Simulation isn’t the defining aspect of Arma. It’s scale.
The enormity of the map is the foundation for the experiences that distinguish Bohemia Interactive’s flagship franchise. It’s what makes radios, topographical maps, binoculars, and compasses practical equipment in an FPS. It’s what allows for kilometer-long headshots and coordinated convoy raids. It’s what makes using your eyes to spot hints of enemies--muzzle flashes, tracers, gunsmoke--as valuable as being a crack shot.
ArmA 2: Operation Arrowhead
Simulation isn’t the defining aspect of Arma. It’s scale.
The experience of fighting in Arma owes a lot to the terrain. The war sim’s style of sandboxy, undirected combat means that skirmishing in Chernarus, helicoptering through barren Takistan, or sneaking through the jungles of Lingor each have a distinct personality that arises from the contour and color of the landscape.
It’s a big deal, then, when Bohemia drops the biggest, densest Arma map that’s ever mapped. The Czech studio just patched Altis into the development build of the Arma 3 beta on Steam. I’ve taken a moment to swoop around in Arma 3’s new Splendid Camera mode and bookmark some spots that I find tactically exciting.
Late last week we learned that Arma 3 won’t initially release with any campaign content (something that should make it an interesting challenge to review, for one thing). Instead, Arma 3 will launch with 12 single-player showcases, nine multiplayer scenarios, eight firing drills, and its mission editor, while campaign episodes will parachute in shortly after release. This should allow the military sim to emerge from beta sooner at the cost of staggering its content.
I got in touch with Joris-Jan van't Land (Project Lead) and Jay Crowe (Creative Director) to learn more about about this decision as well as what we should expect from the content of the campaign.
I’m inside of a wall, inside of a fire station. I see a fellow survivor—only not really, because I’m inside of a wall. Mashing V repeatedly, I slowly slide down to the ground floor of the four-story tower. As my feet touch the floor, I sprint back into the traversable interior of the fire station and begin the hunt. I step outside and immediately spot N3m3sis. Zeroing in on his head, I pull the trigger and he falls to the ground.
We learned during E3 that Dean “Rocket” Hall wants to make a game about mountaineering. The DayZ creator, who climbed Mount Everest in May, tells me it’s a concept he’s wanted to pursue for years, and one he somehow found time to iterate on while ascending Earth’s hat.
DayZ creator and lead designer Dean Hall sat down and answered questions submitted and voted on by the r/DayZ community. Reddit user DrBigMoney compiled the questions and sent them around to media outlets, and VG24/7 managed to get Hall on camera to answer.
Arma 3's alpha is just over a week old, but a few promising add-ons are already taking advantage of Bohemia's out-the-gate moddability. An inevitable carryover from the hardcore Arma 2 community is ACRE, or Advanced Combat Radio Environment, a mod-turned-mainstay for the majority of players for its realistic voice-comm behavior influenced by range, direction, terrain, and facing. It's as certain to appear in Arma 3 as scores of DayZ knockoffs, and this video shows off an already working early prototype in multiplayer.
As we've outlined in interviews, hands-on impressions, video footage, and other reporting this week, Bohemia Interactive's Arma 3 is an extremely serious, hardcore military simulation that should only be experienced by current or former United States Marines who have received twelve or more medals. We can't be more explicit about this: Arma 3 is a hyper-authentic, high-fidelity simulation intended for hardened men of danger, and and no amount of paintball skills or similar talents can prepare you for its harrowing depiction of war.
Arma 3 is deserving of your cat calls. It's a sexy game—maybe not in the same way that say, Crysis 3 is—but its scale, sandbox, and authentic terrain are more than worthy of your hardware. To see what Arma 3 is capable of, I put the alpha build of the game (which you can now pay to access) on the best rig we currently have lying around and captured a bunch of footage.
In advance of the Arma 3 alpha dropping on Tuesday for Steam pre-orderers, I launched a salvo of questions at Project Lead Joris-Jan van ‘t Land and Co-Creative Director Jay Crowe. We'll have in-depth coverage of the alpha when the embargo lifts on Tuesday, March 5.
Authentic ballistics modeling continues to be a distinguishing aspect of Arma. But even though I've dumped hundreds of hours into the game, I realized I couldn't identify all the things that the system simulates. To alleviate me (and you) of this ignorance, I asked two of Bohemia's leads to break down what variables go to work when you pull the trigger in Arma 3.
DayZ changelogs are so much fun. Update 1.7.6 adds some important stuff, like a six arrow crossbow quiver and reusable wooden arrows with a 20% chance to break on use, and some less important stuff, like cans of Rabbitman beer and Chef Boneboy Ravioli. Or it did, until Hotfix 22.214.171.124 removed the modder-named cans after a big community argument. Darn, and I just said how fun these are.
It speaks volumes of the staying power of DayZ when it gets top billing in Bohemia's new $40 Complete Collection pack for Arma 2. It's a more extensive (and slightly more expensive) way of nabbing the required content for the zombie survival mod beyond the $25 Combined Operations, but it's also the definitive accumulation of Bohemia's best.
Guns are a constant character in modern games, but we don't typically take the time to deconstruct their personalities. How a gun animates, its behavior, and what we hear in our headphones has a lot to do with how much we enjoy a shooter. In service of highlighting some of the best examples of good design, Evan, Logan, and T.J. sat in front of a camera to talk about which game guns they like the most.
When the Patch Notes Fairy visits, she often provides precious accidental humor. The Sims 3 has consistently delivered this (version 1.4, from 2009: “Sims can no longer 'Try for Baby' with the Grim Reaper”), but today’s DayZ patch notes produced a few incidental laughs at the PC Gamer office. In addition to adding complexity to DayZ’s infection system, 126.96.36.199 includes gems like “Cutting down trees now attracts zeds,” a change that may endanger the livelihoods of apocalyptic lumberjacks everywhere.
Really, though, this is a great-looking and fairly comprehensive update. There’s new content, new or modified mechanics in play, and fixes to long-standing issues. All of these only affect the mod version of the game, but some of the improvements made may creep into the retail version.
I can see the benefits to having an identical twin. I mean, being followed around by someone that shares all your genetic traits must be like having a constant, you-shaped reminder to distinguish yourself. It’d probably make you a better person.
When The War Z revealed itself last July, jumping into DayZ’s still-fresh footsteps, the hope—mine, at least—was that the games’ doppelgangering designs would drive a mutual ambition between them. One that gamers would benefit from. Both Z’s throw you into a vast, brutal sandbox filled with players and zombies. Both scatter a mix of boring and military items within their worlds, and make food scavenging as necessary as bullets.
We're a day away from The War Z's one-month anniversary of being removed from Steam. Throughout this time, it's been buyable and playable through The War Z's website. For several weeks, developer Hammerpoint Interactive has considered it fit enough to be labeled as version 1.0.
I'm in the process of playing The War Z for our review, but for now, I wanted to take a moment to point out a couple reasons why The War Z isn't a game that's worth your time, and certainly one that doesn't deserve to know your credit card information.
If XCOM reminded us of the value of loss in 2012, DayZ was a valuable lesson in hardship. The Arma 2 mod was one of the least-forgiving and most intimidating games of the year. It was a shooter that you entered without a gun. Arma’s control scheme made actions such as inventory management a hassle; its 225km2 landscape asked you to run mini-marathons to get around, often without a map. Permadeath and persistency lent consequence to every action. And in its alpha state, DayZ was buggy and vulnerable to hackers.
1.3 million people played it.
On Monday, zombie survival shooter-MMO The War Z became available on Steam as a "Foundation Release." The same day, complaints began to arise that the game's page in the Steam store misrepresented and exaggerated its content by mentioning features that weren't yet integrated. This morning, Valve took the game off sale, admitting that a mistake was made in "prematurely" making The War Z available for purchase. Valve has extended an invitation to refund purchases through Steam Support, an exception to Valve's usually-rigid refund rules. Those who bought the game through Steam are still able to play it, and The War Z remains for sale on its website.
Following these events, I contacted executive producer Sergey Titov via email to ask about The War Z's troubled release on Steam, if he agrees with Valve's decision to take the game off sale, and what he expects the game's immediate future to be.
We've celebrated the realistic fake war-waging of Arma 2 community ShackTac in our Realism Theater posts this year. We admire ShackTac's "Serious Fun" approach to playing Arma 2: even outside the context of mil-simming, it's inspiring to watch a bunch of people invested in each others' fun and to see them express that through mods, missions, and videos they create themselves.
ShackTac founder and documenteur Dslyecxi has put up his annual "Year In Review" video, a six-minute cut that represents thousands of collective man-hours of organized Arma 2.