Thursday, June 27, 2013

Arma 3 beta

Arma 3 just went to beta, and there's been a bunch of new content added. If you bought the alpha version, as I did, the game is automatically updated on Steam.

If you haven't bought it yet, the price has gone up, from $32.99 while the game was still in alpha to $44.99 now (still cheaper than it will be when the final game is released, though).

It's a great game. Now, I don't usually play first-person shooters, but this game isn't like that. Yes, you can run-and-gun, but that's not how most people play it. Arma 3 rewards teamwork. It rewards thought.

Of course, you can play it any way you want, and you can find people who want to play the game that way, too. I don't normally play multiplayer games, either, but this one is just too much fun - at least, when you find compatible teammates. (I've been playing mostly with this small group. It's been great fun.)

This is a military simulation, of course, but you can take that as seriously, or not, as you wish. Some groups strive for the utmost 'realism,' right down to having a permanent officer structure. Some are completely unorganized, nothing but run-and-gun. Most are somewhere in the middle.

But the genius of the game is that you can play the way you want. And you can play with other people - all over the world - who want to play that way, too. (You can play with anonymous people on open servers, but that's not much fun. Most people find communities to join, so they can play with friends.)

The other thing to remember is that you're playing missions designed by other players. The Arma 3 developers have created the tools, but it's the Arma 3 community which creates the content. So the missions vary in quality, of course, but - much more than that - they differ in design.

So you don't just find compatible people to play with, you find compatible missions, too. And you can find a mod for almost anything. (If you don't find one, you can make one yourself.) That really makes the game diverse!

The Arma series has been around for awhile, and Arma 2 has a big following. So the most popular mods from that are being duplicated in Arma 3, too. This game is still in development, so all this is just beginning, but there's already a big variety of different play-styles. (Unfortunately, beginning players might get confused about the game when they stumble upon a Wasteland server, for example, thinking they're getting the vanilla game.)

I thought the trailer above was neat, but this video clip really explains the details of Arma 3 development:

But even that might give the wrong impression. Yes, this is a detailed military simulation, but you don't have to be a wargamer to enjoy it. I barely know one end of a rifle from another, and the details of military equipment interest me not at all.

If that kind of thing does interest you, then you can certainly find people in Arma 3 who share that interest. If you just want to play another first-person shooter, you can find people who'll share that desire, too (though you might be happier with one of the many other shooters out there).

Now me, I really like the teamwork in this game. I couldn't care less about military realism. (Let's face it, it's never going to be 'realistic' if death isn't permanent, and I don't want to play a game like that!) I don't care enough about military equipment to even keep one rifle straight from another. But I like the teamwork shown here:

The people I play with aren't this organized - and I'm certainly not - but we still try to work together as a team. When you play together regularly, you know what to expect. If it's not exactly what you want, you can just find a different group. There's a lot of diversity in Arma 3.

As I say, I don't play multiplayer games, not usually. I didn't even buy Arma 3 expecting to play it multiplayer. (You can play many of these missions by yourself.) I've tried multiplayer games before, but... frankly, it doesn't take too many jerks in an online game to ruin it for me.

But Arma 3 is different, because you're not always playing with strangers. Sure, everyone is a stranger at first, but you can play with the people you like to play with. (And most people aren't jerks.) It takes time, at first, to find people you're comfortable with. And they might not play exactly the way you want to play.

But it's easy to try a group and move on, if it's not what you wanted. Or you can create your own group. The Arma 3 community is diverse, and everyone seems to recognize that. If you're not a jerk, you're welcome in most of these groups,... but there are no hard feelings if it doesn't suit you and you decide to move on.

I don't know how long this will hold my attention, but I'm certainly enjoying Arma 3 now. Currently, I play with some older gamers on Saturday and Sunday nights. I've played with some great guys in Europe, too, but it's hard to find the time for that, since their evenings are my afternoons.

But it's easy to love this game. It's complicated at first, but you don't have to know everything. I'm still very much a newbie, but you don't have to be an expert to have fun at this. As inept as I am at anything approaching a first-person shooter, this game is fun!

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