PC Gamer

Bohemia Interactive's "Scanning the Horizon 2017" video offers a look at the studio's plans for the realistic military FPS Arma 3, including the upcoming Jets DLC, the Malden DLC that was announced last year, another one for Tanks, and something called Orange—named not for the infamous defoliant, but because it's being developed at Bohemia's new studio in Amsterdam.   

Orange is a "small development" that's "somewhere between Arma 3 Karts and Arma 3 Helicopters in size," Creative Director Jay Crowe said in the video. It will be properly announced later this year, but Crowe said it "explores a unique aspect of today's battlefield, a theme not often covered by other games," and will include "a couple of new vehicles, character clothing and gear, decorative objects, a mini-campaign, and more besides." 

The Jets DLC, being developed in partnership with Bravo Zero One Studios, will include three air superiority fighters, a drone, and some bonus content that Bohemia is keeping quiet about for now. It will support the new "extended damage model" and dynamic vehicle loadouts, but the "standout new feature," Crowe said, is the targeting enhancement, which is "built around adding greater depth to the simulation of radar and detection in Arma 3."   

Active radars give pilots the ability to detect multiple targets beyond the visual range, for instance, but the signals they send out also expose their position. Infrared sensors are passive but have a much more limited range, and are more susceptible to countermeasures. "Naturally, there's a lot more depth to this feature, and we plan to publish an op-rep soon to really dig into the details," Crowe said. "Overall, we see Jets DLC as really meaningful new gameplay [with] new choices that help balance the lethality of our advanced weapon systems in an authentic way." 

Jets will be premium DLC, but Malden, a "reimagining" of the Operation Flashpoint map of the same name, will be free for all plyaers. It will also include a new co-op multiplayer mode called Combat Patrol, which puts players together in infantry teams and confronts them with "heavily randomized" gameplay in selectable locales. More distantly, the Tanks DLC will add an "asymmetric package of armored vehicles" that will bring "new and improved gameplay to tracked and armored warfare." 

Arma 3 Jets is expected to be ready for release in May, and is available for preorder now at store.bistudio.com. Arma 3 Malden will be out on June 22, "Orange" is expected in the third quarter of 2017, Tac-Ops in the fourth quarter, and Tanks in the opening months of 2018.   

And now, because I like jets, more jets.

PC Gamer

Bohemia Interactive's long-runnning Arma series stands out from the modern military shooter crowd through its dedication to authenticity. In fact, in 2013 we named Arma 3 our Simulation of the Year, quite a feat for an FPS. If that sounds like your bag, the Humble Arma Bundle offers one of the best prices ever for Arma 3 ($15), nevermind the fact that you're getting much more at that price.

For $1, you get Arma: Cold War Assault, a re-release of the 2001 shooter Operation Flashpoint, plus Arma Gold Edition and the turn-based strategy spinoff Arma Tactics. Beating the average price adds Arma 2, the British Armed Forces, Private Military Company, and Army of the Czech Republic add-ons, and the standalone expansion Arma 2: Operation Arrowhead.

Break the magic $15 mark and you'll also get the most recent additions to the series, Arma 3 and Arma 3 Karts, which was originally an April Fools' joke but was so well-received by fans that Bohemia went ahead and made it into real DLC.

The bundle also includes a link to the free prototype for Project Argo, a 5v5 competitive tactical FPS that was announced last year. You don't actually have to buy the bundle to get access, though, you can just click here and have at it.  

Arma 3 is still $40/£30/€35 on Steam (plus another two bucks if you want Karts, and why wouldn't you?), and the earlier games in the series aren't freebies either, so this is a pretty solid deal if you're at all interested in giving the series a go. The Humble Arma Bundle is live now and runs until March 14.

Some online stores give us a small cut if you buy something through one of our links. Read our affiliate policy for more info.

PC Gamer

Arma 3 and its predecessors are model citizens for moddability. Bohemia's milsim is practically a platform more than a traditional game, a vehicle for 3D modelers and mission makers. In 2014 and 2015 the company ran Make Arma Not War, a yearlong contest meant to encourage modders to put stuff on Steam Workshop, which now contains tens of thousands of missions, tweaks, and objects for Arma 3.

Add to that pile these familiar bricks from Mondkalb, who's actually an animation lead at Bohemia Interactive Simulations, a separate group that makes VBS. Yesterday Mondkalb put "Operation Blockhead" on Steam Workshop, a mod that contains a handful of unique Lego civilians as well as some simple Lego bricks that you can insert into Arma's high-fidelity world. It's a modest mod, but the contrast between blocky men and Arma's photorealism is wonderfully weird:

Mondkalb says that his intention was "mostly to demonstrate how versatile the engine is." The mod is a fully independent character setup, including "original animations, ragdoll, weapons, clothes swapping, head and face textures, lip movement and of course hats." The plastic characters don't inherit all of Arma's mechanics—crouching and prone didn't seem to work when I tried it in the Eden Editor. I love the ragdoll effect on the characters, though.

Hopefully someone will take these assets and run with them. Lego Island fans—and I know you're out there—here's your cue to get to work on a total conversion set on Arma's 100 square-kilometer Tanoa terrain.

You can subscribe to Operation Blockhead on Steam Workshop or find it on Google Drive.

PC Gamer

Among 2016's many gifts (I couldn't even limit my favorite games of the year to 10), it was the year that the best large-scale cooperative FPS got an awesome jungle.

Call Arma 3 a 'military simulation' if you want, but to me it's a platform for saying some military words with your buds as you wander over big, cool slabs of terrain to shoot AI targets. That terrain matters a lot, though—Arma's maps are the centerpieces for each game. They're the canvases that amateur mission makers use to create the nighttime recon missions, ambushes, tank fights, assassinations, and thousands of other scenarios that populate the Steam Workshop. Their contours, towns, regions, bridges, elevations, forestry, and other details are what give Arma's scenarios character.

When Bohemia added a South Pacific archipelago to Arma 3 this year, it made the game grittier. Anyone who played DayZ knows what it's like to get lost in Chernarus' forests, but that feeling pales in comparison to Tanoa's paranoia-inducing jungles. In places, Tanoa feels like you've stepped into Predator (there's an Easter egg to this effect, too). 

Its overgrowth neutralizes some of Arma 3’s fanciest gear in a way I really like: thermal goggles and remote-controlled drones kind of suck when you’re inside a dense tropical forest with short sight lines, and helicopters have a hard time landing or spotting anyone hiding in the stuff. If Arma 3 in 2013 was about near-future tech, Tanoa nudged it closer to late-'80s warfare, where you had to wade through waist-high grass and your hands dirty rather than score kills with a recoilless prototype rifle with 10 attachments on the rail.

Tanoa has a clearer, more likable personality than Arma's other terrains, partly because it's 'just' 100km2, compared to Altis' 270km2. Arma 3's original map is massive and variegated, and it must be one of the biggest handmade environments ever released for a multiplayer FPS. But after awhile, its Mediterranean sunniness wore on me. Strafing an idyllic beach town with machinegun fire feels a little weird.

I love Tanoa's identity and the atmosphere it lends Arma. Its 100 square kilometers of tropical terrain is a cover album of real-life locations like Lihir Island and Fiji: huge swathes of jungle beside a variegated mixture of plains, shoreline, and scrubland. Populating the archipelago are farms, refineries, mines, beachside villages, logging camps, ancient ruins, and a dead volcano, all ripe landmarks for Arma's scenario editor. Step into the forest in the afternoon, and you’ll hear birds and insects chattering. But at nighttime, it’s a different sound: unsettling owls and other nocturnal things punctuating a constant cricket hum. Thunderstorms drop piercing rain and sky bass, imbuing any mission with drama.

It's a setting that encourages scrappy, grounded encounters—a lot of the missions in Steam Workshop are raids on drug lord hideouts or a similar theme, taking advantage of two of the added factions, Syndikat (local drug dealers) and Gendarmarie (militarized police). Creeping around through shrubbery with guerrillas or spec ops alike feels perfectly natural.

We already have a pretty clear sense of what's coming to Arma 3 in 2017: a variety of paid and free DLC with a focus on combined arms (including a return of Malden, the original Arma's terrain), and ongoing platform improvements. Modders will continue to fill in the gaps, but as an incredible year in PC gaming comes to a close I remain excited about the simple fun and tension of crawling on my simulated stomach through tall grass in Tanoa.

PC Gamer

Our Large Pixel Collider wouldn't be much of a gaming supercomputer if we didn't throw the most demanding games at it. As we completed work on our holy artifact, we made a shortlist of games that would challenge its power. Among The Witcher 3, Elite Dangerous VR, and Total War: Warhammer we add Arma 3, a high-fidelity, sandbox military sim that's infamously CPU-demanding.

See how the LPC handles Arma 3's landscapes, firearms, and systems in the video above. Want to know what other hardware we're running on the LPC? Check our specs at pcgamer.com/LPC

PC Gamer

The company behind Arma 3 and DayZ today announced a pair of new games, and they're both playable now in an early form.

Ylands and Project Argo are products of a new part of the studio dedicated to experimental games called Bohemia Incubator. While Bohemia says that its core focus is on Arma, DayZ, and Take On, it sees Incubator as a chance to test concepts at a very early stage. "There are several reasons for wanting to release experimental games and involve players into their development process. First and foremost, it can help us test whether certain design concepts work or not (and if they're fun!). But it can also help guide the development of our technology and tools (such as our next engine, Enfusion), or supporting services, like networking solutions and online community platforms," reads an FAQ response on incubator.bistudio.com.

The new projects are very distinct. Ylands is a sandbox singleplayer and multiplayer building game built in the Unity engine that's intended for all ages. It's colorful and low-poly, but Bohemia says it's "powered by advanced simulations," in the spirit of its other, high-fidelity games. The trailer shows off a few different settings and biomes, from a Wild West town to an archaeological site, forest, farm, samurai battle arena, to a midnight castle siege. It's currently available in Bohemia's store for $10, or as a free, time-limited trial.

Project Argo.

Project Argo is an Arma 3 total conversion that transforms Bohemia's massive military sim into a five-on-five tactical game. Right now Argo has three modes: two are focused on controlling sectors or capture points, and another on attack-and-defend. "In each of the three game modes, players also have the option to capture a paradrop, which can dramatically change the tide of battle adding yet another tactical element to the confrontation," reads the Argo website. Maybe most interestingly, Argo will play out on a renovated version of Malden, the original terrain in the first Arma game. This in-development remake of Malden will be added to Arma 3 as free DLC in June 2017, per the Arma 3 roadmap. An open prototype version of Argo is available for the next three or four months.

Alongside its announcement, Bohemia disclaims that these and other Incubator projects aren't guaranteed a final release. "Bohemia Incubator might seem to be very similar to Steam Early Access, but we'd like to make clear that the Incubator games can be far more rough or experimental," CEO Marek Spanel says in the announcement video. "We may even decide to cancel or stop supporting an Incubator game. And this is also why players will often be able to test the games for free."

In my view, this is all about Bohemia setting itself up to build or discover the next DayZ. The Early Access survival game, which began as an Arma 2 mod, sold 3 million copies as of January 2015, and its success has also driven interest in Arma 3, which remains one of the most popular games on Steam. As it did with the Make Arma, Not War modding competition, Bohemia continues its search for new ideas inside and outside its milsim heritage.

PC Gamer

Escaping the buzz surrounding Pok mon Go is, at this point, nearly impossible. Its greatest strength isn't that it's a good game, but that Pok mon Go challenges us to view our neighborhoods differently. Through the lens of your phone, that convenience store you never visit is now a 'Pok Stop,' and that memorial you pass by on your way to work is a 'gym.' But you don't have to play Pok mon Go just to have that kind of shift in perspective PC games have been tinkering with real-world locations for a long time. From the comfort of my computer chair, I've spent weeks discovering the joys of hauling dangerous materials in my Renault semi-truck between Poland and England in Euro Truck Simulator 2.

There's the prevailing myth that video games are often just a form of escapism, but Euro Truck Simulator 2 suggests just the opposite. Instead of running away from the real world, I'm gaining a unique understanding of it. Through the windshield of that truck, I'm beginning to see the twisting highways of Europe in a whole new light. With all of the tools that developers have at their fingertips, it's no surprise that most would want to spend their time bringing imaginary landscapes to life. But the subtlety of the world we live in can be just as memorable as the impossible realities dreamed up as backdrops for video games.

Euro Truck Simulator 2 might not be a perfect recreation of Europe, but its adherence to realistic driving makes the experience feel no less real.

Euro Truck Simulator 2 certainly takes liberties in its recreation of Europe by decreasing its scale, but it has a masterful understanding of how something as mundane as a realistically modeled exit ramp can teach a lesson. Learning how to downshift through seven gears while simultaneously reducing speed and navigating an agonizingly tight turn has given me an appreciation for hauling a 20-ton trailer that I'd never have otherwise.

Real locations that inspire real understanding 

What's fascinating about Euro Truck Simulator 2 isn't the ways it can make a mundane activity like truck driving interesting, but the fact that time and time again I walk away with a new appreciation for a real-world activity that I might not have had otherwise. My dozens of hours spent hauling haven t given me the skills to operate an actual truck. But they have given me an understanding of the nuances of driving them that extends beyond what I consider as I pass semi-trucks on the highway and I'm much more sympathetic to when they're struggling to make it up a hill now, too.

More importantly, video games that play with our own reality offer us spaces to engage in a way we could never do otherwise. Anyone can remember how terrifying it was stepping behind the wheel and learning to drive for the first time because there were tangible consequences to making a mistake. My first accident in Euro Truck Simulator might not have cost someone their life, but that didn't stop me from blushing furiously and fighting the need to apologize to the other AI drivers. Sims like Euro Truck Simulator 2 excel at poking holes in the wall between real-world experiences and those we traditionally have in video games, but there's still lessons to be gleaned from games that don't aspire to simulate reality with the same determination.

Safely navigating terrain in DayZ is a skill that has parallels to the real world except for the zombies and murderous bandits of course.

The sprawling forests of Arma 2 and DayZ's Chernarus are modelled heavily after Bohemia Interactive's homeland, the Czech Republic, but there's a pretty good chance that you've never been there. Still, by taking a real world location and using it as the framework for a fictional country, Bohemia Interactive created a layer of authenticity that few other shooters can achieve. Instead of building an environment that caters to the kind of experiences the developers wanted players to have, both DayZ and Arma 2, like our own lives, feel like products of the environment they exist in. As you begin to understand the landscape of Chernarus, you also begin to adapt how you play. Once you've been sniped in the head in an open field a few times, you learn to see pastures and glades not as shortcuts but death sentences. You learn to stalk along the treeline to maintain cover. I'm a wee bit embarrassed to admit that I sometimes find myself instinctively doing the same thing when I go out hiking.

Video games that play with our own reality offer us spaces to engage in a way we could never do otherwise.

That silly habit I've developed also illustrates the way games that model real-life create situations that inform how we act in the real world and how we behave in a video game. DayZ, for example, doesn't have a magical user interface that shows you where to go. Instead you need to lean on your own awareness of your surroundings, landmarks, and, if you're lucky enough to find them, a compass and a paper map. Being able to navigate the forests of Chernarus is, in many ways, no different than being able to navigate a forest in the real world but with the added reassurance that making a wrong turn doesn't mean wandering into a hive of agitated zombies.

Of course, this has also inspired more than a few pilgrimages by dedicated fans to the parts of the Czech Republic that were used to create Chernarus. Aside from what playing in these environments can teach us, there's an undeniable allure to comparing the two, which in turn can give us a greater appreciation not only for the effort that went into building these worlds, but the real locations that inspired them. When it comes to a game like Tom Clancy's The Division, the greatest thing that it achieved was creating a Manhattan that felt authentic despite the state of chaos it had fell into.

Side by side comparisons of Lemnos, the real-world counterpart to Arma 3's fictional island of Altis. Photo credit: moxer95.

As video games get progressively better at realistically modeling our world and find increasingly more creative methods to interact with that world, they also create opportunities to discover new ways of understanding our own. Whether it's through the camera on your phone as you hunt for Pokemon, the windshield of a semi-trick, or a pair of binoculars as you scout through the woods of Chernarus, each one offers a unique perspective that can inform how we behave in real-life. The lens might change, but the truth stays the same: Our world and the ways it intersects with games has plenty left to teach us.

PC Gamer

The long-awaited Apex expansion for Arma 3 rolls out today, following its announcement at E3 last month. Apex grows pretty much every aspect of the game, with the addition of a huge, South Pacific-themed 100 km map called Tanoa, and a campaign supporting up to four players in cooperative play.

The campaign puts players in the role of a NATO CTRG special operator, sent to Tanoa on a humanitarian mission. Naturally enough, things go a bit pear-shaped and firearms come into the equation. These will be plentiful, too: Apex introduces 13 new weapons, in addition to ten new vehicles.

Most interesting is the island itself, which features a range of environments yet to be seen in an Arma game. According to Bohemia it is "home to lush tropical vegetation, unique landmarks, a rich history, and imposing man-made features of modern engineering". Landmarks you'll encounter include a sugar cane factory, shanty towns, an industrial port and, most excitingly, a bloody volcano.

Anyway, there's a launch trailer which demonstrates all these things in flashy visual language, and you can see that below:

PC Gamer

As part of the PC Gaming Show today, Bohemia Interactive confirmed a release date for Arma 3's first expansion, Apex, which will be out July 11. Apex adds a new 100 square km map the South Pacific archipelago Tanoa new weapons and vehicles, and a co-op campaign, among other things.

Everyone who's pre-ordered Apex will get access to a sneak preview that includes everything except the co-op campaign (accessed via a Steam beta branch for the game). Check out the swampy new trailer above.

PC Gamer

If the thought of playing Arma 3 has always appealed but you've never bitten the bullet, here's a nice opportunity: the FPS war sim is free to play on Steam this weekend. That means you can download it and play until late on Sunday for zero dollars, but if you like what you see, it's currently 50% off until May 17 (that's $19.99).

Meanwhile, the Apex Edition of the game which bundles all DLC is available for $48.99. Is it worth your time, though? Bloody oath it is, according to Evan. It's "a significant step forward for the king of military simulation," he wrote in his review.

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