Arma Reforger (13)

Back in 2001, Operation Flashpoint (now known as Arma: Cold War Crisis) dared to ask first-person shooter fans: “What if your character died after being shot once by some guy you can’t even see?” And thus, a successful military simulator series was born. Arma Reforger is both a return to those roots and a stepping stone towards the full release of Arma 4. That and more was stated in a recent virtual press event by Bohemia Interactive.

As Arma Reforger goes into Early Access, it takes players back to the fictitious island of Everon. It’s 1985, baby, and NATO is going to clash with the USSR on this vaguely-French, Czech-inspired rock. You have roughly 64-square miles of area to make the other guy die for his power block.

 

At a glance, all the Arma stuff is there. You’re a very fragile person in a deadly world, with both a first-person and third-person camera at your disposal. You still have the fairly detailed inventory management, but it — and the interface — are either redone nicely or very well explained by the tutorial and pop-ups. One new thing, as far as I know, is fiddling with radio frequencies, and the in-game text, calls out stealing a radio station off an enemy as a legitimate tactic.

A vision of Enfusion

But the real raison d’être of Arma Reforger is to test the brand new Enfusion engine in the wild. The developer plans to learn from the experience and transfer it to Arma 4 development, and to get modders familiar with the new Workbench modding tools. Oh, and since it’ll be a multiplatform title, it will also let people experience small-unit tactics with Xbox players.

Unfortunately, the game will essentially be multiplayer only. Conflict is the easy-to-grasp mode: simply kill the enemy, construct bases (logi drivers from Squad, welcome), rise in ranks, and take the map. Rank unlocks better gear (whatever that is in 1985), but notably isn’t saved between battles. So, once the map restarts or you go to another server, you’ll need to begin anew. Oh, and the neutral bases are held, as far as I’ve seen, by AI guerillas. So you’re an invader either way.

Arma Reforger (14)

One of the top-10 scenic vistas to marvel at while guiding a SACLOS missile.

The other part of Arma Reforger is the Game Master mode. Game Master puts you in the shoes of the scenario director, providing challenges and fights for the human players. You can actually play Reforger as a single-player game, spawning opposition for yourself to fight. It’s a useful skill to master if you have more grandiose plans for Arma multiplayer matches.

Craft some new mods, will you?

And for those even more ambitious, everyone who owns Arma Reforger will have access to the Workbench tool. This is where you make mods for the game. It’s similar in some ways to the editor in DayZ, but as Enfusion is a new engine, it’s also a new tool. Everything can be edited inside it, down to AI behaviors — if you know C#. It’s meant to be a lot friendlier to use, and while the team couldn’t guarantee that Reforger mods would be compatible in Arma 4, your skills will still be transferable. This also means that Arma 3 mods will not make it over.

Arma Reforger (21)

“Man, I can’t wait to be in a game where all the NATO forces get NVGs or even thermals!”

The Workbench connects to the Workshop, the tool for sharing and applying mods. For PC players, it will eventually be integrated with Steam Workshop. For Xbox players, it will give them access to the same mods that PC players use, though Workbench itself will not work on consoles. I don’t know why you’d want to try doing that, though.

Bohemia was real proud of their Enfusion engine and how it has been tooled for cool new visual tricks, like shadows being rendered up to 1.8 miles away or the moon being an actual light source like the sun. As we saw in the screens and in the video, the game looks great.

Driving into a German gas station in an M60 not yet supported

But as Arma Reforger is an Early Access title, the full game isn’t here yet. The Early Access phase is planned to last a year, and missing components will be added in that time. One notable current omission? No tracked vehicles, which is a real bummer considering we all want to see T-72s, BMP-2s, Bradleys, and M60s.

Arma Reforger (11)

Charge of the lightest brigade.

As Arma Reforger goes on, the developer is communicating with the Reforger Regiment, “a unique unit of community heroes.” They’re the ones who have the ear of the team, offering suggestions, criticism, and just general feedback. I guess this means that we’ll be getting those Warhammer 40K mods sooner rather than later.

All in all, while we know nothing about Arma 4 aside from “it will use Enfusion engine,” Arma Reforger will let us experience the technical performance, gameplay, and modding tools. Personally, I can’t wait to drive around in a BTR.

Update @ 2:12 PM ET: added some more details about the basic gameplay and Conflict mode. 

Martynas Klimas
Always chasing that full-time-game-reviewer fairy. Perennially grumpy about Warhammer 40,000. Big fan of RTS, RPG, and FPS games. Has written for other sites. The only Lithuanian you know.

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