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Should I be excited about… Arma 3

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Arma III is the latest instalment in Bohemia Interactive’s award winning series. Riding on the back of the success of the 2009 Arma II, they have promised bigger, better and upgraded everything. We had a look at the Alpha to see how they were getting on.

The first thing you will notice is just how good it looks, even on a “mid spec” machine. Cranking the settings up to maximum you will notice some beautiful high resolution texturing, realistic foliage, shimmering waves and stunning shadows. The next thing you will probably notice is that your speakers are too loud, as you either come under gunfire or a helicopter passes overhead and you are deafened. In a good way though; the sound bank is expansive and realistic.

One doesn’t simply jump in and play Arma III however. This isn’t your standard COD or Battlefield first person shooter. This is tactical military simulation. This is war, to quote their tagline. The amount of control available to you is phenomenal and slightly overwhelming. For example, the stances you can put your soldier into. There are the base three; Standing, Crouching, Prone. But using a modifier key you can access several “in between” stances, totaling nine (including the previously mentioned three). Each one has it’s own bank of movement and shooting animations, and from each stance you can also “lean” out in either direction. What this allows you to do is get into, and fire from, cover without there being a “get in cover” button, and therefore opens up every large enough object in the expansive world to be used as cover.

2013-03-08_00009The Alpha version currently includes the smaller island of Stratis. However, it is still 20 km2’s in size. The full version of the game will include another island, Altis and will total over 290 km2 of “Mediterranean sandbox”. This size could be represented as km3 as you aren’t limited to ground warfare, and one of the four showcase assignments has you trying out the helicopter controls. While they seem less complicated than the endless options as an infantryman, it doesn’t make it any easier to control. There is a learning curve however, and basic transportation of troops isn’t too difficult, but you will be expected to fly and shoot at the same time.


A brand new feature of this iteration of Arma is exemplified in one of the other showcases, SCUBA diving. The mission has you disarming underwater mines that protect an enemy camp, before then taking to the land to infiltrate the camp and obtaining a rocket launcher to take down their other defense: a patrolling helicopter. The water looks and sounds fantastic, both above and below, and Bohemia Interactive have seen fit to add in various fish, corals and even turtles to keep you company while you swim around. It will be interesting to see what the modding community can make with them!

As we just had access to the Lite version of the Alpha, we were restricted to single player. There are still some serious bugs with the AI, so it would have been nice to see what gameplay was like against other people. Arma II was not known for outstanding AI either though, so hopefully these bugs are removed and the AI is improved overall by the time of release. Due to the AI, the custom scenario editor can become a little limited, but it does allow you to do, well, whatever the hell you want to really. Explore the island, set up mass vehicle warfare, challenge yourself to go one versus twenty, practice your sniper skills, or just go for a swim. The world is your playground warzone.

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