ArmA III Review

The precision of an Arma3 Sniper

The most important (and possibly the only important) aspect of ArmA III is that the game will be what you make of it. Or even more so: it will be what other people make of it for you. ArmA is a set of tools. The editing and scripting system, which is the main part of the game and provides access to the behavior of computer tanks and infantry, to all helicopters, drones, and various combat gadgets, is a kind of dubious masterpiece of instant modding, serving as a factory where, um… brilliant ideas are created. As with previous games, Bohemia Studio has created a huge playground, but has done almost nothing with it itself – perhaps this feeling arises from the prolonged testing of monotonous content in the alpha and beta versions. And it turns out that the constituent elements, the building blocks of ArmA III, are one thing. And a modest set of training missions, cooperative scenarios, trials, and the promised campaign is something else.

And about the campaign, I didn’t quite understand. ArmA II was released in March 2009, which means (even considering that Bohemia was working on other projects) that it took a whole four years to develop ArmA III, plus or minus expansion packs. You could argue that the campaign has almost nothing to do with the game world, and you would be right – the campaign in Arma II was too ambitious, but in the end, it attracted a decreasing audience. And if you acknowledge the uselessness of the campaign, then you are already playing Arma. My position is this: either make a campaign or don’t make one, instead of releasing a game without it and then boasting about three “free” episodes in the future – as if it were some revolutionary business model.

Intense battlefield action

The promise to release a campaign in the future once again draws attention to the lack of Bohemia’s own ways to present their game and to the fact that the existing methods sometimes fall apart. Built-in missions contain errors that require restarting the game, but even more problems are caused by the artificial intelligence of teammates, prone to stupidity and ruining the whole game.

It was because of the useless AI that I stared at a three-dimensional ass for so long.

Here’s another picture to complete the description:

My friend and I were not particularly eager to complete a cooperative mission, and after an explosion at the airport and reckless rides on quad bikes, the squad was scattered all over the map. Our goal was to leave the island, but after a couple of hours of playing, strange things started happening: we were informed that the mission had failed and it started all over again. One of our teammates simply didn’t move from the airport and was now 6 kilometers behind, even though we constantly shouted “regroup”.

Soldiers in the heat of battle

While the computer fighter took a break, we reached the port and dealt with the enemy. We ordered the squad to get into the boats, climbed into one ourselves, and sailed away. Into the endless blue distance. This is one of those moments when you realize how huge ArmA III is. We sailed for a good 20 minutes, but the edge of the map was still far away. Soon we saw a small island and decided to take a look around on it.

We stopped and disembarked. As my friend tried to climb up, he got stuck in the rock. While he was trying to free himself, I checked the map. Remember our squad that was told to get into the boats? Yeah. So, they decided to follow us by swimming. Now they either drowned or settled at the bottom of the sea. At the same time, the comrade who was trying to pull himself out of the rock fell into it like quicksand. “Don’t cry on my grave,” he said and blew himself up with a grenade.

I returned to the boat, and my friend respawned next to me, right in the ocean. Almost nothing was left of the squad. Number 9 was still sitting at the airport. So we just sailed into the horizon. I was looking at his backside again – we kept sailing and sailing, nothing was happening, only occasionally the icon of a failed and restarted mission would flash. We had already drifted far away from Altis, sailing into nowhere, wondering if we would ever complete this mission, if we would ever see anything beyond the horizon, and what our dim-witted comrades were up to.

Modern warfare at its finest

Finally, we decided to drown. The ass disappeared from my monitor, and we sank into the abyss. There were no sharks there. There was nothing at all except for a pale blue, through which nothing could be seen. The screen gradually darkened at the edges, and in the end, we died. The ass is no more. But the memory of it remains. The memory of what it represents – that’s what matters.

The thing is, the mission was excellent, despite everything, and that says a lot. I cursed the dumb AI that ruined everything, but I don’t consider that time wasted. ArmA III showed that it is not just a shooter, but rather a platform, and that the developers depend a lot on their community, which makes it more like a board with features than a game that can be played with their help.

Considering this, it can be expected that individual parts of ArmA III work and look great. It is truly a beautiful game, where the Altis island plays a dual role of a pastoral paradise and a military training ground. Hectares of uninhabited land, where there are only trees and rare dirt roads, are interrupted by metal and concrete military bases and rare suburbs. In ArmA III, you often have to travel long distances, so the stunning graphics work in its favor; during the game, there is a constant urge to take screenshots.

A soldier in the field

This place lacks nothing but elegance of execution. Most basic animations are seen as completely unnecessary luxury. Bohemia pays attention to the right things – now there are many different positions for shooting and moving. But try getting into a car and see how your robotic hands will rise and drag you into the seat.

Such things are somewhat unnecessary, and I wouldn’t be surprised if there are people who hold the ridiculous opinion that ArmA looks “more natural” this way. But this approach seeps into the interiors of Altis as well. I remember capturing an airport in my first mission – our squad was moving through the map, communicating about what each of us saw. After an hour and several killed patrols, we discovered a huge gray cluster of helicopters, structures resembling concrete sheds and hangars, inside of which there was practically nothing. In “ordinary” buildings, like residential houses, the same situation – everything is so meager and desolate that it feels like wandering in limbo.

Well, such things are still forgivable. What is more off-putting is the performance of Altis online (on the second, less spacious map, Stratis, things are better), not necessarily because everything is bad, but because you never know what to expect. ArmA has always had such problems, and the main culprit is the frame rate, which doesn’t go beyond 20 fps in large-scale battles.

Battle amidst the ruins

Here works one golden rule. In single player and cooperative mode, ArmA III works perfectly, but in multiplayer, it’s hit or miss – you can get either 40 or 4 fps. There are obvious modes to avoid, for example, the surprisingly popular Wasteland, which would be good if it didn’t turn into a slideshow. And overall, don’t expect a smooth game with more than 40 players. The game environment seriously burdens your processor, which is fair enough, but sometimes it’s too harsh.

These problems are a result of the incredible size of ArmA and its commitment to staying true to the spirit of simulators – because here everything is real. It’s truly a huge island reproduced on your PC, where each of its inhabitants can track in detail what anyone else is doing. Naturally, the current state of ArmA III is not the most satisfying, but it works great when you take care of managing its gigantic scale. That’s why it’s not so easy to make a good video about it. What other game can you say that about?

Thanks to the lengthy alpha and beta testing phase, the game has a lot of user-generated content, about half of which are remade missions from Operation Flashpoint (just kidding – exactly half). I’ve spent a lot of time in missions like Domination and Annex, which have become standard modes in ArmA and have remained just as enjoyable, and at the same time (I pay special attention to this) strongly remind me of ArmA II. There’s nothing wrong with that, it’s just that this game could use more variety – especially disappointing is the fact that there’s only one type of boat for all factions.

The intensity of combat

Meanwhile, on the periphery, you can find interesting missions. Operation Afterburner will allow you to control a fighter jet, Metal Gear Solid will bring a satisfied smile to all fans of the series, and the reproduction of the Navy Seals’ attack on Bin Laden made me reflect on the dullness of my life. Despite the objections of purists who do not want to see their favorite simulator tied to the Valve service, the integration of user content into the Steam Workshop is one of the best innovations in ArmA III. Now, obtaining new missions comes down to searching and subscribing or, in the case of multiplayer, connecting to a server and downloading the mission in-game.

However, despite its ease of use, it seems that Bohemia does not benefit much from introducing ArmA to a new audience – the presented missions are too conservative and few in number to fully showcase ArmA and explain why it is worth playing. Nevertheless, ArmA III is a new life for the game, which has always evolved over time with the help of the community. I have no doubt that I will spend many enjoyable hours in it because I firmly believe that people will be able to make something amazing out of it. And I am confident that this will largely be the merit of people who will not even be paid for their direct work – it is a bold and very effective way of development.

Unleashing heavy artillery

Is it absolute nonsense or absolute freedom? You can spend four hours in the game and then wonder what was happening there.

ArmA III is magnificent. Apart from Arma II, it is one of a kind. Over time, it will improve, but at the time of release, the game is not moving forward, but rather wavering in different directions.

Futuristic soldiers

Arma 3
Action, Co-op, Multiplayer
Bohemia Interactive
Bohemia Interactive
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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