We’re All Going On An Arma Holiday

That almighty mighty thump you just heard was Bohemia deploying the island of Altis into Arma 3. The first stage of the full release is the delivery the huge landmass into the development branch of the game (Steam > Arma 3 Beta > Properties > Betas), prepping it for a load of content to follow. Unless you’re handy with the editor, or download one of the early missions on the game’s Steam Workshop, there’s not much to do yet, but that shouldn’t stop you from loading it up. The detail they’ve put into Altis is reason enough to play it. It’s beautiful. A landmark creation for the PC. I’ve put together a little tour of the island if you fancy seeing the sights.

Altis really is a remarkable achievement. The sameyness of Stratis is another world away from the hills, fields, forests, villages, cities and ruins that are baking under the Mediterranean sun. There are salt flats, solar farms, and chapels to visit. There are caves to discover, sharks to swim with, islands to explore, and bees to photograph. I’ve been all over this complex mil-sim’s newest landmass, but I’ve yet to fire a gun in anger. I spent a few hours flying around the map, initially just seeing what I could see, but eventually I had some help from Arma 3’s Creative Director (and answerer of my many ridiculous queries), who sent me to a few of his favourite locations. I’ve included both vague area descriptions as well as exact map co-ordinates to cover each kind of explorer. Here’s what Jay and I think you should see.

Kavala, West (035129)
Jay picked out the old capital as a place of interest. A sprawling city that used to be the capital. It reaches into the land from the coast, dominated by a ruined fort. Arma fans will look on the winding roads and hilly backdrop as an amazing place to stage brutal battles, but I just want to retire here.

Solar Panels, centre of the island (155162)
You can’t miss the airstrip smack in the middle of the island. East of that is the power plant, but it’s not like any power plant I’ve ever seen. Taking advantage of the sunny climate, there are acres of reflective panels fanned out, mirroring the island’s historic amphitheatre. Speaking of which…

Amphitheatre (200200)
West of the salt flats, between Pefkas Bay and Kalithea Bay, Jay’s pick is crumbling crescent of ancient rock that’s a great place to perform impromptu helicopter rock operas as the sun goes down. Here I am bashing out Aperanta Horafia.

Abdera Village, North of Syrta (094202)
Jay’s pick. Of all the villages he could have selected, he’s taken us to the hilly north of the island, where the terrain rolls like a rumpled duvet. Clinging to one hill is the village of Abdera, a mix of ruins and new houses that’s the perfect place to stage a small, lop-sided battle.

South East, Windmills at Selakano (203059)
These wind turbines might be environmentally friendly, but I discovered they’re particularly unfriendly to helicopters. I crashed into them is what I’m trying to say. They stretch on for miles, and I can watch them for, ooh, ten minutes? Longer if it’s foggy.

Lonely Windmill, South-East of Panochori (055107)
Jay calls this a ‘Lonely Windmill’, and who am I to argue. I’m me, that’s who: where he seems something forlorn and a little sad, I see a mill contemplating the fact that he can see a bee’s shadow in a game about shooting things. He’s not lonely at at all! He’s enjoying the solitude.

Where The Big Buoys Are, Mazi Bay, East of Selakano (218062)
When I asked Jay why he chose this place, he shrugged and shouted “I LIKE YELLOW”, which is as good a reason as any. It’s an amazing place, a sort of graveyard for buoys, like a giant’s spilled his pill bottle on the coast of the island. Can someone tell me what giant buoys are actually used for?

Serial Killer’s Den, Island of Makrynisi (133118)
At least I think it’s a serial killer’s lair. It’s certainly grim. On this sliver of land, a little bit South of the main airport, there’s a single gravestone near an abandoned shack. The grave didn’t do its job very well, with bones and skulls spilled out across the surface, yellowing with age. It’s not a happy place.

Skull Henge, Cap Makrinos (144061)
I can’t call it “Stone Henge” because the Stone Henge committee will get Neolithic on my ass. But this lovely little island South of Altis is the perfect place to sit and watch the fog roll off the mainland as the sun comes up. It’s another place where Bohemia have suggestively plonked down a skull. You can sit and watch the sun peak over the shiny dome, pondering what sort of human awfulness occurred here.

Underwater Ruins (150068)
These are almost impossible to find without the map reference. Head to 150068 in the editor and equip a diver or a submarine. They’re pretty deep down, and their proximity to the nearby Not Stone Henge suggests some sort of connection. Either that or really bad planning.

The best thing about Arma 3 is how easy it is to set up a photoshoot in the game editor. You can plonk someone in the map, hit Esc to bring up the menu, then select Camera. Now you’ll have access to the Splendid Camera. I’m not a very good photographer, so feel free to share your own, better, shots of the locations you’ve stumbled on. Find things, uncover secrets, and make sure you enjoy the view. Away from specific settings, Arma 3 generates gorgeous sunsets, rolling fog, and wonderful storms as well, so you’ll never be short of a subject to shoot. Share them below and tag where they are. I want to see what you’ve found.


Top comments

  1. SaintElmo says:

    Hey Craig (or anyone else for that matter),
    can you let me know what rig you are running this on? The screenshots look beautiful and I was wondering if you can run the games smoothly on this setting (or does photography mode somehow amp these settings up)? Anyone else may be able to answer this question too, would love to know what i have to upgrade to to experience it the best way possible!
  1. VelvetFistIronGlove says:

    Will Altis ever usurp Chernarus from its too-many-square-kilometer-shaped-hole in my heart? Maybe not, but I can’t wait to fly around this island.

    • brickwall says:

      I too fell in love with chernarus, first with dayz, then within the lovely world of arma. Based on my not so brief helicopter tours around Altis, it surpasses chernarus in every possible way. Larger landmass, more varied terrain, EVERY building is enterable (though not furnished dissapointly, but hey they gotta leave some improvements for arma 4) and traversable water, which has a far larger impact on gameplay than I expected. Cherno lovers wont ever want to go back IMO.

    • Ansob says:

      I fucking hate Cherna. It’s horrid, with its dreary Soviet villages and mile upon mile of fucking trees and far-too-dense grass that make it impossible to see anything. Hurrah for Takistan.

  2. B0GiE-uk- says:

    No pictures of the caves? Where’s the caves at?

  3. tigershuffle says:

    on 5% downloaded…..excited..but must go to sleep
    looks lovely

    if i listen quietly I can hear my 4770 whimpering

  4. mikmanner says:

    These screenshots are really awesome! I’ve been playing a couple of Steam Workshop missions already and I enjoyed one of them so much I dun a super dumb video of it link to youtube.com

  5. Gap Gen says:

    Craig, what’s that sandwich you’re sitting on? Ah, no, sorry, I was mistaken by the fact that YOU ARE ON A ROLL.

  6. Uglycat says:

    No more working for a week or twoooooooo

  7. nimzy says:

    Just what I was waiting for.

    What’s next? Well, someone is going to import the map into Google Maps, and then we can get some decent reviews of the food and nightlife.

    I’m also glad to hear about the weather effects. It’s been a while since I’ve seen truly great weather in a game.

  8. Farsearcher says:

    A holiday simulator on a beautiful greek island?

    I’d actually buy that.

  9. Hahaha says:

    Forgot a ‘y’ on milly

    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    Also those buoys could be
    link to en.wikipedia.org

  10. destroy.all.monsters says:

    Buoys will be buoys.

    I’m a little surprised the title isn’t Arma going on holiday but perhaps that’s too southern USian.

    • kirby_freak says:

      I sea what you did there…

    • Radiant says:

      Let Cliff Richard explain how glorious a pun the title really is.
      link to youtu.be

      • pendergraft says:

        “This video contains content from EMI Music Publishing and EMI, one or more of whom have blocked it in your country on copyright grounds.”

        Very funny.

  11. hamburger_cheesedoodle says:

    I’m really impressed by this. It seems weird that this kind of detail and so many vignettes were put into a level that’s this large, but going to be used mostly for multiplayer. I hope the next Fallout game’s devs are looking at this.

  12. Radiant says:

    I love the look of this but good god do I never want to try and take that Kavala fort in an arma game.

  13. racccoon says:

    Fantastic Work, worth going to jail for! This game is so well done its like gta army style! Awesome stuff developers. ;)

  14. Arglebargle says:

    If you have this on your computer when you visit sunny Greece, will they arrest you?

  15. drinniol says:

    This map is BIG. Good lord. And the locations! Each of them could be a set piece for an epic battle.

  16. Listlurker says:

    Side question: any word on how the two Arma devs who were imprisoned by Greece are doing these days? I’ve gotta think that experience would be a trauma and then some. Hope they’re doing okay.

  17. SaintElmo says:

    Hey Craig (or anyone else for that matter),
    can you let me know what rig you are running this on? The screenshots look beautiful and I was wondering if you can run the games smoothly on this setting (or does photography mode somehow amp these settings up)? Anyone else may be able to answer this question too, would love to know what i have to upgrade to to experience it the best way possible!

    • SuicideKing says:

      This game is massively CPU bound, but not in a well executed way.

      Basically it’s like this, you’ve got one core running at 80% and the rest averaging about 50%. So you’ll need excellent single threaded performance, so in general, Core i5 or better is recommended.

      I’ve read that someone using the launch parameters -cpuCount=8 -exThreads=7 was getting good performance on a FX-8350.

      GPU wise, a GTX 560 and above should be good, though for Altis and 1600×900 and above resolutions you may want a 2GB card. The GPU is severly bottlenecked by the CPU’s render thread.

      Lots of page file and RAM, at least 8GB for Altis, i would guess, since with Stratis, i have a total system memory footprint of 3.1GB and virtual memory footprint of about 5.5-5.9.

      32-bit OSes seem to be having issues with the beta dev branch (that has Altis, seems to be caused by one particular .pbo file), so go with a 64-bit OS.

      I’m on the stable Beta release so haven’t profiled Altis, above speculation is based on my analysis of Stratis.

      My config:
      Core 2 Quad Q8400 @ 2.77 GHz
      8GB DDR3-1392 (2×4, dual channel)
      GTX 560 stock settings, 1GB VRAM.

      I get an average of 30 fps around Stratis, but some stuff like areas with a lot of structures, particle effects, picture-in-picture, etc. drag my fps under 20.

      • gunny1993 says:

        Well a 32bit OS only uses a max of 4gb of ram so it’s going to be pretty much useless for ARMA, and AMD cpus don’t work well at all as the engine doesn’t make use of the cores properly.

        Man I wish they would make a new engine from the ground up, hell i would put money towards a kickstarter based around an engine only.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Yeah but people do use it to play, that’s how i knew about the bug (people posted it on the tracker).

          Completely agree on the engine, some of the things wrong with it are absurd:

          1. Terrain warp
          2. Clipping on slopes
          3. Rocks allow bullets to pass through
          4. There’s a odd glitch that makes the water disappear and lets you see the surface
          5. No reflections!
          6. PiP is just done wrong, imo. Even NFS does a better job…

          Other issues too. I can ignore gameplay issues, they should be easier to fix, but core engine issues? I don’t know…

          • gunny1993 says:

            TBH I think they’re been put into a bad position by circumstance and being a more niche game developer.

            I mean this is probably the most advanced engine out their and thus would be the most expensive to rebuild entirely, (I mean if it wasn’t they would have done it by now) since they have smaller player base they have little opportunity to pour resources into an new engine and still remain financially viable.

            What i’m hoping for is that the money from the extra players DayZ bought in to give them enough cash to be able to build that new engine and the next game.

            As it is the engine is untenable and certainly won’t be viable for another game without at least getting over the resource assignment problem.

          • SuicideKing says:

            With all due respect to what BIS is doing, this is definitely NOT the most advanced engine out there…i think that title is shared between UE4, CryEngine 2013 (lol), Frostbite 3 and…apparently Source 2, from what i heard on a Tech Report podcast.

            BIS has been doing Arma for years, and from what i’ve read here and there, some of these issues are very old.

            Currently there are 4,551 people in game, assuming that each bought Alpha access for $24 (which isn’t accurate, i, for example got it for $32), they’ve earned at least $109k since February…game’s not even launched yet. So it’s niche yes, but not exactly out of funds.

            Thing is, at present, people who’ve bought the Alpha/Beta are either ArmA veterans, or people who’re new (like me) but really want the game to succeed. Once the flood gates are opened on September 12th, they’ll be a lot more bitching and moaning that they’ll have to deal with.

            Heck, i remember when i showed the Alpha’s intro trailer to my friend, first thing he said was “my god look at that object pop-in”…i wasn’t even paying attention to it back then.

            So yeah…might not be good for BIS. A good engine makes it easier for them in the long run, after all.

          • Hahaha says:

            Your friend is a casual console tard, they might only play pc games but that’s still the case.


            link to 24.media.tumblr.com

      • SuicideKing says:

        Additional info:

        No, photography mode (called Splendid Camera, or just Camera in the menu) uses whatever video settings you’ve set. So you have to exit the camera and change them.

        I can set most of the settings to max, except Objects, Picture-in-Picture, Particles, Terrain, View Distance, Object Draw Distance, Shadow Draw distance, and…i think that’s about it.

        PiP’s many levels (low, normal, high, etc). don’t seem to do anything, so currently it’s just on or off, i keep it disabled. I set terrain to High, very high causes too much of a FPS drop. Objects i keep to standard, as the FPS drop is too much. Particles I keep to standard, but i wish i could keep them lower…

        Draw distance is set to 2200m, and shadow distance to 100m. I could go to 200m for the loss of very few FPS, but i’m too low anyway, so i decided against that. Total and object draw distance has a huge impact on performance (CPU).

      • Stuart Walton says:

        It was I who discovered that removing that particular PBO made Altis run faster, but at the expense of losing all roads.

        The biggest cause in framerate drops is, as you say because the game is so heavily CPU bound. The reason that the framerate bombed on 32-bit OSes was due to memory limitations. The last patch increased these limits but it’s just a sticking plaster.

        I believe that before rendering a frame, the game first works out which objects are potentially within the field of view. It then makes sure these objects are loaded into memory. However, if there are too many objects this can hit the memory limits and the game has to start juggling the objects in and out. If the limit is grossly exceeded, then the game spends nearly all the time just juggling.

        BIS need to perform an additional object cull that stops this limit being reached at all, that would be the easiest real fix.

        • SuicideKing says:

          I had guessed it was a memory limitation (seeing that Sratis was already crossing 3.1 physical), but after you posted about that file, i thought it was a bug specific to something in that file…and removed my post about memory. Probably shouldn’t have…

          But you know what? It’s not even hitting GPU memory limits…and i think they are implementing extensive object culling but in the wrong way…which causes the object popping.

          Reason i’m saying this is after looking at the HWiNFO logs, memory keeps bouncing up and down.

          I’d sort of prefer it if they pre-loaded textures and objects (if possible) and everything within the object draw distance should be loaded into memory.

          Notice that a lot of objects are simply trees, grass and rocks…i’m sure they don’t individually make all of them. So i’m not sure if all of them need to be loaded into memory.

          Again, i’m not seeing huge memory load. It seems more like the multi-threading isn’t optimal…i believe it’s static threading, only assigning fixed chunks to each thread and waiting for a sync, because the other three cores show almost equal utilisation.

          I’ve seen similar issues with Receiver as well (also uses PhysX, via Unity), FPS gradually drops over time and at the start of each room…might be an issue with the PhysX engine, not sure, but someone i was talking to on Steam (seemed to have experience with it) suggested it was.

    • gunny1993 says:

      It really depends on what you’re doing in game, if you’re just flying around then my 670 and i5 2500K @4.8 ghz will yield frames of around 40-50.

      The problem comes when there’s lots of players on the screen or AI in the area, that saps framerates like a bitch.

      Oh and OC your CPU as much as possible, i’ve had the largest framerate increases from that.

      • SuicideKing says:

        Have you tried flying around on an empty map in an Mi-48, and then bombarding the town (the large one near the airport) with those ATG missiles? The one which have a load-out of 38 rockets…Sky something. My FPS drops to 10-13 when i do that.

        • gunny1993 says:

          Last time I played was a few months ago (away from my PC), I made a mission on the smaller map that involved destroying 40 mobile targets on quads and (those armored transport things) with either the smaller 2 man military chopper or the larger transport with the dagr missiles.

          On that I get a stable 40 ish although is does reduce to about 20 if you launch a full barrage in one go, never tried bombing the town though.

  18. SuicideKing says:

    I think the elephant in the room is performance.

    The engine isn’t really very good. With Altis, is the horrible object pop-in any better?

  19. edna says:

    I have to say that this is the single most jaw-dropping bit of sandbox that I have ever had the pleasure of running/flying/driving around in. I’ve done what Craig did and just cruised around enjoying the view. For me the beta price would be justified even if that was all there was. Altis is muuuuch prettier than Stratis, with lovely fields and things all the way to the horizon.

    Performance issues certainly exist, but it’s hard to work out whether it’s fair to blame the engine for that entirely. I mean Skyrim just drops to horrid blurry textures and the odd building in the middle distance, for example, whereas with Arma 3 you can see tiny huts for miles around, if you so choose.

    Just because the sliders go up to 11, doesn’t mean that it should be workable all the way up there. I get perfectly fine perfomance with my Q6600@3GHz and 650 Ti Boost, though I haven’t tried multiplayer and that was certainly pretty horrific in FPS terms on Stratis. But I’d much rather they took the Crysis approach and allowed us to throw as much money at it as we like, even in years to come, rather than limit the maximum detail so that we can all get a buzz out of pressing the Ultra button and running at 120FPS.

    You don’t need 60FPS in Arma, I don’t think. Mind you, I’m shit at the shooting bit of it, so what do I know? Just sightseeing most of the time, me. Anyway, it’s pure PC powered graphical brilliance and I think that everybody should take a look.

  20. lucasdigital says:

    Altis Rocks! It really is an amazing effort. Big? Check out this comparison with other sandbox realms –
    link to blog.moricky.com

    Looking as you could fit all of Skyrim and GTA4 into that southern peninsula, which if it suddenly sank into the ocean wouldn’t really diminish the mindblowing magnitude of the Altis.

    About the performance issues – I agree with edna, this is a reboot of Arma 2: on release there’s a lot of frustration about bugs and poor performance but because the game has near endless potential we’ll probably be happily playing it on our 2016 PCs.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I hope that’s not just because of 2016 PCs being much more powerful than today’s! :P

  21. Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

    AP reference subtitle. Odd, I can suddenly hear the sound of bicyclists.

  22. Cerebulon says:

    The buoys seem to be some kind of abandoned wave power project. There’s a few sites with them, some with them on shore like that and some purely sunken underwater, but a couple of them have power lines leading right to the seafront where they lie and all of them have some sign of it being a construction project before the economy died and war broke out on the island (Stacked pipes, abandoned trucks, cisterns etc.)

  23. obd2 says:

    Altis really is a remarkable achievement. The sameyness of Stratis is another world away from the hills, fields, forests, villages, cities and ruins that are baking under the Mediterranean sun
    link to immo-emulator.com
    link to carkeychips.com