ARMA has been the king of absurdly deep milsims for about as long as I can remember, and it is very secure in its reign. Try as I might, I can't recall many games that ever really tried to challenge ARMA's dominance of the hardcore simulation realm, but now someone else has decided to give it a try. Gray Zone Warfare is the just-announced first foray into PC gaming from Madfinger Games—the mobile dev behind iOS and Android series like Shadowgun Legends and Dead Trigger—and bills itself as "an immersive tactical first-person shooter with a maximum focus on realism."
"Become a part of a Private Military Company," reads the announcement, questionably, "and navigate an expansive open-world setting alone or in a squad." To be fair, that expansive open-world setting does look very pretty indeed as our protagonist roams around with an assault rifle, popping pills, chomping down MREs and killing just, like, everyone. It reminds me a bit—in a good way—of Far Cry 4's Kyrat, albeit without the snow-capped peaks.
I'm gonna go out on a limb and say it takes itself a bit more seriously than Far Cry, though. The devs are keen to talk up the game's myriad commitments to realism, from guns you can customise with "hundreds of various parts," to a health system that tries to simulate our terrible, frail human bodies realistically, with an injury system that demands you correctly identify what's wrong with you (probably a bullet) before applying the right solution, MGS3-style.
Interestingly, the devs dedicate a section of their Steam blurb to talking up the game's story, which isn't generally something I associate with hardcore milsim games. Madfinger promises "a mature experience with an engaging storyline" and "a colorful cast of characters, each with their own secrets and agendas."
It sounds genuinely interesting, and as someone who could never really get into ARMA's particular brand of hardcore, the notion of a game like it with more of an emphasis on story seems like it might be able to draw me in a bit better. I'm keeping my optimism strictly "cautious," though. After all, this is an ambitious first PC game from a studio that's previously stayed strictly mobile. It wouldn't be a huge shock if it falls short of its promises when it makes contact with reality.
The game has a planned release year of 2024, and I'll keep an eye on it as it develops. If you want to do the same, you can find it over on the Gray Zone Warfare Steam page.