Easy AI Movement in Unreal Engine 4

Unreal Engine 4 has robust pathfinding and AI movement built in.

Using the navmesh (Navigation Mesh) and a pawn or character, simple and advanced AI can be created that interact with the world and the player. Even in a multiplayer session!

With very little setup you can implement Simple AI Movement in Unreal Engine 4.

In this guide we will be setting up the basics needed for Simple AI Movement in Unreal Engine 4 and explaining the differences between the pawn and character objects.

Navigation Mesh

Before we create our AI blueprint, we need to add a navigation mesh into our level.

The navigation mesh generates the area that your AI is able to move it.

If there are objects in the way it will generate around these areas preventing your AI from walking into those objects.

Creating the Mesh

In the modes tab, found on left in the main editor window, search for the nav mesh bounds volume.

Adding the nav mesh bounds

Drag this into your level and set the size and position of the box to be the size of your level.

Configuring the nav mesh bounds to the level size

Once you drag this into your level it will automatically generate the navigation mesh.

Pressing the P key will show the nav mesh in green.

Making the nav mesh bounds visible in the camera with the p key

Your level is now ready for AI characters and pawns.

Character or Pawn

What’s the difference?

The two default AI controlled types are the Pawn and the Character.

Two different types of AI blueprint objects

Character

The character, which is a child of the pawn, has built in multiplayer and singleplayer ready movement, gravity, jumping and crouching via the movement component.

This also means characters can walk around the level without adding almost any code.
To read more about Characters click here.

Character blueprint object

Pawn

The pawn is the base class of every AI controlled actor. It has no built in movement and does not have gravity or any other features such as crouching or sprinting.
To read more about Pawns click here.

Pawn blueprint object

Which is the best?

In most cases it is advised to use a Character as the features are very powerful and makes programming enemies and other AI much easier.

Characters are setup ready with gravity, walking and pathfinding along meshes and terrain.

Created blueprint character

If you know what you are doing or if you need to make your own specific movement code (flying, submarine, etc) then the Pawn would be best.

Simple Move to Actor or Location

The Simple Move to Actor and Simple Move to Location nodes are the easiest way for your character or pawn to move towards an actor or location in the game world.

Simple move to actor and simple move to location blueprint nodes

With a few inputs, this node smoothly moves the actor to the destination.

One downside of this node is that the movement does not give feedback if it failed or is stuck or it had aborted the movement.

These feedback pins are very important to adjust the behavior of your AI controlled actor.

Example

For this example we used the Simple Move to Location node.

Completed, the nodes should look like this:

Finished Simple move to location nodes

These nodes find a random position in the navigation mesh and moves the AI to it.

AI Move to

In your character or pawn blueprint, add an AI MoveTo node for more advanced movement with more diagnostic features.

The more robust AI move to node

This node can navigate your AI to either a target actor (any actor in your level) or a destination vector.

AI move to node with input pins

The AI MoveTo node also allows an acceptance radius which sets how close an AI will move to the actor or destination vector before stopping.

These execution pins output based on the current state of the AI.

The top pin will fire after this node is executed.

AI move to execution pins which allows greater debugging

Example

The finished AI move to nodes

Conclusion

Now your new AI controlled character can move around the level!

Using this setup with additional blueprints you will be able to create more advanced AI with different behaviours.

Further Learning

To make this AI react to your level changing during play click here to read our guide on dynamic pathfinding in Unreal Engine 4.

For larger open world or procedurally generated levels click here to read our guide on optimised pathfinding for Unreal Engine 4.

When creating more advanced AI it is best to begin using Blackboards and Behaviour Trees.

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