on you instead of your party members, and the ones that don't still heavily favor attacking you over them, to the point where you have to ignore them completely for a while to get them to attack your allies for a few seconds.
- By default, the enemies (both bosses and standard enemies) in the Kingdom Hearts games were programmed to always go after the player, but if your allies manage to make them flinch, the enemies will get sidetracked and draw their attention to them, instead. This happens all the time with standard enemies, but not so much with bosses, as the attacks of allies rarely cause them to flinch. Anyway, if an ally is able to make an enemy flinch, a single attempt at attacking your ally will be made. Whether it fails or succeeds, the enemy will draw its attention back to you.
- This could be seen as Fridge Brilliance when you remember that you literally hold the key to their defeat.
- Electronic Board games often do this when they're not slanting dice rolls. They'll often slant the dice rolls for the human player(s) but never versus themselves. This is especially true for Monopoly games, which often have CPU-players somehow get the best rolls so they manage to dodge all your squares or even go to jail if it means avoiding that line of hotels. If you're playing versus three CP Us, they'll basically try very hard to make you lose, but not each other.
- MS Hearts, a card game that comes default on many Microsoft Windows browsers. The point of Hearts is for four players to compete in a series of games until someone gets over 100 points, at which time the player with the lowest score wins. One would think it would be every man for himself but the AI players seem to pick one of themselves to be your rival, with the other two acting as sacrificial lambs, soaking up as many points as possible to help the one win.
- In Super Smash Bros:
- The final match before Master Hand in Brawl is a Battle Royal... except for the fact that it's not. CPU characters focus on killing the player, instead of each other. This is even more evident with the Dragoon and Smash Ball: the CPU opponent getting it always focuses on a player.
- In fact, this seems to be the case in a regular free for all match. There will always be at least one guy who will stalk you no matter how much you try to distance yourself and when they do, it attracts attention from the other AI players, thus you get caught in the "brawl." Nor is it limited to major items. If you aren't there to hit the CPU players tend to just jump around and occasionally take a pot shot at each other. Also, if you hide behind a wall in a custom stage, which the AIs have trouble with, in free-for-all, they will ignore each other and attempt to hit you, even though they can't, or they'll just pace back and forth together.
- This is also the most noticeable difference in the CPU level. Lower levels play FFA quite fairly.
- Most glaringly, a computer controlled ally will occasionally target you with a Dragoon (which can't hurt you) or with a Bob-Omb (which can), or even worse use their Final Smash on you when they cannot find a hostile AI (such as if they were KO'd and still on the respawn platform).
- In a team battle where you're partnered-up with one or two AI allies and the remaining AI opponent(s) grab a Smash Ball, they will completely ignore your allies and try to hit YOU with their Final Smash, even if it'd benefit them to hit your allies!
- If Brawl didn't make it obvious that it hates humans, you can occasionally see the AI players laugh at you by using a taunt right after you get KO'd... by another AI player.
- This seems to be Artificial Stupidity, as the AI players have also been known to occasionally taunt in celebration for your KO's on another computer.
- It's egregious enough that AI players will self-destruct at the chance to get closer to the player. This can be seen by making the human spawn on a platform the AI's can't reach. In this case they'll all run and try to get under or over the player's platform even if it causes them to get killed in the attempt.
- The AI has also been known to do things like use unusual amounts of teamwork. If an AI grabs a Smash Ball and has a Final Smash that covers a large area of the screen in a particular direction (Samus, Mario, Ganondorf), another computer will sometimes grab and hold you to make sure you can't get out of its way.
- The trophy tussle events in Melee were absolutely horrible. One NPC camped out in a set location, while the other two fought the player. When the player died, they wouldn't bother attacking each other. Really, those were more team battles with Friendly Fire enabled.
- In Melee, when the battle starts the AI will attack each other as much as the human. But the moment the human character gets a lead in KO's or stock, the AI will turn their attention to the human and chase him/her everywhere, hardly attacking each other.
- Guilty Gear Isuka can have up to four players fighting at the same time. However, if it's a free-for-all, the CPU players will almost always attack you rather than each other.
First Person Shooter
- In Call of Duty: World at War as well as the Modern Warfare series on Veteran difficulty, the AI will do what it takes to kill you, no matter if they have to aim for you as soon as you're seen, how many allies you've got next to you, or how many grenades they've thrown has failed to.
- Modern Warfare 2 also has a specific instance of this, where you're told to let two armies battle each other, but if you move faster than a crawl, they'll drop the ongoing battle and shoot at you.
- Likewise, the A.I. in Medal of Honor Airborne would auto-target you the moment you popped out of cover, regardless of how many allies you had running around next to you.
- Resistance 2 has this in spades, particularly during Grim swarms. Thankfully the ally AI is competent enough to continue shooting at the freaks.
- In the Halo games:
- The Covenant will always target you in favor of the various marines. Granted, this does make sense if you're surrounded by infantry, as you're a supersoldier and thus are a greater threat than the marines. This gets a bit more ridiculous when the Scarabs target you, instead of the tanks that are shooting it. It's even more ridiculous if you have reasonable cover, and itty bitty you would be much harder to see as opposed to the big ass tank that's not making any effort to hide, and they still go for you.
- This becomes even more annoying - because it's blatantly obvious - in Halo: Reach where your NPC team mates are Spartans just as you are. You're not even the team leader but merely the latest addition to the squad - a replacement, no less. Yet the Covenant act (and aim) as if you're the only viable target on the battlefield.
- When the player runs into the Flood, things get hairy because they also ignore everything else and try to turn Master Chief into metallic paste. However, not initially entering their vision range gives the player a nice rare opportunity to sit back, grab a snack and watch The Covenant and Flood duke it out for a few minutes.
- Bulletstorm is a pretty egregious example, as enemies will almost never go after your teammates. Even if you're fairly far away and in cover, and your teammates are standing out in the open firing, the enemies will still aim their shots at you.
- Time Splitters is actually good about avoiding this. There are plenty of times when you can see the AI "distracted" by another target, and as expected, once you start attacking them, they start shifting their attention to you.
- Completely averted in the STALKER series, in which members of various factions will fight each other and dangerous wildlife whether you are present or not, and your arrival doesn't alter their priorities at all until you get involved. In the first game there is even an arena where the final battle is a 'free for all'... but the other combatants all start near each other and far from you, causing them to kill or severely wound each other before you can even make it to them.
- This trope zig-zags in Borderlands. Skags will attack just about anything human, including your enemies. However, if you get close to them or shoot them, it's very likely they'll drop everything and come after you.
- Normally avoided in Doom and other Doom-engine games, due to monster infighting. Some complications go towards this trope though, as lost souls will only make a single attack on on an enemy that hit it before turning their attention back to the player. (which still leaves that enemy angry at the lost soul). And in Doom 2, enemies will ignore any damage taken from the arch-vile, though arch-viles will kill (and then resurrect) any enemy that hits them by mistake.
Massively Multiplayer Online Game
- This occurs all the time in City of Heroes. If you interrupt a battle between two AI groups that should by all means be mortal enemies, not only will they immediately team up to defeat you but they will also suddenly be the best of friends and not kill each other while you're coming back from the hospital.
- Hostile creatures in World of Warcraft actually treat you and their current opponent the same way, basing it on the Threat system, though it's possible AI threat is reduced. It's just that the player is usually much more effective at dealing damage than the creatures, so you quickly exceed the threat posed by their other enemies. If one of them is particularly damaged it's impossible to draw threat from them before the damage kills them (barring healing threat, high threat moves, and taunts.)
- In the Cataclysm expansion, there are a number of quests where creatures spawn into perpetual battle with other creatures or NPCs, which you are then required to kill. In many of these cases, they can whale on each other for hours but never deplete each others' health bars, but as soon as you deal a single point of damage, they come right for you.
- Even worse, though, is when they don't. If you kill a Restless Soldier or Restless Infantry ghost before hitting his opponent, the opponent will suddenly heal to full health — even if he's been below half health since he spawned.
- Similar to the above example, Guild Wars. You might often see enemies fighting each other. But the second you come into range or lay a finger on one of them, they immediately drop all grudges they had against each other and attack your team.
- Battlestar Galactica Online. Your enemy and the unaligned drones have no love for each other, but that doesn't stop them from calling an informal truce to go after you if you blunder into the way.
- In The Lord of the Rings Online, creatures which are mortal enemies (such as deer and local deer hunters) will both gang up on you. This happens most often in Dourhand dwarf regions, where animated combat between invading Yeti-like creatures and Dourhand dwarves will end on your arrival, so that both of them can attack you.
- In Shadow the Hedgehog aliens have invaded and human soldiers are apparently trying to fight them off. And the aliens you would be expecting to be killing off the soldiers. Except they don't; all they do is gang up and fire rapidly at YOU, even when you're on their team. Way to persuade Shadow to save humanity, GUN.
- Conkers Bad Fur Day's mini-games can have this on its bad days. Although it is probably unintentional in mini-games other than ones based around killing free-for-alls (such as the multi), mini-games that feature teams which can include computer and player characters, including War (both Color and Total), Heist and Raptor, there are sometimes incidents computer-controlled characters can gang up and attack the player while ignoring each other, and other times even the computers who were supposed to be on your team can join the witch hunt as well (this can happen regardless of how smart/inbred you set their AI level to).
- In Color!War, it can play this trope even more straight. Normally, if you shoot down at least 4 of your allies for whatever reason, your entire party will brand you as a traitor and start opening fire on you on-sight while the opposing party will no longer harm you (this can happen regardless of if you were initially a Squirrel or a Tediz). Because you're still on your side despite being a traitor, however, you can still take your opponent's flag, in which case now both sides will be after your ass (yes, even while you're carrying your enemy's flag, your own party will still recognize you as a traitor and try to kill you for attempting to give them a point.)
- Inverted in Iji, where the two alien races, Tasen and Komato, are hardcoded to prioritize shooting the other race over shooting you.
- In Tokyo Jungle, computer-controlled animals will sometimes go after each other, but are just as likely to band together to attack you. This can reach absurd levels, such as a tiger, a bear, a pack of hyenas, and a crocodile all chasing after a tiny house cat while utterly ignoring each other.
- Destruction Derby 2 for the PC was notorious for this. In the Total Destruction mode, from the moment the game started, every single AI car would immediately smash the player, without even attempting to play against each other.
- Mario Kart is a fine example on the higher difficulties of this, where coincidentally every single item seems to hit just you.
- This also applies in team VS matches, where your own AI teammates seem to save their items solely to attack you, with no effect. They'll even ram into you when you have shells circling your kart in order to waste them, and will also often try to ram you off the track.
- In Mario Kart DS, this part of team VS matches was even more common, due to the fact the team aspect simply added up the points of characters on said team, not disable friendly fire. Hence it's more like a free for all than a team game.
- In Mario Kart Double Dash!!, every AI player on the track will get items, and use them on you. And only you. They never even try to attack each other.
- There have been recorded cases of enemy AI firing Red Shells backwards towards you in games where they only home in going forward, they're in striking range of the place ahead, and it could mean the difference between 1st and 2nd.
- Throughout the series, the computer opponents are programmed to finish the races in the same order (selected at the start) so that one racer will accumulate the most points, making it the racer the player has to beat. If the player can take out the leader at the end of a race and cause them to lose their place in the standings, that racer will fall back and let the new leader win the races in order to beat the player.
- The AI-controlled opponents in Twisted Metal 2 would rarely, if ever, attack each other, being almost exclusively concerned with attacking the player.
- Actually, they just didn't attack anyone when they weren't close enough to attack a player. They DID in fact attack each other, but only when you are close enough to get their attention. This is of course to keep the player from running and hiding till all but one of the opponents are dead.
- They would actually attack each other at longer distances as well, but take virtually no damage. Even if you were nearby, their damage to each other was severely reduced, though you could sometimes coax them into destroying each other, especially where enemies with unlimited amounts of freeze missiles were involved.
- In Jak X: Combat Racing all the A.I. racers seem to be zeroed in on you (including your team mates), heat seeking missiles are targeted at you 90% of the time, and you will most likely find yourself at the far last place most of the time.
- The AI in Forza Motorsport 3 will drive in tandem to prevent you from passing and gang-rape you when you try to pass.
Real Time Strategy
- Happens in StarCraft if you're fighting against multiple computer opponents without explicitly setting teams beforehand. They actually ally each other and proceed to throw endless waves of doom down your throat.
- One particular level of Brood War averted this. It's the simplest level in the entire game, because the computer-run Protoss and Zerg forces are too busy fighting each other to launch that many attacks against the player-run Terrans. The fact that this is a very dull and unchallenging level probably highlights the reason why this trope exists.
- This is actually somewhat pragmatically done in the original Terran Campaign. The second to last level involves a three-way between the Terrans, Zerg, and Protoss, in which you, the Terrans, will lose if the Zerg lose even one building, even if it's an easily replaceable defense colony. The Protoss and Zerg do not attack each other, in fact, the odd Protoss will actually walk through the Zerg base to get to you. It's not so irritating though, because the Protoss hardly attack at all (they're down to their bare basics on the tech tree) and it'd be even more of a pain to defend the Zerg bases while they're trying to kill you if the Protoss too were trying to kill them. Sure they suck, but they'd probably get a lucky building kill and screw you over.
- In skirmish mode, setting immutable teams beforehand will have the AI partner up with you, if that's what you set. (They're marginally helpful, but the AI really does not understand teamwork AT ALL.) In "Melee" Mode, It's Humans VS Computers, no exceptions. In "Free For All" Mode, it's every man (or AI) for him/her/itself, and the computers will happily frag each other into oblivion.
- In fact, by default the scenario editor doesn't even let you sort yourself into the same team as an AI player if you don't use triggers.
- In Star Craft II, the AI tends to be more hostile towards human players, at least on the highest setting (Insane). To test this, create a Free-for-All game with 8 Insane AIs on Megaton so that they start very close to each other. They won't start attacking each other until they built a few army units. Now make the same game but replace one of the AIs with a human player. The AIs closest to the human player will immediately send a few workers to attack them while the others will ignore each other until they build army units.
- Command & Conquer:
- In every game before Red Alert 2, the AI would gang up on you once you defeated one AI opponent unless you change the "Paranoid" setting in the rules.ini file.
- Red Alert 2 initially followed this trope as by default, only Battle mode was available in skirmish (ie. all AIs versus the player). A patch added Free for All but it wasn't until the expansion pack that the player could be allied with AIs (in Battle and Team Fortress mode, the latter incorporated special maps designed for team games).
- Oddly in Red Alert 3 enemies are more likely to go after you at medium difficulty than at hard difficulty.
- Homeworld has a setting for how often the AI players will attack the human player in the skirmish match setup screen. At the extreme ends, they will either always or never attack each other.
- This is the normal behaviour of the AI in Warcraft II when playing skirmish games. The AI players never attack each other and only attack you.
- Age of Empires II had this, if you did not lock teams and set the difficulty at Hard or higher, the computer teammates would within 10 minutes all un-ally you all at the same time and then gang up to kill you in some instances.
- Inverted in Dungeon Keeper 2 where the computer is perfectly willing to march its entire army through your territory, completing ignoring all your creatures, so that it can attack another computer player.
- The AI's priorities for troop deployments, war declarations, spying, diplomacy and trade can all be edited in Hearts of Iron, at least from the second game onward. This includes parameters for special behaviour toward human players, usually limited to having them deploy more troops on your border because the human player is more of a wildcard as well as better at using his/her army to begin with, but, either with AI files or events, it's entirely possible to invoke this trope even up to the point where you're at war with the whole world from day 1 no matter which nation you play.
- In Defense of the Ancients: All-Stars 2, if you make a custom bot game with nothing but bots and yourself, expect the bots on the other team to focus on you. The other bots will almost never aid you.
- Averted in Sins of a Solar Empire - if you don't set teams before starting a game multiple AI's are very likely to go for each other. This is further improved with the "Diplomacy" expansion pack that gives you tools to manipulate how AI empires perceive you. Other factors, such as "how likely you or they can kick their/your ass" will affect the chances of an attack.
Shoot Em Up
- Easily used to the player's advantage in EV Nova. Even if the player has a large pile of escorts, enemy ships will put top priority on targeting the player's ship. A player with a smaller, quick ship and a large number of better-armed ships as escorts can simply run in circles around the enemy fleets while the escort ships pound them into submission.
- Computer players in Civilization: Revolutions never attack each other, so it's always a 4-on-1 game. A standard strategy is for at least 2 rivals to constantly attack you while they leave another alone to pursue a win condition, thus requiring the human to spend valuable resources securing his own borders instead of advancing.
- Civilization 4 also tends to see humans get diplomatically ostracized at a minimum, in part due to a design oversight. The diplomatic model gives relationship penalties if a nation refuses another nation's request or demand for help. The AI is also coded to never offer "impossible" deals to other nations, to avoid racking up needless penalties, but it can't tell in advance if human players will accept or reject any given offer. Therefore, the human players are the only ones who end up with these penalties, while AIs buddy-buddy up and eventually decide to take out the vile nation that refused to give them free handouts or help them in their wars of aggression.
- The setting “Always War” is this trope in its purest form. No, it doesn't mean that everyone is at war with everyone. It just means that everyone is at war with you.
- Civ 5 inverts it on the two easiest difficulties, and plays it straight from Normal upwards. Also, their soldiers will be so advanced over you on the highest difficulties that they'll feel more biased than they really are.
- When customizing A.I.'s in Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, one option is "Intense Rivalry." The highest difficulty turns this on for every AI faction.
- In Mechwarrior: Mercenaries, the player can enter an arena style fight that includes up to 8 other AI characters. Any of the AI characters who are near you will ignore other AI characters which quickly results in Gang up on the Human.
- Invoked in Touhou fangame, Sengoku Gensokyo. During the story mode, all the other factions attack Reimu, and only Reimu, because Yukari promised rewards to whoever brought her down first. In National Mode, everyone attacks each other, much like factions locked in eternal war should.
- Played straight in the Escape Velocity series. When demanding tribute from a planet, defense forces will target you to the exclusion of all else. This can lead to bizarre strategies such as the player simply flying in circles in an unarmed fighter while a fleet of destroyer escorts gradually pick off the enemies.
- This happens in every single multi-man match in WWE Day of Reckoning. A three or four-way rumble is just a fancy way to say "Handicap Match."
- This was fixed in Day Of Reckoning Two. The computer players only decide to gang up on the human half the time, other times they may just ignore the human most of the match.
- This trope was far worse in the rather mediocre WWE Wrestlemania X-8.
- Smackdown vs Raw 2008 averts this by having AI opponents actually attack each other. You can be in a campaign Triple-Threat match between two guys who have been beating on you for the past month, and they'll still be hitting each other just as much as you.
Stealth Based Game
- Soul Reaver 2 did this when the Demons and the Demon hunters both try to kill you while ignoring each other.
- The zombies in Dead Rising seem to prefer Frank to anybody Frank is escorting. Which is probably for the best, gameplay wise, seeing as the player can fight them off. Whereas the people you're escorting are barely more intelligent than the zombies themselves, and are prone to dying.
- This can get to ridiculous extremes in Left 4 Dead and its sequel when it comes to the special infected in single player mode. Most of the time, the special infected will all gang up on only you and thanks to the sequel's dumbed down survivor AI reaction times, expect many restarts.
- The trope can be invoked by human players in VS mode if the survivor team has any bots. When all human controlled survivors are killed in VS mode, the round ends, despite any survivor bots alive. Players on the infected team who know of this will focus their attacks only on the human players to end the match as quickly as possible.
Third Person Shooter
- In Star Wars Battlefront II almost as soon as the player manages to get a shot out, every enemy, regardless of how far away they are, will ignore all other threats and attack the player.
- This is actually the primary reason all AI teams usually fail. Whenever you waltz in all the enemies focus on eliminating you, which often leads them to either being bested by you or killed by your team mates. Even in competitive play you can still use this to your advantage because of the large number of computer players inherent in the game. If you yourself gang up on any enemy human, your friendly AIs will still have a big advantage over your opponents distracted AIs.
- The first Gears of War was really bad about this; all enemy A.I. units would instantly auto-target you the moment you popped out of cover to shoot, completely ignoring your A.I. teammates even if they had been locked in combat just moments before. This was particularly noticeable on Insane difficulty, and made flanking and ambushing much less effective despite the game supposedly being centered around such tactics. Thankfully this was removed in later games, creating a more natural battle flow.
Turn Based Strategy
- The popular Flash strategy game Dice Wars has an interesting variation. The computer players usually attack any side indiscriminately. But if one side, human or computer, gains a clear advantage the rest of the computer players will all gang up on that side. A cunning player can exploit this to get zones without worrying about retaliation, but if you do too well then the others will inevitably gang up on you.
- In the Total War series, particularly Rome: Total War with it's awful diplomatic system, every single AI faction is scripted to attack the player, no matter the players strength or economy. The only thing it takes into consideration is how much money it has. This is especially blatant if you keep tabs on the diplomatic relations between factions in the game, as sometimes if two factions are at war and you attack one of them, they will end their war, declare an alliance, and attack you.
- In Shogun II the computer literally does this once you've captured enough territories or taken Kyoto. This triggers the 'Realm Divide' event, where the Shogunate (if alive) will attack you, every neutral or hostile faction will decide to join in no matter their position relative to yours (and will ignore wars with each other) and even your closest allies will get cumulative negative relationship points every turn until they attack you too. To add insult to injury and make this a straight trope example, AI players never trigger Realm Divide no matter how many territories they own.
- Also goes for the actual battle AI. Here's a fun experiment: try creating a custom battle with one player faction and several AI factions (that are opposed to each other), preferably on a very large map and watch how AI troops from all parts of the map start attacking the player while completely ignoring all other enemies around them, even if they would be a very easy kill (i.e. French knights riding next to enemy English archers).
- In the first Heroes of Might and Magic, you could set all the computer players (since every map had four players) to "King of the Hill", which would cause this. No other entry in the games had it since.
- However, Heroes of Might and Magic V had AI behavior that ends up doing the same. While it's FFA, none of the AI players bothers to defend their castle against other AI players, usually taking their entire force to attack another player (more often than not, the human). Sooner or later, it would be you against one single AI who has taken over everyone else. Assuming you managed to survive the suicide attacks coming at you, that is.
- While it may seem that Space Empires suffers from this trope, it only sort-of follows it; enemies are just as likely to go to war (or already be at war when you find them) with each other as they are with you, not to mention make alliances, all dependent on their diplomatic personalities. If however you're expanding out hugely, and at all sides at once, it may SEEM like they're all targeting you, but that's only because you're the first alien species any of them have met and they don't have any other targets yet.
- Also, the AI doesn't do a very good job of estimating how dangerous a human player is; they can overestimate you if you do a lot of cheap research or underestimate you if you don't build as many ships and units. Either can lead to AI players thinking they should wipe you out before resolving their own differences.
- Finally, there's actually a hidden feature called the Mega Evil Empire: if any empire gets far enough past the second-ranking empire, everyone will gang up on them, declaring war on them and refusing all treaties. While active for both players and AIs, the AI can typically push their empire to a far greater margin of superiority (by default in SEIV, 250% of the second-ranking empire's score, compared to the human's 170%) before the entire galaxy turns on them. Also, it's not like you'll often see an AI run into this feature on their own in either case, given that most experienced players can run circles around the AI without giving it some extra bonuses.
- There is an actual "all AI against all Human" setting, but it's disabled by default.
- Civilization V isn't quite as bad, apart from an obvious diplomatic bias against the human player. However, attack more than one city state and about half the AI players and city states will declare war on you. If an AI does it, they can get away with more city state attacks and none of the AI players will particularly care.
- Also a frequent scenario: Two about equal civs are hostile towards one another. One of them asks you to be his ally in the war. You accept and kick the other civ back down to his capital, acquiring some of his cities in the process. The other civ, now the strongest in the game, will inevitably backstab you sooner or later. If not, someone else will, usually because they think you are founding new cities too aggressively (when you acquired them from the peace treaty).
- In Lord of the Rings Conquest, bosses will track you down, no matter what. Especially annoying is Saruman, who'll just stand around in his tower waiting for you to come up and get trampled, and maybe chase you for two feet.
- A minor version occurs in Mount & Blade. In the arena melees, AI opponents will usually fight each other just as much as they fight you... but the moment you drop, they stop fighting and cheer. It's like, "okay, he's out, we can stop pretending to be hostile now." This has been fixed in newer versions of the game.
- Also in arena fights, once you start winning the remaining enemies will often cease fighting altogether just to charge you, and ignore any opportunity to hit each other.
- In Mass Effect, the likelihood of any enemies targeting your squadmates instead of you seems to be inversely related to the difficulty level. On Insanity, enemies will never target your squad, only you. Even if they're getting beaten to a pulp by your allies directly in front of them and you're behind cover halfway across the battlefield.
- Invoked by Harbinger. Not only does he provide the above quote, once he 'assumes control', he will head right for you, regardless of anything put in his way.
- Harbinger, nothing. Those wretched Praetorians will chase you all across the map, Nigh Invulnerable and totally ignoring your allies, until they could their invulnerable instant-kill attack on you at close range, constantly Beam-Spamming all the while. And as far as you can tell, they're not even sentient.
- Zig-Zagged in The Elder Scrolls V Skyrim. You can see people attacking monsters (or even each other) but if you stay out of the way, they actually will kill each other and let you attack the survivor. Other times, they'll forget whatever they had and attack you. There have also been reports of dragons luring players into aggro radius of monsters and letting them cherry-tap the player.
- In Fallout New Vegas this is notably averted; the two most commonly flagged, always hostile enemy types, namely raiders and mutated animals, will gladly fight each other and not the player even if the player is in detection range. This isn't a guarantee though; some raiders will break from the fight to attack you even while a mutated lizard sets fire to their hair, but seeing as how most of the raiders are phenomenally high on chems, there's a hint of justification. Junkies don't exactly make the best choices.
- This subversion is actually reinforced in the games code. While an AIs fighting tactics are programed to be most effective against player characters, They don't prioritize the PC in any special way during combat. As far as hostility goes, each enemy is marked as part of faction, and not just like the NCR or Legion. For example Rad Scorpions and Fire Ants have their own separate factions and will fight each other because their factions are marked as hostile toward each other. If there is another wasteland human out, they will also be attacked (Unless they are Vulpes Incultata). You can even use Testing Cheats to make yourself part of these factions, and thus chum it up with whatever Raider, Robot, or Deathclaw you meet.
Wide Open Sandbox
- Slight variation in the Grand Theft Auto series. Even if you're with other gangsters out committing crimes, the cops will only target YOU once you have a wanted level. Additionally, if you are in line sight of a cop who's dealing with one of the random AI crooks in the game, no matter how egregious their crime is to your rather petty one, they will IMMEDIATELY stop chasing that criminal to chase you, hilariously sometimes in mid chase or beatdown.
- In the Saints Row 2 activity, "Fight Club" you get in a cage match to the death with other fighters. The problem? ALL of them go after you; its very rare to see any of them fighting each other, which can make the higher levels ludicrous, especially when you're taking on six opponents at once (though it's VERY satisfying to take them all out).
- Somewhat justified in-story (although it's never explicitly stated) since your character is a well-known gang leader, and defeating you in combat would logically be much better for a fighter's reputation than some other no-name scrapper.
- This also happens in the Demolition Derby. After the initial pileup every single AI car will start coming after you excusively.
- In Famous on the evil route, as both the police and the bad guys will be out to get you, and it's not rare to beat down the police in the streets, only to have to deal with a rooftop sniper right afterwards, who didn't seem to be shooting when he could've hit the police. Justified in that an evil superhero really is much more dangerous to both sides.
- In the game Prototype, one of the big features being touted was being the third side in a two-way war. Unfortunately, the Infected almost always target you unless they're under fire from the military, the military targets only the Infected unless you alerted them, but they always target the Infected closest to you first thus ensuring you'll get hit as well.
- In one boss fight, this is explicitly subverted. After Greene pops up in One-Winged Angel form in Times Square, the attention indicator will turn red, meaning Alex is an active target of the military. Then the call comes in telling the military to focus only on Greene, and the indicator turns yellow, meaning that Alex isn't considered an active threat. The military then pays attention only to Greene and ignores Alex.
- In Bully, if you decide to put marbles in front of the door of the boy's dorm and pull the fire alarm, this is why you should hide in the trash can because for some reason, the first person they go for is always you. Even if you jump out of the trash can when the riot had already started, they may sometimes just turn around and fire at you. This can also happen with other cliques.
- In Minecraft, mobs will not attack other mobs unless they hit each other, which can only happen when a ranged mob tries to hit the player. Even when this does happen, the mobs will wait until there are no players nearby before attacking each other.
- On multiplayer servers, mobs still prioritize players over other mobs, but once they begin following a player they will not switch targets as long as that player is within range. This can lead to large groups of mobs following one player and completely ignoring others.
Non-video game examples:
- Awkward Zombie: Priorities.
- Freeman's Mind sees Freeman worried why he's never seen any of the soldiers and aliens fight each other and why the hell they're always after him here.
- Shephards's Mind also mentions how the aliens and black ops will target him first here.