Hello, dear Armaholics and Fanatics!
It’s been a while since we’ve heard much news about any upcoming projects. Meanwhile, the Enfusion engine has been rolling steadily in a promising direction. And I am sure that Arma won’t stop at its third installment in the series.
I want to start a thread for hopes, ideas and speculation for the fourth installment. Here we can discuss what could make up Arma 4. This would be something that the developers could take notes from, before starting the project (If they haven’t already).
So feel free to express your opinion and ideas regarding the future of Arma.
To begin with, the Arma series has been a slowly growing franchise for nearly two decades. This means that it has strived for the goal of a tactical military sandbox to almost perfection. And it is nearly perfect, but there are weaknesses that have been withholding Arma from the great military sandbox it could be.
It is those weaknesses that should be addressed in order to fill the gaps of the series. When those gaps are filled, (believe me) the real apex of Arma is going to be the next one.
Here are my hopes, ideas and speculation for Arma 4:
I’m going to start with the gameplay, as it is what makes the series stand out the most.
With this, we have to go to the roots of the series (OFP: CWC / Arma: CWA). The harsh and unforgiving gameplay was challenging, but every time you failed you changed your tactic, and when you succeeded it was rewarding. It was the freedom of varied approaches on the mission at hand that made me fall in love with the series.
Rather than getting a small dopamine rush from every kill, like most shooters, Arma rewards you on decisions. This made the series stand out in the first place. I’m afraid that the balance of the game has shifted towards a regular shooter with additions like tactical pace and throwing grenades with a click of a button.
Decision-based and varied missions
As mentioned above, the focus on freedom of tactics rather than a linear shooter is what the core of Arma is about. This could be the decision between placing a minefield to reinforce your defenses OR surprise the enemy before they attack your defenses. Most importantly missions where decisions matter and have consequences, such as in the Tac-Ops DLC. These things bring dynamic gameplay, and in reality, war is dynamic.
We all know that there was something lacking in the East Wind campaign. Perhaps the story didn’t quite drive you emotionally or perhaps it was leaning too much on infantry alone? In the main campaign, we should bring what makes Arma special: combined arms gameplay. Maybe switch between characters and take on the role of a helicopter pilot, tank commander, or sniper.
It is time for Arma to have a memorable campaign and missions once again.
Mechanics: combat, commanding and actions
Remember before Arma 3 when you had to switch to the grenade in order to throw? It doesn’t work with that system, but if it was a single button to switch from weapon to grenade in hand, it would work, feel and look better, not to mention it is more realistic.
I don’t mind the tactical pace, but something that would make it less mainstream and more tactical would be a button to hold the rifle up (for example space). It would also help to give the weapon a sense of weight, which is a huge factor in real combat.
When it comes to commanding, the mechanic has not changed since 2001. The commanding could be made simpler with more of a visual focus rather than keyboard numbers. This also would apply to the action menu, instead of scrolling through text options, the use of visual options like in this thread would be a huge step forward.
Terrains, not a terrain
Terrains in the series are probably the most important part of the gameplay. The open-world allows you to engage the mission however you like. If one side of a town is heavily defended, you can simply approach from a different side to avoid heavy casualties.
But Arma 3, in my opinion, has brought a new problem. Let’s be honest, bigger doesn’t mean better. Not many were fond of Altis, as it felt like a never-ending landscape without any real detail compared to for example Malden 2035. Playing in multiplayer, whether it’s Warlords, Wasteland, or Life servers, I actually preferred Startis over Altis, because I seemed to never come across anybody on Altis.
The large map was impressive in 2001, but in 2020 an even larger map won’t stand out unless it actually supports the gameplay. Dear Bohemia Interactive, you don’t have to impress us with the size of the maps.
Of course, Stratis is a bit small, that’s why Malden was a great addition of balance. With more but smaller islands, we can have more variety of terrains, which was lacking in Altis & Stratis.
When it comes to immersion, it is a key step towards realism, and unfortunately, an element lacking in the previous titles. In order for Arma to stand out once again in the growing genre of tactical shooters, now is the time to polish the area of immersion. The main issue I face is the lack of a genuine atmosphere of combat. But thankfully there are ways to increase immersion such as with the following points below.
Upgrade in effects
First and obviously most noticeable upgrade would be particle effects, as the series has always had quite a soft feel especially with explosions. Arma portrays war, let’s make it portray the grittiness and roughness of blasts n’ explosions through particles and sound. (Example images: Explosions, Explosions, Dirt and Smoke)
Along with better particle effects, an upgrade in building destruction would be nice. It is neat that Arma has always had a destruction system, but it has never been the neatest (GIF). But building destruction is not the only destruction requiring an upgrade, more importantly fence, wall, and tree destruction animation would definitely need an overhaul.
Combat dialog and actions
Arma is known for its group dialog, but I think it’s time for an upgrade in order to enhance the immersion. To have all characters saying the same lines makes it feel artificial, as for humans we are characters of our own.
What I would propose is having every individual voice with their own character to the dialog. For example in Star Wars: Republic Commando, the friendly AI still is AI, but there’s a certain relation to them.
I’m not saying we should implement random chit-chat, but something a little more variable and human-like reporting. Example:
Current: “UNKNOWN PLANE, 1000M”
Proposal: “There's an airplane over there.”
When it comes to combat, let’s feel the harshness and fear with more drama in the chatter. Example:
“Fucking hell! I’m pinned down!”.
I said that I’m not going to delve into AI improvement, but there are some things that are easily fixable and would improve the immersion by a lot. It’s about AI actions or actually the lack of action. Something like below could be added just to make the AI a little more independent, and let the squad leader be busy with other things. Of course with a human-like voice:
AI rearming by themselves by going to the ammo bearer and reporting:
“I’ll get some ammo!”
AI healing by themselves, by going into cover and reporting:
“Cover me, I need to patch up!”
Variety in animations
Much like with human-like voices, so should the movement be believable. It would be nice to have the option of choosing movement animations much like the option of voice in the profile. It would bring out a more human-like pattern on the battlefield, because a single animation seems a little robotic when an entire squad moves with the same animation. (Walking example)
We do have limping animation, which was a great addition, but there could be a more diverse system. If the walking limping animation was the last stage, there could be a stage where you’re slightly limping while still able to move faster.
Another addition for a more interesting combat would be tripping over if getting shot in the leg (creating uncertainty if the unit died). In reality you’re not sure if you’ve killed someone by the target tripping from your bullet.
With the above mentioned, we all know when this (GIF) happens. Too often.
Combining better ragdolls with animations such as in the battlefield games (GIF), would be a great addition for the immersion. Not only getting killed, but also getting hit could look less awkward, and have more of a reaction.
III Game Changers
With every new major release, there should be something new and major addition that compliments the game. These are things that should stick out as a stepping stone in the evolution of the series, but can also be minor things.
Combat at sea has always been a weak and empty spot in the series, although the implementation of diving in Arma 3 brought a tiny light of hope into naval warfare. Let’s hope Arma 4 will expand on that, especially as all other elements had an overhaul in Arma 3 through DLCs.
This might not be a game changer for all, but anyone who wants to portray themselves as the opposite sex. In the modern military it is common to see female troops, let’s keep it that way unless Arma 4 ends up in the First World War.
This would not be a necessary addition, but for sure would spice up the environment and campaign. There has of course been different versions of a map with different seasons, but it is not the same.
IIII Setting and Content
Let’s get to the fun part: the setting and what kind of content we’d like to see. Now we’ve dealt with the concept of the future in Arma 3. I think it’s time to go back to the current or earlier setting. Let’s be honest, the community agrees. In my opinion Bohemia Interactive has always delivered the best content when it comes to post-soviet related content. Perhaps it should be a theme to be stuck with.
When and why
I’ll begin with the two most likely decades the next Arma is going to be set in and I’ll elaborate why:
In the current 2020s between the events of Arma 2 and 3,
or in the 1990s between the events of Cold War Crisis and Armed Assault.
I propose these because they are decades which have not been seen in the series before. I wouldn’t go earlier, because I suppose we want to keep the attachment system, and weapon attachments weren’t that common before the 80s. I wouldn’t go more to the future either because of the obvious dislike of the setting by the community. These two settings would bridge the gap between the lore of the Armaverse.
If it came to the 2020s we could see how CSAT came to power and the fall of NATO. With the 1990s we could see the transition of the Soviet Union to the Russian Federation. Either option would have an important plot to start with.
Where and why
With possible seasons in mind, it’d be great to have a surrounding where during winter there is actually snow, and it’d be something we’ve not seen before in the series. I propose a fictional island group in the Baltic Sea with a mixed culture of the surrounding nations. An archipelago would be great for the possible naval warfare.
If not in the baltic, then perhaps in the Bering Sea. But if it was Baltic or the Bering, let’s not have it bare. We want forests as it creates more interesting combat. Also because it is clear that according to most players the forest filled Chernarus was their favorite.
Images for inspiration:
Marine Combat Summer 1 Summer 2
Free Chernarus Plus DLC
Don’t let a highly worked on map go to waste. This could go along perhaps with the mentioned events before or after Operation Harvest Red Campaign. To be honest, we all want to see some true combat on the newly decorated Chernarus, not just some small firefights between survivors in DayZ.
Gamemodes and missions
The thing that disappointed me the most on the release of Arma 3 was the lack of official multiplayer content. No it didn’t bother me that the singleplayer campaign was postponed, because there was a ton of showcase content already. Sure gamemodes like Support, End Game and Warlords eventually were published, but for some reason they are rarely populated despite the quality.
Popularity seems to reside on gamemodes like King of The Hill. But in all honesty, arcady FPS gameplay is not what the Arma series represents. Instead there should be a focus on the tactical gameplay which Arma truly embodies and in which form it is most enjoyable.
There is a ton of community content for co-op gameplay, but there are those who do not want to rely on the community content. The official content has been very heavily focused on singleplayer and we want the same quality experience with friends as well.