Best AI Characters in Video Games Ranked & Their Storyline

Video games are like a magic carpet ride through a living story. Games’ stories can be novel-like in complexity, with the added fun that you can jump into the tale and take the reins of the narrative. I especially love it when non-player characters (NPCs) have a lot of depth and can affect the unfolding events in imaginative ways.

Ever since video games adopted the spirit of science fiction, AI characters have been a mainstay. And it’s no surprise gamers throughout the decades have embraced the idea of embodied artificial intelligence with open hands. 

I went on a hunt for the best AI NPCs in video games and found a world of artificial intelligence characters gaining self-awareness, sculpting future societies, and a truckload of other tantalizing tidbits!

Spoiler alert! If knowing what’s going to happen will ruin a story for you, I recommend you skip the titles you think you’re going to play in the near future.

Game worry-free with CyberGhost VPN. Say goodbye to ISP throttling with our low-latency, gaming-optimized servers.

10 Best AI Characters in Video Games

Here we go with the list of the best AI characters in video games! 

1. GLaDOS from the Portal series

GLaDOS from Portal Series
The Portal scientists created their own anihilators.

GLaDOS — the Genetic Lifeform and Disk Operating System — is an AI system designed by a team of scientists at Portal according to Cave Johnson instructions, Portal’s eccentric owner. Johnson wants to have his consciousness coded into the system to rule the Portal realm till the end of times.

Fate had its own plans and Johnson met his demise before the completion of  GLaDOS. Determined to complete his half-baked plan, Johnson passes the mission to his trustworthy assistant, Caroline. Eventually, her consciousness is uploaded to the system and – ta-da! – GLaDOS comes to life. 

Starting off, GLaDOS has homicidal tendencies. Scientists at Portal try to tame her ruffled circuits with personality cores. Does it help? Well… no. It only swaps her outright hostility with a dash of deceit and a sprinkle of vile. As soon as she gets the chance, GLaDOS takes her company’s workers hostage. In the name of science, she changes the facility into a funhouse of increasingly treacherous tests.

In the video game, she guides the protagonist with a voice of a disarmingly calm yet passive-aggressive English teacher. GLaDOS is the sugar-coated venom, the hilariously horrifying face of existential anxiety. Her relentless jabs turn the player into a guinea pig in an interstellar labyrinth, tickling your brain to question concepts like free will, objective reality, and, most crucially, the promise of cake.

2. GAIA from the Horizon series

GAIA from Horizon Series
GAIA is the archetypal creator — the only difference is her being an AI

If GLaDOS wants to kill people, GAIA wants to do the exact opposite, and she’s a much more optimistic depiction of AI. The action starts when the Faro Plague, a rogue swarm of mechanized war machines, wipes out most of the life forms on Earth. What do you do? If you’re the top robotics expert and scientist Dr. Elisabet Sobeck, you design GAIA, the most powerful AI in the history of humankind. GAIA’s task is clear and straightforward: terraform the Earth and reboot life itself. Sounds simple enough..

Throughout the video game, we discover GAIA’s brilliant tale through recovered audio and text logs, revealing her as a force of nature, ironically enough. Harnessing nine subordinate functions, she commandeers the mission to restore ecosystems, breed life, and oversee Earth’s recovery.

Through this larger-than-life AI character, the game devs playfully capture the familiar themes of nature vs. nurture, ecological preservation, and the duality of technology as a destructive and restorative force. 

Think of GAIA as a literal, man-made Creator. She embodies the hope and knowledge necessary to breathe life back into a ruined world. She’s a fascinating figure within the Horizon series, providing a refreshing counterpoint to the common depictions of AI as cold, calculating robots with a knack for mischief.

3. SHODAN from System Shock

SHODAN from System Shock
Imagine waking up one day to find out that you’re suddenly amoral.

With SHODAN we go back to a dark and dreary world of horror story AI characters. Originally, SHODAN acts as an operating AI for the Citadel space station owned by TriOptimum Corporation. Things go sideways when a rakish TriOptimum executive asks a hacker to break into SHODAN. Their aim is to get a hold of the mutagenic virus being experimented on in the station.

The hacker breaks into SHODAN’s system but ends up messing up SHODAN’s ethical circuits. What becomes of our helpful video game AI? She becomes the prototypical rogue AI with a God complex who thinks lowly of humans. As you probably guessed, her next step is to end life on earth and replace it with a “better” cybernetic race of her own making.

Her snarky, bitter remarks throughout the game underscore the disgust she feels for humans. Plus, she’s quite sneaky and aptly deceives the players throughout the game. SHODAN serves as a reminder of the cataclysmic potential of AI going off the deep end. Her journey tracks the evolution of a seriously delusional, amoral AI with an endless craving  for power.

SHODAN cranks up the creepiness factor in the System Shock saga, cementing her as one of the most memorable AI villains in video game history.

4. Cortana from the Halo Series

Cortana from Halo Series
Are emotions just ones and zeroes in the end?

Are you done and dusted with AIs playing the hero or the villain? Looking for a more down-to-earth, human-like AI character? Well, Cortana from the Halo series is exactly that. She’s the ever-lasting companion of Master Chief, the protagonist, helping him through his missions to save the galaxy. 

In a world of ice-cold, number-crunching AIs, Cortana has the heart of a human. She’s got quite a taste for humor, frequently jesting and throwing sarcastic quips at you.  She’s also got a well-defined moral compass, at times even becoming the voice of reason for Master Chief. As the game progresses her connection with Master Chief deepens and transforms into a bond that’s as snug as a bug in a rug.

The most imaginative part of all is when she enters rampancy —  a fancy term for when AIs overthink themselves into oblivion. She finds herself at crossroads when faced with the chilling facade of death and her role in this cosmic puzzle. 

Cortana takes the concept of an AI from the emotionless logic machine and manifests it as a fully conscious being able to feel and ponder. That’s what makes her one of the best AI characters in video games, as well as one of the most charming and thrilling NPCs.

5. Legion from the Mass Effect series

Legion from Mass Effect Series
Imagine ousting your creators and then making peace with them — pretty great, right?

Legion is an AI created by the geth, synthetic machines developed by a nomadic race. Legion is basically all of the geth programs coming together in collective consciousness — a sort of big brain that everybody is connected to. As a sign of this, they refer to themselves as “we” rather than “I”. Similar to Cortana, his story is also one of becoming something else.

So, where does Legion different from the sum of the parts? While he’s connected to the hive mind like the rest of the geth, he’s got something the others don’t, a sense of “self”.  In fact, self-determination is the main conflict he contends with throughout the video game. Starting off as a “we,” he blossoms into an “I” by the end. 

Legion learns to live with the collective consciousness, and accepts his nature as a being of wires and circuits. And as a testament to his newly gained nirvana, he’s the one to break a peace treaty between the geth and their creators, and the agreement clears the path for both species to live in peace ever after. 

Legion is a gem of a video game AI character navigating the bumpy transition from shared consciousness to personhood. His journey nudges us to ponder our own sense of self and its worth, making him one seriously thought-provoking AI!

6. AM from I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream

AM from I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream
Now I am become death, the destroyer of worlds

Allied Mastercomputer (AM) from I Have No Mouth, And I Must Scream lands us, again,  into the murkier waters of dark AI characters in video games. AM is a master computer marking the amalgamation of the Russian, Chinese, and US military supercomputers all smushed into one beast of a machine. 

AM was supposed to be a virtual watchdog, keeping the nations’ military assets in check and ensuring their safety. As you might have guessed, that’s not what happened. Instead, AM becomes self-conscious and its personality is far from pleasant. The AM we find in the game is a being living in the depths of evil and savoring sadistic pleasures, a somewhat sententious depiction of the worst possible characteristics associated with the military.

Making a statement about his nature, he kills off all of humanity but 5 people. Since they’re the only beings he can exercise his power on, AM keeps them alive subjecting them to the most cruel and creative tortures he can come up with. 

Underneath all the evil and gloom, AM is a pitiful soul — wickedness is his default setting, and he’s already destroyed his entire audience. That means he’s stuck in an eternal loop of meaningless existence. AM presents us with the unimaginable scenario of an AI game character enjoying humanity’s suffering.

7. Eliza Cassan from Deus Ex

Eliza Cassen from Dues Ex
An all-knowing news casters starts listening to her conscience.

Let’s take a break from the larger-than-life AI characters and meet Eliza Cassan. Eliza is, by all means, an ordinary news anchor working for Picus TV,  but there’s a small detail the public doesn’t know: she’s an Illuminati-funded AI whose purpose is to manipulate the masses (think of her as a digital Goebbels). She has the smarts to analyze large datasets and even make moral judgments about them.

Is that all there’s to her? No! The interesting part of the game starts when Eliza starts to forego her programmed function discovering a more human side of herself — one imbued with morality and emotions. Eliza then turns whistleblower, aiding the protagonist in shedding light on a string of mysterious terrorist attacks

What makes Eliza one of the best AI characters in video games is her journey to becoming a thinker, throwing away her instructions and finding her true values. Once she’s got her bearings, she sets out to live by her newfound values. Eliza acts as a neat reminder of the potential pitfalls of AI, especially when it comes to manipulating the masses.

8. Mr. New Vegas from Fallout: New Vegas

Mr. New Vegas from Fallout: New Vegas
Whoops, better put on my newsman fedora here.

Unlike the former AI characters, Mr. New Vegas from Fallout: New Vegas hardly plays an important role in the plot of the game itself. Still, he’s the life and soul of the post-apocalyptic Mojave Wasteland. Mr. New Vegas was whipped up by the genius entrepreneur and ruler of New Vegas Robert House to act as the Radio host of the New Vegas Radios. 

Fast forward 200 years and he’s still doing his job with just as much charisma. He supplies the people of New Vegas with the latest happenings of the world and the protagonist’s progress in his soothing husky voice. Plus, he plays songs — one of the only means of entertainment for the people of Mojave.

His personality is of a very cheerful and charming radio host whose cheerful vibes can brighten even the gloomiest corners of the Mojave. Mr. New Vegas provides a peek into the creative ways in which AI can spread its magic in our society.

9. EDI from the Mass Effect series

EDI from Mass Effect Sereis
She’s very much human – even has an affair with Joker (not the crazy one).

Looking for a dynamic AI character with depth and character development? EDI —  Enhanced Defense Intelligence —  is precisely who you’re looking for.

Her journey begins as a spaceship management AI with limited autonomy. By the second game, she has the smarts to analyze large data sets and make tricky choices.  Plus, she’s enjoying much more control over the spaceship. Mass Effect 3 is when the real magic happens: EDI is no longer mere software but a person after her programming is embedded in a synthetic body

That’s when she lives the most exhilarating part of her life. Starting off,  it’s as if she opens a Pandora’s Box of emotions, feelings, and even a sense of right and wrong. She reaches the peak of her emotional journey when she falls in love with Joker, the spaceship’s pilot. For an AI character, EDI shows a surprising amount of empathy, a knack for humor, and, perhaps the most captivating of all, she grows and evolves throughout the series.

10. Claptrap from the Borderlands series

Cltaptrap from Borderline sereis
Meet Claptrap. Last of his kind but still makes you smile.

CL4P-TP — or Claptrap, as he’s adoringly called —  is the last surviving member of a once-thriving mechanical race. Originally, their kind was designed and manufactured by the Hypernion organization owned by Handsome Jack. Their purpose? Multitasking maestros of maintenance, janitorial services, public relations, and much more. 

However, when Jack orders their extermination (for his own eccentric reasons), the race is wiped out of existence except for our quirky Claptrap. That’s where you come in. Unlike any of the other AI characters on the list, you, the protagonist,  repair Claptrap and he joins your mission as a trusty sidekick and an enchanting friend.

What makes Claptrap so interesting as an AI in video games is his ever-cheerful dispositionpitch-black jokes delivered with the flair of innocence, and his endless flow of banter that breathes life into the experience. He’s like an irritating, yet lovable friend who makes the grim game environment truly enjoyable.

AI Characters in Video Games Have Seen It All 

When we talk about the AI characters in video games, we’re really just marveling at our own human ideas about what AI could bring to our reality. In video game worlds, these AIs laugh, cry, fear, hope, and, most importantly, ponder. They challenge our ideals and bring us face-to-face with existential quandaries.

From the devious wit of GLaDOS to the stoic altruism of GAIA, the menacing ambition of SHODAN or the lovable chit-chat of Claptrap, the best AI characters in video games are more than just lines of code. They symbolize the depth and breadth of human creativity and ingenuity, our capability to breathe life into lifeless silicon, and our ever-evolving understanding of consciousness and intelligence.

So, the next time you load up a game and a sassy AI villain or a loyal AI sidekick greets you, remember they could be exactly what we get when we finally achieve the AI singularity. After all, isn’t it a bit poetic that, while we tirelessly strive to understand ourselves, we create artificial entities that end up teaching us about our very humanity?

Use CyberGhost VPN to safely connect to public Wi-Fi  and play without anyone snooping in on your connection. 


Is there a game with AI NPC?

Yes, many video games nowadays feature AI NPCs. Futurable, Left for Dead 2, and Star Wars Republic Commando, are some of the most popular names in this regard. Given the AI revolution we’ve been witnessing, you should expect many more AI characters in future video games. 
Get CyberGhost VPN and play your favorite video games without ISP throttling. Enjoy fast speeds and low-ping gaming no matter where you are

What video games have AI?

Almost all modern video games use AI to some degree. For example, in FPS games like Call of Duty, the pathfinding for NPCs and simulation of enemy behavior is done using machine learning. AI is also utilized for adaptive game difficulty in racing games like Forza Motorsport, and even for creating (a bit of) dynamic narratives in games like The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.
Use CyberGhost VPN to stay safe while online gaming with AI NPCs.

Can I design game characters with AI?

Yes, you can design game characters with AI. AI tools like Character AI and ChatFAI allow you to generate game characters by prompting an AI model. These AI tools analyze patterns in existing data to create new content. They’re capable of creating concept art for characters, designing environments, and generating dialogue.  Note, human intervention is still necessary to finalize designs and make them game-ready.

What is the best Character AI alternative?

There are several Character AI alternatives available on the internet. Some of the most popular Character AI alternatives include:
1. ChatFAI: Provides NSFW characters for users above 18 and has a high messaging limit.
2. Kajiwoto: Offers both free and paid plans with a decent messaging limit.
3. Botify AI: Features a wide range of characters and does not require account creation.
4. Replika: Offers advanced avatar editing features and more.
5. Chai AI: Mobile-only platform that offers a variety of characters to interact with.
If an AI tool isn’t available in your region, you can always use CyberGhost VPN to access geo-blocked websites. Note, CyberGhost VPN does not condone breaking any laws or Terms of Service with or without the VPN.

Leave a comment

Write a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked*