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Arma Reforger is a stopgap testing ground for Arma 4

Bohemia Interactive revealed the future of the Arma franchise today. Powered by the new Enfusion Engine, the Czech developer has started work on Arma 4, the next mainline title in the series. That isn’t the next Arma title releasing, though, as Bohemia Interactive also announced and launched Arma Reforger into early access on PC and Xbox Series X today.

Arma Reforger is a military sim set in a reimagined version of 1980s Everon, a fictional country from Arma: Cold War Assault based on Czechoslovakia. It’s surprising that Bohemia Interactive isn’t diving right into Arma 4 as its next release. Still, it’s clear the studio wants to show Arma players and modders just what Bohemia Interactive’s new Enfusion Engine can do as soon as possible.

Bohemia CEO Marek Spanel gave some insight into why that’s the case during a presentation I attended. “Arma Reforger offers our community the opportunity to test our approach, the gameplay, and the operation of our infrastructure, while also being able to shape the future development of the Enfusion technology and of Arma 4,” he explained.

While this might not be the grand follow-up to Arma 3 that series fans may have expected, my early hands-off look at Arma Reforger shows that a promising new era for the franchise is about to begin. And with Arma Reforger, Bohemia Interactive wants its modding community and Xbox players to come along for the ride.

Reimagining Arma

Arma Reforger is a pseudo-reimagining of the first Arma game, although it’s primarily focused on multiplayer and user-created content. Arma Reforger’s two primary modes at launch are Conflict and Game Master. Conflict is a PvP mode where two teams deploy onto Everon as Americans and Soviets and fight each other and build bases to defeat the enemy.

Conflict is the straightforward military sim part of the package and what casual console players should check out first if they’re unfamiliar with Arma. That said, the series has always been just as much about the community creations as the game itself. Without Arma and its community, we would’ve never had games like the highly influential DayZ. For players looking to create, Game Master is the mode to try.

In Game Master, players can create modes and experiences within Arma Reforger. It should get players acquainted with making content on this new engine, even on Xbox. After that, hardcore modders with programming knowledge can dive into the Enfusion Engine and create modded content for Arma Reforger via Enfusion’s Workbench development tools.

Soldiers engage in a shootout in Arma Reforger.

While PC players are the only ones that can make mods on the Enfusion Enginr, Bohemia plans to help players bring the best mods to Xbox. By releasing Arma Reforger, the studio can ensure its community of modders are familiar with the Enufsion Engine ahead of Arma 4.

“We are building a new ecosystem on a completely different game, so for our users, it will take some to accommodate to it,” Spanel said. “We really need users to be using it because it’s extremely complex. It’s magnitudes more complex than Arma. It’s not just the new engine; it’s also new tools and online system.”

Forging early access

Arma Reforger might seem light on content to players not as interested in making modes or mods, but Spaniel made it clear that this limited scope is intentional. “At this point, our aim is more towards the fidelity, so we do not try to overcome the scale and scope of Arma 3,” Spanel explained. “Arma Reforger is smaller in scope.”

Spanel also said this would be reflected in the amount of post-launch support the game gets. It will get some new updates over the next 12 months, such as the addition of helicopters, but it won’t have the long-term tail that Arma 3 had.

Hummers with mounted guns drive through a field in Arma 4.

“We have a quite different plan for Arma Reforger, and our plan is not to make it another DayZ or Arma 3 in terms of growing the game,” Spaniel revealed. “We do have some features and new assets we plan to add, but mostly we want to focus on the core of the platform and its robustness, performance, and stability throughout early access.”

Bohemia Interactive plans to keep the game in early access and support it for one year, but will leave the game alone after that as it moves on to Arma 4.

Before Arma 4

Right now, Bohemia Interactive isn’t sharing a timeline for when it’ll reveal more about or launch Arma 4, but Spanel made it very clear that Reforger is the best proof-of-concept for Arma 4 that players can find.

“For Arma 4, we’re targeting the same scale and scope as Arma 3, but we want to do it with better fidelity in all aspects of the simulation,” he teased. “On top of the same technology and platform [as Reforger], we are already creating data for Arma 4, and these titles are very closely connected.”

The transition from Reforger to Arma 4, especially for user content, will be much easier.

Those statements highlight just what Arma Reforger is — a stopgap Arma release that will help Bohemia Interactive and its fans test the new Enfusion Engine while Arma 4 is in the early stages of development. We’ve seen some developers try out a new engine with smaller games before, like Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue or The Matrix Awakens.

Still, we’ve never really seen this happen with a game where community content creation is critically important. Both hardcore Arma fans and players on new platforms like Xbox should be intrigued by what Arma Reforger offers. It’s the start of a new era for the franchise, and Reforger’s existence will help ensure that Bohemia Interactive gets Arma 4 right.

Arma 4 is going to be a completely new release, but will still rely on the same technology bases, Spanel explained. “The transition from Reforger to Arma 4, especially for user content, will be much easier.”

Arma Reforger is available now for PC and Xbox Series X/S.

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