The next installment in the Arma series from Bohemia Interactive has been a longtime coming with a few unexpected hurdles during the development process. To expedite the process and ensure the game reaches its eager fans, the developers have opted to release the game on Steam early with the Arma 3 Alpha. To sweeten the deal, any individuals that purchase the alpha version of the game will receive the final game upon its release. With the alpha version, players can test the game in its current state in various modes including a few single-player scenarios, multiplayer matches, and the ever-beloved editor that allows for either the creation of custom missions or simply the freedom to mess around with the game’s assets.
Individuals that have played Arma 2 since its release, or late adopters for the popular DayZ, mod will immediately notice the streamlined upgrade that Arma 3 has received in regards to the menu system and overall presentation of the game’s features. First-time players are provided with a field manual that covers all of the game’s mechanics from commanding squad members to navigating levels by using waypoints and the in-game GPS system. It’s clear from the game’s alpha version that the developers are aiming to capture a casual audience of gamers as well as returning veteran players. The addition alone of both the streamlined menu and in-game interface are a welcome relief to what usually accounted for unnecessary frustration in the series' past.
Not only have the menus been streamlined, but nearly every element of the gameplay has received improvement from character movement and aiming to more realistic handling of land and air vehicles. Even the ability to dive underwater has been added which opens the doors for modders to create custom missions that can expand into the ocean. The addition of ragdoll physics to the engine makes for a dramatic improvement of the game’s realism when both controlling characters and laying ruin to the opposing force. The newly-improved animation system allows for characters to twist and contort in nearly every way imaginable resulting in endless ways to approach mission objectives.
The most striking improvement from past games in the series is the visuals of Arma 3. Individuals can tweak every graphic setting from the anti-aliasing method to the quality of dynamic lights. Each of the visual settings at ultra quality requires quite a powerful machine, which hopefully will improve with additional optimization in the beta and final versions. The highly-customizable visual settings do allow for individuals without powerful hardware to make the game run at a playable frame rate. At nearly every setting, the game provides a massive visual upgrade from past Arma installments. With maxed settings enabled, Arma 3 is one of the most visually stunning games this year.
Only in the alpha stage at this point, Arma 3 already provides many entertaining experiences ranging from partaking in cooperative multiplayer scenarios to creating havoc in the editor. At its low price point and wealth of features already available, the Arma 3 Alpha is a great purchase as well as investment for both series newcomers and veterans.
The Arma 3 Alpha is available now on Steam.
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