Up-And-Comig ArmA 3 Mod: Dynamic Recon Ops

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Operation Swampforce had me leading a team of three AI recon soldiers into a lumber mill just north of the town of Berezino to assassinate an officer, blow up a storehouse, and grab some intel. Overall the mission went off without anything too disastrous happening, but I did have to call some audibles which put the team into some pretty serious gunfights. This all came out of an ArmA 3 mod based on random generation.

A lot of ArmA 3 mods rely on randomly throwing a bunch of factors together, often with mixed results. This game is the kind of simulator with a bunch of systems that react to each other so dynamically that just tossing them all together in a bunch of random ways: enemy placement, objective generation, Bohemia Interactive’s large and dense maps, can create some legitimately cool situations. The recently released “Dynamic Recon Ops” from mbrdmn is the most successful attempt at this I’ve seen yet, and it’s because it seems to take a more measured approach to random generation.

DRO gives a team of four, either co-op or a solo player controlling an AI team, a random or selectable number of objectives centered around a random location on one of the six maps it currently supports. You can customize factors like player faction, opposing faction, civilians, team member classes, time of day, the size of the area of operation, method of insertion, and make some of those things random. It works surprisingly well because the random generation follows some rules to keep missions orderly and interesting.

After patrolling through a mostly empty southern part of Berezino from the forest south of town, I was able to find a pretty good observation point from which to pin down the officer’s exact location — an apartment complex across a couple of roads from where he was supposed to be. From the balcony of the top floor I was able to spot him and a guard standing in a doorway.  I guess I could have used my rifle to take him out, but I went ahead and used my rocket launcher to be sure.

After this I had to make it down a street directly towards the storehouse. Just as I started towards that street I spotted a new complication: an APC, but it turned around and sped off before I could get another rocket off at it, determine whether it had a machine gun, or before it could spot my team. Using the buildings along the street for cover my team slowly made its way toward the intersection near where the officer and storehouse were, immediately south of the mill. When I got there I laid the only satchel charge I could carry, but it wasn’t enough. I would have to get to the resupply crate spawned by guerrillas… which was on the other side of the mill.

It was another slow slog through all the enemies in and around the mill. This was also apparently where all the civilians had had gathered, a couple enemy soldiers shooting at my team from a crowd of five or so of them. After making it through all that and grabbing a couple more satchels from the supply crate, I turned a corner back towards the storehouse to see that APC driving towards my team and I, letting loose with a machine gun.

It turned and tried to drive off again, perhaps after it saw me aiming at it with my last rocket. I had to take the shot at it while it was driving away at an angle and through some trees lining the road, but it was a direct hit. There wasn’t much resistance left when I took my team towards the intel to the north or towards the field where our exfiltration helicopter touched down once I’d grabbed the intel.

Where other random generation ArmA 3 mods typically plant enemies and such in the middle of nowhere to keep them from colliding into things, DRO ensures missions center around towns and other important locations. Objectives will usually be positioned in or around buildings — uncommon for RG-based ArmA mods, and those tend to be heavily guarded. AI characters in ArmA don’t actually mess around in buildings that much but DRO commonly positions them indoors which makes more use of Bohemia’s materials. The mod will even randomly generate checkpoints along roads. All this leads me to believe mbrdmn might actually have set up enemy and mission placements around towns and important locations by hand to a degree, and then randomized those hand-crafted elements. If so, then it’s sort of a balance between random generation and hand-crafted missions. DRO even has mission briefings. They’re usually the same every time, but it’s nice mbrdmn wrote the briefing to accommodate all the possible objectives you might get and where they might be assigned.

Things were pretty glitchy at first (even given ArmA’s existing clunkiness), with teammates sometimes getting stuck upon spawning, or the mod failing to load properly, but in my experience mbrdmn has been pretty persistent and successful at cleaning up the issues. Having released in June, DRO is still fairly hot out of the oven so it’s probably going to get more support.

After probably a dozen missions as of this writing, things haven’t gotten stale with DRO, probably because I haven’t even scratched the surface of all the locations to which it can take you. It started out supporting ArmA 3’s main maps: Stratis and Altis, but added Tanoa from the Apex expansion, and now also supports Chernarus, Takistan, and Zargabad from ArmA 2. Specifically it supports the versions of the ArmA 2 maps provided by the CUP mod pack which brings a bunch of legacy maps, units, and vehicles from previous Bohemia games into Arma 3.

This is probably how I’m going to be spending my time in ArmA 3 for a while.

BULLETS:

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