With helmets clipped tightly, rifles clocked and ready to fire, it’s time to wage war in the expansive battlefield that is: Arma 3. As a war games enthusiast the minute I saw this game was up for review I jumped at the opportunity and snaffled it up before any other reviewer could get their hands on it. In the past few years the shooter genre has become increasingly popular with the Call of Duty franchise revolutionizing first person shooter multiplayer games on consoles and the Battlefield franchise bringing beautiful war environments that span kilometres after kilometres of land. Although these games bring a lot of interesting features to the table I feel that both lack a sense of realism which would make the game more engaging to the user. Combining two key factors we can define the middle ground that Arma fits perfectly within. Combining both the fun aspects of Call of Duty and Battlefield and the realism of older games such as Operation Flashpoint we are delighted with a war game that’s more of a simulator than a videogame. Arma was previously a much underrated franchise and had a very small fan base until around summer of 2012 when Dean ‘Rocket’ Hall released his very own modification for Arma 2 called DayZ; which took the world by storm and boosted Arma 2’s sale by over 200%! This was all down to Bohemia Interactive open-source idea of making the game fully customizable and allowing modifications to be played on their servers.
Now in 2013 Bohemia are back with the latest edition of the Arma series! However this time they have decided to do things a little differently and became part of Steams early access program allowing people to buy the alpha and beta versions of the game to test before the final release. In the past 2 weeks the game has made its transition from Alpha to Beta with a whole host of new updates and bug fixes to make the game more enjoyable. Although I never participated in the Alpha testing I have watched a few videos on YouTube of the alpha test and in comparison to the beta they have done a fine job in fixing all of the bugs that were initially present. The first thing I noticed on start-up of the game is how improved the new menu system is in comparison to Arma 2, with much more detailed headings and sub-categories and a massive improvement to the settings option which was terrible in Arma 2. After a quick glance at the various game-modes available I decided it was time to look at the options menu in more detail and it is definitely much improved over the shoddy system in Arma 2. There are currently 5 pre-sets for graphics options and these can also be tweaked in more detail if you desire. On my gaming laptop with all settings cranked up at maximum I churned out an average of 34 frames per second which is very good in comparison with the poor optimisation of Arma 2 where I struggle to get 20.
Currently the game has a few scenarios for the user to try to show off the latest addition to the game; however there are currently no missions available to play so if you are expecting a lot of content then it may be best to wait to avoid disappointment. Out of the few scenarios I tested the diving scenario which involved me scuba diving underwater to disable a few mines, taking out a patrol boat then seizing a small seaside village nearby. I recorded this test and it is all available to watch on my YouTube Channel, if you wish to see it then click here!( https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iWc_VCmPbec&feature=c4-overview&list=UUySBNEudcQFvNxSfWXXvR6A) or see below:
Firstly I noticed how beautiful and detailed this game really is, with every ripple of the ocean detailed in glorious HD and the sunset glimmering off the water is truly a magnificent moment! As I swam through the water I witnessed sharks, fish and an abundance of wildlife and coral living and breathing in this expansive glorious map (Stratis to be precise) this game is absolutely breathtakingly stunning and completely contrasts from the grittiness of Arma 2. This new setting is by far superior to the previous setting of Arma 2 and it shows off the new game components that Bohemia has added in much more glory. Overall, the gunplay and combat system is relatively the same as Arma 2, they have added a few neat features such as weapon attachments and much more clothes but apart from that they haven’t added too many new features in terms of the weaponry.
In terms of vehicles the beta has very few which I am quite disappointed about, it currently has around 4 land vehicles, 1 helicopter which I am majorly disappointed about and a few boats for the player to use. I hope to see much more helicopters being added in the near future as Arma 2 had far much more content than this. Other than a few scenarios and multiplayer there really isn’t a lot of content available at this current moment for Arma 3 in my honest opinion, although I do urge people to go out and buy this game as its absolutely fantastic I feel that more content is needed in order to justify the 29.99 price tag to gain the early access. In addition to this the game currently suffers from a few bugs with one super speed bug which is extremely frustrating and has made me rage quit on numerous occasions. Nonetheless, the game does have immense potential and I have had many a good time playing online with a few other squads and feeling truly immersed in the battlefield.
Overall, I think that Arma 3 beta is an absolutely fantastic game and is a bonus to the already thriving series. I feel that the new components bring a more immersive and realistic experience to the player. I think the graphical upgrade and the improved optimisation are 2 features that the fans had been asking for and Bohemia have certainly delivered on these promises. Although there is a slight lack of content and there is quite a few bugs currently present we have to bear in mind that it is only in beta stage and there is much more content, improvements and bug fixes to come in the future. I would definitely say this game would benefit from a console release but I urge the developers not to lose touch with their PC fan base and to stick to what they do best!