Alpha Squadron: A.R.C. Squadron

Flying! Shooting! Together at last!
Here at charming British website Rock, Paper, Shotgun we’re inappropriately fond of both flying/shooting type games and Avatar-style floating islands. So it is with warm pleasure that I note the alpha launch of UDK-powered A.R.C. Squadron. It’s an airborne combat game that looks rather like my fever dreams. See the video below for a taste of that. You can download the client over here. Let’s do that and shoot each other. It’s about 300mb. The server is online at


  1. subedii says:

    Stephen Hawking: Physicist and elite dogfighter.


    Anyway, this looks really good. Especially for an Alpha. Will definitely have to give it a try.

    • Fumarole says:

      Now I’m imaging Hawking as a RIO. Think how different Top Gun would have been had he replaced Goose.

    • Lord_Mordja says:



  2. SuperNashwanPower says:

    And what other triple A title can you mention that Stephen Hawking did the voiceover for :D Sorry I am a smartazz :(

    Game looks fun, might download that later :)

  3. Anominity says:

    Does it support the Cyborg F.L.Y 5? If not, cba (Dogfighter for instance, which looks similar to this, doesn’t support it very well and that raged me.

    • Springy says:

      I’ve been umming and ahhing over getting a F.L.Y. 5, is it a good stick?

    • Anominity says:

      I’ll let you know when I find a game which supports it without requiring loads of configuring. Only games I have to use it in are:

      Battlefield Bad Company 2 – not good, much better with Keyboard, I attribute that to it not being really designed for flying helicopters
      Wings of Prey – Not directly supported, but similar enough options, quite good for this one.
      Dogfighter – Controls seem to be permanently reversed making it unusable for me.

      All that said, it looks pretty :)

    • Springy says:

      Thanks for the reply, I appreciate hearing your opinion.

      Although you quite innocently forgot to mention how it works with your copy of Freespace 2 which I’m sure is a mistake anyone can make.

    • DD says:

      That stick does look incredible….
      But seriously, Freespace 2 compatible?

      EDIT: I could use this joystick in my dream setup for freespace 2. Build a cockpit with windows and put some of those gaming light outside them. 52″ HDTV or larger. Surround sound of course.

    • fase_bace says:

      Dev here, we’d like to support joy sticks but because this is on UDK we don’t have proper access to the engine source code to add it. I suspect we will get something in there at some point in the near future.

  4. pupsikaso says:

    In terms of dog-fighting Echelon this isn’t, but it does look like it could be pretty fun provided there’s enough variation in both arenas and weapon loadouts.
    Gonna download it now. I just hope there are people playing it.

  5. Tizoc says:

    “Here at charming British website Rock, Paper, Shotgun we’re inappropriately fond of both flying/shooting type games and Avatar-style floating islands.”
    And so am I. See you there !

    • Thants says:

      I’m not charming or British, but I am fond of flying and shooting.

  6. Teronfel says:

    wow this looks really cool!!!

  7. Aganazer says:

    Those flying physics make me wonder whatever happened to Clusterball 2.

  8. Njordsk says:

    warhawk like?

  9. slight says:

    *fetches joystick* *waggles*

  10. Rond says:

    I played Dogfighter a little, and this looks somewhat similar, so see you on the server.

    By the way, what were Avatar-style floating islands called before Avatar?

    • sasayan says:

      I think they were just called “floating islands”.

    • cjlr says:

      Or Roger Dean style floating islands, if you were so inclined. Whatever credit that man gets for visuals like these is not enough.

    • Icarus says:

      Chrono Trigger-style floating islands?

    • Tizoc says:

      Yeah you can find at least one floating island (or thing of island-esque proportions) in any j-rpg, the best of them being Skies of Arcadia.
      In fact these games can be rated based on the shortest amount of time it takes a player to reach the first floating island.

    • Nesetalis says:

      i too was going to say chrono trigger islands :p avatar just stole them!

  11. Freud says:

    I never understood the logic behind the fantasy floating islands that are secured by chains. “Quick, they are getting away, Chain them”. If you are going to feature floating islands, just have them float as they are. It’s not like you will add believability with the chains.

    • Calneon says:

      I don’t think they’re trying to add believability.

      They just look cool.

    • pepper says:

      Maybe it is as with ships, you dont want a ship unchained floating around in the harbour. I can image the insurance costs on a floating-island-a-drift-collision. Also, you are seriously going to have a bad day if a island floats against your overhang you build on the side of your own floating island.

      The question you should be asking is, why are they all floating at the same altitude? Havent these barbarians heard about FL separation?!

    • fase_bace says:

      Their purpose is first to provide fun obstacles for the player and secondly to look cool. You’ll also notice that the terrain below is icy and the islands are lush. That is also very unrealistic, but it’s interesting.

  12. Lobotomist says:

    Is it just me or is it 100% similar to Dogfighter with sci-fi flawor ?

  13. celewign says:

    This looks fun but not very deep. I miss really tactical flight sims- I’m thinking XWing Alliance.

    You could make your own fights with Star Destroyers and whatnot. You only had 8 missles, so you have to choose them carefully. Torpedoes can be shot down easily.

    This is basically Quake3 in flight sims.

    • Gnoupi says:

      Are you calling Quake 3 “not deep”? :-]

      Joke aside, it’s nice to see some basic deathmatch nowadays. It’s rare to find a “quake 3”-style game.

      For attack tactics, I would recommend you to get into Freespace 2, with the SCP. There you could also play some attacks on big freighters, and with a decent look for recent days.

  14. Mr_Initials says:

    I will have to check this out. Haven’t really gotten into flight sim games but this lookks cool

  15. pupsikaso says:

    Wow, nevermind. I take back everything good I’ve said about the game. There is zero configuration possible, so you have to play on a ridiculously low mouse sensitivity, you can’t either of the axis, you can’t even look up the controls anywhere – you just have to guess.
    So I go onto their forums to see if there’s a FAQ post or something about the controls and guess what? All they talk about are controllers. Press the triangle button to do this, press the A button to do that.
    Like wtf?
    Rot in hell, consolization.

    • Gnoupi says:

      That’s a pre-alpha, more a proof of concept with only the basics available. For sure more options will be available later..

    • Tizoc says:

      Look closer : it’s a Super pre-alpha ! You can’t be more alpha than that, surely?

    • pupsikaso says:

      Alpha or prealpha or whatnot is not the point. It’s a console game is what’s the point.

    • NaFola says:

      You can use the wasd keys to move as well as the mouse which, while not ideal, does allow you to do fast movement with keyboard, and then minor adjustments with the mouse. I have no idea how that will feel in a dogfight though as no one was on the server when I was.

      The q and e keys perform the barrel rolls.
      1 and 2 keys switch between gun and missiles.

      Beyond that I didn’t find much more (there is a controls menu if you hit escape, but it’s less than helpful). Certainly room for improvement, but that’s why it’s still at the “super early alpha” stage.

    • Psyonix-Corey says:

      I replied to you below, but I understand your frustration – game did start as a console title but we shifted focus to iterative PC development with it and didn’t put enough time into PC controls and UI for this initial release. It will be fixed, a lot of us at Psyonix are longtime hardcore PC gamers so you won’t be ignored, promise :)

  16. squareking says:

    I might be alone on this, but these types of games seem well-suited for gamepads. Shoulder buttons for barrel rolls, two joysticks for throttle and looking around (you don’t really need the pinpoint precision you get with a mouse), etc.

    Anyway, looks pretty, if a little shallow. I’ll still try it out.

    • Springy says:

      Crimson Skies’ console-exclusive sequel still strikes me as one of the few flight games to really take advantage of the gamepad. There, the triggers controlled your airspeed and the second thumb stick activated special moves (my description doesn’t do it justice, it worked very well). It was a good setup.

    • Henke says:

      I used a 360 pad for this. Suited it perfectly. :)

  17. Longrat says:

    Why can’t I just download this game from a torrent? Or a good old HTTP download?
    Why oh why must developers insist on making their own downloader when there are so many proven methods to do it?

    • Chizu says:

      I don’t mind people using their own little download clients so long as they actually work, and do not use god damned pando.

      I hate you pando >:/

  18. Psyonix-Corey says:

    Hi guys – I work at Psyonix so hoping to clear up a few questions since I’m a big RPS fan.

    First and foremost, this is a SUPER PRE ALPHA we mostly deployed to test the distribution system, so I’m sorry about the somewhat incomplete state of the controls/etc. Please bear with us, the whole point of this release method (Minecraft style, early alphas, respond rapidly to community feedback) is to get it out early and often, so you will see some rough edges.

    1) PC Controls and Consolization. Yes, we started dev on this game as a console title and a lot of our guys play with X360 gamepads on PC. However, we are spending a lot of effort focusing on Mouse/KB controls because this is a PC launch. Unfortunately the controls scene you saw was outdated and referenced the gamepad, it kinda slipped through last minute at the launch because we had higher priority issues like dedicated servers breaking.
    I do want to assure you PC is our primary platform for this game right now. We’d like to push it to XBL and PSN if it is popular enough on PC, but as we start adding more menus, UI, controls, etc. the primary focus will be Mouse/Keyboard input and Bindable keys.

    2) We are not shooting towards the simulation depth of most dogfighting games but are more inspired by classic arcadey flight shooters like Star Fox, Crimson Skies, etc. We are planning to add more depth in most aspects (weapon selection, plane selection, handling, etc.) but for this release just wanted a relatively fun base to build off of. But the intent is still fairly simply flying controls that make it easy for people to pick up and play.

    We’ll also be adding more dedicated servers today and can probably fix up a guide so users can set up their own ala Minecraft.

    • subedii says:

      Awesome. It’s always cool to see a dev stop by and answer questions.

      Any idea on when you guys are aiming for a full launch?

    • Psyonix-Corey says:

      Nothing specific. This is a test run for a whole development model (where we release all our game concepts early and just take the popular ones to completion) and some of it will depend on other projects we have going at the studio, to be honest.

      I can say what you’re playing went from a super empty proof of concept to what we released yesterday in only a couple weeks, so we’re pretty fast and plan on adding stuff regularly. As far as some kind of comprehensive 1.0 release though, there’s a lot of features on our wishlist that would pad out the schedule a bit (but you guys would see all the updates in between):
      – More planes & weapons
      – Loadout/perk system
      – Serverlist support with NAT traversal so people don’t have to forward ports to play
      – Objective based game modes
      – etc

  19. Psyonix-Corey says:

    Oh and @Longrat RE: Torrents:
    That’s actually a great idea, the reason we went for a Launcher/Updater is so we have tighter control on forcing updates since we’ll ideally be pushing out updates fairly frequently and we don’t want players on 15 different game versions failing to connect. But there’s no reason the initial game build couldn’t be torrented, I’ll bring that up in meetings today.

    • Longrat says:

      Oh great! Sorry for calling it a “fucking game”, I’ve got a bad tongue :)

    • Urthman says:

      The downloader freezes the instant I run it and locks up my computer (Windows XP).

    • Psyonix-Corey says:

      I’ll pass that along to our tools guy Urthman, sorry for the inconvenience. I know we tested on XP internally but obviously some weird stuff will occur on a first public PC release. I’ll update here if we are able to reproduce and offer any workarounds.

  20. WJonathan says:

    Anybody else get a Space Harrier flashback?

  21. geldonyetich says:

    I was sort of hoping this would be a more modern take on Ace Online (a.k.a. Space Cowboy). Ah well, for what it is, it looks good.

  22. Mr_Day says:

    I have had a few blasts on the game, and thought I’d share.

    There is no targetting in the game, which might seem to some to be a stupid complaint from me – it is after all arcadey shootiness. But following a red V on the side of the screen believing it to be the guy you were chasing, only for it to be someone miles away but leveling out before you realise this and letting the guy you were chasing get away, is frustrating. A possible fix, should they put one in, isn’t to put in targetting, if you don’t want to – having the red V that represents other planes be bigger or brighter for closer aircraft would do.

    You can’t slow down, which is another silly thing to complain about in arcadey shooty games, but a dogfight that consists of people spinning forever is not a lot of fun* – slowing down to let your opponent get a little distance but enabling you to get in behind them is satisfying. Mmm.

    Also, I know someone with a star was in game when I mentioned Freespace. Sorry if that seemed like I was comparing A.R.C. to that, because I wasn’t – but shooting a missile and a ton of gunfire into someone only to have another missile take the kill is irritating. I see now that you do get points towards it, but a TF2 style “This guy and this guy shot at blokeybloke” in the kill list would be nice, if only so my Nemesii (for there are many) know I sodding shot you, you bar steward.

    The reason FS2 was mentioned was because of the kill/assist way the game handled keeping score. If you did more than a certain percentage of damage to a ship, you got the kill, no matter who got the final shot – they only get an assist, and then only if their damage equalled something like 20% of the final damage taken.

    I do like the floating islands, and following someone through the tunnels is always satisfying. Especially when they die halfway through. Mwahahahahaa. Ha.

    * I originally typed this as “a lot of not fun”, which is weird.

  23. Henke says:

    Is there any way to bring up the scoreboard in-game? It would not only let you know how you’re doing compared to the other players but also let you know which team you’re on. Yes, I spent half the first match I played just trying to figure out if I was red or blue. :P

    Other than that, I have no complaints. It’s obviously very barebones yet but I had fun with it. :)

    • Psyonix-Corey says:

      F1 or Select on a gamepad.

      I have a task to make it more readable today, hopefully that will roll out this evening with other misc fixes/tweaks.

  24. Henke says:


    Ah, thanks! :D

  25. Valvarexart says:

    Wait, noone is playing?

    • Psyonix-Corey says:

      The server is down for a few more minutes while we deploy a few more servers (we just had one, didn’t expect this response..)

  26. Ushao says:

    @Psyonix-Corey Not to nitpick, cause the game looks gorgeous but I think your control surfaces are going backwards in that video and it’s making me twitch. Both ailerons going up means plane goes up, not down. It’s wigging me out!

  27. Psyonix-Corey says:

    Back online (finally)

  28. DOLBYdigital says:

    Looks fantastic, really like the backgrounds and get Star Fox vibes watching the video. I’ll check it out and post any impressions and ideas for improvements. Glad to see another developer trying the ‘open’ development process. Although this may not be open its at least getting the community involved early. Thanks!!

  29. Mithrot says:


    Hey dude, just played the alpha. Loved the concept, but will it suppourt splitscreen play like UT3? Does UDK have it built in or is it not possible to do such a thing?

    Just because I have a few controllers lying around and it would be cool if I can play with my friends.

    • Psyonix-Corey says:

      Splitscreen is supported at a base level by the Unreal Engine (and UDK by extension) but making a functional UI that runs in splitscreen is more complex.

      We might be able to cobble together something “playable” but not officially supported for people that REALLY want to play splitscreen, but I can’t promise anything in the immediate future on that front.

  30. iSoLateD1 says:

    Can you add 1920 x 1080 support to the game?