E. Toledo, J. Shock, J. Buys



Text-based environments enable RL agents to learn to converse and perform interactive tasks through natural language. However, previous RL approaches applied to text-based environ- ments show poor performance when evaluated on unseen games. This paper investigates the improvement of generalisation performance through the simple switch from a value-based update method to a policy-based one, within text-based environments. We show that by replacing commonly used value-based methods with REINFORCE with baseline, a far more general agent is produced. The policy-based agent is evaluated on Coin Collector and Question Answering with interactive text (QAit), two text-based environments designed to test zero-shot performance. We see substantial improvements on a variety of zero-shot evaluation experiments, including tripling accuracy on various QAit benchmark configurations. The results indicate that policy-based RL has significantly better generalisation capabilities than value-based methods within such text-based environments, suggesting that RL agents could be applied to more complex natural language environments.