Czech game developer Bohemia Interactive Studios' Spiritual Successor to their successful and legendary Operation Flashpoint series. Unlike the original, these installments take place in Present Day and Next Sunday A.D. time frames, not the Cold War. The basic premise and game design philosophy of making a well-researched, true-to-life and unrelentingly realistic simulation of everyday military life is still there though. As is the practice of using various fairlyfunny (and Reference Overdosed) Ruritaniasas the setting for the games' campaigns and missions.The story behind the conception of ARMA was one of a painful birth: After finishing their work on Operation Flashpoint, the developer Bohemia Interactive Studio and publisher Codemasters had a major falling out and split ways. BIS took the rights to the Real Virtuality engine, Codemasters got the rights to the name. BIS has since released two sequels based on this engine, ARMA: Armed Assault (Combined Operations in North America) and ARMA II, while Codemasters developed its own "official" sequel, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising. Essentially, the BIS sequels closely resemble the original, except they have much better graphics and improved gameplay, while Dragon Risingfeels, well, different from the originalFlashpoint, and a lot of old veterans seem to think that it suffers from New and Improved Syndrome.The second game of the series and its expansion, Operation Arrowhead, had a surge of popularity thanks to the DayZ mod, which requires both.
Works within this series:
ARMA: Armed Assault / Combat Operations (2007): Spiritual Successor and de-facto sequel to Operation Flashpoint, developed by BIS (the original developers of Operation Flashpoint), using an updated engine called Real Virtuality 2 (RV2).
Queen's Gambit: A modest expansion pack, containing a small new island and a new campaign.
Virtual Battlespace 2 (2007): Bohemia Interactive Simulations' Real Virtuality engine, and the Armed Assault game based on it, were so successful and lauded as so realistic that this warranted an update to the game engine (VBS2 used RV2), also sold to the same real military organizations as VBS; in 2012 VBS2 2.0 was released, based on the RV3 engine used by ARMA 2.
ARMA II (2009): The successor to Armed Assault, based on the Real Virtuality 3 engine.
Operation Arrowhead (release date June 29, 2010): A standalone expansion pack set in a new country, with new locations and a new campaign; it can be installed into the ARMA 2 directory (or run with ARMA 2 through Steam) to allow for a "Combined Operations" install where both games' content are accessible through the OA client.
British Armed Forces (release date August 29, 2010): DLC expansion pack and sequel to Operation Arrowhead, with British Armed Forces playable.
Private Military Company (release date November 30, 2010): DLC expansion pack and sequel to British Armed Forces, with a deeper storyline and a moral choice.
Army of the Czech Republic (release date August 1, 2012): A DLC expansion pack for a Combined Operations install (that is, both ARMA 2 and Operation Arrowhead must be installed) that adds Czech military small arms and vehicles, two new 'maps' ("terrains"), a new fifteen-mission single-player campaign, new premade scenarios and more Editor scenario templates.
VBS Worlds (2011): This iteration of the VBS engine was developed by BIS in partnership with Caspian Learning and is oriented towards civilian education: water purification unit maintenance, cultural sensitivity training, etc.
Take On Mars (2013): This game is about customizing and controlling a drone on Mars to do scientific missions and make a profit. Unlike all other publicly-released VBS & RV-engine games so far, Take On Mars is nonviolent and has no physical conflict against other living things.
Arma 3: Announced for a summer 2012 release (subsequently pushed back to winter 2012 then to 2013) and using the Real Virtuality 4 (RV4) engine, this game extends the ARMA gameplay with underwater operations (scuba diving, etc.), and other features. The presence of Israeli military equipment (such as the Merkava tank), US Future Warrior equipment, and the Iranian military have been confirmed.
Arma Tactics (2013): A spinoff developed in the Unity 3D engine. It has nothing in common with the main ARMA series except for visuals and voice acting.
A Father to His Men: Brian Frost from the British Armed Forces and Private Military Company DLC expansions says that the troops he was commanding were like sons to him.
A.K.A.-47: In a rather hilarious example, the British Armed Forces in Operation Arrowhead get the Offroad vehicle, a Hand Over Offender. Totally not a Land Rover Defender. ARMA 3 takes this further by having as few proper names of anything as possible, although interestingly enough quite a few of those are officially described as being descendants or successors — or even a ripoff, in the case of the Zafirnote specifically, accused of being a Chinese copy of the Negev — of the originals.
Artificial Stupidity: ARMA II has problems with waypoint finding, and requires some tweaking for patrolling soldiers to acknowledge that their comrades are suddenly dying from your own sniper shots.
Attack Drone: Arma 3 offers many opportunities for violent robotic mayhem in fixed-wing, rotorcraft and landborne flavours.
In ARMA II, the occupying Chedaki force speaks faux Russian, while the native Chernarussian inhabitants speak faux Czech, including names and voiceovers: A Chernarussian officer named Lt. Tomáš Marný ("Thomas Hopeless", or even more literally "that's hopeless" in Czech), a civilian named Pepa Zdepa ("Joe from-the-Depot"), etc. You may occasionally hear Chernarussian civilians say things like "Potím se jak vrata vod chlíva..." ("I'm sweating like a cowshed gate...").
Apart from that, most if not all of the names of Chernarussian towns and landmarks are of Russian origin. The castle hill "Zub" means literally "Tooth", the peninsula "Golova" is translated as "Head" (and both are just two of many anatomic names in Chernarus). Other names are the "Pobeda" Dam (the "Victory" Dam), and "Stary Sobor" and "Novy Sobor" ("Old Church" and "New Church"). The two major cities of Zagoria (which itself loosely translated means "Behind-The-Mountain(s)-ia"), Chernogorsk and Elektrozavodsk, can be loosely translated as "Black-Mountain-sk" and "Electric-Power-Plant-sk". Former of whom is a tribute to the country's name of Chernarus (lit. "Black Rus", which itself is a parody of the name of Belarus, aka "White Rus").
In ARMA 3, there is a tactical vest that reads "Greek police", while the OPFOR faction officer's revolver is a Chiappa Rhino under the name Zubr... which is Czech for bison... although also Arabic slang for a phallus.
Also, "arma" is both the Latin term for "weapon" and the in-universe codename for "armed assault".
Brits with Battleships: The BAF expansion pack adds them to ArmA II as a BLUFOR besides the Americans, as well as a separate campaign for some Royal Lancers. Its protagonist, Frost, continues his career in Private Military Company.
In 3, there are British NATO peacekeepers stationed on Altis and Stratis alongside the Americans, as the islands are former British colonies. When the AAF turn against NATO in the campaign, it is Royal Navy special forces operativesnote who seem to have been tipped off about the looming betrayal in advance that try to rally the scattered US peacekeepers on Stratis, functioning as the protagonist's Mission Control.
Civil War: The basic backstory behind most installments is that you're a foreign soldier helping restore peace and some semblance of order in war-torn countries. This is different from Operation Flashpoint, where most plots involved Cold War espionage and False Flag Operation invasions of defenceless countries... and given another twist in 3 when the government faction turns on the protagonist's faction.
Crew of One: Averted, like in the original OFP; you need both a driver and a gunner at the very least to properly operate armoured fighting vehicles of any kind, while the commander's movement controls are the same as the driver's, albeit corresponding to said verbal orders. Unfortunately they can become even more repetitive than the infamous Mad Libs Dialogue, so in missions with waypoints the unit orders menu does include "Next waypoint" in its movement submenu.
Crippling Overspecialization: An odd one, but the SDAR is an underwater assault rifle in 5.56 x 45 mm that can accept both regular and special underwater ammo, making it the only firearm in the game that can fire underwater, which could have made it the most versatile... were said underwater ammo not next-to-useless above water. It doesn't help that it took until a later update for the weapon to have ranges beyond a fixed 30 meter zeronote 30, 100, 200, 300 and 400 meters, and even then it's unable to accept any attachments... discounting the TRG series' fixed sights being zeroed at only 100 meters, the SDAR is essentially the worst of the assault rifles at almost anything except shooting divers while both of you are underwater.
Developer Appeal: One of the factions included in Operation Arrowhead is the Czech 601st Special Forces Group, and the third/final of the ARMA II DLCs is named "Army of the Czech Republic". Ironically though, it's noticeably theleast polished and low-effort of the three.
Do Not Run with a Gun: Perfected even more since the time of OFP. ARMA II makes it impossible to shoot while running, as your character will start a jogging animation after moving for a second with their arms being occupied - to shoot while moving, you must either aim down your weapon sights (limiting your character to walking speed like many shooter games) or hold the walk button so that your character can "hipfire"; even then, there's considerable weapon/crosshair bobbing, so you don't get a stable point of aim unless the character is stationary.
Averted in ARMA 3, you can't sprint with a gun but you can do a "combat pace" jog with your weapon raised... not much faster than the walk (and the most fatigue-building short of sprint) but the closest ever in the series to other shooters' "hipfire" movement speed.
Downloadable Content: An odd example would be ARMA II: Operation Arrowhead (itself a standalone expansion) having British Armed Forces and Private Military Company; OA already has the character types and weapons used in the DLC, but they have low-quality textures and sound quality, so BAF and PMC are not just additional campaigns (one each) but also higher-quality textures and sounds for their characters/weapons that' are already in OA. (The exception is the XM8, which seems to be the standard weapon system of the PMC faction, but was already in the game as far back as ARMA II.)
In a rather Base Breaking moment, when it was revealed that the official SP campaign would not be finished in time for the scheduled September 12th release and that said release date was immutable, meaning that the game would ship/launch without an official campaign... the announcement that the campaign (or rather, three mini-campaigns) would be delivered as free DLC didn't help at all.
Fackler Scale of FPS Realism: In some cases, even higher than in its predecessor series (which is saying something.) Of course, several mods exist to tweak these values, and BIS has promoted the ability to "zero" scopes in Operation Arrowhead so that they will account for bullet drop - that is, adjust the scope so that point of aim will equal point of impact - at the specified distance.
Zeroing is included in Arma 3 by default, albeit only iron sights, certain 'sniping' scopes and the red dot sight on the underbarrel grenade launchers are adjustable — other collimators/reflex sights and 'rifleman' scopes have a fixed zero, albeit unlike Arma 2 that distance is now displayed in the weapon HUD.
First-Person Ghost: Following in the footsteps of Operation Flashpoint, this is averted. In ARMA II and its expansion, the TrackIR device essentially adds a motion-based control option for free look.
For Massive Damage: It's more than possible to defeat some vehicles using just small arms; for example, a helicopter can be forced into a crash landing by shooting out either of its rotors.
Game Master: Introduced with the Zeus free DLC for Arma 3, multiplayer missions created with Zeus support (by placing a module in the Editor) can have a player in the role of "Zeus", either alongside or separately from other players; in the latter mode s/he can't exit the interface but isn't represented in the game worldnote although an eagle tends to soar overhead of where s/he's looking and is therefore invulnerable.
Game Mod: Has a very dedicated worldwide modding community that can already rival that of the original Operation Flashpoint, and some mods are even direct descendants of Operation Flashpoint versions!
The by-far most famous and possibly most influential of all though is the Zombie Apocalypse mod called DayZ... it's about as realistic as a zombie-infested, fictional Eastern European country can get, single-handedly caused a spike in ArmA II sales, and its modder (a contractor who did mo-cap/MP mission design for Arma 3) was hired and made project lead of a standalone game version of the mod. Ironically, he initially kept his involvement in the project under wraps from his Bohemia Interactive co-workers, feeling that the subject matter was embarrassingly unlike what the company was known for.
Gun Porn: Thanks to various addons, the games can include everything from Gauss Rifles, G11s, and Pulse Rifles. The basic list of the firearms already present in the vanilla version of the game is also pretty extensive; a lot of the Arma 2 list consisted of variants with attachments though (i.e. M16A4, M16A4 ACOG, M16A4 M203), while the weapons list in Arma 3 is smaller due to its mostly modular attachment systemnote with the notable exception of underbarrel grenade launcher variants.
Hyperspace Arsenal: Averted. As in OFP, you can only carry as much equipment, weaponry and ammo as your webbing or backpack allowsnote and in Arma 3 your uniform as well. Too big or heavy weapons take up a far bigger slotnote or in Arma 3, more weight than a combination of several smaller ones and they also slow you down a little if you're running.
Instant Death Bullet: Averted - unless you get shot point-blank in the head. You can die very easily, in just a few shots, but you usually only get injured in certain parts of your body, which affects your overall combat abilities. Getting shot in the legs makes you unable to walk.
Joke Character: There is a T-34 tank available in ARMA IIs Armory and Editor (in the case of the Editor, as it's an armored vehicle of the NAPA faction).
This accounts also for the WWI era Sopwith Camel biplane included in ArmAnote Armed Assault, which is quickly gunned down even by handguns and mainly serves for fun dogfights in multiplayer; ditto for the DC-3, a classic airliner.
With plenty of mods installed, you can quickly turn various WWII and Vietnam-era factions into this. Have fun pitting Nazis with KAR-98s and nothing more than the uniforms on their backs against US Special Forces with SCAR-Hs, XM8s and body armor.
Knight in Sour Armor: Brian Frost, protagonist of ARMA II: British Armed Forces and Private Military Company, becomes this, fully succumbing to cynicism by the time of PMC.
La Résistance: ARMA II uses guerrillas as both enemies (the "Chedaks" faction of Chernarus) and potential allies (the troops of the "National Party", aka NAPA). You spend most of the campaign fighting irregular troops, unlike previous installments, where you mostly fought organized soldiers.
In ARMA 3, there's the FIA, a CIA/SIS-backed resistance group on Altis fighting the Iranian presence.
Mad Libs Dialogue: Armed Assault's and ARMA II's radio voiceovers of the individual soldiers kind of inherited this quality from Operation Flashpoint. Naturally, the somewhat unnatural sounding style of the voiceovers is caused by the daunting task of having to record each possible combination of a voiceover line separately (it would take ages and require thousands of voice files). There are some community-made mods in the works for replacing the original voice files with better dubbed ones, and ARMA 3 has done a little to smooth it out, though it's still there to a point.
Meaningful Name: In the first campaign mission of ArmA II, you and your squad are ordered to mark an enemy communication centre in the remote coastal town of Pusta for aerial bombardment. In the process, you will find that the rebels who occupied the town, massacred most of the townsfolk, and ditched them in mass graves on the outskirts. Now, for everyone who speaks Russian, the town's name foreshadows this unfortunate turn of events - as Pusta means "Empty" in Russian.
Męlée ŕ Trois: The scenario editor in both games (including Operation Flashpoint) makes it possible to deliberately invoke this - the Independents can be allied with either the BLUFOR, OPFOR, neither, or neutral.
Nintendo Hard: You'll have to do your best imitating Real Life military tactics to win the game, and no one ever says their jobs are easy. ARMA 3 takes it up a notch with its tutorialsnote officially "Showcases" oftentimes being insane one-man commando missions, such as the Night showcase... where you're tasked with single-handedly causing as much havoc (specifically "going loud") and building destruction as possible all by your lonesome self without nightvision goggles.
One Bullet Clips: Averted, as in Operation Flashpoint. After reloading, magazines with bullets left are put back in the player's inventory and can be reloaded again later, at any time.
The realism-enhancing ACE IImod makes this worse, in a way - besides the fire mode selection, it removes the ammo counter from the GUI. The Reload action will inform you how heavy the magazine "feels" and that's all the info you get about the amount of ammo left... Unfortunately, the default ARMA II action for sitting down had to be removed from the ACE II mod's gameplay due to this.
Orphaned Series: The first ARMA game (a.k.a. Armed Assault) eventually became this when BIS decided not to create any more official content for it and moved on to produce a more polished and improved sequel. Many fans and reviewers felt that this was fairly justified, since the game was still too much like the original OFP, despite implementing several new features and technical improvementsnote the CEO later admitted that Armed Assault was essentially itself an attempt to put out something within budget and on time, and not a labor of love. The fact that some of the new stuff was often pretty buggy to begin with and not always well thought out (particularly the implementation of actual tall grass for stealth and the oft overcompetent enemy AI) all added to the game prematurely fading in popularity and not gaining as big a modder base as OFP or ARMA II. The sequel was also launched less than two years after AA, so most of the fanbase made the hop to ARMA II fairly quickly. On the other hand, given how buggy ARMA II was on release (and still is to some extent), the problems are not completely endemic to Armed Assault.
People's Republic of Tyranny: The Democratic Republic of Sahrani (DRS) in ARMA: Armed Assault. The DRS also has elements of a stereotypical Banana Republic. In ARMA II, Chernarus used to be this, and some of the in-game factions would like if it stayed that way.
Persians with Pistols: One of the five factions in ARMA IIInote though in a strange twist they at one point showed up with some Israeli kit wielding both indigenousnote most noticeably the Katiba, a "futurized" and up-calibered descendant of the KH-2002 and Russian gear, generally named for Islamic figuresnote such as the Ifrit, in real life called the ZIL Punisher, with the exception of the officers' toting the Chiappa Rhino, renamed the Zubr... which is both Czech for "bison" and Arabic slang for phallus.
Red Scare: ARMA: Armed Assault has you fighting the Commie-ish Democratic Republic of Sahrani, which is invading its southern neighbor, the Kingdom of Sahrani. ARMA II pits you against Commie rebels in Chernarus and even brought back the Russians, though of the modern day non-Communist flavour.
Real Time Strategy: Not only is there at least one Arma 2 mod that allows this, but the Zeus DLC for Arma 3 was confirmed to support "Zeus vs. Zeus", and the basic Zeus system already involves a Resources bar that can regenerate at different rates if at all, and objects (characters, vehicles, modules, etc.) costing a certain amount of Resources to place.
Rouge Angles of Satin: The description for any M16A4 with an attached M203 in Arma 2 reads "Assault rifle with grenade luncher".
There's also multiple typos in some of the scripting commands and config parameters under the hood, such as Arma 2 having at one point "Incoming Misslie Detection System".
Ruritania: The Kingdom of Sahrani Island from the first ARMA game played this trope fairly straight, being a stereotypical Mediterranean-esque monarchy. It's adversary is the aforementioned People's Republic of Tyranny in the northern half of the island, which broke away from the kingdom a few years ago. If you succeed in beating the main campaign, you can defeat the Democratic Republic of Sahrani and help restore the original united kingdom.
And of course, Altis and Stratis from Arma 3 are - despite being former British Greek colonies that just had a bloody civil strive and have to be supervised by British and American peacekeepers and are invaded by a nearby middle-eastern power - are in no way related toCyprus or North Cyprus.
Geographically they're actually modeled on Lemnos — which was outright called Limnos — and Agios Efstratios, but the former underwent a name change to Altis — and the CEO made sure to emphasize that the islands were not to scale — after two of the game's devs were jailed for four months on espionage charges while vacationing on Limnos.
Russians with Rusting Rockets: Actually subverted pretty well. Garrisons of the Russian Federation spread across the Chernarussian border do use equipment and vehicles descended from Soviet-era ones, but all of these are more modern versions of the older kits. All in all, the Russian soldiers have pretty decent gear, even carrying around exclusively newer assault rifles from the Kalashnikov family (like the AN-94 Abakan or AK-107) - while in Real Life, these are still not as widespread in the Russian army as the gradually phased-out AK-74.
Semper Fi: The default ARMA II campaign stars a Force Reconnaissance team, and therefore the USMC are the default "BLUFOR" for the game - hence Marine Corps weapons, Marine Corps vehicles and so on.
Sighted Guns Are Low Tech: Back in the day, Operation Flashpoint was one of the first games to thoroughly avert this. ARMA does the same : Your sights are better for aiming than your small on-screen crosshair, and if you ramp up the realism by turning off said crosshair, you can only aim with your sights (or scopes). Some weapons even come with dual sights (backup iron sights or small collimators atop the scope tube for use at close-range or with night vision) although by Arma 3 this is actually more common than not, and the October 31st 2013 "Survive" update actually added two pistols with collimators of their own!
Simulation Game: And a very Wide Open Sandbox one at that. You can do anything from fighting on foot, to driving cars and tanks or flying helicopters and other aircraft... or just walk around the country and the settlements, talk to civilians, etc. Oh, and in Arma 2, there's also a free-roaming mode that allows you to play as any of the local animals. So the game is also the first rabbit simulator for the PC!
Schizo Tech/Anachronism Stew: The scenario editor in Arma 2 makes it possible to deliberately invoke this - a scenario can be set to take place anywhere between 1990 and 2015 (ramped up to 1980-2020 with Operation Arrowhead), but setting it as early as possible doesn't make it any less possible to fly an F-35B or MV-22, or shoot a G36C or XM8.
The Stoic: In Arma 2, all characters in-game show no emotions (no eyebrow movement) at all, entering deep into the Uncanny Valley when they are supposed to be smiling, laughing, crying, etc.
Surveillance Drone: In Arma 2: Combined Operations there are three drones available, four with the addition of Private Military Company. This is extended in Arma 3 with automated turrets, the unarmed quadrotor UAV, a UGV called the Stomper and the fixed-wing Greyhawk UAV, both of which have both armed and unarmed versions.
Super Not-Drowning Skills: You can swim pretty well, in contrast to the original series, where getting completely submerged for more than 10-15 seconds meant insta-death. Even this is handled realistically - swimming for too long will cause any weapons carried on your back to slip off and disappear.
Averted in ARMA III, for soldiers diving without a rebreather.
A funny 'coincidence', the seemingly Greek-modeled AAF turning on the supposed-to-be-departing NATO peacekeepers in a game made by a dev team whose creative director and environmental lead spent four months in Greek jail on account of alleged espionage...
Tank Goodness: Received a slight nerf in Operation Arrowhead, where vehicles' "health" is by component instead of as a whole - so it'll be possible to "mobility kill" or "mission kill," i.e. by damaging the treads on either side or the turret, respectively.
Tempting Fate: The first Arma 3 campaign mission "Drawdown" begins with the NATO NPCs that Cpl. Kerry encounters sounding rather derogatory about the prowess of the indigenous military, the Altian Armed Forces, with multiple references to them as "Greenbacks" and Sgt. Adams being particularly negative, even when they're within possible earshot. Problem is, the AAF aren't going to wait for NATO to leave and are all too happy to push 'em out... and very early into the second mission Adams trips a land mine, forcing Kerry to hike it to the rendezvous point solo after Adams' death.
The Verse: The devs have recently started referring to the setting by the (somewhat more Czech-sounding) term "ARMAversum" as well as "the Armaverse". Given the continuity, OFP's setting belongs under the umbrella term as well. An overview of the setting's timeline is available here.
The devs confirmed that their helicopter sim Take On Helicopters takes place in the Armaverse as well, with one of the characters having been a combat pilot around the time of Operation Arrowhead, while Vrana Corp and ION makes cameo appearances; notably, Take On Helicopters implies by Brian Frost's return that his killing of Dixon, ambushing the UN investigators and participating in the cover up is the canonical ending of Private Military Company.
Universal Ammunition: Averted. You can only use magazines for two different weapons if they are of the same design family and use the exact same ammo.
Unusable Enemy Equipment: Averted. Enemy Exchange Program is in full force and you can borrow any enemy equipment if you're out of your own or running low on it. Just be careful if you're playing multiplayer, as making the same sound as enemy weapons can lead to friendly fire or at least wasting time sorting things out.
The exception to the aversion is in ARMA 3 where BLUFOR and OPFOR characters can't use opposing faction uniforms... although civilians can.
Useless Useful Stealth: When Armed Assault came out, one of the much-touted new features was the ability to use tall grass for stealthy incursions into enemy territory. Sadly, this only started properly working once the game got properly patched - until then, players had severe problems with aiming at enemies while lying in the grass and the enemy soldiers had Improbable Aiming Skills thanks to an annoying bug. Guess how that ended for most players while they were trying to be sneaky?
Video Game Cruelty Potential: Civilians frequently appear in the missions, and hurting them usually does not affect the mission. Also, in any mission with the Simple First Aid module, you can repeatedly shoot your allies with no ill effects.
Sykes: Cease fire goddamnit!
Violent Glaswegian: Tanny in Arma II: Private Military Company. The protagonist explicitly refers to bars in Glasgow when speaking of Tanny.
Yanks with Tanks: In ARMA II it was the USMC, but in Operation Arrowhead the American component is made of US Army soldiers, while British, German and Czech allied units are present as well.
In ARMA 3, despite supposedly being the whole of NATO, most of the infantry have US flags on them and the Greyhawk drone has the USAF roundel, although the "Survive" update (the first mini-campaign DLC) added in NATO NPCs with UK flag patches and differing camouflage uniforms.
"ENEMY MAN. AND, MEN. TO OUR RIGHT! FROST, TARGET THAT! END OF PAGE."