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Gamescom 2013: Incremental sit-ups

As close as you can get

The Arma series has become the series of choice for players looking for a realistic warfare experience. Those of us who grew up playing simulators like the original Ghost Recon and Operation Flashpoint, both series which have fallen from grace. The market is virtually flooded with games that focus more on fast paced action, such as the Battlefield and Call of Duty series. Arma shares nothing in common with those games, save for perspective and a reticule in the middle of the screen. The action takes place over a wide open area and each step must be carefully planned in order to gain the tactical advantage over the enemy. You can take no more damage than your enemy and your team mates can very well continue the mission without you, should you fall. You, as just another soldier, are no less expendable than the man next to you. Arma is true representation of warfare. At least, as true a representation as you're going to get on a PC. We met with Bohemia Interactive at this year’s Gamescom to see what marvels the developer is putting into the next installment of their flagship franchise.

Sit up, take cover

As we have come to expect from the Czech developers, they are taking their already impressive focus on realism a step further with Arma 3. For instance, instead of the classic stand, crouch, prone stances, the developers have introduced a system which allows players to adjust their stance incrementally. There are multiple stops from prone to standing upright and the ability to semi-fluently adjust your stance is sure to add an even deeper level of realism to an already eerily convincing series. While shooting, the muscle memory of the character will get used to the gun, so each consecutive shot reduces the recoil of the player's weapon.

Cover, as in all first-person shooters, is of vital importance to a player's survival. The cover mechanics in Arma 3 look effective and realistic. Taking cover behind a tank, for example, will shield you from the blast of a grenade or other explosive. Buildings are all destructible, so taking cover behind a wall will naturally make you more vulnerable to an RPG round than having a 60 ton tank behind your back. AI soldiers have been greatly improved and should behave much more like other human players than before. Physical cover is not the only form of cover important to a team's chances in Arma 3. Smoke grenades will provide vital visual cover for your team mates to relocate freely and possibly get the upper hand on a dominating enemy.

Modular weapons will allow you to customise your weapon greatly. Scopes, suppressors, and laser designators are among the things that you can alter, and the ability to dial in the range of some of the weapons greatly increases the game's depth. Bohemia displayed three types of optics at Gamescom; standard, night-vision, and thermal optics. Although thermal optics proved very useful in spotting enemies at night, it left much of the terrain looking like a dark-grey mesh of indistinguishable features. The night vision, on the other hand, did an acceptable job of displaying the features of the surrounding area, but did not do much to highlight enemy soldiers. This means that, as a soldier, you'll have to choose whether to see where you're going at night, or having enemies light up like Christmas trees on fire on your screen.