Predictions based on emerging technology is a perilous business, and never more so than when talking about the military.
Marconisaid the radio would render warfare pointless. An aide to General Haig scoffed at the notion that tanks could ever replace cavalry. Churchill was confident that atomic energy might one day produce a bomb equal in power to a large artillery shell.
In video games, predictions about warfare mostly involve robots, lasers, spaceships and the like. This is not much use for Bohemia Interactive, developer and publisher of Arma 3, a game that sets out to deliver near-future realism.
Set in 2036, it focus on a war between NATO and a Persian superpower, localized to some small islands in the Aegean.
Project lead Joris-Jan van't Land said, "We aren't playing with lasers, it's more about advanced unmanned vehicles and the tactical changes that suggests in the field." There are somme cool vehicles in the game, that are now being introduced to players of the beta, due to go live at the end of June.
For the kind of person who likes playing Arma games, the tactical changes of near-future warfare are minimal. Don't stand around in the open. Don't attempt to charge the enemy. Try to distinguish the sound of enemy gunfire from friendly. Duck.
"This is a slower-paced game than more popular shooters," said van't Land. "It's about realism."
There are many gamers who complain about shooting missions played on rails, or multiplayer crapshoot carnage. Arma 3 is not one of those games. "I have played this one mission 50 times here at E3," said van't Land. "It's been different every single time."
The Arma series has a large and devoted following, boosted by the success of Arma 2 mod DayZ. Although that zombie mod is exceptionally stark and sparse, the native game is also about survival, forethought and being smart. Players can, if they wish, call up various HUD aids, but many prefer to rely on their own senses, their wits and their ability to work with fellow squad-members.
Arma 3 also looks very pretty. Based on the Real Virtuality engine (V4), it recreates the breezy, blue beauty of the Greek islands as well as its unique qualities of light. "We measured sunlight values at different times and in different conditions," said van't Land.