Tag Archives: arma 2

Point and Click Adventure Game

Casual readers of this blog might think that this will be another post on the latest title from Telltale Games, purveyors of the finest point-and-click adventure games around. I’ve previously reviewed The Walking Dead: Season One (the video game), and plan to dive into The Walking Dead: Season Two and The Wolf Among Us very soon, but no, these aren’t about those kinds of point and click adventure games per se. At least, not the ones you might be thinking about.

I’ve played a lot of ARMA 2. Along with DotA 2, it’s pretty much all I play these days. (According to my Steam stats, DotA 2 has the lead in terms of gameplay time.) It all started with the DayZ mod a few years ago, but since then a few of us have moved on to Wasteland, which is less about scavenging for survival items as it is about simply hunting down and killing others, building bases, that kind of thing. Kind of like a realistic version of Battlefield or Counterstrike, if you will.

Anyway, we’ve been spending a lot of time on a server that doesn’t have that many powerful guns. Perhaps less than ten are are one-hit one kill, and of those, only a handful can do so at range. The M110 with NV Scope is my current favourite weapon, purely because it’s so easy to get kills with it. Provided you’ve calculated the range properly (something that comes with experience, a few map waypoints, or if all else fails, a rangefinder), it’s ridiculously easy to get kills; you can hit someone anywhere and kill them. It also has very little recoil, meaning you can fire off a number of shots in quick succession without having to re-adjust for every shot. All this means it’s a veritable killing machine, in the hands of the right operator (in ARMA 2, anyway).

Short explanation of the video below: it all starts by us hearing about a base to the West of Kamenka. Armed to the teeth, we head over to see if the rumours are true. On the way, an immobile tank objective pops up, and a short while later, we spot an SUV driving along the main road. Things happen rather fast from that point: Janson takes out a tyre with a well-timed and well-aimed shot, which causes the SUV to skid to a halt. One guy doesn’t get out of the (now on fire) SUV fast enough and dies. Strike dies as five others pour out of the vehicle, guns up. I pop up momentarily, manage to kill one with a lucky shot, and get back down. I notice they’re all gathered on the opposite side of the road, next to a wooden house, so I put my eye to the scope, pop up, and take aim. I fire a round just as the first starts to run, and he’s down. I move across to the right, and fire off five more shots. One, hit. Two, hit. Three, hit. Four, miss — I quickly compensate and fire off the last shot. Five, hit. And like any good point and click adventure game, that’s the end of that.

To the Sea: A Wasteland Story

ArmA2OA 2013-02-12 00-00-47-70

Okay kids, Wasteland story time.

It’s the end of a long night. Toj, Sub, and I have been shot at, shot others, killed, and been killed all around the map. We’ve held the bridge at Prig even with cars driving past it, sent the drivers of armoured Hummers and medical Vodniks to meet their maker with rockets, and scared anyone in the vicinity with shots from an M107.

Sub had called it a night already, and Toj and I both agree that this will be our last life. We spawn in Cherno, looking for a car to get back to Elektro: we know Prig has been hot all night (we’ve done a lot of killing around there ourselves and had a little bit of an adventure up on the east coast before spwaning in back in Cherno), but since it’s the last life of the night (and after we died to some total suspiscious stuff at Elektro) we decide to get up to some shenanigans.

Now, normally there’s over 700 vehicles in a server. Apparently, none of the ones in Cherno are working. We come across a bus that has a broken wheel, a ute that has a broken wheel, a jeep with a broken wheel, and a blue van with — you guessed it — another broken wheel. But right next to the van I find a green sedan that seems to be in working condition. The engine is still mysteriously running, leaving me to question the fate of whomever drove this little green sedan before me. The glass is a little banged up, but she drives. This other dude, Seeker, also gets in the car with me, and I head south towards the Cherno docks. There, Toj is manning a Hummer with a 50 cal; Seeker and I pick him up, and we drive towards Prig.

As we’re approaching Prig Seeker tells us to stop at the gunstore. As a new spawn he’s only got $100 on him, but that’s apparently enough for a basic M4 rifle and 2 magazines of ammo. Sam and I buy the same gear. We jump back in the green sedan and decide to do something, anything.

It was back at Cherno when we were driving to pick up Toj that I figured out a new, fun game: how long can you drive on the train tracks? Green civilian sedans don’t go very fast on anything but the highest quality bitumen, and railway tracks are about the same speed, terrain-wise, as the open grassland. Except I had figured out that you can drive at full speed (110km/h) when your wheels are on top of the railway tracks themselves — it’s nearly impossible to stay on top of the tracks for any period of time, but that just adds to the challenge.

So at this stage, we’re heading east from the gun store at Prig towards Cap Golova, east towards Cherno. I start to play the “how long can I stay on top of the train tracks for” game, when we spot it: a beautiful speedboat, complete with multiple seats and a mounted .50 cal on the front. In an instant, the plan is hatched: we tow the boat to the open sea using the green sedan, and cruise the open seas in our new found boat. It’s an excellent plan — what could possibly go wrong?

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Not Quite An ARMA 2 Mod: Wasteland

As a current member of the Blufor army, this soldier's face must remain hidden

As a current member of the Blufor army, this soldier’s face must remain hidden

I’ve been getting back into some DayZ recently, and while that’s been pretty great fun (although I haven’t played any of the latest patch), something new has captured my interest.

Wasteland. It’s not actually a mod of ARMA 2, but it kind of is: Wasteland is better described as a team-based set of custom missions in Chernarus. There are two teams: Blufor and Opfor, both opposing factions. In the middle are the Independents, for the lone-wolves, the ones that want to kill everyone without discriminating. There’s a few other bits to Wasteland, so I’ll try and explain them in a bit more detail.

Far and away, the biggest difference to DayZ players in Wasteland will be the zombies. Or rather, lack thereof: in Wasteland, there are no zombies. it’s just you, the opposing faction (if you’re on Opfor or Blufor) and the independents (commonly referred to as “indies”). Occasionally you’ll get objectives which have armed NPCs at them (who can and will shoot at you), but those aren’t super common.

You might think the lack of zombies is a little strange, but really, it’s not all that different to what you might have seen in DayZ. DayZ is a little flawed in that zombies only spawn around buildings and the like, which means you don’t see any zombies if you’re just running around in the woods. If it helps, you can think of Wasteland as the post-post-apocalypse: the zombies have all died out, and now it’s just you and other players fighting each other over dwindling resources.

Whilst it may be true that zombies do add an extra level to the tension when you’re engaged with another player, not having to worry about them when you’re tracking another player is good, too — any kind of movement you spot in a town is likely a player. No zombies also means you don’t have to deal with bandaging in the heat of battle and other nonsense. It’s kind of nice, actually.

Unlike DayZ, you don’t have you find your weapons in deer stands, abandoned firestations, or military barracks. Instead, you’ll find your weapons in crates that you find at objectives, or more commonly, inside pretty much every car. And what’s nice about these weapons is that they’re all high-end gear, stuff that isn’t included in DayZ; all the way from top-tier military weapons, Soviet-era weapons (AKs and variants), all the way down to the lowly Lee Enfield and the Makarov PM (easily the worst thing about playing Opfor — Blufor players spawn with the much harder-hitting M1911, and I believe Indies spawn with the G17).

The Mk17 Sniper is a piece of art, and while you don’t necessarily need a silenced weapon in Wasteland as there aren’t any zombies to give your location away to, suppressed weapons can still be useful for silently taking out other players without them getting an immediate fix on your location. Anything with an ACOG scope is great for short to mid-range engagements, too. There’s basically no restriction on the weapons you’ll find in Wasteland — you’ll find specific variants at weapons crates and inside cars (US Special weapons inside a US Special Weapons Crate, for example), but finding a gun in Wasteland usually isn’t an issue. Plus, heavy guns actually work: various shoulder-fired rockets (RPGs, SMAWs, Stingers, Javelins) are necessary for killing armoured targets such as SUVs and Hummers, and make very big bangs.

We made a nice bonfire out of our excess cars.

We made a nice bonfire out of our excess cars.

One of the other big change from DayZ is vehicles: cars are plentiful in Wasteland. There’s over 700 vehicles in Wasteland servers, which means transportation isn’t usually a problem. You can spawn in, jump in a car nearby, and drive away — all without having to repair it or fuel it. It’s a beautiful thing to not have to waste an hour scouring industrial spawns to find a bloody toolbox, let me tell you. Like the weapons, there’s every variety of vehicle in Wasteland: armoured SUVs with mounted miniguns, giant trucks with anti-air machine guns on the back, Humvees, Humvees with .50 cal machine guns, armoured Vodniks, jeeps, off-roads, ambulances, plus the usual assortment of push bikes, motorbikes, sedans, vans, hatchbacks, utes, and so on. There’s also Ospreys, Blackhawks, Little Birds, C130s, and Hueys, but they’re much rarer — only a few per server, plus whatever comes up in the objectives (more on this later). Oh, and did I mention the tanks? There’s tanks, too.

The greatly increased number of vehicles evens the playing field a little: it means the map is smaller, to be sure, but it also means everyone has reasonable access to fast transport to anywhere on the map. What’s more, you can even drive through towns without having to take detours due to debris on the road: evidently, someone was sick of random wrecks on the roads, so they went through and swept it all up, making the roads actually drivable.

It’s not unusual to come across a convoy of vehicles driving along the road in Wasteland. Get a few players, get a few cars, and there you go.

More after the HALO jump.

What’s your DayZ flavour?

I’ve been getting back into DayZ after giving it a long break, and there’s now so many different “versions” of DayZ that it’s insane. They’re not all mods of a mod, mind you – most of the ones you can play easily are just the stock game on a different map. What follows is a quick run-down of the few I’ve tried, and the one that’s hooked me the most.

Bliss

I think the first DayZ mod of a mod we played was Bliss, a Chernarus-based map that’s like the original DayZ, except with a few additions. There’s more weapons of different varieties and more weapons altogether. There’s even additional buildings in various places, such as the additional hospital in Stary Sobor — meaning that you don’t have to go to the coast for medical supplies such as blood bags or epi pens. Playing on a Bliss server doesn’t require any additional files, and the Bliss server that we played on was pretty geared towards PvP — whether that was due to the plentiful high-powered weaponry or not is another question, though.

As far as mods go, Bliss isn’t bad. The additional weapons and buildings add an extra element to the game that stock-standard DayZ doesn’t provide.

Fallujah

Fallujah was actually the third DayZ map I’ve played, the second being Lingor and the first being Chernarus. I’m not sure what the main point of Fallujah actually was, but a few of us joined the server mostly to have fun with vehicles: the name of the server was something along the lines of “have fun with vehicles DayZ Fallujah”. You spawned in fully geared with an AS 50 and everything else you could want. Vehicles of every type littered the landscape: there were Chinooks, Ospreys, C130s, biplanes, Hueys, Black Hawks, and pretty much every vehicle in between. We didn’t really play this one for too long, but a few friends did practice their flying techniques. I, being the more experienced pilot, mostly just flew around and laughed at their antics.

From what I saw from the map whilst I was in the air, Fallujah was a much more urban environment. I wouldn’t really like to be engaged in gun-battles there.

DayZ+

DayZ+ was the first true DayZ alternative we played. It’s a true mod of a mod, requiring a different set of files than the normal DayZ. DayZ+ is pretty easy to describe: it’s the DayZ that’s geared towards PvE rather than pure PvP, because in DayZ+, zombies hurt; a few hits and you’re black and white, a few more and you can pretty much expect to be dead. It’s a harsh world, and in DayZ, you know exactly how harsh. Zombies will aggro from incredible ranges, king-hit you in one go so you’re unconscious on the ground, and will start feasting on you with no mercy. Zombies will glitch through walls. Zombies will teleport around (making headshots all but impossible). Those hours I spent in DayZ+ were perhaps the most challenging of all, because you really re-considered wether you actually needed to go into a town, or whether you just wanted to play it safe and play the virtual farming simulator (meat is one of the best sources of blood-restoration in DayZ, outside of blood bags which can only be found in hospitals).

DayZ+ had a few things that stock DayZ didn’t, namely construction. You could build things with basic gear in DayZ, allowing you to build fortifications away from the zombies (or away from other players). The weapons in DayZ+ were also balanced so that the one-hit, super-powerful sniper rifles such as the AS 50 and M107 were removed from the game, and so were little things such as the rangefinder. To compensate, they added a few new varieties of Russian weapons, such as the Sa-51 machine pistol and variants.

I wouldn’t want to play DayZ+ alone, all because it’s already hard enough when you’re in a group. It might have been easier alone because you only have to watch your own back, but then again, if you got into a stick situation, there were few ways out. Apart from dying, of course.

But that’s just what happens in DayZ.

Shenanigans and Tomfoolery in DayZ

A few cliff notes:

0:00: “I’m gonna hatchet his ass”
0:47: I cannot throw grenades
2:58: “Can I shoot the four to the front or no?” “Negative” *starts shooting immediately*
3:45: M107 vs AS50 noise comparison
5:07: what kind of a person lets off a DMR at the NW Airfield? Not that it really mattered anyway…
5:48: “You’re not dead, you’re not dead, you’re just unconscious”
7:21: “Glad I brought plenty of ammo”
9:28: “Damn boy that’s a lotta shooting”
9:34: “That was an M203! Oh, no, wait, it’s blowing up now.”
10:07: We try and flip an flipped ATV with the ute
12:20: “Just smash into it”
12:30: “It disappeared.”
13:20: Long-range sniping at the NW airfield
14:07: “The answer is always bandits.” (lulz in chat)
14:39: “I couldn’t even see it, there’s so much lag man”
15:09: “Well, I think we just got rid of this server’s airfield population”
16:34: “Now we’ve killed everyone at the airfield.”
16:52: M203 flare brightness testing
17:23: Low-FPS infinite zombie killing
18:00: “Hey, I didn’t use a Lee Enfield, that was somebody else”
19:23: Whose blood is that? I’m not bleeding…
20:16: Last-gasp abort attempt

DayZ: Emergent Gameplay, The Catharsis of Death, and Just Plain Fun

Emergent gameplay

There’s a lot being said on the internet about the so-called “emergent gameplay” being offered by what seems like one of the most popular zombie apocalypse mods since zombie apocalypse games were even a thing. What everyone is saying is that DayZ provides a gameplay experience like no other; because there are no clear goals per se, it’s up to players to figure out what to do with their time in Chernarus.

Players start on what has been affectionately named “the bean coast” (however inaccurate that name might be, seeing as the current version of DayZ sees you spawning with nothing but a bandage, a flashlight, and a box of painkillers to your name) by more experienced players, and from there, it’s totally up to the player as to what they do. Do players try and seek their survival in one of the larger coastal towns, fully aware that other players will also be lurking there? Or do more experienced players head north from the moment they spawn, knowing full well that their chances of survival are much greater when every other player isn’t about to kill them for the next meal its this sort of survivalism that means what players do in DayZ isn’t necessairily goverened by any laws.

It’s this emergent gameplay that means you can lone wolf your entire survival experience by living the lonely life in the wilderness. You’ll stop only to collect fresh water from a dam, or to kill and gut wild animals for food. The lonely life is exactly that: your survival is pretty much guaranteed if you stay away from towns (at least once you have all the gear you need), or unless you do something stupid like fall out of a deer stand, break your legs, and bleed out. That would be terribly unfortunate, but one of the harsh realities of living away from readily available hospitals and their much-valued medical supplies.

If you prefer to play with friends, then that’s another experience entirely: because there’s more of you, it doesn’t really matter if you come across a few zombies here and there, because chances are, you’ll shoot all the zombies in a town before anyone can even stop to reload. Playing with friends means you’re not totally dependant on yourself for survival — if you get hurt, there’s usually someone close by to patch you up before you bleed out and die.

I remember this one time where I was driving along by myself in an off-road ute, following the lead car along a dirt road. The lead car cuts the corner of a bend up ahead, and I attempt to do the same. There’s a momentary second of lag, which I mistake for desync (packet loss), but the next thing I know, I’m out of the car and on the ground, bleeding out. I shout into comms that something bad has happened, and the lead car turns around, everyone jumps out, and tries to find me — made much easier by the billowing cloud of smoke rising into the air, originating from where the off-road was. As it turns out, I had hit a small bush or some other immovable object, been thrown out of the car, and was unconscious and quickly bleeding out. Luckily the rest of the group was nearby, otherwise I would have died there and then.

Whether you’re playing with friends or doing it lone wolf, there’s a lot to do in DayZ, even without any clear goals other than your continued survival. Perhaps it’s because there are no clear goals that means players have to make their own fun, and in that way, DayZ approaches the sandbox simulator we’ve always wanted.

The catharsis of death in DayZ

There’s one aspect of DayZ that makes it such a compelling game to play, and it’s the fact that no matter what you do, you will die. Perhaps not all that strange when you think that DayZ is all about survival, but the fact is, you will die. Many, many times, and often through no fault of your own; you might step into the flight path of a stray bullet, for example, killing you in one shot (been there, done that), or you might come across hostile players who shoot first, and ask questions later. The fact is, you will die, and you will die a lot.

But that’s just the thing: death is perhaps one of the best aspects of DayZ. More accurately, death is simultaneously the best and worst thing that can happen to you as a player.

Worst because it means you’ll lose all your hard-earned gear, your zombie kill stats, your backpack, all of it. All that time you spent scavaging for the essentials to survive in the wilderness — hatchet, matches, map, compass, watch, and so on — all gone. You’re instantly back to square one, and you’ve lost all your gear in the process. If you’re the type of person who gets attached to their gear — don’t, because in DayZ, that only leads to tears.

At the same time, death is perhaps the best thing that can happen to you as a player in DayZ. It means you’ll lose all your gear, but unless you had really rare stuff, most of what you had is replaceable. You’ll always find another set of camo clothing, or that shiny new sniper rifle you liked. And we haven’t even gotten to the bset part: with your new character, there’s untold possibilities about what you could do. Think about it: the chance to show that headshot statistic who’s boss. With a new character, you’ve got nothing to lose, so you’ll take more risks in order for a bigger payoff: you’ll get the chance to explore a city you might never have done so when you were all geared up, and you might even run around like some kind of axe murderer, freaking people out over direct chat.

I remember this one time when I died, and I was relatively upset that I started back at the bean coast without any gear. I began to make my way back up north to where my body was, and on the way, I managed to find a crashed heli (think randomly-placed ultra-rare gear spawn) and a fully functioning ATV with gear inside. I never would have found those items had I not died minutes ago, so in that case, death was one of the best things that could have possibly happened.

Death is almost refreshing, in a way. As your character survives for more and more days, you either begin to take less risks, or don’t play at all. But when you die, you’re free from the burden of surviving, and don’t have anything to worry about. Death frees you from all the pressure of survival, and means you can run like a lunatic in Cherno or Elektro. You’ve got nothing to lose, so why not just run around naked for a little while? There’s always time to play seriously later on.

Just plain fun

Taking all the above into account, there’s one thing which makes DayZ just so much fun to play. You’ll treat it seriously when you’re surviving by yourself, you’ll have a bit of fun just after you’ve died, and you’ll treat gear as if your life depended on it.

You’ll freak out when someone is around you shouting strange things into direct voice chat.

You might even descend to the point where you’ll shoot someone else just for their backpack.

But one things’s for sure: you’ll have a hell of a lot of fun playing it.

The Chronicles of Ghost, Chapter I

Ghost tells me he still remembers his first kill.

It’s very late at night. If there was a definition of pitch black, this would be it. He’s run across wide open fields to reach the outside of the south barracks of the north west airfield, a place notorious for bandits and murderers — no easy task when you’re in a gillie suit and carrying a Remington, but he manages.

He begins to make his way towards the barracks, when he sees it. Light. From inside the barracks, presumably from the flashlight of a bandit, murderer, or perhaps even both.

As he watches, there are more flashes of light. Again, and again. In this dead of night, each flashlight cuts trough the night like a spotlight; the bandits/murderers are either inexperienced or just plain dumb, Ghost tells me. At this point he’s perhaps 50m away; close enough to make out flashlights, but far away enough so that he can’t ID targets.

He calls it in, speaking into his throat-mike. This was supposed to be black-in, black-out; no one was supposed to be here, for starters, let alone two fools with flashlights lighting up the place like they own it. Naturally, Overlord tells him to eyeball the targets, and terminate if necessary. Backup is too far out to be of any use to him, because the precious cargo now has an expiry date — if these two goons with the flashlights were here, you could bet that they were also looking for the precious cargo. Why else would they be raiding a barracks in the dead of night?

Ghost inches closer. Crawling along the forest floor in his ghillie, he’s nothing by invisible. The tangos with flashlights are still doing their thing, waving their flashlights around like they’re re-enacting a scene from Star Wars.

Meanwhile Ghost inches closer. 20 meters. He’s moved away from the cover of the bush line now, and he’s out in the open. No matter, no matter, as his ghillie and the darkest of night gives him all the cover he needs. 10 meters.

Silently, sneakily, closer. 5 meters.

He’s right along the wall of the barracks right now, and if the fools with flashlights were paying any attention, they might even be able to hear him breathing. But no, they’re still acting out Episode Two.

At this point Ghost weighs his options: on one hand, they’re bound to discover the precious cargo any second now, no matter how inexperienced they are. On the other, bodies leave a trace…

He calls it.

Popping up right underneath a window — the very window with a perfect view into the room the tangos are in — he squeezes the trigger on his Remington. Two slugs later, and one of the bandits is on the floor. The shots don’t seem to have altered security, but what about the other tango?

Apparently, nowhere to be seen. Ghost starts checking the rooms one-by-one, peering into each one from the outside. Nothing in the first, nothing in the second… No, wait, there! Crawling around on the floor in the adjacent room, like his buddy had just been taken out by one of the best operatives to ever roam the rtowns of Chernarus. Another two slugs, and he’s down for the count.

The rest of the mission is uneventful. Ghost tells me he loots the barracks, finds the precious cargo (a missing arms shipment to a Ukranian druglord,  you know the story), and high-tails it out of there.

Black-in, black out.