Published on March 8, 2013 at 10:34 AM | by Tom Visco0
Arma 3 Alpha Released
The next edition in the “Arma” series, the vaguely popular military simulation shooter that has grown exponentially since the realse of “Dayz,” is closer to release. Today, Bohemia Studios released an alpha version for “Arma III” on Steam and via its website. The “Arma” series is the spiritual successor to “Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis,” which released in 2001 by the same developer.
The alpha release costs 32.99 USD and contains a showcase mission for several parts of “Arma III’s” gameplay. Purchasing the alpha also guarantees Beta access and a copy of “Arma III” at release for no additional charge.
So, how is it? Well, it’s incredible.
The “Arma III” Team has done well to identify some of “Arma II’s” deficiencies and has effectively adjusted. The inclusion of ragdoll physics, modular modifications and a gorgeous graphics update will surely catapult “Arma” from a buggy sandbox with an upside for modders to a fully realized, entertaining and, most importantly, entertaining shooter.
Let’s start with the engine. “Arma’s” strength has always been its realistic environment. Physics, weather, player models and weapons are all fully integrated in the game world. Players navigate the world realistically, with a full bone structure that governs movement. Moreover, just like the real world, the game world is not designed for players, rather, the players must negotiate with a natural terrain not optimized for human movement.
While great at simulating the world, this has also always been “Arma’s” weakness. Clipping, glitching and physics problems have always been an issue in every iteration of the game. “Arma 3” seems intent on navigating this problem as best it can. This initial release highlights some physics fixes, especially with vehicles.
The engine has been upgraded with more realistic animations – the best of which is the new reloading animations for rifles and grenade launchers. The view distance has also been noticeably improved.
However, as it is an alpha release, the game does have optimization issues, but I’m hopeful these will be worked out throughout alpha and beta testing.
The biggest improvement is “Arma 3” is the new combat movement features. Stances are the greatest “Arma” innovation ever conceived. Instead of the three normal postures – standing, crouching and prone – “Arma 3” has introduced a way to hybrid these three stances to provide cover in any terrain. The positions range from standing on your toes to lying on your side, and adjusting your firing stance amidst a heated firefight is an easy and useful practice.
Combat movement is also no longer restricted to just walking, jogging or sprinting. The new ‘tactical movement’ feature allows the player is either crouched or standing position to jog lightly with a weapon raised. Both these new features add something to the realism of the experience, but, more important, they give the player as many options as possible to engage a situation.
The weapon selection is sparse in this release, again though, I expect this will increase exponentially with the beta and full releases.
Finally, the modular inventory features allow for limitless customization for clothing and weapons. All primary weapons have three modular slots, a barrel mod (silencers, etc.), a rail mounted object (lasers, flashlights), and a scope. I’ve tried most of the available scopes, and they all feel sufficiently differentiated and useful for a variety of engagement distances.
The inventory is broken into three carrying objects, uniform, vest and backpack. The uniform is the smallest of three, and only able to carry a few, if any, small objects, like magazines or medkits. The vest is your main carrying device, housing most of your ammunition and grenades. The backpack isn’t demonstrated too much in the current release, but there’s a variety in sizes and colors.
Community continues to be the backbone of the “Arma” gameplay experience. “Arma 3 Wasteland” servers are already operational, and “Arma 3” seems to be fully operational when it comes to the modding community. As the game improves, these mods, which are now the primary way to experience “Arma 3” will continue to become more sophisticated and fun.
The beta release is slated for Q2 2013 and the full release is scheduled for Q3 2013. We will keep you updated with any new developments or must play mods. Until then, happy gaming.