"You know, it's a little disturbing how little I've seen the aliens fight the soldiers and soldiers fight the aliens. Everyone's just trying to kill me and unarmed civilians. It's like they think that if they kill me all their problems will automatically be solved."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? Wrong. 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. The video game inversion of Enemy Civil War. Compare No Zombie Cannibals.
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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 a human player if they're 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 die 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. Possibly justified because Jango, the eponymous Bounty Hunter and Player Character, is the one who put them there.
- 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. 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.
- One mission in 4 Ultimate tasks the player with hunting a Gyceperos and a Nerscylla. Both will readily gang up on you even though Nerscyllas generally not only kill and eat Gyceperoses, but wear their skins too.
- 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. Doesn't help when if you get KO'd, no matter who is still up, YOU LOSE BY DEFAULT!
- By default, the enemies (both bosses and standard enemies) in the Kingdom Hearts games are 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.) 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.
- Fairly common in Diablo 3—enemies will tend to prioritize attacking you over your companions—but particularly noticeable in an early cutscene where the Skeleton King orders his minions to kill Deckard Cain... only for them to lose interest in him and start coming after you the moment the cutscene ends.
- Electronic board games often do this when they're not slanting dice rolls. Often, the RNG used for the player's dice rolls is skewed towards the lower numbers while the CPU's dice rolls have no such limitations. This is especially true for Monopoly games, which often have CPU players somehow getting 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 CPUs, 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 systems. 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 or woman for themselves, 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.
- It wouldn't be much of a stretch to state that every turn-based RPG does this, as they force groups of enemies into the same encounter against the player even if they wouldn't have a reason to even consider it. Examples include pairings of predator and prey, elementals of opposed elements, or even soldiers of opposed armies.
- Notably averted, however, in Final Fantasy XIII, in which you'll often come across two or more enemies fighting each other. Usually, neither side will attack you until you either attack them first or the other side is killed.
- Also averted in Horde Battles in Pokémon X and Y. If Zangoose and Seviper appear in the same horde, they will attack each other, since they are sworn enemies. Similarly, one possible horde consists of four Durant and their predator, a Heatmor, who will attack the Durant first.
- 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 beating you, 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 the AI's use of 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.
- 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 also benefit them to hit your allies!
- If Brawl didn't make it obvious that it hates humans, you can occasionally see the CPU players chuckle at you by taunting right after you get KO'd… by another CPU.
- It's egregious enough that CPU 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 costs them stocks 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 are absolutely horrible. One CPU camps out in a set location, while the other two fight the player. When the player goes, they won't bother attacking each other. Really, these are 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 a human player gets a lead in KOs or stock, the AI will turn their attention to that person and chase him/her everywhere, hardly attacking each other.
- Mercifully, the fourth game seems to have eased up on this: CPU's still prefer to hit you, but will usually use it on someone else if you aren't around. Of course, there are also observed cases in team battle, where the player's AI partner gets the Smash Ball and then will simply hold onto it, refusing to use it on anybody.
- 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.
- In WWE All Stars, in a Triple Threat or 4-Man match, the AI will almost always zero in on you, but it's still good enough to fight each other if it kicked your ass or the match just started. But there are still instances where all computer characters relentlessly walk towards you for minutes.
- Tornado Tag Matches avert this, though. More often than not, one of the AIs will focus on you and the other on your partner, never any ganging up.
- Despite cutscenes showing monsters challenging each other, the fighters of War of the Monsters much prefer teaming up on you instead, leading to a Cycle of Hurting involving being impaled, being thrown, and generally kicked around as they switch off grabbing power ups and health.
- In River City Ransom: Underground, the people the Player Character is fighting are all violent gang members, but if the player manages to do something criminal and thereby summon the police, the cops who show up will ignore said gang members and instead focus exclusively on the Player Character, even in the case they should happen to be hit by one of the enemies' attacks.
First Person Shooter
- Call of Duty
- 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 and regardless of how many allies you've got next to you or how many grenades they've thrown has failed to.
- Call of Duty: 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 will auto-target you the moment you pop out of cover, regardless of how many allies you have 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.
- This happens in the first game too. Enemies will go for you unless there's a much closer target or they're already engaged. One easy place to observe this is the first encounter with Gray Jacks. Kill the first one quickly to save the soldier it's attacking — you'll then find that the remaining Gray Jacks prefer you to him by a wide margin.
- The Covenant will always target you instead of your marine allies. 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 teammates are Spartans just as you are. You're not even the team leader, 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. That said, once you do make yourself known, not only will the mindless Flood stop attacking the Covenant to come after you, the Covenant will also stop attacking the omnivoric alien zombie virus corpses that up to that second were mopping the floor with them in order to focus all their attention on you. This is explained in the expanded canon: they think humans are even worse than anything the Flood could be. However, that same expanded canon also makes reference to several individuals of the otherwise more dogmatic alien species allying with isolated humans in order to combat localized Flood infestation.
- 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.
- TimeSplitters 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 S.T.A.L.K.E.R. 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.
- 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.
- This trend continues in Borderlands 2. In fact, one enemy type, known as Goliaths, will kill everything in a psychotic rage if you shoot its mask/helmet off. This is subtly recommended by the game, since the experience points for every enemy a Raging Goliath kills is tripled and then added to the Goliath's experience points, which you then get when you kill the Goliath. Only problem is, he's healed to full every time he makes a kill, and can one-shot you with his Shockwave Stomp attack if you don't have a considerable advantage (in health, shields, and/or weaponry) over him.
- 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, or if the player is not in sight, will go dormant (they don't retain targeting information after a counter-attack, successful or otherwise). A successful attack on an enemy still leaves that enemy angry at the Lost Soul. And in Doom II: Hell on Earth, enemies will ignore any damage taken from the Arch-Vile, though Arch-Viles will kill (and then resurrect where possible) any enemy that hits them by mistake.note
- A more blatant example would be in Goldeneye 007 for the N64. In the second run on the Bunker area, the game introduces you to your fellow prisoner Natalya whom you can free by killing the prison guard and taking the cell key. The troops in the Bunker will be absolutely focused on you and no one but you, completely ignoring the other prisoner who is following you around. She can get damaged, but sometimes you can never tell since in most cases she never even flinches from stray shots. Not that it matters, since they're all dead set on you. In fact, if you get to the main room and not take out the guards watching over the computer, they will act if Natayla isn't there at all as she makes her approach to it and turns it on.
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.
- Warring factions in Destiny will stop fighting in order to team up on a lone Guardian that wandered into the fray. And for good reason. More often than not, the Guardian will be the only one to walk away from that mess.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Averted in Firefall : the aggressive wildlife, bandits/Ophanim and Chosen will all fight each other. Humanoid targets will also stop attacking players to fight back against wildlife that wandered by. This is even lampshaded in an early mission where you drop pheromones in a bandit camp. There's a mission where you need to bolster the bandit's morale against the Chosen. Later on, the Chosen will deploy mining thumpers and be completely swarmed by angry wildlife, just like it would be for players.
- Attempting to complete the game and get everything in the single-player modes of Crash Bash gets particularly obnoxious in many stages. In a stage like "Ballistix" where a ball needs to be hit into a goal to register a win, the AI will simply prioritize protecting their goal, much like the player will. In "Pogo Pandemonium", however, you can be absolutely sure that you will be their only target and their most common target. The AI even seems to team up in a very specific way: One character will focus on getting points. They will take as much area as they can in any way they can, even if doing so will be risky. The second character will try to take items from you whenever possible, making it hard for you to fight back. The third character will work in conjunction with the second to try to keep you away from character #1, and use items to stop you whenever they can. Play enough times in a row, and you'll notice that the #1 spot will almost always go to the first character. Coupled with the fact that you'll need to win each minigame three times in a row for 201% completion, and you'll almost certainly be throwing controllers.
- 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 both sides do is gang up and fire rapidly at YOU, even when you're on their team. Way to persuade Shadow to save humanity, G.U.N.
- Justified in that G.U.N. has orders to bring him in dead or alive. And in the only stage before they get those orders, they actually DO ignore Shadow. Black Doom, however, given he is trying to get Shadow on his side, has no such excuse.
- Interestingly, prove that you're friendly by firing a healing gun at either side, and they'll stop attacking you. You have to do this with every new group though, sadly.
- Conker's 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 multiplayer) and 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 where 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.)
- Averted 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.
- The Touhou fan-game Mystical Chain has the second boss battle feature two eternal rivals who could care less about your characters, who are caught in their (perfectly countered) crossfire.
- Destruction Derby 2 for the PC was notorious for this. In the Total Destruction mode, from the moment the game starts, every single AI car will immediately smash your car, 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 is even more common, since the team aspect simply adds up the points of characters on said team instead of disabling 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.
- In Mario Kart 7, the CPU racers are known to waste their items solely to get you instead of using them for something that could actually help them win. One example is on N64 Luigi Raceway, where you can hop onto an upper path with booster panels, a path the CPU almost never takes even on the higher difficulty settings. The CPU has been known to throw Bob-ombs up there to blow up you and only you.
- The team battle mode of Mario Kart 8 is particularly frightening in that you can't go near anyone. Your team members will almost certainly throw boomerangs and shells in your direction when you pass by them, and there's no way to know when they will or won't decide to be a traitor. Ironically, however, this may be intentional, as it's sometimes difficult to tell who's on your team. The only thing that differentiates the two are the colors of the balloons, which you almost certainly won't be able to see from a long distance, thus making a frightening ordeal when you see a racer approaching and you have no idea whether or not it's an opponent who you should be trying to line up an attack with or a partner that you should avoiding so as not to get in their way. Chances are, the human players will be accidentally hitting their partners just as often as the AI.
- The Team Race mode is also pretty nasty about this. The AI seems to either not notice or not care about the team race function and will simply attack whatever racers get near them, basically treating it as a normal race.
- Twisted Metal:
- The AI-controlled opponents in Twisted Metal 2 will rarely, if ever, attack each other, being almost exclusively concerned with attacking the player.
- The first game is guilty of this as well. They'll drive around aimlessly, but if you come into sight they'll usually drop everything and make a beeline straight towards you. You can actually get your AI opponents to drop into one of the lower areas in the final level and then watch them just drive around in circles and occasionally run into each other, not opening fire again until one of them figures out how to get back up to where you are.
- In Need for Speed: Most Wanted, even if the police starts chasing you in the middle of a race they will never, we repeat: NEVER give even the slightest of darns about pursuing the other racers during the chase afterwards. They get off scot-free while you take all the heat.
- In Jak X Combat Racing, all the A.I. racers seem to be zeroed in on you (including your teammates), heat seeking missiles are targeted at you 90% of the time, and you will most likely find yourself in a distant last place most of the time.
- The AI in Forza Motorsport 3 and later (especially 6 with Limit Aggression off) will often drive in tandem to prevent you from passing and mass PIT maneuver you when you try to pass.
- The final race of the first Snowboard Kids game is particularly brutal as a solo race; not only are you against a ninja with maxed-out stats, the other 2 AI players will endeavor to stay behind you at all costs, just to make sure they can keep hitting you with forward-firing weapons and let Shinobin coast to victory. They will do this shamelessly, even if you are going comedically slowly just to make it more transparent.
Real Time Strategy
- If you're fighting against multiple computer opponents without explicitly setting teams beforehand, they actually ally with each other and proceed to throw endless waves of doom down your throat.
- One particular level of Brood War averts 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 StarCraft 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 build 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 will gang up on you as soon as one AI opponent bites it, unless you change the "Paranoid" setting in the rules.ini file. Even if a player has remained hidden from the AI opponents the whole match, the moment one of them defeats the other, the player will have tanks and superweapons (including supposedly untargetable ones like Tiberian Sun's hunter-killer drones) raining down on their base.
- Red Alert 2 initially followed this trope as by default, with only Battle mode 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 incorporating 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.
- Subverted in Command & Conquer: Generals, where all players, AI and human, can be set as allies or enemies at will and the AI react accordingly. Even if it's a classic FFA, the AI players will fight each other, which helps a lot when facing 7 hard AI players on an 8 player map for the sake of achievements.
- 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, only you.
- Warcraft III takes it even further — not only will AI players gang up on any humans, but if there are multiple humans, they'll gang up on the host, specifically. There's no gameplay-based reason to do this.
- Age of Empires II has this. If you don't lock teams and set the difficulty at Hard or higher, the computer teammates will, within 10 minutes, all un-ally you all at the same time and then gang up to kill you in some instances.
- In Hearts of Iron, the AI's priorities for troop deployments, war declarations, spying, diplomacy and trade can all be edited, 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 the Total War series, particularly Rome: Total War with its awful diplomatic system, every single AI faction is scripted to attack the player, no matter the player's 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.
- Total War: Shogun 2 has "Realm Divide," which is essentially this trope incorporated as a legitimate game play mechanic. Basically, once your clan controls about 15 provinces (out of 65), every other clan will ally against you. You're given a severe diplomatic penalty, meaning your former allies will abandon you and you'll be unable to establish trade relations, killing your economy. To make matters worse, the clans allied against you will be given large stacks of veteran units every turn. To add insult to injury, 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).
- Supreme Commander does this in Skirmish mode. If you set, for instance, a free-for-all game with you and 3 AI players, they will make the barest show of fighting each other while sending all their heavy units and experimentals in a beeline straight for you.
- Pikmin: Despite the fact that you're on a planet with its own ecosystem, with a vast range of creatures of all shapes, sizes, and species, the enemies will only ever go after the captains and their Pikmin, despite the fact that it's implied in the first game that Pikmin have been facing extinction for a long time at that point.
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.
- In Civ 1, there is apparently a flag that when the game reaches a certain year (1900 or thereabouts), all AIs will immediately declare war on the human player. Civ 2 has a similar problem where the AIs will eventually all form defensive pacts to "contain your aggression" and will never attack each other.
- 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 this.
- 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 2. 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. Even when they gang up on you, they will quickly turn on each other if eliminating you would allow one of them to win.
- By contrast, this trope is far worse in the rather mediocre WWE Wrestlemania X-8. (Seems the CPU was steadily improving.)
- 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.
- In some editions of Pro Cycling Manager, the AI decides that the player-controlled rider must do all the work during the classics, even when it would have been against the interest of the involved AI-controlled teams.
- 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, while 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 Specials will all gang up on only you. Thanks to the sequel's dumbed-down survivor AI reaction times, expect many restarts.
- 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.
- The inverse can also be a viable tactic. While the survivor bots will never fail to try to save another survivor, the humans players sometimes will. Further, the AI Director won't spawn more than three of the Special Infected that can pounce survivors (Hunter, Smoker, Charger, Jockey) at any one time. Thus, if there's only one bot survivor, it can be worthwhile to kill them first to make it easier to get the three humans, either all at once or one at a time while the others are distracted.
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 teammates. 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 is really bad about this; all enemy A.I. units will instantly auto-target you the moment you pop out of cover to shoot, completely ignoring your A.I. teammates even if they had been locked in combat just moments before. This is particularly noticeable on Insane difficulty, and makes 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.
- Kid Icarus: Uprising is a bit on-and-off about this. Underworlders and Forces of Nature are at each other all the time, especially in the air battles, and when the Aurum show up, the fight instantly targets them. However, it is also completely possible for you to be attacked by, say, a Skuttler and a Rezda at the same time, without them doing anything to interfere with each other. It seems to be quite random.
Turn Based Strategy
- In Fire Emblem Awakening, you can do "Paralogues," which are auxiliary stories to the main narrative. In one, you happen upon two rival bands of mercenaries who've been feuding over an area for a while before the Shepherds, that is, your party, arrives. You're given the option of allying yourselves with either faction, or neither, and if you pick the third option, both teams forget their enmity and will fight side by side if it means killing you and your friends.
- In Fire Emblem Fates, there's two DLC maps involving the Hoshido and Nohr royal families that are effectively the same in execution: the siblings are all competing for something (a beach trip in Beach Brawl, and to share their power with another world's Corrin in Royal Royale), and the pseudo-story implies that it's going to be essentially a free-for-all, each sibling and their retainers against the other seven groups. Instead, it's whichever sibling you chose and his/her two retainers against all twenty-one other units, who will go out of their way to assist another of the computer-controller siblings.
- 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 first Heroes of Might and Magic, you can set all the computer players (since every map has four players) to "King of the Hill", which will cause this. No other entry in the games has had it since.
- However, Heroes of Might and Magic V has AI behavior that ends up doing the same. While it's FFA, none of the AI players bother 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 will be you against one single AI who has taken over everyone else. Assuming you manage 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. There is an actual "all AI against all Human" setting, but it's disabled by default.
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.
- 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 was 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.
- There are two actually legitimate reason for this to occur in Warband; Kings and their Vassals will, in times of war, loot any weak enemy territory and ambush a force they have a numerical advantage over. A player meets this criteria when first joining a faction and getting a burnt-out fief in exchange. Secondly, they will prioritize going after the fiefs of enemies who have defeated them first; a player who has been hanging around in Calradia for about 200 days will have made plenty of enemies by then.
- 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. Which rarely happens on higher difficulties, however, as this trait was introduced in the second game and kept for the third, where there are specific stats governing how much weaker henchmen are than players. Combine this with the fact that Shepard hitting 0 HP means Game Over. Despite this, Mass Effect 3 has an improved aggro system that will take down squadmates who are noticeably bigger threats to enemy positions than Shepard.
- This can be exploited in Mass Effect 2 by Infiltrators using Tactical Cloak and some clever squad placement, especially against slow but powerful enemies like the Praetorian. Not so much in 3's single player, where the enemy will hear Shepard's footsteps, and also feel him/her brushing up against them. The same thing does happen in multiplayer, but the enemy are more likely to home in on the fully visible enemy pelting them with bullets, as they're also a Player Character, just like you. Applies fully when the Geth Juggernaut hits the field, as he has abilities that increase his aggro beyond even that of Shepard's - forcing enemies to home in on the one character in the game immune to sync-kills.
- Invoked by Harbinger. Once he "assumes direct control", he will head right for you, regardless of anything put in his way.
- 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 the aggro radius of monsters and letting them cherry-tap the player.
- This is particularly noticeable when a dragon attacks while you're already fighting something else. On one hand, you'd think that anything that isn't another dragon would perceive the dragon as a bigger threat than you, and temporarily team up with you to take it down. On the other hand, seeing how the Player Character will probably coldly hand everyone their respective asses at the same time, they may be making the right decision in teaming up with the dragon.
- In Fallout: New Vegas, 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.
- While an AI's 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 a faction, and not just like the NCR or Legion. For example RadScorpions 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 Inculta). 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
- 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 worse their crime is than 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; it's very rare to see any of them fighting each other, which can make the higher levels ludicrously difficult, 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 exclusively.
- inFAMOUS on the evil route, as both the police and the bad guys are 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. On the other hand, regardless of your karma, you'll sometimes run into two different gangs beating the hell out of each other, and only the nearest ones will attack you. There's even a side mission to stop a gang war; if you want, you can just let them fight it out and then mop up the leftovers.
- 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. The prefects, however, zig-zag this - if others break the rule, even if you're around breaking rules they'll go after them, too, not just you.
- 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:
- In Yu-Gi-Oh! 5D's, one villain unleashes an army of dueling robots, then sets it to Battle Royale mode, where anyone who loses crashes the D-Wheel. Despite the fact that the rules for Battle Royale mode are "every man for himself," the robots work together, even making themselves crash to help other robots.