E3 2011: Arma III Preview

"Bohemia Interactive is implementing an insane level of detail for the 900 square kilometer game world they have designed, the largest yet in the Arma series."

One of the most exciting but more obscure titles at E3 was Bohemia Interactive’s third installment of the Arma series. There were plenty of new details revealed about Arma III in Bohemia’s live gameplay presentation. Although much of the sounds and effects seen in the demo were elements from the older Arma II engine (the new engine is not complete yet and the video is by no means representative of the final build of the game), there were still a lot of other awesome new features to be impressed by.

One of the new features includes the use of photorealistic terrain and water environments. Bohemia Interactive’s presenter Ivan Buchta revealed new details on the real-world Mediterranean island location of the game’s plot including its name: Lemnos. The gameplay demo begins with the player character falling through the air from great altitude, giving us a bird’s eye view of the beautiful terrain of the island. Bohemia Interactive is planning on an insane level of detail for the 900 square kilometer game-world they have designed, the largest yet in the Arma series.

 
Aryan Vahedi

         

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 Players disappointed with some of the quirky animations in Arma II will have much less to worry about with this iteration. It is also important to mention the beauty and focus brought to the aquatic environments in this title. Besides having much more realistic looking water at the surface, the player character can actually swim and dive into the water revealing a whole new frontier to explore. This addition really adds to the special operations experience as missions can be designed that require an aquatic-based approach to objectives. I am sure the excellent mod community of Arma is very pleased to hear this news. In the footage, you can also see a submarine in the water. Although Bohemia has always been a game in which you can truly get into and commandeer every vehicle, the submarine is more of a static object and not able to be piloted. However, the player will have other options to navigate through the waters including heavily armed speed boats and underwater sea scooters. Although promised there are no details yet on the marine life we will be able to see in these waters.

Another focus of the gameplay demo was the impact of the physics engine on vehicle simulation. Now there is much more realistic interaction of vehicles with the outside world. Occasionally in Arma II, you could cause your vehicle to flip over dramatically driving over objects like small boulders. It seems the new engine will prevent these kinds of glitches from occurring. In the video, the presenter demonstrates how vehicle driving is smoother and easier to do as well. Also in the video, the presenter showed how vehicles with different weights interact differently with various objects. Of course the heavier and more armored the vehicle, the easier it should be to drive through say, a UAZ roadblock. Other vehicle elements have also been improved. For example, there is a great deal more attention given to instrument clusters and other interior features. And on the outside, you will be able to observe a difference in the vehicle’s appearance as weapons like rockets are fired and their pods left exposed and empty. This kind of attention to detail will be very interesting to learn more about as we get closer to Arma III’s release next year.

With hopes of expanding the series to a wider audience, it seems Bohemia has put particular emphasis on creating a better single-player experience for the next Arma. The game’s plot is set in the near future. NATO is in Europe and is attempting to hold off a large offensive from “the east” in what has become a global conflict. In the official Arma III forum, some discussions have led to the idea that one of the opposing force factions may be Iran. This theory is founded on the appearance of a flag similar to the Iranian flag on a soldier in one the screenshots released by Bohemia (also visible in the gameplay video). Of course, it is probably too soon to try and come up with any significant conclusions about what armies might compose “the east".

In single-player you will play as Captain Scott Miller, a member of British Special Forces. The character winds up on the occupied island of Lemnos after a botched NATO operation and must initially survive and adapt on his own at a time of great conflict in the region. The player will be able to choose from a wide range of objectives according to his/her play style. Niches range from lone wolf infiltration operations to commanding large scale armored vehicle offensives and more. Of course being set in the near future, the development team has accounted for much of the tech at the disposal of the world’s future armies. Players should expect to most easily complete their mission objectives by using all of the advanced weaponry they have at their disposal including UAVs, artillery, and air support.

Arma III will continue to give that pure sandbox feel so appreciated by fans of the series. Bohemia has a lot of other new features planned for the game's completion in order to fulfill the always massive Arma experience. For example, there are over 50 villages which will be featured in Lemnos. Also, you will be able to enter or destroy all of the buildings on the island. The 3D mission editor should provide plenty of content beyond what is packaged with the game as well. Other new features like being able to actively change your weapon modifications, a new inventory interface, and volumetric clouds (able to provide cover for aircraft and makes the world look a hell of a lot more prettier) are welcome additions to an already spectacularly deep game. I look forward to and will keep you posted on all of the latest weapon, vehicle, story elements, and other features to be announced as Bohemia continues to develop what looks like the most exciting version of Arma yet.

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