The king of military sims finally goes to WW2 with Arma 3's Spearhead 1944

Just when I figured I was done with Arma 3, resigning myself to stepping away from the military simulation genre for a while to wait for the inevitable Arma 4, they find a way to drag me back in. That way is, of course, turning over the guttural Curtiss-Wright R-975 Whirlwind radial engine of a M4A1 Sherman tank to go blow up Nazis.

How can I resist this pitch? "Spearhead 1944 places you in the boots of the soldiers fighting to break out from a tenuous foothold in the hellish maze of the bocage to liberate occupied Normandy" and then also "Explore 150 km² of unique terrain, based on real locations and topography of North-West France." There have been WW2 mods in Arma 3 for years, but nothing like this.

Developed by the Arma creator community at Heavy Ordnance Works, the upcoming Arma 3 Creator DLC: Spearhead 1944 will add five factions, complete with historical weapons and vehicles, alongside a 150 km² 2:1 representation of inland Normandy's terrain, a 24 player co-op campaign inspired by post D-Day breakthrough maneuver Operation Cobra, and a singleplayer scenario playing as the French resistance.

The prospect of a 7 mission, fully-voiced cooperative campaign as a US Armored Division inside Arma's wild simulation sandbox is incredibly appealing. It's even better when you look at some of the ideas they're implementing: Tactical choices will be solved via voting, with each mission branching based on what way forward you choose. They're also putting in a customized revival system separate from core Arma 3, with more emphasis on medics saving injured allies, stabilizing them, and removing them from harm. There'll also be a morale system, whereby the AI can decide to retreat or even surrender, adding a layer of taking and securing POWs who can be questioned for intelligence.

That's not to mention just the idea of playing in this setting in the Arma 3 engine. After a decade of continuous development it's a well-known beast, and people like those at Heavy Ordnance Works can squeeze some incredible stuff out of it. That singleplayer French Resistance mission sounds amazing, especially if it can drum up half the pathos and interest of an Arma DLC like Laws of War where civilian and military lives intersect.

You can find Arma 3: Spearhead 1944 on Steam, where it's listed as "coming soon." You can also read the full announcement and details on Bohemia Interactive's website. There's no price yet, and past creator DLC of larger historical periods have cost about $23.

Jon Bolding is a games writer and critic with an extensive background in strategy games. When he's not on his PC, he can be found playing every tabletop game under the sun.