Arma 3 PreviewPublisher: Bohemia Interactive
Platform: PC Exclusive
If there’s one thing we like about Bohemia Interactive (other than their games) it’s their consistency. Right now the team must be on top of the world, having had a massive community spontaneously form around DayZ and a whole new market opened to them – not to mention the sudden climb in sales of Arma II that comes with both those points.
And yet, despite the sudden surge of popularity on top of the team’s already established fanbase, nothing seems to have changed for Bohemia. They still have the same small, open-fronted booth at GamesCom as they’ve had for the past few years, with no real sitting room and just two PCs stuffed into claustrophobic corners. Consistency; that’s what we like about Bohemia.
Well, that plus the fact that the games are impressive and big enough to blot out all the noise and bustle from the rest of the show, of course. That’s the magical thing about a game like Arma; the sheer scale and the level of detail with which it’s been captured is enough to boggle us every single time we see it. When Bohemia begins its demonstration we get a vista of photorealism that stretches to the horizon, where the countryside of the island dips to meet the Aegean. It’s breathtaking and it looks like the view goes on forever – but it’s only the beginning.
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“This is actually the smallest of the Greek islands we have in the game,” says Arma 3’s game designer, Karel Moricky. “And on full settings you’d be able to see much further than this, but current PCs won’t run that just yet because we’re thinking of hardware a few years down the line.”
Again, that’s an attitude which Bohemia has made consistent throughout Arma 3, projecting much of what the game offers into the future and presenting players with a view of what military hardware will look like in the 2030s. The entire political landscape of the future has been altered, in fact, with the game centring around a NATO/Iran conflict on and around a handful of Greek islands. Around
being the key word, as the foremost of Arma 3’s many big features is the introduction of scuba gear.
It’s these underwater sections which Bohemia is apparently most keen to show off, with the demonstration starting with a spurt of sub-sea violence as Iranian forces close in. Scuba firefights don’t seem all that different to normal battles though once you get accustomed to the complications of movement and range. Instead, what’s far more complicated by the introduction off scuba are the coastal encounters, where enemies and squadmates can both emerge from and take cover in the water whenever they want.
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Scuba isn’t the only new thing that’s been introduced to Arma 3 of course – the demonstration we’re given covers all sorts of technical and military esoterica. There’s talk of new muzzleflash systems and suppressors (including a brief jargon-studded aside on the difference between that and a silencer), of new lighting technology that allows an unlimited number of sources in a scene. To us though, scuba remains the focus not just for the new potential it brings to skirmishes but also for the change in tone that it implies – one that’s more covert and indirect than Arma is sometimes known for.
This too is something which Bohemia is deliberately trying to bring into the game and to keep consistent throughout the campaign experience; the word ‘guerrilla’ crops up several times in the demonstration. It’s a term that’s being bandied around by lots of developers at the moment though, with everyone from Crytek to Ubisoft Montreal talking about how they want players to feel like stealthy action heroes against the odds. There might be a concern that Bohemia is just chasing a trend…
But it isn’t – and what sets Arma 3 out from all those other games is again that sense of consistency the team has. Bohemia is a studio known for making high-quality simulations that would be perfectly suited to this intense, stealth-action approach. It’s something the team has done before and which, even with the added pressure on the team at the moment, we definitely believe it can do again.
Arma 3 will be published by Bohemia Interactive exclusively on the PC next year. Until then, why not read about the other games we saw at GamesCom 2012!