Summer Soldering: A Quick Guide to Arma 3 Mods

By Ian Boudreau 03 Aug 2017 0

One of the difficult things about approaching a possibility space as large as the one presented by ArmA III is deciding what you actually want to do with it. Beyond the campaign, there’s the game’s powerful editor which allows players to create remarkably complex combined arms combat scenarios across vast land masses.

But if you’re like me, sometimes that’s a bit… much. Sometimes I’d rather just fire up a quick game and lead a fire team over a hill to shoot some bad guys. And indeed, ArmA can provide a more focused tactical experience — breakout hits like DayZ and PlayerUnknown’s BATTLEGROUNDS are offshoots of the ArmA modding scene, after all. That same scene is still alive and well, and thanks to Bohemia Interactive’s encouragement of modding and seamless Steam Workshop integration, modding your copy of ArmA III could hardly be easier. Here are a couple handy mods I’ve found that offer some extra things to do, even if you don’t belong to one of the game’s dedicated clans or don’t want to play online.

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Quality of Life

The Enhanced Movement mod, created by Steam user badbenson, allows players to hop, climb, and vault over fences and walls. The mod adds animations for each of these movements, and it’s a matter of moments to bind a single key (it’s context sensitive) to the “mantle” command. This corrects a rather strange omission from the base game, but I’m glad to have it either way.

Another good mod for solo players to pick up is the AI Accuracy Fix by 2legs. Enemy NPCs in ArmA III tend to be crack shots, even on lower difficulties. As the description says, this drops them back into the more human range of rifle skill. The other option of course is to just “get good” at in-game marksmanship, but who has time for that nonsense?

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Dynamic Operations & Missions

Now for the meaty stuff. Modder mbrdmn has created a system called Dynamic Recon Ops, which builds randomized recon missions to spec. These can be simple, involving a single objective, or surprisingly complex. You can specify parameters like time of day, weather conditions, and factions involved, or you can let the mod decide for you. The one-objective ops make for great bite-sized portions of ArmA action, and you can download the mod for countless maps, both official and user-created. While the base Malden map has tons of places to explore and operate in, I’ve enjoyed checking out the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone map. It’s unfinished and rough-looking in places, but the area has always fascinated me and it’s still creepy wandering around the ghost town of Pripyat even when you aren’t playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R..

DRO missions are fun and lightweight. It’s easy to dive straight in and start scouting, but as the “recon” name suggests, there’s usually a lot of walking (which, come to think of it, accounts for most of my time in ArmA). Generally, you and your squad will get dropped off by helicopter around 2 kilometers from your objective, which might be retrieving a prisoner or observing an enemy area. By default you’ll also have a resupply point, and the mod is fairly smart about putting a few patrols of enemy soldiers between you and where you’re trying to go.

DUWS

For a more robust experience, you can try the Dynamic Universal War System, or DUWS. Like DRO (and its sibling, Dynamic Combat Ops), DUWS creates missions on the fly based on a set of parameters you choose to set or leave random. The big difference here is that instead of one-off missions, you’ll be generating an entire persistent campaign. And unlike the single-player campaign that shipped with the ArmA III base game, this one actually responds and changes based on your actions.

You begin by selecting either a random or hand-placed base of operations on the island. From there, you’ll launch missions to recapture zones held by enemy forces, or pick up side ops that become available from time to time. These tend to be pretty simple affairs, such as rescuing downed pilots, but they’ll earn you command points that you can spend on additional troops, vehicles, and weapons. Over the campaign you’ll also amass Army Points that can be used to unlock higher tiers of equipment.

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It's an ambitious mod and it’s a bit tricky to figure out how everything works, but it opens the game up to some serious tactics and strategic planning. Figuring out where you need to build FOBs, and planning your next strikes on enemy territory become nail-biting experiences once you’re on the ground leading a couple fire teams into hostile fire. I have yet to finish a campaign in DUWS, but one lesson I’ve learned the hard way is to save often. Autosave doesn’t quite work as well as you might like, yet.

If you’ve been curious about phenomenon of PlayerUnknown’s BATTLEGROUNDS, there’s a Battle Royale mod for ArmA III by PlayerUnknown (Brendan Greene) himself as well.

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Official Support

Modders aren’t the only people who have been adding to ArmA III. Bohemia has been regularly pushing out new content for the game, including the free Malden 2035 DLC, which includes a remaster of one of the two islands featured in Operation Flashpoint way back in 2001. There are DLCs for jets, helicopters, and even go-karts available as well, plus the large Apex expansion that released last summer, which offers a slate of new equipment and a new campaign that can be played solo or co-op.

There’s a hell of a lot of ArmA to go around now, even if you don’t feel like paying for official DLC. There’s still a very active community around the game, and if you’re part of it and have recommendations for great mods, let us know in the comments section below or the forums. 

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