I have not played Arma Reforger since I find myself paying 30 euro bucks for a demo ridicules, so this will be my thoughts based on what I have read, and seen on Twitch streams. I also recognize the general idea of this thing – it being some kind of bridge between Arma 3 and 4, something for the community to try out and give feedback on. What I don’t get, though, if this is supposed to be a foundation for Arma 4, why is it so limited? And I don’t mean in the sense that it’s a tech demo, I mean in the sense that a ton of features have just disappeared, or made simplified, aka consolized.
So, let’s start with the positives.
In general, the visuals are better, especially the lighting and shadows. It looks to have a higher texture fidelity as well.
The 80s Cold War setting is cool, with it going back to the roots of Operation Flashpoint. Iconic weapons, vehicles, and uniforms, you can’t go wrong here!
Driving vehicles seems to be much better. The physics seems much improved from Arma 3.
Dev Tools for Modding
Apparently, the dev tools released with the game are really powerful, making it much easier to mod. It’s also way more advanced than the precious iteration, allowing for modern mods.
Now for the negatives in no particular order. Just stuff that worries me for the future of the Arma series.
The game launch has been an absolute disaster with people not being able to join the servers, or when they do, they get kicked, or the game outright crashes to the desktop. Not being able to access the one thing the game has going for it is not a good thing. Day 1 issues, sure, but come on, has there been no testing at all of the servers? And as of writing this piece, we are on day 5 with the same kind of problems.
The price is way too high for what we are getting content-wise. Testing out the new Arma engine is good and all, but 30 euros for basically a tech demo? Some use this as an excuse for every kind of fault, and lack of content, but the thing is, the product is being sold as a game. And I can’t help to feel like this is a cash grab – the OPF nostalgia bait, the approach that this is needed for the development of Arma 4, money-wise. Please, are you telling me, poor little indie Bohemia Interactive with its million of overpriced DLCs don’t have enough money? They basically have the market cornered for military simulations, if that doesn’t give you enough money, they must have really squandered it. Then we also have the fact that Tencent recently bought a stake in the company as well, so there must be money to invest. This excuse is not working for me.
While the AI seems much more aggressive, it’s bordering on suicidal, with no care at all for its well-being. They rush forward like lemmings with minimal use of cover, and absolutely no formation. I don’t understand how some prominent Youtubers known for their Arma videos are saying this is better. This AI might be softer on the performance, but all kind of immersion is thrown out of the window as soon you watch them in action, especially if you try to simulate any kind of large-scale attack. It actually looks hilarious how they all pile in one straight line with no regard to formation, or who their squad leader is. They can climb now, though, but that is not something new. VCOM AI has that function as well. And for some reason, the AI lost its function to drive vehicles, so at the moment you can only have infantry firefights.
Controlling AI as Squad Leader
That function is gone. Currently, playing as a squad leader for an AI group gives you no way of control, or a way to give them any kind of orders. Why this was removed I don’t know, but I would be guessing it was not working like many other things, or Bohemia thought it wasn’t needed since this is mainly a multiplayer game.
Only for Multiplayer
There are no single-player scenarios at all to try out. No campaign, no single missions, nothing. The only way to play any kind of single-player content is to load up “game master” mode and place AI to play around with.
The editor is gone, and has been replaced with “Zeus“, which is limited in itself compared to Arma 3. It doesn’t replace the function the editor had, either. Instead, we have powerful “dev tools”, but that is not the same as the Eden Editor.
Steam Workshop is Gone
The incredibly useful “workshop” function has been replaced with an in-game version that supposedly works the same way, and according to Bohemia to be better. But as I see it, we lost a fantastic function of Steam for it to be replaced with Fallout 4-esque in-game mod-page with huge pictures that nobody likes to browse. It looks ugly, like something from a mobile game, and it also makes browsing a hassle.
Stamina / weight System Gone?
From what I gather by watching streams, the stamina and weight system seem to be gone. Weight doesn’t seem to have any effect on movement or aiming. The game also allows you to carry two main weapons now regardless of type. So now you can rock an M60 machine gun, and an M14 sniper rifle at the same time, which to me is just silly, and gamifies Arma to a whole new level.
While the driving has improved, the vehicle damage seems to have been made arcade-like. Now you can blast right into another car, or a wall and nothing will happen to either the car or driver.
Scroll Menu Gone
Many think this is a good thing, and while I think the classic function is not the prettiest, it does allow for multiple actions to be taken with the same object. Now, this is being replaced with contextual interaction, and while it looks cool like for example driving a car – having to turn the key to start the car, etc., it does limit simple interactions since now every function will require a contextual button and corresponding animation. This will probably add a lot of headaches for modders. I actually suspect that the scroll menu will make a return, as in how limited contextual buttons are.
You can take wounds that you will need to patch up, so you won’t bleed to death, but as it is now, you can’t be knocked out/incapacitated with the hope of getting rescued. This is removed from the game, it’s either light bleeding wounds or death. This has removed a huge aspect of what I think makes Arma stand out, actually being able to carry, or drag your comrades to safety and patch them up.
This game has been made for consoles, which in general terms means that everything has to be dumbed down to fit the limited controller, and to please console players who usually don’t have the same patience as PC players. What this means for the future of the Arma series, and Arma 4 specifically, is hard to say, but I’m hoping it’s not an indication of what is to come. I did read that Bohemia is rebranding their social media for this game, and future releases, I don’t know what that will mean exactly, but social media and military simulators don’t go hand in hand, exactly. Especially since they now are going for the TikTok generation.
And that would be all of my musings so far regarding Arma Reforger. I’m not very impressed, and while it’s good to see Bohemia doing something with the Arma franchise again, beyond releasing DLCs, it mostly has me worried about the future than actually making me look forward to what is to come. I have sadly accepted, at least when it comes to gaming, that franchises do become a lot worse, if not outright destroyed when they “modernize”.
Thanks for reading.
2 thoughts on “Arma Reforger – Bohemian Musings”
It sounds as barebones as Alpha Arma 3 was, which also had a nonexistent medical system where you just patched up injuries or died. If they were smart, they would turn this into a fully fledged OFP remake because Arma 3’s hexagon near-future aesthetic was terrible and modern war with thermals and optics out the ass are boring, but BIS isn’t known for being smart. I can’t believe console pandering from traditional PC devs is still a thing in 2022.
Yes, that would have been awesome. Fully released game out the gate, I would have bought it myself instantly, but alas. It’s actually funny how much Bohemia have tried to cater to consoles, with Argo and Vigor. Now they have transformed their flagship too…