ARMA 3 – No More, BIS

Thanks guys, but I’ve had enough.

DisCONNECT lives! It goes into hibernation while I do other things but rest assured that I am still writing. By way of apology for the lack of articles, have some filler, in the form of a BIS fan’s disappointment with ARMA3.

 

Firstly, the ARMA series is notable for being the only series out there that properly creates a dynamic battlefield. Don’t be mistaken, I fully understand how hard it is for them to create a dynamic environment with the AI and so on. But they consistently miss the mark with each series. I’ve spent more hours in Operation Flashpoint (now ARMA: Cold War Crisis) than I’ve spent in every other ARMA game put together. Why? Because for all its flaws, OpFlash is still the best. It has the best single player campaign, it’s reasonably solid, and the AI aren’t exceptionally bad. With every iteration it seems like BIS keep making the game look nicer with bigger terrain and more buildings, but seem to fail at expanding the rest of the game. Or at least they consistently kill the single player unit.

Yes, there’s multiplayer (which has its own host of bugs and issues), but I don’t want to play MP. Some will tell you that ARMA is not a single player game. These people either joined after DayZ became a thing, or they didn’t play OpFlash, because SP has been a part of the series since day one. OpFlash’s campaign may have been a little ridiculous, but it was decent, and it had some fantastic moments. ARMA’s campaign was pedestrian by comparison. ARMA2’s campaign was broken on release and has stayed that way – whether it’s because scripts fail to fire or because performance in some parts is so bad that it’s simply not possible to keep playing, the entire thing is practically unplayable. Operation Arrowhead is slightly better but not by a significant amount. ARMA3 didn’t even ship with much in the way of SP content, primarily because the AI are still absolutely useless.

Each time a new ARMA game comes out, I keep thinking to myself “This is it. They will fix the performance issues and they will improve the AI.” I put down the cash for the early alpha and initially I saw some promise. To be fair ARMA3 runs much better than ARMA2, but it’s still a pretty slow game. It can still suffer from apparently random slowdown. Basically, its release is just like every other ARMA release that ever was (and probably ever will be) – still riddled with problems despite community testing. The AI? They haven’t improved. Any improvement I thought I saw was an illusion – they still routinely get stuck and fail to navigate simple areas, they still can’t drive, they can’t fly (which has gone backwards from OpFlash), and they’re still more of a liability than they should be. I know that AI programming is hard, but really BIS you haven’t gotten it right since day one, maybe it’s time to just drop it and turn ARMA into an MP-only game.

ARMA3 is likely the last in the series I’ll ever buy. Each release comes with a new promise to fix issues or improve gameplay. ARMA3 took some significant steps towards doing that, and damn was I optimistic! But we’re past release, we’re past the stable build, and it still isn’t the game so many of us needed it to be. Everything still lacks that OpFlash magic, let alone its stellar expansion pack Resistance, which could have been a game all of its own. So after this long I have to give up. The constant bugs, the constant screw ups, the continuous AI failures… it’s all too much. I’ve totally lost faith in Bohemia Interactive Studios to ship a decent product. I’ve stuck with you guys since 2001 and each time you’ve let me down. I would have quit earlier but there’s still nothing like ARMA out there, it’s still the best in show. And that’s not praise – that’s like saying your moldy potato wins first prize because nobody else entered the potato contest.

I’ll still be watching, particularly with the release of the new campaign’s first episode at the end of the month, but the issues with the game are well and truly endemic now – they don’t go away. They change form but they always exist in some capacity. After so many attempts, I give up. Which is a shame, because I try so hard to like the games like I did with OpFlash. OpFlash wasn’t perfect, but its flaws were fairly minor when considered against the whole product. With each ARMA release I keep finding it harder and harder to forgive the flaws, mostly because the additional content just keeps getting less entertaining. Good luck to you BIS, I hope you turn it around and somewhat fix the AI issues. It’s highly unlikely I’ll cave into buying ARMA4 though – after so many tries, I just don’t think you can deliver.

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