Thursday, December 4, 2014

Sim pilot view on Arma 3


I've been spending a lot of time lately in Arma 3 so I've decided to share my opinion in this game from the point of view of a flight simulator pilot looking at the flight possibilities in Arma 3. This is somehow related to the recent release of Helicopters DLC for Arma 3, but I will not focus on that part since I did not get the chance to buy and try the full DLC, however I've had some fun with the flight improvements the DLC introduced that come for free for everyone with the latest Arma 3 update (most notably the new realistic flight model).

What is Arma?

Arma is a series of military simulation games developed by Bohemia Interactive, a developer in Czech Republic that is also producing professional military simulations (under the brand VBS) that are used by several armies to train their troops. Arma series is now at version 3 and it has built an remarkable community around it during the 9 (or actually 15 if you count Operation Flashpoint Cold War Crisis which was built by same developer and having the same characteristics). Arma 3 was released in 2013 and brought players a state of the art graphic engine that is comparable to other AAA titles like Battlefield series, a huge open world called Altis (a 270 square KM island located in the Mediterranean region), countless weapons, equipment and vehicles ranging from quad bikes to helicopters and Airplanes.

Arma 3 250 sq kmAltis island in game map with mission details

But what is the major feature of Arma 3 and Arma series in general is it's openness to customization and 3rd Party add-ons. Fans can customize every single aspect of Arma with community created add-ons and there are literally thousands out there (from single weapons to entire armies equipped with cars, planes and tanks). All these customizations can be downloaded easily from Steam workshop integration that comes with the game or from various online resources like Armaholic.
All in all there are unlimited possibilities on how to play Arma either multi player or single player. You can be pilot, a recon sniper, medic healing your team mates, tank commanders  or anything else related to military and beyond you might have imagined. All with real life physics, ballistics and weaponry.
There are plenty of online communities to join from hardcore tactics squads to Second Life type of RPG missions (called Altis life which has thousands of players and servers online) and endless possibilities of playing it single player (I have over 400 scenarios installed and keep adding more).

Flying in Arma 3

I could probably write hundreds of pages about Arma and its features but I let you discover these for yourself so it's time tell you about flying in Arma. Arma comes out of the box with several helicopters and fighter jets (not all of them existing in real life but very close to reality), a full list of vehicles could be found on the official page. Besides these you can start installing more via the community created add-ons.

Plenty of flying machines to choose from like jets, gunships or transport helicopters and many of things to do

Although jets can be a bit unrealistic sometimes in the way they fly they are quite fun. If you are into hardcore simulated fighter jets with all gears and switches, then Arma is probably not going to appeal to you since the flight characteristics of jets are quite far from reality (mostly due to the size of the maps), however they are quite fun to fly in combat mission and do their job in supporting ground troups with flying colors.

Where Arma 3 really shines, especially after the Helicopters DLC update, is helicopters. I did not get such a real feeling of flying a helicopter in any game. Having the detail ground with trees, rocks, building, cities, power lines  and all the other stuff that is very well rendered gives you a very good feeling when flying low and maneuvering amongst the obstacles or coming to land in the courtyard of a factory, building roof or hospital helipad.

Flight dynamics for helicopters are really good and helicopters behave very well at low speeds but in the same time keep you on edge to fly the helicopter properly (I can't say how many times I've lost torque and crashed into trees performing crazy maneuvers too low during combat).
And yes combat is the reason Arma 3 was created and where these helicopter do their best act. Game's helicopter vary in size from a AH-6 Littlebird to gunships like the Wildcat bellow or bigger transport helicopters, and pack quite a punch beeing armed with various weapons like mini guns, side guns, rockets or laser guided Hellfire like missiles.


Flying the Wildcat in a air assault mission

I haven't seem many simulation that had such detailed ground, extraordinary graphics, and so many possibilities of scripting and creating scenarios on the map. As you will see in the two videos bellow you can use the helicopters for more than flying from point A to point B, but actually feel part of the action like unloading troops in combat and providing them with ground support or helping a car crash victim get to hospital. There are plenty of scenarios available to download and you can create your own with ease via the built in mission editor.

Flying a community created dynamic search and rescue mission

So how detail are the cockpits and instruments in helicopter? Well I can't say they are as detailed as in other sims like DCS Hueys, but we would be comparing two totally different genres. While DCS Huey is built around the helicopter and with the main goal of flying helicopters, Arma  is built around the soldier and infantry fighting and offers way much more things to do, but in the same time it cannot go that deep into all the details and create every switch and lever in the cockpit, otherwise you would need a supercomputer or a datacenter to run it.

Every single house out there is enterable
But you still get basic working cockpit instruments, moveable cyclic and yoke, some hud's, some basic indicator lights, fully animated crew, and commands like engine start/stop, gear/up down, etc accessible via the menu. But I honestly say you don't miss having clickable buttons or panels, there are so many things to do during heavy combat or hot insertions this game is offering, that you won't have time to click them.
Arma is not about the helicopters themselves, but more on what you can do with them. And believe me there are plenty of things to do with a flying machine in this game as you can see in the videos bellow.

Happy flying!




1 comment:

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