There’s no shortage of army games out there, especially first person shooters where you play some soldier guy shooting up foreigners in the desert. While these games do tend to have the edge on storyline (just about), there’s a rival in the form of the ARMA series which gets everything else spot on- from combat mechanics to authenticity to sheer terror of combat. The latest entry, Arma III, is a huge sandbox of military action that might even teach you a thing or two.
Go to war
Arma III is much closer to a military sim than an action game, so if you wanted a quick run around while shooting people with casual difficulty, you’re out of luck here. If you want a Dark Souls FPS, then you’re in for a treat! With realism as the major factor, players of Arma get killed without warning. A faint ‘whoosh’ and your truck explodes. A ‘ping’ hits the wall beside you and then you’re down. Your squadmate calls out an enemy 50 meters away that you simply cannot see. In other words, this can be a very frustrating game, but it’s a real pleasure when things go right because you can’t just run in and shoot- you need tactics, patience and a bit of military know-how. Seizing high ground, using visual cover and engaging the enemy at the right moment are all essential. A wealth of weapon loadouts and vehicles give both your tactics and challenges variety.
Glitchy but great
To highlight this realism, consider that you’ll most often be firing from 500 or more meters away, adjusting your shots for the drop of the bullets! This attention to detail runs throughout the game engine, simulating lens flare, sound travel and more. Visually it looks stunning, with wide open vistas and photorealistic textures. Sometimes things will look a tad clunky, which is partly because Arma III is made by a smaller studio, but they constantly update the game. The latest Apex update added things like vehicle-in-vehicle transport and better environmental audio. In other words, Arma is evolving and getting more realistic by the day. Sadly, there are still a lot of bugs and glitches, partly due to the realistic sophistication of the AI. One minute they will cleverly use cover to outmaneuver you, the next your squadmate will simply refuse to enter a vehicle. Some campaign missions will outright fail to work without some fiddling and tweaking. Nevertheless, the bugs are part of the fun- because the game is so serious and realistic, it’s absolutely hilarious when a tank takes off into the sky for no reason!
Get your Arma on!
Arma III is probably the best military sim on the PC. The technical aspect to combat will give you a newfound respect for frontline soldiers, plus it means that victories are at least partly cerebral, not just a case of shooting things up. The majority of this game is online so it’s recommended for playing with friends, plus there’s an infinite combination of mods and game modes to try out.