Port Report: Arma 3 Alpha

arma3

Port Reports are a new series of quick first impressions of the technical aspects of a PC game. This report was written by PCGamingWiki contributor Oddmast. For an up to date account of Arma 3′s fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.

Bohemia Interactive’s Arma 3 Alpha has now been publicly available on Steam for a month. In this Port Report, we’ll be analysing the current technical details for the March 25th build of Arma 3 and begin to consider the extent of its improvement as a successor to Arma 2.

Please note that Arma 3 is in extremely early Alpha development and that any components of the game are subject to change and may not be representative of the final product.

System specifications

Minimum

  • OS: Windows Vista SP2 or Windows 7 SP1
  • Processor: Intel Dual-Core 2.4 GHz or AMD Dual-Core Athion 2.5GHz
  • Memory: 2GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 8800GT or AMD Radeon HD 3830 or Intel HD Graphics 4000 with 512 MB VRAM
  • DirectX®: 10
  • Hard Drive: 10GB HD space
  • Sound: DirectX®-compatible

Recommended

  • OS: Windows Vista SP2 or Windows 7 SP1
  • Processor: Intel Core i5-2300 or AMD Phenom II X4 940 or better
  • Memory: 4GB RAM
  • Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 or AMD Radeon HD 7750 with 1 GB VRAM or better
  • DirectX®: 11
  • Hard Drive: 20GB HD Space
  • Sound: DirectX®-compatible

Main menu

PR A3 S1

In its current state, the main menu consists of some interesting set of options. One of the things that I noticed during my first run of the game was that without having properly set up the video options the main menu screen can run poorly. The background image is a live loop of the mainland of the Alpha’s only map, Stratis, and can be quite system intensive.

Play

Here we’re able to choose between the three currently available modes. However, as you can see the Challenges game mode is unavailable with no recent news as to when it can be expected.

The first available mode is the Showcases. This is where the developers have created scenarios to show off the main features of the game. There are currently four showcases which cover Infantry, Scuba, Vehicles and Helicopters and aim to show the user what they can expect with the finished product. These core mechanics also act as tutorials though they are still difficult ‘missions’ to complete.

The second mode is Scenarios. Though the menu can be brought up there are no scenarios available with the current build of the game, although using the editor, the community has already began creating a large range of secnarios. The scenario menu has the same layout as the showcases but is blank by default.

The most important menu item is Multiplayer. Multiplayer allows you to combine AI and international players to take on the Scenarios and missions. Currently there are no dedicated servers so combining this with in-Alpha state and you get a veritable mix of lag and bugs. The multiplayer is powered by Gamespy which surprises me because the last time I remember using them was playing the original Medal of Honor: Allied Assault games and Age of Empires. Whether due to Gamespy or just a coincidence in design, the layout is pretty similar to those past games.

Please note, if you received a steam gift invite from a friend to trial the game, the multiplayer will not be available.

Editor

PR A3 S4

This is something that I’m personally excited about. Whilst there is currently only one playable map, Stratis, it is a pretty large island map with plenty of hills, mountain ranges and plains so that there is plenty of variety for test missions. The editor is truly extensive allowing for players to customise game functions such as dialogue as well as customisable intel loot. Whilst it currently looks impressive there is very little in game help as to how to use it, though a quick Google search quickly reveals that many fans and players have created their own.

Options

Arma III can at times be a bit of a beefy, performance intensive game. In my current set-up (which meets the recommended requirements) I get on average 30-40fps and 25-30 whilst recording and live streaming. The option menu is also pretty detailed and covers the whole range from video to a fully fledged rebindable control system.

The Video menu in itself is pretty impressive and boasts a decent set of settings to allow the full range of its user base to feel comfortable setting up the game. Auto-Detect did the majority of the work for me and after a little bit of fiddling afterwards I was good to go. Auto-Detect managed to correctly sort out my resolution and view settings but the Visibility settings, which play a big role in quality and fps did have to be fiddled with. The other options go into further detail about each specific component regarding general quality and rendering.

The Audio option is small but important, communication is key in any game and the ability to turn down music so you can hear the Comms Radio is just as vital. Interestingly enough there is an option to change the number of Sound Sources which ranges from 16 to 128.

PR A3 S6

Control customisation is essential in a game like Arma 3, which has a very large control options menu and fully rebindable keys. Note that there is partial controller support as well, which is something that I tried out using a Xbox controller for PC. Whilst it feels smoother to use the thumbsticks to move and aim the lack of buttons makes for a more difficult long term game when there is an inability to use the game commands and switch camera modes as well.

The Game option menu is pretty basic and for the most part is there for miscellaneous options such as language and subtitles. However, as aforementioned, the customisation of the game is something that is unprecedented. The difficulty option menu has the standard defaults of Easy to Hardcore, albeit named differently, but allows for nearly every AI, GUI and game mechanic to be changed.

Profiles allow you to hold multiple accounts which allow you to switch between different sets of options, whilst Expansions will allow you to buy any Arma DLC that gets released in the future and as such has very limited function for the Alpha.

Performance

PR A3 S9

Now as I mentioned earlier I’m getting on average 40fps on Standard/Medium. The best thing to do to improve FPS is to play with the View Distance. Another performance boost is to disable VSync. On average during the middle of a singleplayer showcase mission Arma 3 can take around 50% CPU usage which is a clear indication of lack of streamlining.

The most important thing to remember however is that the game is in early Alpha. Assets, graphics, options and settings are not optimised yet because they’re not finished. The game has only had one update since its release and its primary focus was on solving problems with gameplay in scenarios and multiplayer. It seems that at the end of the day we’re playing an alpha state game which still has at least a year left in production. Whilst the game is enjoyable at this point I’m just excited to see how Bohemia Interactive will polish up the final product.

For an up to date account of Arma 3′s fixes and improvements, please visit its respective PCGamingWiki article.