Arma 2 Goes Over The Top In World War 1 Mod

By Alice O'Connor on May 13th, 2014 at 3:00 pm.

Too late for cunning plans

While we’ve seen oodles of FPSs set in World War II, the Great War has been less popular with developers. With long waits, shelling, disease, gas attacks, unwieldy guns, and marching futilely towards your death, it’s a mite more difficult to glamorise and turn into an exciting rollercoaster. No, you want something that’s wonky and often a bit unpleasant but ultimately dreams hard enough that it sweeps you up. This calls for Arma!

Arma 2: Combined Operations mod Over The Top released its first alpha version earlier this month for your downloading delight. It brings World War I to Arma 2, with biplanes, armoured cars, artillery, bolt-action rifles, trenches and whatnot. No trench foot.

As one might expect from the first alpha of an Arma mod, it’s neither finished nor polished yet. “There will be lots of bugs and incomplete things,” developers Decades of Development warn. Along with fixing things up, their future plans include adding more factions and, gosh oh gosh, possibly horses. Here’s the dev team’s dramatic vision of the mod:

And here’s how Over The Top actually looks when someone’s actually playing it. No Man’s Land seems more like No Men Land, eerily empty, but that’s a problem y’all could help solve by downloading and playing the mod if you fancy it.

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29 Comments »

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  1. CookPassBabtridge says:

    I’m sure our history teacher mentioned that towards the end of WW1 the germans realised the futility of wave based pushes and began experimenting with small unit and squad based actions.

    War fact. (My teacher had a handlebar moustache so it must have been true.)

    • libdab says:

      Before that even – they used storm troopers as early as their Verdun offensive (1916). These techniques were perfected by the time they launched their Spring offensive in 1918, although they were also given a great helping hand by the perfidious fog! :-)

      • Redcoat-Mic says:

        Certainly not perfected, the Spring Offensive made short term gains but at a huge expense strategically, as the tactics fell short by not being able to sustain it for very long and they didn’t know how to effectively hold onto any gains made.

        That’s why when it faltered, the first Allied counterattack rolled the German army all the way out of France and resulted in them having to surrender (amongst other factors such as the British blockade and rebellions and mutinies) or face invasion of the German homeland.

        • CookPassBabtridge says:

          Interesting. So what did they change in the following 20 years that made up for the shortcomings? Something to do with improvements in mechanised warfare?

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            Chaz says:

            Improvements in tanks planes and other weaponry. War became much more mobile. So being entrenched in one spot became pretty much untenable. Take the French Maginot Line, the Germans simply just went around it.

            Also tactics change of course, especially those developed by the Germans in the use of combined arms and Blitzkrieg. Utilizing infantry, armour and air in concentrated combined attacks. We think of that as pretty standard now, but at the start of WW2 it was pretty radical thinking and very effective.

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            Gap Gen says:

            If CoH is to be believed, British trenches in WWII were virtually invincible, even if you have several squads right next to it.

          • Meneldil says:

            Nothing really. The last allied offensives of WWI were perfect examples of combined operations, using planes, tanks and mecanized infantry. The Germans didn’t invent anything in 39-40. It’s their opponents who forgot what happened in late 1917/1918.

            As for the Germans in WWI, they didn’t invent assault troops either. They’ve been used by the French and Austrians as early as 1914. And it could be argued that the importance given to Strumtruppen actually harmed the German army as a whole: the regular units were left with crappier equipement that couldn’t save them, once the oh-so-awesome assault troopers failed to break the allied lines.

    • wokelly says:

      The German army never fully moved away from wave tactics. The problem with the German storm trooper notion was that a portion of the infantry got the new and innovative tactics, while the other units had to make due with whatever training they could fit in during quiet times. Prior to 1918, storm troopers were a temporary position and the men would rotate back to their home units to spread their knowledge and tactics to the regulars. It didn’t really work it seems, when the 1918 offensives went into action, the storm troopers used their new tactics, while the regular divisions still used wave tactics.

      The British also got the memo so to speak. The British used wave tactics up to the middle of Passchendale when they started experimenting with more flexible offensive formations. Problem was waves didn’t work well when you started getting away from more linear trenches and to elastic defenses based on strong points, because the waves tended to get tangled up on strong points. The British moved to “blob” formations, which is more waves of blobs moving and feeling out weak spots and move through there. Unlike the German army, the British army as a whole were trained in these tactics either during the winter of 1917-18 or during the lull in combat after the German spring offensive petered out and Ameins kicked off.

      The French army tended to be father ahead tactically then the Brits, for example at the Somme, when the British lines were getting shot to pieces on July 1st, the French troops were moving forward using something akin to the blob/wave formations.

      Wave should be properly defined though, however it is difficult because wave tactic changed over time. Initially it was similar to what it sounds like, men advancing in lines. Later they were not waves in the sense of lines of men rushing the machine guns, rather they were formations that could reinforce each other if problems occured (like waves hitting a beach) or push through to a further objective when the initial wave took their objective and consolidated, thus allowing for a defense in depth based on the attacking waves. The initial wave would go into battle in open order formation which would resemble a line, but the following waves would probably be in single file column formation, and deploy into lines when they went into the attack.

      Anyways I’d say that by the last year of the war, most of the countries had decided to move away from wave formations and adopted rather complex offensive tactics.

      • CookPassBabtridge says:

        So how did they solve the ‘holding ground they’d taken’ problem highlighted above? Was it a case of capturing those strong points and then employing their own defence in depth? (I’m really glad I started playing Wargame. It means I learned what some of these phrases mean :) )

        Also obligatory RPS=BEST

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    DarkLiberator says:

    This is pretty awesome. I also wonder if it can also be ported to ArmA 3 eventually.

    May have to make a night of this with buddies. Charge trenches over and over till we get machine gunned.

  3. Smion says:

    Only peripherally related, but the Atlantic is currently doing a ten-part photo series on the Great War. The major thing I’ve learned from it is that there were a whole lot of dogs taking part in it. http://www.theatlantic.com/static/infocus/wwi/
    No horses still makes me sad, though :(

    • Synesthesia says:

      That is beautiful, thanks.
      On the vidya side, i do love WW1 starting to get more attention. I suspect that the arma 1 engine is too frail for the details of ww1 combat. The fact that the trenches were dug out of dirt meant plenty of times these would collapse and bury people alive whenever a shell exploded close. Arma 2’s clunky close quarters movement seems problematic. A good particle engine would also be needed, the fog of war was terrible there.

      I can also reccommend ernst junger’s diaries or storm of steel are a first hand account of plenty of trench warfare, for anyone interested.

  4. Decadesofdevelopment_jokfil says:

    Hey, i’m Jokfil, Marketing advisor and lead alpha tester of over the top . we realize that the maps we’ve added aren’t the best arma has ever seen. in fact, it was our first attempt ever at making maps. i hereby want to thank RPS for spreading the word.

    WE ARE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE!
    we need more people to help us out on this project! we need everyone that has any experience in modding for arma or has any skills with 3DSmax and/or photoshop. we also need coders.

    -Decades of development communication team.

  5. misterT0AST says:

    I think the fact that “you can’t make a good shooter in WWI” is a stereotype. Everyone only seems to think of the two German fronts, and the trenches and so on, but I’m sure a story based on the Arab revolt against the Turks (maybe starring Lawrence of Arabia) or an Austrian-Italian front game would work well.

    In particular I’d like a Gebirgskrieg war game where you’re supposed to scout mountain passes to decide where to go through, sniping from peaks and hiding in caves, SKI WARFARE, it would be great.

    • Emeraude says:

      I don’t think it’s so much that you can’t make a good shooter as, well, it’s hard to make a game that respects why and how you should feel uncomfortable about the whole conflict.

      There’s a mix of horror, absurdity and complex, complicated ambivalence in that whole conflict that is hard to tackle properly. And the conflict had left such a mark that up till recently, people were showing enough reverence that indeed they wanted to tackle it properly following that grid of reading.

      • bangalores says:

        I think Emeraude is right about the whole issue of reverence towards the war, especially in Europe. I once read (I forget where, unfortunately) a great comparison between WWI’s effect on the European consciousness with that of Vietnam on Americans. The author essentially was arguing that both wars represented a turning point in the opinions of each respective society towards their government, and symbolized what people in Europe and the US saw as the most obvious signs of a “moral decline” in their nations’ roles in the world.

        Obviously there’s many other factors which influenced the ideology shifts in both post-WWI Europe and post-Vietnam America, but I just found the author’s argument very compelling.

    • Jason Moyer says:

      I think the hardest part of making a WWI shooter is that war itself evolved so quickly in a short time. You’re talking about a war that started with mustachioed men on horseback charging each other with bolt-action rifles and ended with portable machine guns, flamethrowers, large caliber mounted guns, hand grenades, rifled grenades, chemical warfare, tanks, precision artillery, and bombing/dogfighting.

    • Leb says:

      Running in the trenches, a mod for Running with Rifles does a good job of making WW1 a lot of fun. Not realistic in any sense, but it gives you a isometric ww1 combat with the big honky tanks and all. Played with 2 friends and we each took one nation (German Empire vs Russia vs USA) and fought it out for 3 hours, was a blast.

  6. Dom_01 says:

    Oh god please don’t add horses to this mod. I remember the last Arma 2 horse mod.

  7. sabasNL says:

    I’d rather wait for Verdun, the up-coming game that might just get it right. Untill then I’ll stay with Red Orchestra 2, which is a WW2 game, but atleast the game feels solid and authentic.

  8. Mudlab says:

    Great, now I have the Black Adder theme song(s) stuck in my head. Thanks a lot, Alice.

  9. Chuckleluck says:

    “wonky and often a bit unpleasant but ultimately dreams hard enough that it sweeps you up”

    This is the most accurate description of Arma I’ve ever heard. I love you, BIS.