I don't play Armed Assault, bar a disastrous tinker with the demo, which resulted in me holding my head in my hands, rocking, sobbing gently and begging that a passing member of PC Gamer help me, oh God won't they please help me. I very much feel as though I should, and I've been told or sent links to any number of incredible tales of high heroism and astonishing accomplishment that sound impossible in any other game. Unfortunately, I am scared and stupid and all-too-brief of attention-span, so I shall leave the game to men of greater resolve than I.
Nevertheless, I remain fascinated to hear about it, and the new mode in its just-released latest free update certainly sounds fairly remarkable. It's shaking off the shackles of first-person shooter oppression and running for the real-time strategy hills.
400 square kilometres of real-time strategy hills, specifically.
"WARFARE blends tactical, team-based multiplayer missions with deep realtime strategy. Two sides fight for control of the entire 400 sq km map in titanic battles over air land and sea. Players must capture whole cities to gain resources that can be channelled into manufacturing even more weapons of war. Each side has one commander, who can build factories and defensive structures in and around their base. As long as they have enough money and resources, players can use these factories to build units, weapons and vehicles. Defensive structures can be used to defend bases and the units stationed there. Players must take account of logistical considerations outside their bases and cities too as truck convoys ferrying supplies between settlements are vulnerable to attack. Players on each side are divided into a maximum of 16 teams. The commander can give these teams side missions and specify tasks or objectives, coordinating the entire side to ensure victory. This is war on a unprecedented scale, even for ARMA!"
Which all sounds rather good. I was initially annoyed that they'd used capital letters for the name, but the sort of scope this is on about really does suggest there's a none-more-perfect title than WARFARE.
The update also includes an editing suite, further cementing ArmA's reasonably unique status as a game in which its players shape its course as much as its developers do (EVE is the closest analogy that springs to mind - it certainly inspires similar obsession amongst its players). It's fascinating to have witnessed from afar ArmA's progression from slightly scoffed at bugarama into this silently unstoppable titan. There's really nothing quite like it. Hooray for it!