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ARMA 3 Alpha

By Apollo08-03-2013
StuntmanLT (editor)
Bobfish (editor)
ARMA 3 Alpha

The Defence

Bohemia Interactive
Bohemia Interactive
Shooter, Simulator
Release Date:
Q3 2013

The Prosecution

Intel Core i5 2300
AMD Phenom II X4 940
Nvidia GeForce GTX 560
AMD Radeon HD 7750
4 GB
20 GB
10, 11

After roughly 4 hours of the ARMA 3 alpha, I've played all four “Showcases” which are brief scenarios to show off infantry (land and underwater) and vehicles (land and air), both of the coop scenarios, some multiplayer deathmatch, and I've even created some custom maps in the Editor.

The game, technically, looks great. On a PC with AMD Phenom, a Radeon 6950 (2gb), and 4gb DDR5 RAM the game is only really playable on medium settings without staggering lag, which is odd as this PC can max out almost every other recent title. Any higher than medium and things drop beneath 20FPS. There are a multitude of great graphics settings to toggle and each have a clear impact on visual quality (except terrain detail - I didn't see it change much). The world is spanning and beautiful, the character models are crisp and incredibly well-animated, and the level of detail inside vehicles and on guns/uniforms is so beautiful that it alone is a source of lag. Muzzle flashes and explosions at night are stunning. Sunrises and sunsets cast a warming glow across the land. It's very clear - even just from the ALPHA stage - that Bohemia has put a lot more effort into making the visual experience a memorable one. Veterans of ARMA 2 will remember how dated the game looked even on release. This likely won't be the case. In addition to all the visuals, the sound is light-years better. Gunshots sound like guns, the pops of your shots and distant shots echo appropriately through the valleys that carve their way through the island the game is set on. Muting the ingame music is recommended - it sounds like an awkward 80s action flick soundtrack.

ARMA 3's strongest feature is the multiplayer coop, allowing 20-player missions and more.

ARMA 3's strongest feature is the multiplayer coop, allowing 20-player missions and more.

The alpha is very sparse. The few missions it has to offer are fun, but the number of vehicles and weapons in the game are minimal. BLUFOR have two cars, two helicopters, and a very short list of guns to pick from. Still, I found myself bogged down in nail-biting firefights with coordinated and intelligent AI. Occasionally, when approaching a collection of enemies corpses to loot after a fight, some of the enemy AI would be lying prone, facing away from their friends' dead bodies and totally clueless to my presence (even when only 5 feet away). Though, don't expect any crazy missions from the editor yet as the content is EXTREMELY limited at this point. The single player offerings and the AI look strong and the most fun I've had so far has been with the multiplayer coop scenarios. Everything you loved from ARMA 2 is back and better, and it's accompanied by many other terrific features like the tactical pacing and stance options.

Competitive multiplayer is a laughing-stock at the moment. While Bohemia will surely address the majority of these concerns, the competitive MP is a train wreck. Servers of 40 people can't start the match unless all 40 people hit “ready” to advance to the next screen...only to have to wait again for all 40 to stop messing around and hit “ready.” There are no vote to start options, and majority certainly doesn't rule. I waited 15 minutes as some guy trolled the server and continually un-readied himself (there is no vote-kick feature either). Once in a match everyone learned the hard way that there are invisible boundaries around the battlefield that insta-kill you. Yes. That's right. They don't tell you to “return to the battlefield” and they're not even marked on your screen. You'll be in a firefight one moment, the next you'll try to flank around a small house and you'll just fall over dead. At the start of a match, once about a dozen of my teammates darted to the right of a road for cover and all but one or two fell over dead when they hit the invisible barrier. Telling friend from foe is also excruciating, as Bohemia have done little to mark friendlies on your HUD and uniforms between OPFOR and BLUFOR are very, very similar.

Now again, if you're an ARMA addict and you need to get a taste of what the future game has in stock for you, the alpha is a fun sneak preview. But if you want to decide whether ARMA is for you, or if you want to try running it on your PC - then avoid this at all costs. The alpha is full of debilitating frame drops and lag, yet starved for more content. I'm sure Bohemia can deliver, and such shortcomings are only expected in an alpha.

The lighting in the alpha is already beautiful. It can only get better from here.

The lighting in the alpha is already beautiful. It can only get better from here.

ARMA 3's alpha is a poorly-optimized, bare-bones preview of what looks to be an exciting game with great potential. Anyone looking to gauge their computer's ability to run the game should not purchase the ARMA 3 alpha as a metric, yet if you're looking to get a tease of what the game should offer this Fall then get to it - you're needed on the battlefield. Just remember - it's an alpha. The game has not gone gold and it's readily obvious from the start that this is a very stripped-down version.

ARMA 3 is available for pre-purchase on Steam and the Bohemia Interactive website in several forms. Pre-purchasing it unlocks access to the Alpha (which is available now), the Beta (which hasn't been announced yet), and the full game (when it comes out some time in Q3 2013). Going by American dollars, you can pay $33 for the base game. $50 affords you “Deluxe Edition” containing the [odd and unfitting] soundtrack, digital maps of ingame regions, some kind of strategy guide, and a copy of ARMA: Cold War Assault. Lastly, only available on Bohemia's website, is some “Ultimate” edition for $100. It pre-purchases all future DLC for ARMA 3, and has some other little offers - time to choose.

Comments (2)
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Posts: 240

Installed the Lite version last night and I can safely say that it's near time that I should buy a new graphics card. But, of what little I played, I noticed all the improvements to Arma 2's engine and the gameplay immediately. Absolutely astonishing sequel by the looks of it so far.

Posts: 4

I can't wait to get my hands on this!