Arma 3’s next big expansion, Apex, is set to launch this summer, and Bohemia Interactive is continuing the tweak the core game in preparation for some big changes. While Bohemia has released a decent amount of info discussing some of these changes, I think the little tweaks released during the interim are the most telling when considering Arma 3’s future. The tactical shooter is undergoing a lot of polishing which is indicative of the game’s proven formula and mechanics; if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Bohemia seems to be taking an already great experience and making it even better without resorting to extreme mechanic changes. Being able to put that kind of care and craft into game development is what happens when developers don’t have a giant, money-hungry publisher breathing down their necks.
The most recent announced changes revolve around update 1.58 and highlight Bohemia’s focus on polishing the core Arma 3 experience. While none of the changes are flashy and super attention grabbing, anyone that’s been playing the game for any length of time will appreciate these subtle tweaks and additions. In particular, some of the game’s various menus are going to see some new features that will make everyone’s QoL better.
In update 1.58 players will notice a new “Presets” tab in the controls menu. This new tab will represent various keyboard layouts which will allow players to change configurations on the fly. Arma 3 Apex will also see a more common default control preset, akin to other FPS style setups.
In the same vein, players can also remap the Command Menu and choose the situations in which the menu is activated. While that’s a great change in-and-of-itself, to make it even sweeter, you’ll now be able to bind weapon switching and the Command Menu to number keys without keymapping conflict. The game will detect whether or not the Command Menu is activated and either issue commands or weapon swap accordingly.
Speaking of weapon swapping, in 1.58 you’ll finally be able to switch weapons on the fly. For myself (and many others, I’m sure), this is a huge QoL change that I’m pretty happy to finally see. After playing Arma 3 for a while you eventually get used to the quick stop/swap method, but anytime you start playing a new FPS, it becomes pretty apparent how awkward the mechanic really is in Arma.
Lastly, Bohemia is implementing a way for certain Action Menu items to be hidden once they’re keymapped with a promise that further optimization is coming to the Action Menu soon.
Tasks Overhaul and Eden Tweaks
Scenario Objectives are getting a visual upgrade that will let players quickly find tasks, as well as identify multiple tasks in 3D. Similarly, Assignments will also be tweaked to allow players to select tasks directly from the map.
These changes directly play into the new Custom Tasks feature, which gives users the ability to create custom tasks using the game’s “improved task framework.” In practical terms this means players can view more information related to assigned tasks in the field. From a multiplayer standpoint, this gives teams more data to assist in quickly making combat decisions, as well as information to analyze for longer term strategy.
While the Eden Editor has definitely been a great addition to Arma 3’s creation toolkit, Bohemia isn’t done making the new 3D map maker as good as it can possibly be. Update 1.58 gives creators the ability to select multiple different entities and then save the entire composition as an SQE file. These new file types can then be loaded directly into other projects for your tweaking pleasure. While the new files will eventually be shareable via the Steam Workshop, for now, it will only be possible to manually share these creations.
While we’re talking about the Steam Workshop, it should be noted that Bohemia is releasing their own “Official Mod.” The ADR-97 Weapon Pack is available for free via the Official Steam Workshop page. The pack isn’t ground breaking or anything, but it does serve to show just how simple using the Workshop can be for installing new mods –a feature being pushed by Bohemia in recent updates.
Custom Game Difficulty
The last things I’ll briefly touch on are the changes to the difficulty menu in Arma 3. You’ll now be able to select from 3 new presets (down from 4), and then see a list of individual game settings which the difficulty level changes. From there you can customize your difficulty setting by altering any of the settings to your liking.
Furthermore, the Difficulty Menu has been overhauled a bit to make the process more user-friendly, by cleaning up some cluttered UI elements. Overall, the effect is that of a smoother looking UI which retains the displayed information, but shows it in a much more concise and coherent way.
All-in-all, Arma 3’s looking to have another exciting year, and with the release of Apex drawing closer each day, expect to see more details revealed about the expansion in the coming weeks.