The company behind Arma 3 and DayZ today announced a pair of new games, and they're both playable now in an early form.
Ylands and Project Argo are products of a new part of the studio dedicated to experimental games called Bohemia Incubator. While Bohemia says that its core focus is on Arma, DayZ, and Take On, it sees Incubator as a chance to test concepts at a very early stage. "There are several reasons for wanting to release experimental games and involve players into their development process. First and foremost, it can help us test whether certain design concepts work or not (and if they're fun!). But it can also help guide the development of our technology and tools (such as our next engine, Enfusion), or supporting services, like networking solutions and online community platforms," reads an FAQ response on .
The new projects are very distinct. Ylands is a sandbox singleplayer and multiplayer building game built in the Unity engine that's intended for all ages. It's colorful and low-poly, but Bohemia says it's "powered by advanced simulations," in the spirit of its other, high-fidelity games. The shows off a few different settings and biomes, from a Wild West town to an archaeological site, forest, farm, samurai battle arena, to a midnight castle siege. It's currently available in for $10, or as a free, time-limited trial.
Project Argo is an Arma 3 total conversion that transforms Bohemia's massive military sim into a five-on-five tactical game. Right now Argo has three modes: two are focused on controlling sectors or capture points, and another on attack-and-defend. "In each of the three game modes, players also have the option to capture a paradrop, which can dramatically change the tide of battle—adding yet another tactical element to the confrontation," reads the . Maybe most interestingly, Argo will play out on a renovated version of Malden, the original terrain in the first Arma game. This in-development remake of Malden will be added to Arma 3 as free DLC in June 2017, per the . An open of Argo is available for the next three or four months.
Alongside its announcement, Bohemia disclaims that these and other Incubator projects aren't guaranteed a final release. "Bohemia Incubator might seem to be very similar to Steam Early Access, but we'd like to make clear that the Incubator games can be far more rough or experimental," CEO Marek Spanel says in the announcement video. "We may even decide to cancel or stop supporting an Incubator game. And this is also why players will often be able to test the games for free."
In my view, this is all about Bohemia setting itself up to build or discover the next DayZ. The Early Access survival game, which began as an Arma 2 mod, sold 3 million copies as of January 2015, and its success has also driven interest in Arma 3, which remains one of the most popular games on Steam. As it did with the modding competition, Bohemia continues its search for new ideas inside and outside its milsim heritage.