PC Gamer

Deliverance's cutscenes show off solid cinematography.

TRIGGERNOMETRY

We write about FPSes each week in Triggernometry, a mixture of tips, esports, and a celebration of virtual marksmanship.

The FPS genre has produced amazing stories, as proven by successes like Portal, BioShock, or Metro 2033. It s much more common, though, to see a pastiche of Rambo and Saving Private Ryan smeared over the top of more interesting mechanical stuff, like interesting movement, encouraging great teams, and a thriving competitive community. As Tyler dug into last week in his plan for a better Call of Duty, good storytelling is rarer than it should be, especially considering the resources behind major FPS franchises.

Still, I m nothing if not optimistic. While reviewing the winning mods in Arma 3 s Make Arma Not War contest, I came across Deliverance and found a case study in great storytelling from an unlikely source. Plot, characters, voice acting, and cinematography in amateur mods are routinely atrocious. But Deliverance pulls it off, and it was rewarded with a third place win in the single-player category. How does Deliverance get it right?

The insurgent forces live in bombed-out buildings and use what they can find.

Step 1: Take risks

Deliverance tells the story of a race war, a subject that Call of Duty wouldn t touch from a mile away with an unmanned drone. War breaks out after an Apartheid-like law is put in place on Altis, segregating the island s black population to the poor, undeveloped northeastern landmass.

There s a lot of ways this could go wrong. It s scary territory for a writer. But in making the attempt, Deliverance shows players interesting, nuanced minority characters by the dozen. The Wisecracking Black Sergeant from every war movie ever has no place here.

"Making players care about small, intimate conflicts would change the entire tenor of Call of Duty."

Part one of Deliverance follows a white member of the official Altis Army. He and his squad a well-armed, well-trained, and supported by heavy weapons and air support. As the group ventures north into segregated territory, there s a real sense of isolation as the comforts of the racist south get farther away.

In part two, the story follows a young black mechanic who has spent his early life suffering at the hands of the white government. After being attacked in the middle of the night by white frat boys in a flashy hatchback, he flees his home and joins the insurgent black army. Though the insurgents have greater numbers, they re armed only with ancient cast-offs and their own anger.

Expect to cover a lot of ground in Altis s pine-forested northeast.

Step 2: Give the player space

Deliverance gives players room to make their own decisions. Even though most of the set pieces are the same as Call of Duty in form, in practice they let you do what you want to do. During one mission, I needed to cross a valley and a road to link up with my squad. I could head straight across the center, crawling to avoid detection. Or, I could curve around the west side and kill a guard. All told, I had a square mile to do anything I wanted. (I ended up off-roading it to the rendezvous.)

Giving me the space to solve problems made me invested in their solutions. Once I became engaged in the plot, feeling connected to the characters around me was easy. I enjoyed the cutscenes in Deliverance, even though the animation was pretty rough. I think back to all of the times I rolled my eyes through a Battlefield cutscene because I didn t care that Grumpy Redneck Sniper was mad at Sarcastic Nerd Corporal. I wasn t interested because we were all sitting in a theme park ride together, and I couldn t escape the feeling that it would go on whether I was there or not.

A small squad behind enemy lines. This is what war movies are made of.

Step 3: Say something real about war

The central theme of Deliverance (besides the obvious: racism is bad) is the way war makes good people do bad things. Both protagonists have moments where desperation and tribalism lead them do regrettable things without pause. There are accidents and death that aren t caused by anyone being The Bad Guys. Deliverance shows that bad things happen when you give young men war paint and guns and set them loose.

As I mentioned, last week Tyler spent some time in this space thinking about how to save Call of Duty. I submit that Deliverance and stories like it hold the key to solving that game s image problem. Making players care about small, intimate conflicts would change the entire tenor of that series. Not having the burden of a globe-spanning, epic storyline makes a big difference. People die just as dead in Deliverance as they do in Call of Duty, but without the background noise of Mega America nuking Super China—or whatever—the characters can be real people telling a story about their lives. No normal human can carry that much exposition without an enhanced exo-suit, which is why it s so easy to get lost in it. When I get lost, I stop caring.

Deliverance is one example of how freedom and risk-taking can create stories in FPSes that can t be told in film or books. Maybe, just maybe, a huge yearly war game will take those cues to heart and use their considerable talent and monstrous budget to explore something amazing. I m nothing if not optimistic.

Deliverance took third place in the Make Arma Not War contest, single-player mod category. You can get it on Steam.

PC Gamer

You can t dissociate Arma from its terrain. Players joke about Arma and DayZ being walking simulators, but the reason they make that crack at all is because of how well most of Arma s stock and player-made maps hold up as authentic-feeling spaces despite the fact that they re often hundreds of square kilometers big.

At our PC Gaming Show today Bohemia officially revealed their next terrain for Arma 3, Tanoa, a South Pacific setting coming in Arma 3 s first expansion in the first half of 2016. Bohemia describes Tanoa as a South Pacific archipelago with a land mass of over 100km2, and home to lush tropical vegetation, unique landmarks, a rich history, and imposing man-made feats of modern engineering. It ll be bundled with new vehicles, weapons, gear, attachments, and more with Arma 3 s first expansion, which will be distributed as Arma 3 DLC, meaning it won't be standalone.

Lush. A far cry from Arma's often foliage-sparse landscapes.

This is the first time Arma has, outside of user-created mods, been set in the South Pacific. And although we can see a small variety of terrain types in the trailer, I m most curious about how Tanoa s dense jungles will influence firefights. Bohemia will almost certainly need to add new equipment (and perhaps vehicles) to help players manage the limited visibility in these areas, but this could be the first time that players (and AI) have large brush-covered areas to effectively hide in. Secondary to that, I m excited about the idea of island-hopping on rafts between missions.

You can watch the full interview with Bohemia below, and see even more screenshots further down:

Volcanoes: nature's LZ.
Mining machinery dots Tanoa.
Vacation in beautiful, embattled Tanoa.
PC Gamer
A piece of Altis, one of Arma 3's current default maps.

The war crafters at Bohemia Interactive posted a countdown clock today for an Arma 3 reveal timed for the evening of Tuesday, June 16. Hold on—that's the same time as our PC Gaming Show E3 event! Intriguing.

Bohemia will reveal the new, official terrain for Arma 3's first expansion live on stage (and live on Twitch). We don't know yet what sort of turf it'll be, but we'd expect it to be a departure from variegated Altis and Stratis, the pair of stock maps that the game launched with in 2013. Which terrain you're fighting on, Arma players know, has a big impact not only on what sort of experience you have as an infantryman or tank driver or pilot, but on the types of missions that the terrain inspires Arma's prolific modding community to create.

Bohemia Interactive CEO Marek Spanel had this to say in an official press release: "Following in the footsteps of Chernarus and Altis, the new Arma 3 terrain is already shaping up to become one of the most compelling destinations in the series, and we can't wait to show it for the very first time at E3," said Spanel. "Meanwhile, we also have exciting news to share about DayZ and Take On Mars, which - with the great support and patience from our players - are both working towards their next milestone in Early Access development."

If you can't wait 12 days, consider grabbing one of the many user-created terrains in the Arma 3 Steam Workshop.

PC Gamer

What's been picked for this weekend's Steam trial tombola? It's Arma 3, also known as that game your computer can only just about—if at all—run. The excellent military sim can be downloaded right now, and played until Sunday. That should be enough time to figure out if you enjoy being repeatedly shot in the face by army people.

It's also time enough to try out some of the game's mods, like the impressive, if obtuse, Hitman series. And if you happen to enjoy your time with the game, you can take advantage of Bohemia's weekend sale. Right now, Arma 3 is half-price on Steam. Other Bohemia titles have varying discounts: DayZ is 15% cheaper, while Arma 2 has a full 80% knocked off.

To download Arma 3, head over to the Steam page and jab your mouse into the Play Game button.

PC Gamer

The wait for Star Wars: Battlefront is going to be painful. Countless trailers, innumerous teases and speculations, and probably a controversy or two (this is Star Wars, after all). So wouldn't it be nice if we could boot up Arma 3 and start blowing up AT-ATs while we wait? In the video below modder McRuppertle shows off footage of an aborted mod he was working on last year, where you could do exactly that.

While it's unlikely to ever be finished, it does offer a tantalising glimpse into a world where you can fly a fighter jet straight into an AT-AT. A huge tactical sandbox shooter in the Star Wars universe would be incredible, so here's hoping McRuppertle gets some time to finish this off.

PC Gamer

Arma 3 just got real. More realer. Incrementally more realismistic than it was just hours ago.

Three prominent Arma 3 modding teams are merging to create the next iteration of Advanced Combat Environment, ACE3, a close-to-comprehensive rework of Arma 3 s systems and features. ACE has been a mainstay of hardcore Arma for years, it s essentially the platform that groups like Shack Tactical use as the foundation for their serious fun style of play.

I asked ShackTac founder Dslyecxi what excited him about the ACE3 announcement, and he rattled off: Consolidation of talent, open-source, modular, top devs, that sort of thing. I have confidence they'll deliver a quality product. Given the history of stuff like Black Mesa, any uber-ambitious modding project gives us a bit of pause even as we applaud its lofty goals. ACE s track record is excellent, though. And despite the long feature list, the way its announcement is tempered with focus is encouraging. We are devoted to NOT reinventing the wheel, finding the best solutions, and bringing them to one place, while also fostering a development environment that promotes stability and performance, developer NouberNou writes on the Arma 3 official forums.

Noubernou says that ACE3 s initial release goals will be made playable following Bohemia s release of the Arma 3 Marksmen DLC. Below, a list of planned features from the team.

Core features

  • Completely new 3D Interaction/Action System
  • Performance and reliability framework
  • Focus on modularity and customization
  • New flexible client and server settings & configuration
  • Improved medical system with various levels (Basic/Advanced) focus on gameplay/realism
  • Proper & consistent network synced weather
  • Wind and Weather Advanced Ballistics
  • Captivity System
  • Explosives System including different trigger types
  • Map screen improvements, marker placement and map tools
  • Advanced missile guidance and laser designation

Additional features

  • Carrying and dragging
  • Realistic names for vehicles and weapons
  • Realistic ballistics/FCS calculated in C/C++ extensions
  • Backblast and overpressure simulation
  • A fire control system for armored vehicles and helicopters
  • Disposable launchers
  • Realistic G-forces
  • Vehicle Locking
  • Realistic Night and Thermal vision modes
  • Magazine repacking
  • Realistic weapon heating
  • Combat deafness simulation
  • Improved Ragdoll Physics
  • Improved interactions for AARs and ammo bearers
  • Adjustable sniper scopes
  • No Idle Animation with lowered weapon
  • No talking player Avatar
  • Jumping over obstacles, climbing over walls and cutting down fences
  • Vector, MicroDAGR and Kestrel devices
PC Gamer

Arma 3 just got real. More realer. Incrementally more realismistic than it was just hours ago.

Three Arma 3 modding teams are merging to create the next iteration of Advanced Combat Environment, ACE3, a close-to-comprehensive rework of Arma 3 s systems and features. ACE has been a mainstay of hardcore Arma for years, it s essentially the platform that groups like Shack Tactical use as the foundation for their serious fun style of play.

I asked ShackTac founder Dslyecxi what excited him about the ACE3 announcement, and he rattled off: Consolidation of talent, open-source, modular, top devs, that sort of thing. I have confidence they'll deliver a quality product. Given the history of stuff like Black Mesa, any uber-ambitious modding project gives us a bit of pause even as we applaud its lofty goals. ACE s track record is excellent, though. And despite the long feature list, the way its announcement is tempered with focus is encouraging. We are devoted to NOT reinventing the wheel, finding the best solutions, and bringing them to one place, while also fostering a development environment that promotes stability and performance, developer NouberNou writes on the Arma 3 official forums.

Noubernou says that ACE3 s initial release goals will be made playable following Bohemia s release of the Arma 3 Marksmen DLC. Below, a list of planned features from the team. If you missed it, check out the winners of Bohemia's Make Arma Not War modding competition.

Core features

  • Completely new 3D Interaction/Action System
  • Performance and reliability framework
  • Focus on modularity and customization
  • New flexible client and server settings & configuration
  • Improved medical system with various levels (Basic/Advanced) focus on gameplay/realism
  • Proper & consistent network synced weather
  • Wind and Weather Advanced Ballistics
  • Captivity System
  • Explosives System including different trigger types
  • Map screen improvements, marker placement and map tools
  • Advanced missile guidance and laser designation

Additional features

  • Carrying and dragging
  • Realistic names for vehicles and weapons
  • Realistic ballistics/FCS calculated in C/C++ extensions
  • Backblast and overpressure simulation
  • A fire control system for armored vehicles and helicopters
  • Disposable launchers
  • Realistic G-forces
  • Vehicle Locking
  • Realistic Night and Thermal vision modes
  • Magazine repacking
  • Realistic weapon heating
  • Combat deafness simulation
  • Improved Ragdoll Physics
  • Improved interactions for AARs and ammo bearers
  • Adjustable sniper scopes
  • No Idle Animation with lowered weapon
  • No talking player Avatar
  • Jumping over obstacles, climbing over walls and cutting down fences
  • Vector, MicroDAGR and Kestrel devices
PC Gamer

The "Make Arma Not War" contest ran for over a year, which might sound a bit ridiculous until you consider that Bohemia Interactive was offering 500,000 (estimated at $680,000 at the time, now worth about $546,000—such is the nature of international exchange rates) in prize money. Serious inquiries only, in other words.

Bohemia announced the winners today, and they do look very serious indeed—with the possible exception of Get Wrecked, for reasons that will become clear when you watch the trailer.

Singleplayer Game Mode: 1st place ( 50,000) RESIST by Kydoimos 2nd place ( 30,000) Pilgrimage by Rydygier 3rd place ( 20,000) Deliverance by Sarge Studio

Multiplayer Game Mode: 1st place ( 50,000) King Of The Hill by Sa-Matra 2nd place ( 30,000) Battle Royale: Ghost Hotel by PLAYERUNKNOWN 3rd place (shared) ( 10,000) Get Wrecked* by Sli 3rd place (shared) ( 10,000) Twilight Onslaught* by Dorian23Grey

*These entries received an equal amount of points from the Make Arma Not War jury.

Addon: 1st place ( 50,000) Task Force Arrowhead Radio by Nkey 2nd place ( 30,000) Bornholm by Egil Sandfeld 3rd place ( 20,000) F/A-18X Black Wasp by Saul

Total Modification: Winner ( 200,000) RHS: Escalation by Red Hammer Studios

The Health Care in Danger Award, created in conjunction with the International Committee of the Red Cross, went to Pilot Civilian Air Rescue On Missions, by RobJ2210.

"On behalf of everyone here at Bohemia, I d like to congratulate the winners, and thank all of the contestants, supporters, and judges for their enthusiasm and hard work," Bohemia Interactive CEO Marek Spanel said in a statement. "As developer of the Arma series, it s very inspiring to see content creators bring such varied, creative, high-quality additions to the Arma 3 platform, as well as the passionate embrace of their efforts by the Arma community. The Make Arma Not War contest is an important first step in the promoting and rewarding of content creators, and we look forward to building upon this commitment in the upcoming year."

Up-close looks at all the winners, including screens, trailers, and detailed descriptions, may be found at makearmanotwar.com.

PC Gamer

The upcoming Marksmen DLC for Arma 3, and the accompanying free update aims to "redefine what it means to fire a weapon in Arma 3". The free update adds suppressors and bipod weapon attachments, heavy and grenadier vests and "nine new types of face paint". Oh, and "major" changes to weapon handling and sound.

Those changes introduce "weapon resting" which alters your weapon's accuracy when you're positioned on a stable surface. Bipods can be used to give you stability pretty much anywhere, and recoil and suppression have been tweaked to offer what Bohemia describes as "a more tactical, intuitive and rich experience". Guns!

The free update will also add a new multiplayer scenario called End Game, which invites teams to find and recover some useful schematics. There's also a new showcase scenario called "Firing From Vehicles" but who knows what that's about.

Meanwhile the Marksmen DLC, due April 8, adds seven new weapons including five long-range rifles and a couple of medium machine guns. There are also new ghillie suits and two "Remote Designators, which can be used to spot and laser designate targets from afar". These can be tested in new firing range drills and a new recon mission. The DLC will cost 10.99 / $15.99, available via Steam and through Bohemia's site.

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