Arma 3 Dev Branch Takes On Helicopters

Get to the choppaaaurgh.

Part of Arma 3‘s recent roadmap includes more regular updates to the game’s dev branch, introducing all manner of tweaks and new tools to the terrifying military simulator. As of this past week, that includes new helicopter physics.

Using knowledge gained via Bohemia’s own Take On Helicopters (my title for this post is really very clever), a new set of flight physics have been introduced which “is more complex, taking into account things like a helicopter’s construction, the weight of fuel/ammo, wind influence, stress damage and much more besides.” There’s a video of the new model in action below.

“Wind influence” is what calzone pizzas enact upon me. Yes, that’s a fart joke.

The post on the Arma 3 development blog goes into greater detail about ‘rotorlib integration’. All of the work is being done in advance of a new piece of DLC, Arma 3 Helicopters, and so part of the new system is making it flexible for players of different skill levels: the advanced flight model is off by default, and even if you turn it on you can enable helpers or turn off certain functionality like “stress damage” or “rough landings”.

“Rough landings” is another thing that calzone pizzas enact upon me. Yes, that’s a poop joke.

Read more over at the Arma 3 site.


  1. Alfius says:

    Hurrah, perhaps they can overhaul the damage modelling for aircraft while they’re at it. Every missile hit results in the same outcome: total loss of power followed by inevitable auto-rotation failure. I get that we’re operating way outside the H/V curve for the most part, but I feel like I should be able to put the bird down *sometimes* and walk away.

  2. Synesthesia says:

    Extremely relevant:

    There are some serious, serious issues with TOH’s flight model. They need to be adressed. I sincerely hope they do, bohemia has a habit of ignoring hot topics.

    • Tankerwade says:

      And in DCS you can fly through the trees. THROUGH THE TREES.

      • Synesthesia says:

        Yes, it’s a thing. On the other hand, rudder controls on everything bohemia is a joke, and clipping a bush turns you into a fireball. hm.

    • Thirith says:

      dslyecxi makes good points, as so often, but as I’m not a sim buff and haven’t played DCS I wonder how many of those are down to Arma not being, and neither wanting nor needing to be, a heli sim. From dslyecxi’s video, it seems that the feel of the helicopters is off, but while they should improve this they shouldn’t turn the heli side into a total simulation IMO.

      It seems, though, that dslyecxi prefers the Arma 2 flight model to the current advanced flight model in Arma 3, so I guess it’s not that he wants Arma 3’s helicopters to be simulated with 100% accuracy.

      • Chalky says:

        The discussion in the comments of his video indicate that some of the issues (such as the rudder pedals causing the helo to go into a ridiculous spin at high speed) are not present in the currently released game and their presence in the dev branch may be simply be a bug.

        It’s a fair point that some of the apparent short-cuts (such as the tendency for the helo to explode rather than doing something more interesting) may be due to engine limitations. I’m no expert, but it must be difficult to design an engine that can simulate so many different types of combat and vehicles with high accuracy. Exploding seems like an easy way of resolving situations where you don’t really have any systems to handle what should really happen, such as the rotor flying off realistically or the vehicle turning into a bouncing physics object with living player controlled passengers.

      • Tankerwade says:

        I agree he makes good points as well, but I wish he had framed his comments in the context of how the new flight dynamics can be good or bad for Arma 3, not how they compare to DCS: Huey. Arma is not a survey sim. It is not about switching the DC bus or setting the correct barometric pressure for the altimeter. It’s about transporting 8 of your multiplayer friends across a huge map and dropping them off to an LZ. It’s about purposely reduced vehicle fidelity to make combined arms workable with infantry. None of the infantry players want to sit through a cold start up sequence, and when I lead a multiplayer mission I don’t want to have to vet the pilot to make sure he is “current on type.”

        I do agree with him that vortex ring needs to be modeled a bit better, but again, not to DCS levels. Just enough for the pilot to have to account for it but not so much that only a few guys in the community can reliably deliver the goods in a mission.

        The damage model I am less worried about. I know it can be frustrating but it also forces a “get the landing right the first time mentality. ” Put it down gently in a clear space without rubbing it against anything should always be the plan. A medium damage model will just encourage medium landings. Comparing it to DCS was disingenuous I thought. So what that it looks pretty when the helicopter rolls over and lays there on its side. You, the pilot, are still dead. And so is everyone in the back, which is not an issue in DCS, but is a major gameplay moment in Arma. I’ll take a damage model that plays well and doesn’t encourage bad behavior, but it’s not at the top of my list.

        Kudos to Dslyecxi for at least acknowledging that flying through trees is bad for his comparison.

      • Synesthesia says:

        yeah, I understand what you mean. I don’t think he wants it to become a full sim, but if it’s gonna add elements of simulation into the game, they should function correctly. I prefer the current arcadey controls to the shoddy toh implementation. (although i played it to completion and still had a ton of fun. could NEVER hover effectively. God damn SWAT team)

      • SuicideKing says:

        I think his point is that while the current arcadey controls are okay for the purpose, the moment you throw the words “simulation”, “realistic” and “advanced” around, you better be doing it properly.

        And the aircraft (both helos and planes) damage model is indeed terrible.

    • Zenicetus says:

      That’s a pretty good assessment of the flaws in the Take On Helicopters flight model. Disclaimer: I haven’t flown any of the DCS helos for comparison, but my personal gold standard in sims is the way civilian helicopters are modeled in X-Plane, especially some of the better payware like the BK-117. I tried (but couldn’t finish) TOH, including its later bug fixes and improvements, so I know how that flies. I also spent a lot of time in real helicopters years ago, not piloting but as a front seat passenger (photographer) directing the flight ops, so I think I have a good idea what they should feel like in flight.

      I might disagree with dslyecxi in that video about how critical the modeling of Vortex Ring State is, in a game like this. Yes, it has killed pilots and crew, but it’s not something that happens automatically under X flight conditions, the way simulators tend to treat it. It can be tricky to get into, even when trying intentionally under flight training. Anyway, that’s not the worst thing in TOH’s flight model. The worst thing is the silly behavior and exaggerated authority of the tail rotor n forward flight. That’s something they could probably fix.

      And then there is the lack of a sense of weight, inertia, and aerodynamic buoyancy, which I’m not sure they can fix in Arma, because it just doesn’t seem to be part of the TOH flight model. Too often in TOH, it feels like you’re steering a camera instead of flying through air and suspended under the main rotor. OTOH, I don’t play Arma and maybe that level of simulation isn’t important in that type of game. That’s something an Arma player would have to decide.

    • Bodge says:

      2 points in regard to that vid,
      1) stuff can change

      2) Stuff has changed

      “rev. 126612 – helicopters should be able to land in higher speeds, should not explode when rotor hits something and some other minor tweaks.
      shall make happy a lot pilots”

      Dsly seems to be fine with the basic but desired the advanced FM to go further with it.

      Tbh I find the A3 basic flight model fine for my purposes and am massively more interest in the firing from vehicles, now all they need to do is include weapon resting in the guns DLC…

      • MrStones says:

        “now all they need to do is include weapon resting in the guns DLC”

        Yeah definitely, been using a mod for this/bipods (TMR Modular Realism, I only play singleplayer so dunno if/how it works in mp) and it’s my one must-have, makes a huge difference to fire fights at all ranges. Really hope something similar gets added to the main game.

        Oh and a option to NOT update workshop missions and lose all your progress just because the author decided to make a change.

    • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

      I am rather skeptical of dslyexci’s assessment of the flight model, considering he prefers to fly with a mouse and keyboard.

      • Zenicetus says:

        IIRC, he says somewhere in that video that he’s flying with joystick, throttle quadrant and pedals.

        • VelvetFistIronGlove says:

          Ah, better. The keyboard controls in let you provide inputs of such magnitude it was ludicrous.

        • SuicideKing says:

          Yup, and TrackIR.

  3. Sunjammer says:

    Arma vehicle simulation has always been utter cack. TOH is one of the funniest “sims” I’ve ever played. I play DCS Black Shark regularly so I’m probably horribly biased.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      If a person starts on DCS and FSX as their first simulators, is all of virtual flying now going to be utterly rubbish by comparison for them? I just recently got into A-10C you see (UC?) and also bought FSX for next. I know, FSX takes a lot of spending to get the scenery and modules etc, but hey ho.


  4. Crimsoneer says:

    How is TOH? I’ve had it in my steam library for while…

    • Zenicetus says:

      It’s not terrible, but not terribly realistic either. If you’re interested in civilian helicopter operations and need a series of missions to stay motivated, and especially if you have the right control setup for helicopters (joystick, throttle control, pedals), then it’s worth trying at least.

      If you want more realism in the flight model and can role-play your own missions and reason to fly, then I’d suggest X-Plane. I think it has the best civilian helicopter modeling at the moment. For combat helicopters, there’s DCS.

  5. WiggumEsquilax says:

    Actually, if they simulate it accurately enough, farting with the window open should generate a small amount of thrust.

    • CookPassBabtridge says:

      Farting generates too much turbulence in the gas flow, meaning a great deal of your thrust vector components are not in plane with your aircraft. Additionally, your co-pilot may punch you.

  6. CookPassBabtridge says:

    Does anyone know why its so hard to find an affordable helicopter type throttle / collective for sims? The cheapest ones I’ve seen are $600+ and look like they are made from old microphone stands.

  7. wodin says:

    Watching that got me thinking to how far we have come since the wire frame graphics back in the eighties.. Would never have dreamed of graphics like this back then.

  8. MeFirst says:

    I dont want to sound neative, but it does not look like the guy in the video has the new flight model enabled. First at all he doesnt have the new gauges on (I know you can turn them off) but it doesnt sound like his RPM (rotations per minute) is changing at all while doing things that have a impact on them.