Arma Reforger is still under development. That notion was emphasized repeatedly at a recent preview event organized by developer Bohemia Interactive. While a formal successor to Arma 3 is still in the future, the studio is initially giving a smaller, scaled-down version of its trademark warfighting precision. According to Bohemia, the intention is for Reforger to serve as a “bridge” to Arma 4, with the platform serving as a testbed to gather community input throughout the rest of the development cycle.

That makes sense given that both Reforger and the upcoming Arma 4 will be available on consoles for the first time in the series’ history. The studio must now answer questions it has never had to ask before. Can a gamepad coexist with the intricate logistics of a military simulation? Is the console audience even interested in Arma’s numerous quirks? You can see why Bohemia wanted to dip their toes in before diving in.

In some aspects, Arma Reforger is a reinvention of the series’ debut game, 2001’s Operation Flashpoint. Everon, a fictitious Eastern European island from that game, has been entirely restored in Bohemia’s new Enfusion engine, and players may play as either Americans or Soviets amid the tense late-’80s climax of the Cold War.

I was given access to a pre-release copy, which provided me with a tutorial and access to a few multiplayer servers that had otherwise been abandoned by any other genuine human players, and it was instantly evident that Bohemia’s graphics retrofitting paid off. On the stunning draw distance, pastures bloomed with dewy grass, trees lined the horizon, and crystal water lapped against the beaches.

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Bohemia stated that work for Reforger has been tough, most likely due to the difficulty of importing systems to a fresh new game infrastructure. However, this new Arma chapter is both attractive and practical, and it is on par with other triple-A shooters on the market.

Reforger intends to keep the thriving Arma modding scene alive and healthy. The main menu contains a link to the Workshop, where players may post their own custom creations straight to the game’s servers. Reforger also adds a new Game Master mode, which is billed as a method for one player to successfully command an Arma multiplayer match via the ebb and flow of the conflict.

This should be a treat for series fans; finally, an opportunity to experiment with Arma’s capabilities utilizing current technology.

Game Master is pitched as a way one player can effectively direct an Arma multiplayer match through the ebb and flow of battle.

Some PC gamers may be concerned that Bohemia’s console tilt implies the company may downplay some of Arma’s more fussy, tough tics. I’m no military expert, but based on what I witnessed, such concerns may be put to rest. Reforger retains both the frantic shooting mechanics and all of the administrative overhead; you will undoubtedly be carting supplies to various checkpoints in order to establish vehicle depots and armories, but this is still a waypoint-free experience.

That means Xbox gamers will become quite familiar with their compass and coordinates as they triangulate where the enemy lines are positioned.

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However, anybody paying $29.99 for Reforger’s early access release should be aware that, as of this writing, the game appears to be in its early stages of development, especially in comparison to how fleshed-out and content-rich other games in the series are. So yet, Reforger includes only one massive map and two modes.

The first is the aforementioned Game Master set of tools, and the second is a capture-and-hold rigamarole, which means Reforger currently lacks single-player content outside of the tutorial. In comparison, Arma 3 produced an expansion centered on an actual alien invasion three years ago. It’s evident that Bohemia has a long way to go before Reforger catches up to the rest of the series in terms of features.

Unsurprisingly for an Early Access game under development, I encountered a lot of issues during my playtime, including some trippy visual abnormalities and a number of crashes as I attempted to load into matches. Remember, I was playing on empty servers, so I can’t testify to the stability after everyone flocks to Everon. I’m sure Bohemia is curious to see how their backend stands up.

According to what I witnessed, any fears about Arma being “dumbed down” for consoles may be put to rest. Reforger maintains both the agitated firing mechanics and the administrative overhead.

But these are the developing pains of any daring new platform. New Arma games are viewed as seismic occurrences in the milsim world, and Reforger, with its new engine and console premiere, is one of the most daring endeavours in Bohemia’s history. We’ll keep checking in as the fighting continues.

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