Arma III Part 2 Game
Now the training wheels have come off, and the helicopter is a multi-ton hunk of metal desperate to convince itself it’s a bird. The advanced flight model physics are no longer interested in friendly compromise. A mouse and keyboard control scheme is ineffective at dealing with the minute variables of the new model. Keyboard control of the new analog collective is touchy business that leads to splintered landing struts and compressed spines. I flew for this review using the Thrustmaster T.Flight HOTAS X and a TrackIR headset. I think you’d have a pretty tough time without a headtracking peripheral of some kind. Even my bottom-of-the-budget control setup cost north of $160, so there is a notable bar to entry here. It’s easy to see why the founder of the Arma gaming group Shack Tactical told me in August that the group would not be adopting the advanced flight model for its regular play sessions. The loss of accessibility is too high.
So the new flight model has more detailed controls, but is the modeling any good? Well, yeah—depending on what you mean by good. To be clear, hours flown in Arma won’t count toward your helicopter pilot’s license. This is not a reality-standard physics simulation. You can move in some ways that real helicopters can’t, ways which other helicopter sims won’t let you get away with. The vortex ring state, a deadly feedback loop of choppy air caused by fast descent, is still not a problem Arma pilots can run into.
All of those caveats aside: yes, the physics is great for a flight sim newbie or an Arma pilot looking for the next challenge. I specifically enjoy that the weight of troops and equipment affects my hover threshold, and I can feel the aircraft getting lighter as each heavily equipped soldier hops off. I curse the name of strong ocean crossbreezes, and trying to fly a jeep to a canyon FOB made me sweat like a Sriracha enema.
Bohemia has added two new mechanics to play with that will benefit all players. Being able to fire a personal weapon from vehicles has been the community’s most popular wishlist item, and it has finally arrived. Now any player can shoot a primary weapon, reload, throw grenades, and switch to a sidearm while in any open-facing seat. In practice, this means that the beds of pickups, the running boards of helicopters, and the last seats on troop transports are now hot.
As much as I love the new firing-from-vehicles mechanic, its current incarnation is pretty poorly executed. The seat view has been turned into a turret view without a turret, basically, which means that you have a limited arc of fire—about 120 degrees. It’s a restriction that feels weird and artificial. Tactically, each shooter should pick a direction and cover it, but being unable to turn makes me feel like I’m wearing a rigid back brace. Shooting from the running boards of a helicopter is much more fun and the view restriction, with your back against the aircraft, makes a little more sense. I look forward to seeing video of a sniper popping headshots while on a hovering Littlebird, but I wasn’t a talented enough marksman to make it happen.