My buddy and I recently finished the official APEX expansion in cooperative mode for Arma 3. The story is a direct continuation of “East Wind” from the original game, but at first, it does feel disconnected until something specific comes up which I won’t spoil. It’s a cool touch having a narrative that connects with each other, considering it’s a war simulator and not your standard AAA-game series.
Instead of the usual all-out war, you play as a cloak-and-dagger special operations team that has the task of taking out a local warlord on the island paradise (for criminals) of Tanoa. This group is named “Syndikate” and is mostly equipped with old-fashioned AKs and equipment like that. Not the high-tech armies of past campaigns. Though, later on in the campaign, you get to meet another faction that is equipped with more futuristic high-tech weaponry, like yourself. The story is presented in a very Tom Clancy-esque way, which to me is awesome. It instantly gets me into the clandestine thriller mood, so well done here!
What also is well done is the first couple of missions. Very intense terrorist/drug cartels mop up missions through dense jungles and small villages. My buddy and I might have the high tech-stuff, heat-vision, and all other kinds of Predator-like equipment, but that random terrorist guy with an AK in the jungle will still get the drop on you. Which I can tell happened more than once to us. In other words, the jungle sneaking and combat was great fun and filled to the brim with tension – and this combined with well-made missions made for a superb time.
Then suddenly everything goes to shit in mission 6. From tight gameplay to some kind of sandbox island environment with a ton of drones for you to capture and play with. Random and totally out of place, compared to what we had before. It’s hard to explain, but the game went from feeling structurally sound with an awesome narrative to something really “gamey”. It was probably made this way to showcase their new drones and drone system, which they likely worked very hard on, but unfortunately, it didn’t come naturally at all. They are just being dumped on the player – “here, have fun, try our new stuff”.
But this is only one mission, right? Well no, now we have mission 7, which to be fair was a little better I guess, but still, this mission also felt out of place and soured large parts of the experience. [SPOILERS] On this mission you have to assault a port, and this port is defended to the max. I’m not talking about a few guys here, there must have been up to around 70-80 dudes protecting this area. Considering this a war simulator and not the latest console military FPS it does seem a bit suicidal only send in two spec ops taking on a whole town – thus killing the realism a bit. Especially considering that later on in the mission you get AI support, but then it’s all too late since the supposed big bad baddies were a really pathetic showing.
Oh boy, I can see what they were going for here. Having your last stand, your own personal Alamo, but you can’t have that if you send in 5-6 guys coming at you in a straight line, on the flat concrete ground. Not very surprisingly, it turned into a massacre. This crucial campaign moment that is supposed to climax here turned into a huge anti-climatic event instead. My buddy and I couldn’t help but laugh at this.
That was not the only problem/disappointment with this mission. In the middle of murdering all these fools protecting the port, there is one specific guy that needs a little more murdering than the others, and well, confirmation of the kill. The thing is, though, we just randomly killed him in a far-distance firefight without even knowing he was special in any kind of way. So we never got this kill confirmed, and this halted our mission progress for at least an hour while we ran around trying to find out what to do. After my pal googled a mission guide, we finally realized this guy had to be identified before being able to continue. We had to run around in this huge area and look at every corpse we could find, and by pure luck, we found his corpse in a bush halfway up into the jungle. That finally kicked the scripts into high gear, but the narrative didn’t match the environment at all. Miller and high command were harping on about taking out the defenses etc., except, well we had already killed everyone since we had to run around like mad men.
Such an oddity, this mission and the former. Up until this point, I felt the game was great, and so did my friend. But these two missions come out of the left field and almost retroactively ruined the whole experience. Really curious about what went on in the designer’s head here, I mean they must have tested the campaign before release, right? Oh well, besides the disappointing ending, and the other issues, I thought it was a fun addition to Arma 3. The island is nice, and so are the new weapons, uniforms, and stuff like that. The vehicles look cool as well, especially the technicals with huge 50cal mounted on the back.
Thanks for reading!