Updated: January 12, 2019
You know it. ArmA 3 is the only FPS worth playing. For nearly two long decades, the Operation Flashpoint franchise has dominated the genre of serious war simulation, with nothing else coming close. A golden standard to realism. And fun, too.
A big part of the joy factor comes from the community maintaining the thousands of maps, scenarios, mods, and other add-ons that make the game superb and fresh. Feeling nostalgic? Operation Flashpoint stuff at your disposal rendered in modern graphics. There you go. ArmA 2 maybe? That can be arranged. After all, Chernarus has always been a darn good map, and it had that Cold War feel that Altis and Stratis don't really offer. So you can imagine my delight when I discovered the Winter edition!
Let it snow (and die hard)
Of course, you do need a bunch of mods to get everything working. My current set of ArmA extras weights a hefty 12 GB or so, and it contains various terrains, weapons, vehicles, and whatnot. There's also the whole palette of sweet Dynamic Recon Ops scenarios, which lets you run through an almost endless permutation of gritty engagements any which way you want. Combine this with a light flurry and frosty January sun, and you're in for a proper treat.
I've always wanted to play ArmA in winter (proverbially), and I finally got the opportunity. Basically, it's the familiar stuff plus some fresh skins. It only made sense to setup a mission where you fight as CDF against the Russian forces. Now, the CDF speak in Czech, although for ordinary people, this classifies as Foreignese.
Commence to fight
It was a really eventful first attempt. A lots of things went wrong, which only made the experience more fun. Most available uniforms aren't made for winter, but ION and PMC do have arctic camouflage, so you can use these to kit out properly. However, I forgot to arm my squad with night-vision goggles - save for one other human player who was wise enough to bring his own device - like that IT policy BYOD, only different.
We set out into the snow-clad pine forest, only to discover that it was late afternoon, and soon turning dark. The twilight set, and then the clouds moved in, and it started snowing. I felt like John McClane in Die Hard 2 in that scene where he chases the bad guys on a snow mobile. Sweet. There was even thunder, although I don't ever recall hearing thunder during a snowstorm. Now I'm really curious.
Things got even worse as we were ambushed time and again, the artillery support script failed to work for some odd reason, and I had to blunder half-blind, searching for wounded comrades to give them some hot nourishing soup (re: medical aid). The enemy had no NVG either, and they were using flashlights strapped to the barrel, so I did find targets. Until my soldiers ran out of ammo and I gave them an order - foolishly - to pick up guns from the enemy dead. Guess who got in the spotlight then?
But despite the frustration of battle, I was enjoying it. There's nothing more frightening than the whistle of an incoming RPG in almost total darkness. Or more bittersweet than searching for your UAZ inside the forest, not really sure where you parked it, hi hi. Luckily, the engine was still on, and I saw the red haze from the tail lights.
The bad guys kept on coming. Not sure if the DRO mission has been updated lately, but overwhelming odds happens to be the theme de jour. Waves upon waves of AI, and they seem to be aiming much better than in the past, so not only do you fight a hard, gritty battle, you also have to be very careful. Blizzard, 'nades going off in the murky forest, and you have no idea what's happening. That is, my friends, what I call an evening well spent.
Chernarus Winter is one of the more fun maps you can have in ArmA 3. I mean, you can have dozens of them, including many that never were featured in any of the titles, but there's a special element of nostalgia and things just being right with this one. It's how the theater of war should look like when you associate the word Cold to it. Cold War. Geddit?
ArmA 3 remains a stellar game. Realistic, unforgiving, demanding, rewarding, utterly enjoyable, especially if you appreciate the sheer complexity and accuracy of how it portrays combined arms operations. The right way to cure your office demons. Had a bad day hammering on the computer like a chump? Jump in on a DRO mission and rid yourself of all them mental toxins. Never gets old. Best of all, there's always something new to explore and enjoy. Off I go, to some fresh escapades. We shall talk soon, ArmA away.