Arma 3 Review
Accessibility is not a word that should come within at least three pages of anything describing the Arma series. Unless it’s in some poor sap’s argument as to why the lack of it is why they didn’t enjoy the game, before slapping a half-arsed seven on the end of it.
However, to what will surely be the dramatic shock of every hardcore, card-carrying member of the PC Master Race, Arma 3 may actually have added features that will help rookies adapt better to the simulation’s playstyle.
Before taking to the Steam forums with pure, unbridled rage, it’s worth noting that this hasn’t affected the ridiculous depth and obscure minutiae that makes the series what it is.
No, instead of making fundamental changes to the gameplay, the team at Bohemia have included a series a short “Showcase” missions and a selection of firing range challenges.
The former is meant to show-off the features of Arma 3 to newcomers – the typical mission structure, using preset commands and responses, advanced gun handling, etc – while also updating the series veterans on some of the new and/or updated mechanics.
Due to these missions being short and mainly focused on a specific aspect of the game, it does enough to introduce rookies to the base concepts so that they can then go and figure out the rest in-game.
Arma 3 Single Player
For now though, these showcases and firing range challenges are all you’re getting for official singleplayer content.
The developers have decided to take some extra time to work on their own campaign, which will be released sometime in October as three pieces of free, downloadable content for the current version of the game.
If for some reason you were thinking of picking up Arma 3 specifically for the singleplayer, for the time being there’s the option to check out the new Steam Workshop. With content created by the community, it’s already filled with hundreds of singleplayer and co-operative missions, playgrounds and other oddities.
These obviously vary wildly in quality and content, but after the success of DayZ, some enterprising modders are sure to come along and make something truly amazing with the available tools.
This editor is available free with the game, and it’s quite the beast. It’s apparently the same, or at least similar, to the tools the devs use to actually create the singleplayer content, and it’s not for the feint of heart. Stephen Fry won’t be holding your hand as you place mission points, gameplay triggers or vehicles, however with some dedication you can create some top quality scenarios. Thanks to the Steam Workshop integration, getting them distributed is simple, and even downloading them is dead easy, and can be used for multiplayer servers without the other players needing to download the specific content first.
Arma 3 Multiplayer
With that slightly laboured segue way, let’s talk about the multiplayer, the meat of any Arma game. The sheer amount of modes and Workshop content has currently left it in a complete mess, as random newcomers who got the game day one randomly jump in and out of servers, shooting their own team mates because they’re too used to CoD, then rage quitting when a bunch of Russians make fun of them.
While some of this is standard for the early stages of an Arma, the hundreds of unsuitable game types have resulted in an unexpected problem of too many servers with bland or uninteresting long-term multiplayer gameplay.
The few available ones running better maps and modes are currently way over-subscribed, meaning that you’re going to need to make a clan commitment very quickly if you fancy doing more than co-op with a handful of friends.
As usual then, Arma demands dedication to get the most out of it. Whether you’re learning the game for the first time, making sure you have a clan or a server of like-minded people to play with or waiting for the devs to release the final bits of single player content. It can truly be worth it though, as there’s no other gaming experience like it.
Nowhere else will you be sitting on a hill in the middle of the night for 15 minutes, timing with your own real-world watch the guard patterns in a small airfield to make sure your 40 second-delayed mortar strike hits first time. Or hear the far-off cracks of gunfire and scurry for the nearest cover, knowing a sniper could be half a kilometre away in any direction.
You could spend the entire game ferrying troops to and from the front line in a helicopter, and that’s basically enough of a game in itself.
It just takes time.
Version Tested: PC