Mod of the Week: Pilot Civilian Air Rescue, for ArmA 3
ArmA 3 is a challenging game to learn, especially so when it comes to piloting choppers. Enter the Pilot Civilian Air Rescue mod, which features a number of single-player Mohawk chopper missions, from insertion (transporting doctors to a combat zone), extraction (retrieving injured NPCs and delivering them to a hospital), and even search and rescue, in which you look for lost hikers or downed pilots and ferry them back to safety. It's a great way to hone your chopper flying skills offline while getting a warm and fuzzy feeling from helping NPCs in need.
I've been slowly edging my way into the daunting ArmA 3, but I'm still a bit too bashful to play online for fear of getting yelled at by (understandably) impatient human players. I'm doubly self-conscious about my piloting skills, and trying to fly while being shot at (or screamed at) doesn't really help with my concentration. So, I'm really enjoying this mod's rescue missions, which allow me to practice piloting with only the AI looking over my shoulder, and also lets me learn the map due to the randomized placement of rescues.
The mod starts you at your base, where you can get into flight gear and receive your first mission. There are options to choose from in terms of weather, forecast, and time of day, as well as the level of hostility you want to face when flying into enemy territory. I began by setting hostiles and antiaircraft fire to zero, but if you're more experienced, obviously, you'll probably want to ratchet it up to make your missions more challenging and exciting. If your mission involves delivering passengers, they'll be waiting for you in a polite crouch near your Mohawk.
My first mission was a search and rescue: some hikers had become lost and needed to be located and transported back. I did a great job of locating them, but there was a bit of an issue while landing, and that issue was a small collision that led to a large explosion. Whoops! My next mission was to pick up a team of doctors in the field, and return them to base. I landed a bit better -- nothing exploded -- but still managed to destroy my chopper's engine so they didn't bother getting in. Well, third time's the charm, right?
Actually, no, I somehow managed to flip my chopper over during takeoff, crashing it while still in sight of my back-up chopper. After that, though, things started going a bit better. I was tasked with flying out to retrieve an NPC who had sustained a gunshot wound as the result of some conflict in Altis. I managed to fly out and locate the fellow, who was being guarded by friendly troops.
A shaky -- but safe! -- landing later, he scuttled his way to my Mohawk and we took off, bound for the hospital. Landing on the hospital roof, for a noob pilot like me, was harrowing, but I was quite pleased to pull it off after only three hours of white-knuckled hovering. I was then a bit disappointed when the NPC crab-walked out of my helicopter and threw himself off the side of the roof. I know my flying isn't great, but sheez. No need to be so dramatic about it.
I checked the mod's discussion page and I guess that's just what the AI does when you complete a hospital delivery. You've passed the mission, so the AI just takes the shortest trip back to the ground. Oh, well, at least it's amusing. After carefully parking my chopper downstairs I visited the jumper's body and took his watch. I'm a hero like that.
It you do crash, no worries! A rescue op will launch and another chopper will be dispatched to pick you up and fly you back to base. There's also a service center for your chopper if you get a little dinged up. The mod also allows for random weather settings if you want to leave your conditions up to chance, and even lets you turn on random mechanical failures if you're the type of player who likes big surprises at altitude.
I think the ability to set your own conditions makes this a fun mod for both beginners and pros. Like I said, I'm still pretty green, but after completing a bunch of missions and getting a bit better at flying, I turned everything on -- bad weather, hostile response to incursions, mechanical failures -- and had a blast. Searching for some downed pilots in a thunderstorm while the enemy is closing in on me is a real thrill. Not so thrilling for the downed pilots: they didn't make it back. Though, if they had, they'd probably just have jumped off the hospital roof.
Installation: Subscribe to the mod in the Steam workshop here. Launch the game, select Play from the menu, then go to Scenarios, and the mod will be listed there.