Teabagging is a 20-year-old Halo tradition, the ultimate insult on the virtual battlefield - but don't expect Halo Infinite's otherwise lifelike bots to get stuck in.
Anyone who's played a Halo game online will probably have been teabagged. For the uninitiated, it involves repeatedly pressing the crouch button so your Spartan character squats up and down on your enemy's corpse.
Halo players have been teabagging each other since Halo: Combat Evolved came out in 2001, to rub it in, to frustrate and annoy. In the online world of Halo, teabagging is very much human behaviour.
So we come to the upcoming Halo Infinite which has, for the first time in the series, bots. And not just any bots - as I reported, Halo Infinite's bots aren't messing about.
Developer 343 used the recent Halo Infinite technical preview to gather feedback on bot behaviour and online performance. To that end, the technical preview debuted with the Bot Arena playlist, which put four players against four bots on arena maps.
As 343 pushed the bot difficulty lever over the course of the technical preview weekend, the AI became more deadly. These bots were accurate, aggressive and ruthless. They would come in for a well-timed melee hit after dropping your shield. They would dodge grenades. They used grenades well and often. They picked up power weapons and they were not afraid to use them.
Once, a bot used the grappleshot to fly towards me before smacking me in the face with the gravity hammer. I even had a bot outsmart me as I danced around cover.
I didn't spot Halo Infinite's bots teabagging, though - and that, 343 told me, is very much a deliberate choice.
I asked 343 if it was tempted to have the AI teabag human players they killed to make them even more human. No, is the short answer. Here's the long answer:
"Bots are primarily a part of Halo Infinite to help players learn and experiment with the multiplayer experience. We want players to feel comfortable making mistakes against bots, because making mistakes means you're improving and working on skills you haven't mastered yet.
"We never want to punish learning, especially not by having bots engage in behaviours that a player could feel is exclusionary. For that reason, we don't have explicit programming that tells the bots to teabag or taunt you in any way."
That's that, then. But some Halo Infinite players did report what looked like bots teabagging human opponents during the technical preview. Here's a snippet:
Did the bot just...? pic.twitter.com/PYkaANHD3l— whisper (formerly snipe.) (@reqsihw) July 31, 2021
This was a bug, 343 told Eurogamer.
"An example of what could look like teabagging is a bug with bot traversal that was in the technical preview build," 343 said.
"It caused bots to fail to successfully jump and clamber on the edge of stairs or ramps. A bot's feet would leave the ground very briefly, then play a landing animation when they failed the jump, and they'd get stuck in an animation loop that could look like crouching rapidly. If that happened to be observed shortly after a kill, or near a player's body, it can definitely feel like an intentional behaviour. In reality, the bot was just struggling to go up the stairs.
"The bots are meant to be welcoming and fun for players of all skill levels, and a feature designed to taunt a player would oppose that goal."