What can I really talk about right now? I’m anticipating Grand Theft Auto V’s PC release, especially since I haven’t played it at all since a short PS3 rental in 2013. Instead of gearing up for it though I’ve just been playing a ton of ArmA 3 over the last week, finally diving headfirst into mods, particularly BECTI. This happened to coincide with a major new patch that changed the way guns feel and operate, also making some huge changes to the audio which I think drastically intensify the game. I guess I could run through some of this for people not already 100+ hours and 10GB of mods deep into this game.
My most important previous posts about ArmA:
As of this writing my squad just got done taking this relatively large town called Zaros, and we are just about fought-out as we begin a trek towards more towns, including the old capital Kavala where the central battle of this campaign currently rages. My squad, India team, and Echo team — in all no more than 20 men starting out, formed the entire right flank of the invasion of this region of island, swinging down a chain of towns to eventually encircle Kavala. None of the towns we hit were very heavily defended, but in sequence they took a toll, and Zaros was the biggest and most heavily guarded we had to take.
When we got there I believe we were already down to our last rocket between all three squads, and running low on bullets too. We’d been lucky enough to approach every town until now from level ground where we could tag almost all of the enemy from the outskirts, but we had to approach Zaros from the side opposite a hill, with little cover. Not only did we have to march into town and dig them out house-to-house this time, but the enemy could immediately retreat to the hillside and shoot down at us from there. India and Echo entered through a soccer field while I swung my squad to the right flank, and it was there we got bogged down when an APC and its grenade launcher wiped out Echo team to the last man.
Basically, taking the town really just involved us digging into a corner of it until I could get a shot at the APC with my last rocket… right when one of our tanks showed up to finish the job. Our next objective? A four kilometer trek across the southern coast to a couple more towns and eventually Kavala. We lost a whole squad, I lost three men, two more are low on ammo, we have no rockets left, and I’m sure there will be more APCs (I don’t think that tank is accompanying us). If I’m lucky I’ll be able to buy a tank of my own soon, and maybe later an attack helicopter.
That was a rundown of my current game of what’s called BECTI or “Benny Edition Conquer The Island” mod. If you read those earlier posts you’ll find mention of a “Warfare” mode that in previous ArmA games operated like a real-time strategy game across a massive sandbox map with each player as a single unit. One of the most well-known ArmA modders — Benny, modded that mode back into ArmA 3, applying it to its even larger world map. This video does a good job of explaining it. If you’re not the commander and don’t run it like an RTS, then a commander somewhere gives you unscripted mission objectives across the open world according to its own strategy. Most people seem to play BECTI in multiplayer, but I’ve just been doing singleplayer. In short, it feels like the most comprehensive simulation of war yet in a first person shooter.
The reason I’m into it is simple — it’s pretty much an entire truly open-world campaign that never ever repeats itself. I could even reload the same battle in the same town multiple times and have a different battle play out each time because the AI will make different decisions. In my opinion it’s one of the best ways you could possibly utilize the massive maps that ArmA involves.
Most of the mods I’ve been downloading are actually just fan maps and maps ported from previous games. Like the official ArmA maps, all the fan maps are based on satellite data — people just wanting to recreate real places in this game. Some are of Mediterranean islands similar to ArmA 3’s main zone Altis, one is a recreation of Wake Island, and a recent popular map is based on a region of Afghanistan. Developer Bohemia Interactive’s “Make ArmA Not War” mod contest recently ended, and one of the winners was a recreation of a Danish island called Bornholm.
I haven’t even started on the mod missions and campaigns I downloaded, which are more traditional narratives but still emphasize player choice and sandbox gameplay in these huge maps.
I just happened to get back into the game when Bohemia released its Marksman DLC and the accompanying patch. It’s sniper-oriented, but the patch affects all rifles because it redid the recoil system and added an ability for characters to rest rifles on surfaces for more stability. Most importantly Bohemia redid a lot of the game’s audio to make it even more realistic.
If Battlefield: Hardline is supposed to look like Bad Boys 2 or any number of police procedurals, ArmA 3 is supposed to look like those Afghanistan headcam videos on YouTube, right down to the pacing and the way characters behave. Watching a video of Hardline after playing ArmA makes the difference shockingly apparent. The latter game always had a distinct noise for bullets landing near you, but now it’s much sharper and much closer to what I remember from those headcam videos. Basically every gun is also louder — to the point where being near a sniper and his .50 cal actually hurt my ears when playing ArmA with surround sound headphones. I first noticed this when I got into the cockpit of a helicopter and it sounded like, well, I was in the inside of a multi-ton piece of flying machinery surrounded by loud moving parts.
For all the praise its audio gets, Battlefield sounds nothing like this game, and it shouldn’t. Battlefield’s loud noises are supposed to make you feel like you are wielding powerful weapons in your own personal action movie. Each gunshot in ArmA is supposed to make you feel like you are inches away from having a piece of iron slam into your face and kill you. This makes the contrast in ArmA’s pacing even more intense too, since 75% of the game is really just you quietly trekking through the countryside until without warning it explodes into a chorus of deafening roars and dynamic AI dialogue.
Now if only this game could get some actual quad core rendering so I can run it at more than 30 frames per second whenever the action picks up.
- GTA V‘s PC-exclusive music. http://t.co/DdkjRve3Cg
- USGamer has a guide in case you want to get into Super Robot Wars. http://t.co/hBGtXUiDB7
- Read this article if you ever wonder why today’s anime and Japanese video games seem really weird to you. http://t.co/WagcXBd16p
- I don’t keep up with comics that much, so it took me by surprised when I saw the first issue of what is apparently Brian Wood’s new series set during the American War of Independence.