My first online experience with Arma 3 involved failing to grasp our mission, stumbling around in the dark, and falling accidentally out of a helicopter to be left stranded in a forest. Arma 3 Bootcamp is exactly what I needed. That's the name of the next update to the military sim, and it's going to introduce a new tutorial campaign, an 'instructor' scenario for multiplayer, a gun model-viewing encyclopedia and a virtual training mode. Plus greater Steam Workshop support and a new game launcher. Full details below.
In a long post on the game's official site, creative director Jay Crowe set out the need for better teaching within the infamously complicated series. The bootcamp campaign sounds like a traditional tutorial, and the multiplayer bootcamp relies on the Zeus DLC and is dependent on having a patient player to instruct you, so it's the virtual training arena (pictured above) that sounds most intriguing.
The VR Training concept is supported by a unique new 'world'. 'Virtual Reality' acts as a digital blank canvas, where 'real' game assets are spawned alongside 'simulated' entities to create artificial scenes that serve carefully designed purposes. In official content, this includes the above-described VR Training topics. More broadly, it acts as a terrain to test content or features under simple or highly specific conditions, and – we hope – as a space for content creators to try out more experimental and innovative concepts.
Virtual Reality also includes a set of related assets, such as the VR Goggles and training suit. Additionally, a set of 'generic' VR Objects (cubes, primitive structures, etc.) are available. These are plain geometric blocks in the daytime, with glowing edges in low-light conditions, which provide the 'building blocks' to populate scenes and, hopefully, encourage the creation of different types of game modes and new possibilities for custom scenarios.
So it's a toolset for players to make their own lessons, it's essentially a set of whitebox-style assets for testing other kinds of scenario, and it's reminiscent of Metal Gear Solid. Game, set and match, Bohemia.
The update should also bring changes relevant to those already expert at running military manouvers. A new system for weapon sway should make the tactical decision between pistols and submachine guns more meaningful by introducing advantages to the lighter weaponry, while new fatigue mechanics will mean that players will have to think more carefully about what they put in their pack before missions.
Meanwhile, although Arma had Steam Workshop support previously, that functionality is now being expanded to include add-ons rather than just custom scenarios. Those add-ons include vehicles, new features, and total conversions. That should make anything the famously creative Arma community makes easier to find and play, just as the Workshop has for other games. This is further aided by a new game launcher, which will make it easier for users to "organise, maintain and load mods".
So that's a crazy amount of new stuff, then. There's no firm release date for any of it, but it should be available soon if Bohemia are sticking to the development roadmap they laid out last month.