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The All-Seeing A.I.

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"Explosions tear up both your cover and the enemy's, and you don't have the super homing x-ray vision bestowed by the NPC gods."

It's very tricky to make computer opponents behave the way a human player would. While it's possible to design an AI that receives data similar to what a player receives, then analyzes it to make a decision, this is immensely difficult. Since the AI is an integral part of the game engine, a far easier (and thus much more common) technique is to simply pluck the information directly from the engine, and base all AI decisions on that.

The consequence is that computer players can get an unfair advantage over humans: It isn't bothered by dark colors or (loss of) environmental lighting. Its performance isn't encumbered by Interface Screw, Damn You, Muscle Memory!, or any amount of nested menu navigation. And since it's part of the same engine that keeps track of where your players and units are on the map, if the AI wants to mount an attack, it knows where to find you better than you do, Fog of War (or even walls) be damned.

The AI is the narrator of the story; if you win, it's only because it told you so.

Of course, this doesn't always make for a fun playing experience. To bring back the fun, programmers must make the AI act like it has the same limitations as a human; anything it's not supposed to know for the sake of game balance, it has to tell itself not to know it.

When it doesn't, you have an All Seeing AI: Stealth is useless, no surprises are possible, and it will (almost) never miss a shot. Consequently, players should not bother with misdirection, flanking, or other forms of deception and psychological warfare that would work wonderfully against actual humans. This is often the reason for Useless Useful Stealth in games that are not specifically stealth-centric. In a similar manner, high-difficulty-setting fighting game opponents can read your controller input to counter your move before you can even use it properly. This trope can therefore in some ways be seen as the flipside of Artificial Stupidity, were instead of appearing unrealistically stupid, the AI appears unrealistically competent.

Often one of the main reasons why The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard, although it isn't strictly cheating, as the AI doesn't bend the game mechanics as such. Not to be confused with A.I. Is a Crapshoot or The Computer is Your Friend, which tend to involve a more literal all-seeing, malicious AI that monitors your every move.


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    Action Games 
  • In Transcendence, if the player is hit by a Blinder cannon while their ship's shields are down, their visual will turn static, signifying that it is damaged. If the AI gets hit, it does absolutely nothing.
  • In Mortal Kombat: Special Forces, not only can the enemies see Jax before they themselves are even visible (thanks to 90s-era pop-in and polygon fog), but attempting to pick them off early with a scoped weapon will backfire in ways the programmers likely didn't intend. In an odd case of Crosshair Aware, the enemies can see the first-person camera that simulates the sniper scope as it zooms in, and will gun Jax down instantly, because as soon as they can see it, they can see him.

    Adventure Games 
  • Enemies in Zelda II: The Adventure of Link that chase you can actually read your D-Pad inputs to determine what you're going to do with split-second accuracy. However, you can actually use this against them: when jumping you lose no momentum if you take your hand off the D-Pad, which you can use to alter their movement. If you jump holding forward they'll back off to prevent you from getting past, while if you jump without touching the D-Pad they'll run under you and you'll pass them easily.

    Card Games 
  • This is why winning a game of Microsoft Hearts is nigh impossible. Bad enough that the AI will gang up on you, they know what your cards are, and they know exactly which cards to play that will put you at disadvantage.
  • A lot of the Yu-Gi-Oh! games before the DS's release have done this:
    • While this was perfectly justified for Pegasus, who actually had this ability in the series, it doesn't excuse the other opponents. Pegasus is always extra blatant about this in any game he's in. This is most obvious in Duelist of the Roses. In this game terrain bonuses and penalties come into effect. Most of the A.I.s will walk into losing battles if you play your card face down on occasion, and can be bluffed some of the time. Pegasus will accurately calculate the attack of your facedown card after all effects, and make sound decisions based on it.
    • Yu-Gi-OH! World Championship Tournament 2004 has every single opponent in the game know what your face down cards are. You try to set a monster with low defense? Their lowest attack monster that can surmount it attacks and destroys it. Set a different monster with more defense than their weakest monster's attack but has less than their second weakest? Their second weakest monster attacks and takes it out. In short, you just can't bluff them.
    • Yu-Gi-OH! Forbidden Memories has Pegasus again. He can't be bluffed and will always change his monsters' positions if he can't attack. The same can be said for every opponent in the endgame as well as Heishin in the early Hopeless Boss Fight; they all know what card you've set and attack based on that.
    • In particular, this made the card Magical Hats utterly useless; the AI would always attack the monster you were trying to protect!
    • The card Question forces the opponent to guess the bottom monster in your graveyard without looking. If they guess right, the monster is banished, but if they guess wrong, the monster is Special Summoned. Naturally, the AI will always guess right.
    • More amusingly, this actually turns Fusilier Dragon, the Dual-Mode Beast into a minor A.I. Breaker. Fusilier Dragon is a Level 7 monster with the effect that it can be Summoned or Set without Tributing monsters (normally it would cost 2), at the cost of halving its ATK and DEF points. Setting it this way causes the AI to refuse to attack it until they've gotten out their own big guns, because it doesn't take this effect into account and just sees a face-down Level 7 monster.

    Fighting Games 
  • In Eternal Champions, Xavier's Interface Screw spell is absolutely useless against AI opponents.
  • Mortal Kombat II: Go ahead and use Reptile's invisibility on any difficulty setting, and see if the AI is at all inhibited by it.
  • In Super Smash Bros. Melee and Brawl, no Interface Screw in the world is going to deter the AI. Examples include:
    • In both games, the AI notices when items have appeared off screen, which can result in it running off in the middle of a heated duel to grab an item that it shouldn't have even noticed until it came on screen. This only applies to overly large stages though, as the majority of stages are small enough to stay entirely on camera the majority of the time.
    • When Togepi appears in either game and performs Night Shade, the screen goes completely black. You can't see what the hell you are doing, but the AI knows exactly where you are in the darkness, making this Pokemon move more of a hindrance.
    • In Melee with the Cloaking Device item, which turns the character invisible, but does nothing to deter the AI.
    • In Melee 1P mode, instead of being used to input smash attacks, the c-stick instead adjusts the camera. This is entirely useless though, as all it does it screw with the interface and obstruct your vision, while you're fighting cpu opponents who always know where you are regardless.
    • And in addition to general immunity to Interface Screw, the higher-level AI has superhuman reaction speed thanks to knowing your inputs. Melee level 9 CPUs were notorious for throwing out perfectly-timed jabs to interrupt most of your approaches and attacks, in addition to being able to consistently powershield, which is extremely difficult.
    • When the Nintendog appears to cover the screen in Brawl, nothing happens to the AIs.
    • In Brawl, the AI have perfect bearings when the controls or the stage in Spear Pillar is reversed, making the fight much harder than it needs to be.
    • Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U has the amiibo figures that you can use. When Nintendo means that the amiibo learns from you, they mean that the amiibo can eventually know what your strategy is and counter them. This can even result in a Curb-Stomp Battle.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Battlefield: Bad Company 2 has this as a moderate problem in the campaign. Any time there is something obstructing your view, it is basically non-existent to the AI. Dust? They see right through it. Snow? Fat chance that'll slow their snipers down. A SOLID CONCRETE WALL!? Haha, they know exactly where you are at ALL times, and if you try to hide there and regenerate your health they'll immediately pull out an RPG and break the wall down. This makes certain sections FAR more difficult than they should be.
    • Perhaps as a nod to this, one of the most frequently used Glitch powers is a scanner pinpointing the exact location of the user (i.e: the human player) and his progress.
  • In the Call of Duty series, stealth missions suffer from this. In Modern Warfare, the enemies will instantly where you are if you are revealed, even by guy you killed immediately after while he was alone. For a particularly egregious example of this trope, see Roach's first mission in Modern Warfare 2.
  • Bots in Counter-Strike are schizophrenic in this. If you throw a smoke grenade they run right past you if you stand in the smoke, other times on a labyrinth-like map with 3-4 paths leading to where the bot is standing, he will place himself to exactly the path the next enemy will come from and then to the next, the next...
    • And other times when he is all alone and you come from behind a corner he waits long enough with firing so you could introduce yourself.
  • In the original Descent, the AI most prominently exhibits this asshole behavior on Insane difficulty. They can even track you if you have an Invisibility Cloak.
  • DOOM: Monsters that have been alerted to your presence will "know" where you are and attempt to get to you to attack regardless of where you are in the level, although this is mitigated by their lack of pathfinding A.I. If you enable monster visibility on the minimap, you can watch them bonking into walls like confused ducklings trying to random-walk through a maze.
  • In early versions of E.Y.E: Divine Cybermancy, mooks would always know where the player was the instant they deactivated their cloaking device, leading to annoying scenarios of players being sniped through the oppressive cyberpunk fog of doom from across the level by a mook with an anti-materiel rifle. Later updates gave AI reaction times, and proper line-of-sight detection.
  • Far Cry
    • In Far Cry 2, once one bad guy has spotted the player, every goon in the area instantly knows exactly where he is and can fire with pinpoint accuracy even when the player is crouched in head-high grass he himself is unable to see through. Darkness also seems little hindrance.
    • Likewise, on Far Cry Classic's Realistic difficulty, enemies will know exactly where you are once you alert them with gunfire, despite you being out of view in thick foliage half a mile away, and can even sometimes sense your presence before you make any noise. Contrastingly, in the original PC version, foliage was actually useful for stealth.
    • Witness in horror as your undetected assault of pirate outposts in Far Cry 3 is ruined multiple times by a drunk molotov guy or a dog somehow being able to spot you from half a mile out despite the fact that you're using bows and silenced sniper rifles, hiding in the trees, and likely hopped up on drugs that literally make you undetectable. It gets worse when you get to the second island, because the game will spawn in literal truckloads of mooks that casually drive up to your position if you take too long.
    • Another silly example courtesy of Far Cry 3 - at one point on the second island, you're disguised as a mercenary and tasked with assassinating three merc captains inside a base. If you kill a guard and someone discovers the body, everyone instantly knows you did it and comes gunning for you, even if you killed him silently with no witnesses and are on the other side of the camp when the body is found.
  • Halo:
    • Halo 2 introduces unlockable skulls that make the game harder. One of them, the Whuppapotamus (aka "That's Just Wrong") skull, allows enemies to effectively see you when you have the Invisibility Cloak on, among other AI upgrades.
    • On Legendary difficulty in any game, once alerted to your presence, the AI will be able to send pinpoint fire to your location every time you poke your nose out. They can actually be facing away from the player, but the second the Chief/The Rookie/Noble Six/etc. exposes themselves, they are instantly alerted.
  • Medal of Honor. This rears its ugly head in the Command Post, where the guards will clairvoyantly detect you sneaking in and sound the alarm (especially on Hard difficulty), and in Sniper Town, where the snipers have greater visual range than you and will instantly hit you the moment you step into their line of sight, and enemies in general will accurately chuck grenades from places where they shouldn't be able to see you. And once you tip off a guard in a Stealth-Based Mission, all the enemies in the level know it.
  • In Medal of Honor: Airborne, enemies know when you are scoped in while using a sniper rifle and move just out of the way. Paranoid Nazis.
  • Operation Flashpoint has enemies that will shoot you. Without any chance to see even one pixel of them even if you look exactly in the direction you see the bullet coming from. This starts going downhill but continues anyway in the later games - it isn't until ARMA II: Operation Arrowhead that the AI finally plays fair (which is rather ironic, given that the expansion's Takistan doesn't have as much foliage for the AI to magically see you through anyway).
    • In Operation Flashpoint, an AI soldier has his aiming and vision capacity very handicapped in night time... even when standing in a well-lit town or any other location where they really shouldn't be.
    • Also in Operation Flashpoint, enemies have X-ray vision with vehicles too. You can sneak into an enemy base at night and, because you are on foot, the enemies will not see you. But if you were to, say, climb inside of a parked tank, the entire base will automatically know there is a hostile tank and start shooting before you so much as turn the engine on.
    • There is one mission in which your commando must infiltrate a base. If you kill a lone soldier out on patrol with your silenced pistol, you will immediately hear an alarm go off.
  • In the Rainbow Six series, once you make a noise with an unsilenced weapon or a stray bullet ricocheting, the tangos in the area will all know your position, although they can't see you yet. And when they do see you, even if you peek around a corner, they will almost always get an instant One-Hit Kill.
  • In Soldier of Fortune: Payback's final stage, "Club Evolution", the dancefloor's disco lights are blindingly bright to you, but they don't faze the Mooks one iota.
  • In Unreal Tournament, A.I.s know when and where double damage and other valuable powerups spawn and will go for them immediately. In certain matches, this effectively means that you're forced into a metagame that revolves around continually monitoring those spots unless you enjoy facing enemies with a constant advantage on you. Good players often behave this way, too, which the AI is presumably designed to mimic.

  • City of Villains has two types of enemy ambushes: the first kind that simply run to the spot on the map where you were when you triggered it and will either run into you along the way or be waiting for you if you come back, and then the kind that make Stalkers scream bloody murder because they home in one you no matter where you go and see right through stealth even if they normally cannot.
    • The second type was also a nightmare for Masterminds before the introduction of Bodyguard - the hostile mobs would zero in on the vulnerable player and ignore the expendable pets.
  • In The Elder Scrolls Online, all enemies with ranged attacks can shoot you through walls and other obstacles, even with a plain old bow and arrow. You can in no way do the same.
  • In World of Warcraft, Mobs can actually see you from behind. While yes, you could say they simply heard you walking, but they'll do it from about twenty feet away. But even worse than this? Mobs can see you through walls. As long as you step into their aggro range, a mob will come screaming at you, whether it makes any sense or not. This was particularly bad underwater, like in a shipwreck, adding to the infuriating nature of underwater quests.
    • Stealth won't always save you either. In fact, some enemies have a larger radius for detecting stealthed players than their normal one.
  • World of Warships gives the bot ships an unlimited sight range so they always know where player ships are (although in order to fire, they need to actually see the target), and unlimited torpedo detection so that bots have at least some chances to dodge them. Unlike most games, this is actually done not only to make human vs A.I. fights less of a Curb-Stomp Battle every time, but to make the fights less frustrating: before the introduction of all-seeing bots, too many a Coop game would end in players gathered in one corner, with one or two bots blindly wandering on the opposite side of the map instead of coming towards the players for actual battle.

  • Heroes of the Storm offers up an amusing variation. A.I. bots know exactly where you are if you're cloaked note , but do not realize you're there if you're hiding in concealing terrain like tall grass. If you're cloaked and hiding in said terrain, the former overrides the latter and the A.I knows where you are.

    Party Games 

    Platform Games 
  • Downplayed in Iji. Enemies have "sight" and "hearing" systems that determine when they notice Iji, which makes it possible to sneak up on them when their back is turned, but on the other hand an "active" enemy will always know where she is, even if there's a platform between them (until they give up pursuit a few seconds later). The same applies to active turrets, which will always face the direction where Iji is, even when a platform blocks sight. This can be used in some cases to make the turret face a wall, wait for it to shut down, and crack it from behind.

    Puzzle Games 
  • Puyo Puyo! 15th Anniversary features the Searchlight mode, where, outside of Fever mode, the field is entirely obscured outside of a section that is visible through a rotating flashlight. The AI is completely unaffected by this. The same thing happens in Puyo Puyo Tetris, where Searchlight is one of the possible powerups that can be used on opponents in Party mode.

    Racing Games 
  • The Driver series frequently features opponents who always know where you are, no matter how fast you run or how many times you change cars.
  • Inverted in Mario Kart Wii, with the view-obscuring Blooper Ink interface screw. For regular players, it makes it hard to see what's up ahead of you, but certainly not hard to see where the track is. For computer-controlled players, however, expect to see extreme amounts of off-course racing when it happens!
    • Likewise in Mario Kart DS. You could just switch to the bottom screen for the short time that the Ink is affecting you.
    • Also in Sonic & Sega All-Stars Racing (with Banjo-Kazooie), the Pocket Rainbow, which works like the Banana Peel of Mario Kart, but instead, acts like a Blooper. This is also inverted by the Shooting Star, which makes the player's screen turn upside-down.
  • In Test Drive Unlimited there's a 90% chance that if you hit a traffic car, the police will start looking for you immediately, even when there aren't any police cars in the area.

    Real-Time Strategy 
  • Command & Conquer:
    • The Command & Conquer: Red Alert series feature Gap Generators, structures which create a permanent shroud above itself, effectively hiding anything that is covered by its radius of effect. It is somewhat effective in multiplayer for long games, because it can hide units and structures, forcing your opponents to guess what sort of attack to send your way. However, it's completely useless against AI opponents, which are omniscient and can target any specific unit or structure, even ones that it isn't supposed to see. To be fair, the AI still won't be able to send any standard aircraft to attack units/structures within the Gap Generator's field of effect. Special Weapons utilising aircraft (Paratroopers, Spy Plane, Parabombs), however, can and will be used by the AI when possible.
    • The whole "Stealth is useless in single player" theme is continued in Zero Hour and Tiberium Wars. Nothing, up to and including cloaking your entire base and any units, will stop the enemy from finding them. Sure your army may be stealthed, but without even any stealth detection units (normally required to be able to fire upon stealth), the AI will blow your men to pieces in skirmish mode.
    • Tiberian Sun also cheats in skirmish mode. No matter the difficulty, the AI knows exactly where your Construction Yard is, even if you moved it halfway across the map prior to deploying it, so long as they have seen any of your units. Even a lowly Scout Bike.
      • More annoying than this is the ability for the AI to send subterranean APCs full of engineers or other troops right into the middle of your base, even if the AI has never seen your base . When you have control over the same APCs, you can't send them anywhere that you haven't already been. A common tactic for Nod AI players in skirmish games is to rush the subterranean APCs and send one straight into your base immediately, capture your construction yard, and sell it. If you didn't manage to build a war factory and appropriate tech buildings before this happened, then you'll have no way of getting a new construction yard, essentially giving the AI the win.
    • The final DC mission of Tiberium Wars' Nod campaign is particularly notorious. If you cause a ruckus in the GDI base with Shadows, it doesn't matter in which direction you flee in. The AI will always follow the Shadows even though it clearly can't see them. If the Shadows are on the ground, the following APCs just run them down but if they are in the air, the followers just keep circling below until a Pitbull arrives and the shooting begins (since the units now can clearly see what they've been following blindly).
      • Oddly sometimes units will follow stealth units around... and then stand next to them, not attacking but frustrating your efforts to use those units.
    • Support powers from later games are a particularly egregious case.
      • The Soviet Magnetic Satellite from Red Alert 3, for example, causes a warning flare to appear in an area, after which a beam sucking enemy units into space will fire down. Good luck seeing the flare when you're currently looking at the other end of the map. If you're unlucky, the only clue you'll have that the AI used the attack is that your fleet of Shogun Battleships has suddenly disappeared. The skirmish AI, however, will always notice, and move its units away. End result: an attack that's nigh-useless against the AI, but devastating against an unlucky human. For bonus points: you cannot use support powers in areas shrouded in Fog of War (While for the AI, there is no such thing as Fog of War), and the AI is more than happy to use such powers against hidden units.
      • Similarly, all support powers cast a small flare on the ground shortly before being used. The problem is that there's no audio warning or minimap indication, so unless you happened to be looking right at the launch area, your units are as good as dead because the launch window is barely enough to give a scatter command.
      • Most annoying of all are the superweapons. They're expensive, slow to fire, and require line-of-sight to use, except for the AI, which will use them on places it shouldn't be able to see.
      • Not only this, since the AI can see the whole map and knows what you're building at all times, it will always build units to counter yours, and use its all-seeing power to constantly harass unguarded sections of your base, running away and attacking from a different direction as soon as you move towards it. It's basically been designed to be as annoying as possible.
      • One spectacularly infuriating instance is the Challenge map in which support powers charge much faster and all 15 are available instead of just 10. The AI will gleefully use everything it has against your base and units while you're still trying to figure out what to shoot at.
  • In Company of Heroes the Computer AI can see through the fog, this means that AT Guns and Mortars are able to attack your units as long as you are in range.
    • It's not as bad as it used to be though, the AI used to fire mortars at cloaked units.
  • In Warhammer 40,000: Dawn of War:
    • The Imperial Guard AIs not only have the uncanny ability to know exactly where your stealthed units are, but also the ability to place long range auspex (radar) scans right on top of them. To make matters worse, this ability has an unfairly short cooldown (for its effects, at least), and the Imperial Guard can have five HQ buildings and thus five scans, each on a separate cooldown from the others. This can be exploited by having some dummy stealthers around to attract auspex scans whilst the real stealth units do their work, but that's a waste for the most part. (It's a little less wasteful with the Tau or Space Marines, who have access to cheap stealth units.)
    • In the DoW sequels, Dark Crusade and Soulstorm, many battles will take places on large maps with multiple possible locations for a base. Part of the game is figuring out where the enemy's base is located. The AI always knows where your base is, however, and will send units to harass you from the very beginning.
    • The Eldar (among other issues) have an extremely annoying ability to cloak their buildings by building a Webway Gate next to it (and since the Gate itself is cloaked and can build units, leaving even one alive lets them stay in the game). While human players can use this to annoy other players, it's useless against the AI, since they know where to find it.
  • Oddly inverted in Metal Marines, at least in the PC version. A side loses when all three of its "bases" are destroyed. Normally, the AI will ruthlessly attack any assets of yours it "discovers", but it will completely ignore any base hidden under a camouflage unit until one of its missiles, which it fires at random locations on your map, happens to hit its location. A human player, on the other hand, will recognize the distinctive camouflage unit icon and immediately target it with a missile. This particular bit of Artificial Stupidity turns the camouflage unit into a complete Game-Breaker; you can just build a single missile launcher, fire it, let it get destroyed, and repeat this process until the AI no army left, because it never quite gets around to actually killing you.
  • In Seven Kingdoms, the AI ignores Fog of War and unexplored areas, and always knows where everything is. This becomes especially noticeable when playing as Japan, as their Seat of Power lets them see when other players target their buildings — from the other end of the map, without ever having seen that civilization before.
  • In Starcraft, the AI is aware of everything on the map, even if it can't actually target it (cloaked units, units or buildings out of sight, etc). Even then though, they can still sometimes target them. In Brood War, for example, if you're up against a Protoss AI and they have Dark Archons or High Templar, don't be surprised if one of them suddenly wanders out of their base... they have a specific target in mind and they're going for it, or die trying.
    • Terran AI always places their Comsat Scans at the exact location of your invisible units. To be fair though, it doesn't exploit its knowledge until you give it a reason to "notice" the unit, so the AI is actually doing less than a human could: stealthed units are visible to players themselves, as they blur the area they move through. Many Observers, Ghosts and Wraiths got revealed by a scan of an observant player.
    • Playing against a human in StarCraft, you can hide tech buildings in a random corner of the map where no sane player would look until he/she noticed the buildings not in your base (Which in of itself, is easily preventable); on the other hand, there's no point in hiding tech buildings from the computer. You're better off putting your entire tech tree in the back of your main base, behind your army and possible stationary defenses; ironically enough, a tactic that doesn't work against humans. (Humans just simply fly over your army and defenses and go straight for important buildings, the computer attacks the first thing it comes across.)
      • The computer will always go for your least defended base without seeming to even know where it is before the attack.
  • Blizzard really made an effort to prevent this in Starcraft II. On difficulties other than Insane, the AI does not see the entire map. But it does like to send scouts to every nook and cranny, and adapts to the units and buildings it sees.
    • In Starcraft 2 burrowed Roaches and Infestors can be seen when moving underground. Stationary stealthed units are harder to spot, and burrowed ones are truly invisible unless in the presence of a detector.
  • The Supreme Commander AI doesn't need radars or radar-equipped units to spot a cloaked ACU and blow it to hell with two tactical missiles (which aren't even homing, yet the AI always hits dead-on).
  • In Warcraft III it is impossible to hide from the AI unless you use the World Editor to make all of your units and buildings invisible. The AI knows where you are at all times, when you're away from your base, when you start making a new base and when you are at your weakest.
    • Neutral hostile creatures (called "creeps") can see through the fog of war and use their abilities on units they're not supposed to see, though this happens very rarely and with only one unit (Murloc Huntsmen); when provoked, they tend to cast Ensnare on a player-controlled Wisp (Worker Unit) that's on a tree on the other side of the patch of forest where they're at. Thankfully, this has little effect on the actual game, but it's annoying nonetheless.
  • The AI in Warcraft: Orcs and Humans and Warcraft II both fall into this trope as well. In fact, both games feature Invisibility spells that are 100% useless when playing against a computer opponent.

    Rhythm Games 
  • Inverted in Guitar Hero III, which has a battle mode famous for its Interface Screws. In this game, the attacks actually cause the AI to screw up far more than a human player would. Go ahead: try the "raise difficulty" attack on an easy portion of a song. The AI will still miss half the notes, even if they all happen to be green.

    Role-Playing Games 
  • The AI in Baldur's Gate is coded so that it always knows where your characters are, but isn't allowed to target any being outside its sight range or under an invisibility effect. This makes stealth completely useless beyond a certain level because the AI is programmed to counter invisibility effects with the spell True Sight. This means that when you enter a mage's sight radius while stealthed it will immediately cast True Sight and dispel it, revealing that the AI always knew you were there.
    • In the second game there is a cloak that makes the user immune to any form of magical detection, preventing enemies from succeeding with this trick. However they will still twitch and cast it over and over, showing that they know you are there and they would attack you if only the programming would allow it.
  • The Elder Scrolls series is notorious for this, having a number of variations on it in each game. To note:
    • City Guards have this to varying degrees throughout the series. Commit a crime anywhere near one, and there is a good chance you'll get a bounty even if there is no possible way your crime was witnessed. As with most things, this has improved over the course of the series along with general improvements to the AI, though it is still quite common.
    • In Daggerfall, enemies can see you from entirely different floors and through closed doors.
    • Morrowind:
      • Merchants and guards have another kind of clairvoyance — every item has its owner's name hard-coded inside, so when you steal something (ownership doesn't change), even if no one sees you and no alarms are raised, ALL guards all over the world will know that it's stolen and should you be arrested for any reason, even for something completely unrelated, the guards will also confiscate the previously stolen item. Similarly, a merchant will recognize an item if you try to sell them back what you stole from them, even if it is a single arrow in a 300 arrow stock. The merchant will turn hostile and your crime will be reported to any nearby guards as well.
      • Further complicating matters is that the owner hard-coding can cause legitimately acquired items of the same type to appear stolen. If you, for example, steal a loaf of bread from one merchant and then eat/discard/sell it to another merchant, then legitimately acquire another loaf of bread and return to the merchant you originally stole from they will accuse you of trying to sell them THEIR loaf of bread. For the rest of the game this will remain the case with that merchant and that item. For this reason, when playing as a thief, it's a good idea to not steal from every merchant you meet.
    • Oblivion:
      • Any time you kill someone even in the same general area of a guard, regardless of whether or not they see or hear you, you get a bounty on your head. Even if you're completely invisible, they'll still know you did it. Fortunately, their pathfinding in their attempts to arrest you doesn't benefit from this clairvoyance...
      • Enemies know exactly where you are even if you 1-shotted their friend with a Stealth shot from a bow (even if they were looking away from you and their friend AND there's no way they could see your hiding spot), and killing a guard gets you an automatic bounty even without a witness.
    • Skyrim:
      • Often, even when the enemy you just killed is a totally blind Falmer, whom you killed with a stealth attack, with a bow, from 500 yards away, instantly, his friends (who are also totally blind) will all begin running STRAIGHT towards you with laser-perfect accuracy. All at once. It can get pretty ridiculous sometimes.
      • Another striking example are the "Hired Thug" groups that are sent after you in retribution for stealing stuff. They slowly and magnetically home in on you, no matter where in the game world you are. Even if you manage to fool them for a moment, they will only roam around disoriented for a couple of seconds - afterwards, all of them will turn your way again. And slowly start creeping towards your new position. Invisibility potions, shadow, heavy fog, perfect stealth, cliffs and 10foot-thick rock cover be damned.
      • Guards will also home in on you with perfect accuracy (regardless of your concealment) to complain about your Shouting. Even if you just used Aura Whisper (which, as the name suggests, is a barely heard whispering) to spot the guards in the Dwemer Museum. Who will, after telling you to stop, promptly attack you for trespassing.
      • Even more egregious, you can silently sneak into a house, pocket a small item, and escape undetected, and there's still a chance that the item's owner will hire thugs to track you down by name! Even worse, they may call upon the Dark Brotherhood, a top-tier assassin's guild, to assassinate you. This can happen even if the victim is a simple farmer and the stolen item is a tomato. Disproportionate retribution, indeed.
  • In Fallout 3 being caught committing a crime or act of bad karma, such as pickpocketing, theft, murder, breaking and entering, or using the Mesmetron to enslave someone, will immediately alert all the people in the location and turn them hostile.
    • Also, after getting a certain level of karma (either good or bad) you get hitmen sent after you. The first encounter is a scripted encounter that comes after you exit a metro station some time after attaining the required karma level. And they will find you. It doesn't matter if you're wearing the Chinese Stealth Suit at that moment, they'll walk right up to you and tell you they're going to kill you.
    • A minor example in Fallout: New Vegas: using silenced weapons in hiding can let you get away with killing people, but killing certain high-ranking NPCs will always earn you infamy and make members of that faction or town hostile. In the case of the NCR and Legion, killing one of their leaders will cause them to declare you a terrorist and become permanently hostile. Although the trope is in play with gameplay, it makes sense from a story perspective, as those characters are well guarded, so the player character is the only one with the opportunity and motive to kill them in the course of the game. The two major factions also send hitmen after you in scripted encounters ("The Caesar has marked you for death, ready yourself for battle!"); like Fallout 3, they always track you down once you enter their patrol areas, even if you are in Sneak mode.
      • Inexplicably, the member of the Boomers using the artillery cannon can always tell where you are even if you're in hiding and using a Stealth Boy.
      • At the end of the Dead Money DLC, if you try to shortcut out of the vault, Elijah will automatically detect you and reactivate the force fields and turrets.
      • The Nightstalkers, Cazadores, Cyberdogs, and even Lobotomites in Old World Blues have ridiculously high perception that allows them to detect the player a half-mile away even when they have a stealthboy on.
  • An example that can be turned to the player's advantage; if you give any party members a "Foe: <Element>-weak" gambit in Final Fantasy XII, your allies will always know when the enemy is weak to that element, even if the enemy has immunity from the Libra effect (that reveals weaknesses).
    • Inverted in Final Fantasy Tactics A2: the player can see enemies' reaction abilities, but the AI can't. This leads to the AI wasting turns by doing things like using normal attacks on units whose reaction ability makes them always dodge normal attacks.
  • Tales of Link is notorious for the AI only turning on tile targeting attacks (which often do significantly more damage) when you are about to get those tiles. It will never try this when you're about to get tiles it wouldn't hit.

    Simulation Games 
  • Dwarf Fortress:
    • Goblin invaders automatically know the shortest way into your fortress. The game is a good illustration of how omniscient pathing can be CPU-expensive — especially with reproducing creatures, which is known as "catsplosion". And how it can be exploited: Dorf Fortress players being what they are, they figured out that if you keep two ways into your fortress and alternately open and shut the doors hostiles approach, it's possible to get the gobbos marching back and forth through your hallways full of giant swinging axe blades and walls of rotating saws until the entire siege is reduced to a fine paste. And that with one Pressure Plate per exit you can automate it and they will never catch on.
    • Also, the dwarfs always know the shortest route, even if they've never been where you tell them to go. They can't see an ambushing enemy that hasn't been spotted, but once it's spotted every dwarf will know where it is from then on.
    • Interestingly, with civilizations sending diplomats it also partially compensates for the exploitable part. Goblin soldiers will gladly blunder into your traps time and time again. Piss off the humans, though, and their soldiers will remember and avoid every trap any their peaceful representative has ever seen.
  • In Mount & Blade AI does not have its vision hurt by foggy/night battlefield. As the player is the only one that can use archers properly without Warband's AI upgrades (that is, put them on top of a hill and wait for the enemy), this tends to be in your favor.
  • If you kill a baby or eat an egg in Spore, the entire species will know. Always.
  • In Pro Cycling Manager 2014, the AI can tell the difference between whether you have one rider relaying the regular way or a rider up front using individual effort to relay. This can actually work in the player's advantage, since the AI has a tendency to go into douchebag mode and relay harder than the player wants, but only if the player also relays, and stop immediately when the player does. Using this, it's possible to relay without dealing with annoying AI.
  • Rimworld has similar pathfinding AI to Dwarf Fortress, in the sense that raiding parties always know where your own colonists and/or most valuable stores can be found and move towards the nearest ones automatically, but the AI storyeller can take this even further and send "smart" raiders who will actively avoid pathing into range of your turrets. This was added specifically to counter an exploit whereby players would deliberately leave an opening in the perimeter wall and use it to bait enemy attackers into a killbox.

    Stealth Games 
  • Redcoats in Assassin's Creed III are particularly good at tracking Connor through the busy streets of such bustling Colonial cities as New York and Boston, even if you dive under a fence, through a back yard, climb onto a roof and drop down onto the deck of a ship, you can bet at least one persistent Brit managed to follow you, and the rest are all figuring out another way to get to you. The only way to shake them is to either escape outside their search range, or to get out of their line of sight and dive into a hiding place, such as a pile of hay or cart full of greenery.
    • Averted by Assassin's Creed: Odyssey: getting caught by a guard won't automatically alert every single one in the area. They have to shout their discovery of you first, and even that can be averted by them being out of earshot or you killing them non-stealthily before they can do it. You can even get into long-winded and hectic fights with multiple guards, defeat them all, then hide all their bodies and resume stealth because all the guards on the other side of the fort aren't aware of what happened. This helps greatly in making stealth viable even after you get caught.
      • That said, it's played straight with Mercenaries: get a bounty on you and a Mercenary will know about it and head to your position, no matter where you are. It works in the opposite direction too: remove the bounty by killing the person who set it, or by paying it from the Map screen, and the Mercenary will automatically know about it even if he's miles away from the bounty setter. Gets hilarious if a mercenary approaches you and you pause, pay off the Bounty, and unpause to see them turn 180 and walk away like they suddenly decided they're not actually interested in killing you.
  • As soon as you reveal that there's an intruder in Deus Ex, even if you don't telegraph your position (say, by shooting someone in the head with a silenced pistol from behind cover), everyone comes running straight for you.
    • In the sequel, since the Omar are a Hive Mind, if you kill one, the entire race turns against you.
  • Notable in Hitman 2: Silent Assassin, which being a Stealth-Based Game is generally pretty good in this respect, is the snow pass level: the developers apparently forgot that a blizzard, at night ought to have some effect on the ninjas' ability to spot you; they're also preset to realize that your papers are fake and open fire after a five-second animation - even if you walk away and are well out of sight by the time they're done reading them. It gets worse with the snipers in watchtowers. Even if you are wearing a ninja uniform that completely covers your face, from hundreds of feet away they will instantly recognize you as an impostor and shoot you on sight.
  • In Hitman: Blood Money, if 47 must avoid or kill a rival assassin before they can kill him, said rival always instantly sees through 47's current disguise, no matter what it is or how low the alert meter is.
  • Guards in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops are practically psychic. Even if you're playing as one of them, wearing the same face-obscuring uniform, with the same equipment, if anything suspicious happens, such as an explosion, they will instantly know you were behind it, even if it would be completely impossible for any of them to have seen you plant the bomb.
  • Averted in Perfect Dark with the tranquilizer. When human players are hit, the screen goes blurry and it becomes hard to see. When the AI is hit, they essentially lose their ability to see entirely, resulting in them firing their guns at everything except you.
    • If you enter a lit area with your night vision goggles, it becomes blurry and impossible to see. In one stage, if the lights go out in a place where the female guards are wearing night vision goggles and you turn the lights back on, they are also blinded and are unable to shoot you.
  • Splinter Cell
    • If you blow your cover in the first three games, all enemies in the vicinity will instantly know your position and will shoot you if you're in their line of sight, light and shadow be damned. One glaring example is in the second mission of the first game, in a scripted event with three alert enemy soldiers: even if Sam is perfectly hidden and undetectable, when a soldier with his rifle raised walks around the office, he'll point his gun unerringly at where Sam is hidden.
    • Conviction refined this; enemies now fire and search Sam's last known position, allowing him to sneak around and flank them. Sam himself gains "Sonic Goggles" that let him see enemies through walls. In the very level he gets them, he faces foes armed with similar devices.
  • In Thief: The Dark Project and Thief II: The Metal Age, if you alert an NPC and then hide in a dark area, the NPC will always end up walking directly towards your precise location while "searching".
  • In the Syphon Filter series, enemies can detect you in pitch blackness even if they lack night vision goggles.
  • In the Batman Arkham games Predator rooms, the mooks always know where you are, this can be tested by sitting on a gorgoyle or other "hidden" position while using the Remote batarang on the other side of the room to pester the henchmen, eventually one of them will get fed up, shout "he's over here", run across the room/map, look up and "find" you.

    Survival Horror 
  • In Day One: Garry's Incident, the A.I. can see you clear across the map, unhindered by the huge jungle full of trees and foliage. This results in a lot of abrupt attacks from out of nowhere. At other times, the A.I. will completely ignore you when you're standing right in front of them.
  • If you cause an explosion or some loud noise in Dying Light, a fast zombie will literally burst out of nowhere and zero in on you, even if you're miles away from the explosion point, or dozens of feet above them. Note that the Volatiles, which hunt you down during the night aren't that good and will even lose track of you if you get away.
  • Piggy: Bots have this built well into their AI:
    • Prior to Sewers, the fifth chapter in the second book of the game, all piggy bots always knew the location of all players, and would always be moving in the direction of the closest player. Alfis, the bot of chapter 5 of the second book, finally broke this by only following players in his sight.
    • All piggy bots are completely immune to the flare tool, which causes a large Interface Screw on player piggies that pass over it.
  • In S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl, it's averted: NPC's only know what they can see or hear, so if you get out of their line of perception and stay quiet, they'll base their tactics on where they last saw or heard you. The problem is that their perception radius is absurd and pinpoint accurate, so once you blow your cover, all nearby enemies will know exactly where you did so. Fortunately, this is fixed in just about every mod out there (by reducing their perception radius to more reasonable levels), except for Oblivion Lost, when the AI gets Improbable Aiming Skills and can see you from a hundred meters away in pitch darkness.
  • Pretty much all Resident Evil games utilize this. Though enemies are often inactive until you run into their line of sight or make noise that alerts them to your presence, once they know you're there they'll relentlessly zero in on you and never not know where you are no matter how far away you get. This isn't very glaring in earlier games where rooms are small enough that it's reasonable they'd know where you went, but it really sticks out in the larger maps of the newer games: once a Ganado, Majini, or J'avo has spotted you they'll do nothing but constantly and actively track your current position no matter how far away you run or where you hide.
    • The Gamecube Remake of Resident Evil subverts this with Crimson Heads, and only Crimson Heads. Any other monster in the game needs to either be alerted to your presence (either by sound or by seeing you), or doesn't turn aggressive unless you get too close or antagonize it like the crows. Crimson Heads on the other hand always know you're there: the second you enter an area where one is it's already sprinting toward you. This is balanced by how their corpses don't get back on their feet until you draw close to one, making it possible to stay far enough away from them to prevent them from getting up depending on where you felled them, but once one is up it's up for good.
  • Played straight and subverted in Alien: Isolation, which actually uses two separate AIs working in tandem to hunt you. The Xenomorph relies entirely on its field of vision and hearing to detect the player, but there also exists a separate "director" AI that always knows where you are. Every so often the director will give "hints" to the Xenomorph that send it in your general direction, and from there it's up to it to find and kill you with its own sight and hearing. This gives you just enough of a chance of evading it that the game remains fair, but also ensures that it's always nearby no matter how quiet and well-hidden you are. If you have just shy of a half-hour to kill, this video goes into indepth detail to how it works.

    Survival Sandbox 
  • The hostiles in Minecraft are like this, but only after they've already spotted you the normal way. Then they can track your movement through any kind of wall and even explode from behind a thin wall. Results in Artificial Stupidity in that transparent blocks like glass count as walls, so mobs cannot see you through glass unless you've already been spotted through just air.
    • Played straight with Spiders and their poisonous relatives Cave Spiders. They can sense you through walls.
  • In Unturned, once you've been detected, zombies are extremely hard to shake and will home in on your location regardless of line of sight or sound. Stand on top of a hangar with a horde of zombies chasing you at the northwest corner, crawl over the top to the southeast corner and watch the horde run around or through the building to your position.

    Third-Person Shooter 
  • In the middle of the Rub' al Khali desert in Uncharted 3: Drake's Deception, a sandstorm stirs up as the player reaches Ubar. In the middle of the firefight (with a mounted turret, even) it's almost impossible to see a few feet past Drake, forcing the player to pay attention to the direction of the shots and make blind fire toward their general direction. Meanwhile, no matter how skillfully the player flanks the enemy or darts about the arena, they will always be tracked and targeted with accuracy by the AI.
  • Warframe has this as a gameplay element, in a sense. Enemies won't know you are nearby (and are pretty bad at noticing the technicolor ninja with glowing lights) at first, but if you are detected, the enemies in the area will all become alerted and react in this way- and if one of them reaches a terminal to activate an alarm it'll cause every enemy for the rest of the level to automatically know where you are once you enter their area. Additionally, bosses and their spawned minions are automatically "alerted".
  • Splatoon 2: The Salmonids know exactly where any Inklings are hiding, whether they're behind walls or within their ink. Mr. Grizz explains in-game that this is because Salmonids can smell and track down Inklings wherever they are.

    Turn-Based Strategy 
  • In Battle for Wesnoth, subjecting the AI to Fog of War is not yet implemented. This is probably why the single-player campaigns don't use Fog of War most of the time.
  • Oftentimes in Civilization, the computer will send out settlers to claim every strategic resource they can find before you can. This includes resources that only become visible later in the Tech Tree.
    • It kind of does this for you as well. In Civ 4, at least, the game will suggest where to settle your city, and sometimes it is suggesting a place where you will find iron/coal/uranium/etc later on.
  • In the Fire Emblem games that feature Fog of War, enemy and AI units can target units hidden by the Fog of War. This is most obvious in Hector Hard Mode's "Living Legend," where Pent will actively seek out enemies neither you nor he can see.
  • The AI in the Heroes of Might and Magic series ignores Fog of War. While the programming at lower difficulty levels covers this up quite well (as the AI has intentionally screwed-up priorities for what it will and will not do, and thus picks targets more at random which apes a player not knowing the map), at higher difficulty levels the AI will beeline for priority targets that would be hidden to a human player in the same position.

    Turn-Based Tactics 
  • Advance Wars AI is often unaffected by Fog of War: they still can't target enemies hidden in forest/reefsnote  and don't factor in the health of enemy units out of their supposed vision (making it effectively the same as not knowing it), but still know where every unit is.
    • This can also result in the AI frequently making incredibly stupid moves, such as prioritizing high-health enemies, even when weaker infantry are in the process of capturing their HQ (which causes them to instantly lose).
    • This was somewhat addressed in Dual Strike: while the enemy still knows exactly where your units are if they’re not in cover, it now follows the rules of engagement regarding only being able to attack units within its own vision range, meaning rockets can no longer snipe you from halfway across the map when the enemy has no other units close to you. It wouldn’t be until Days of Ruin, however, that the playing field would be truly leveled, forcing the enemy to play by the exact same rules as you.
  • X-COM: UFO Defense: As soon as an alien sees one of your soldiers, their Ethereals and/or high-ranking Sectoids can make psionic attacks on any of your soldiers (although they will always target the weakest non-mindcontrolled soldier first). Also, after round 20 the enemy will know your positions automatically.
    • Though the second case is understandable as an Anti-Frustration Feature, if the last alien wasn't found after 20 turns it might be very boring to track him down, so if he knows where you are and comes for you it gets much better. The problem comes when you're going at an alien base or very large UFO that'll probably take more than 20 turns to clear...
    • Experienced players would choose to set up a defensive position outside of a UFO and simply wait out the aliens. After 20 turns, the aliens would unfailingly throw any form of tactical approach aside and begin to exit the ship, allowing entrenched agents to mow them down en masse.
    • Surprisingly averted in the game's remake XCOM: Enemy Unknown, however. The alien AI can only take into account the troops that it has seen, and will occasionally make glaring tactical missteps as a result. If an alien can see one of your troopers going for a flank attack, it will probably reposition to prevent it; if they don't know the soldier is there until he starts firing, you can probably expect an easy kill.
    • Unfortunately, when the remake's Expansion Pack gives an invisibility power available for your soldiers, the aliens actually know where they are and will actively try to expose them (through flanking or destroying their cover).
    • In XCOM2, aliens can use their AOE attacks against stealthed soldiers, at least when they have no other target. On Legendary difficulty, if your team travels too far while in concealment, the alien teams will converge on the player and deliberately avoid triggering overwatch until they've gathered a large numbers advantage. This is clearly to discourage treating it like a stealth game, but is not explained to the player at all (e.g. saying the aliens have found your team's tracks).
  • At the highest difficulty level, the practice AI in Atlas Reactor ignores the invisibility buff and will hit Nix, PuP, Kaigin or anyone standing in invisibility panels with 100% accuracy.
  • The Wargroove AI is immune to fog of war. While it can be told to play defensively and only attack if you get within range, the AI will immediately attack once one of their units is in range of one of yours, whether those units' vision range actually let them see you or not.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • The Grand Theft Auto series frequently features opponents who always know where you are, no matter how fast you run or how many times you change cars.
    • In Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, the mere act of throwing a grenade is very likely to net you a wanted level star as soon as it leaves your hand, even if you do it in the quietest portions of the backwoods or in the middle of the desert, where no NPC's spawn.
    • A particularly egregious example involves information only the player is supposed to have. It's bad enough the cops in Grand Theft Auto IV already manage to appear within their own line-of-sight of you just as you're getting out of their "arrest zone", but it becomes even more blatant when they appear specifically on a GPS route you've laid out for yourself.
    • Grand Theft Auto V has a few notable examples:
      • The police will still triangulate a player that has killed a NPC or another player, despite using a silenced weapon, avoiding public view, the distance the shot was fired from, and hiding behind solid walls. Police appear to know where and who to arrest within a second of committing a crime.
      • In the President's Run, the cops know your position from the very start.
      • Sometimes you are asked to assassinate a target, with the target being programmed to run / drive away as soon as they are threatened. Often these targets will feel threatened by an unseen player aiming a sniper reticule at them from half a block away...
  • In Just Cause 2, causing any sabotage will set off the alarm, no matter where you are, even if you caused the sabotage by setting off a C4 in the next island, and even if you did not even cause the sabotage to happen. However, even if they do know where you are, if they can't physically see and shoot at you while you're there, eventually they'll actually forget about you.
  • Throughout the Saints Row series, if you have enough notoriety, the rival gangs and cops will always track you down, no matter how far you run. This gets ridiculous (albeit justified, since you're in a computer simulation run by the Big Bad) in Saints Row IV, where you can pretty much jump across the entire city in a snap and the Zin will keep chasing you.
    Other Games 
  • Tomodachi Life's VS Memory Match. The Miis know exactly where the matches are without one look at the board.
  • In Pocket Tanks, there are a number of weapons that will randomize a tank's gun angle and power. These are of course completely useless against AI tanks, which always know the angle and power for a perfect trajectory even in gale-force winds that switch direction every turn.

Non-video game examples

    Western Animation 
  • In the TV series ReBoot (which was set in a computer and involved the main characters trying to beat the user in uploaded games), hero Bob would often use his keytool to scan the game, which would tell him the game's details, the number of lives the User had, and where the User was at all times, effectively invoking this trope in-universe.


Video Example(s):


Forbidden Memories

Footage taken from a video essay by ThaRixer. (<br><br>Yu-Gi-Oh!: Forbidden Memories is notorious for the unforgiving RNG it has, and the final gauntlet of battles exemplify that. They all have cards that cannot be beaten by anything that the player has access to (especially since this game does not have effect monsters which, in any other YGO game, would let cards with lower attack power at least stand a chance). And to make matters worse, they have ways to make sure those cards are drawn. Beating the game means getting lucky several times in a row.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / LuckBasedMission

Media sources: