Last month, Czech video game studio Bohemia Interactive released a new expansion pack for the military simulation game “Arma 3 Contact.” It is a radical departure from previous expansion packs the studio has offered. Instead of the all out realistic warfare the game series is known for, it hypothesizes how the military would establish “contact” with an extraterrestrial force.
The game’s story takes place in 2039 during a NATO military exercise in the fictional Eastern European country of Livonia. This occurs during rising tensions with the Russian Federation. However during the exercises, a strange event occurs that paralyzes NATO forces in the region. All of this while Russian operatives are covertly infiltrating the country to conduct sabotage.
The DLC adds a new military science fiction story to play, however the crown jewel of the DLC is the map Livonia, featuring 163 square kilometers of the country’s northern border with Russia.
In order to immerse the player, the DLC adds two new factions. First is the fictional Livonian Defence Force which is modelled off of the Polish Army. Second is the very real Russian Spetsnaz GRU which is covertly infiltrating the country. In order to arm all of these new forces, the DLC adds a smorgasbord of gear. From new weapons to ballistic vests to helmets and night vision goggles, players will be very pleased by the new selection.
“Arma 3 Contact,” the good:
One of my favorite additions in this DLC to the game is the Livonia map. It is a radical departure from the various war-torn island nations seen in the past games. The Eastern European feel is greatly enhanced by the various abandoned Soviet military installations and factories. The weapons and gear are also a major plus, everything from brand new AK variants to old, civilian hunting weapons help to add variety to an already formidable game arsenal. In addition, the new factions are excellent. Unlike most other games where if you play as a foreigner, you speak English, both the Livonians and the Russians talk in their native languages. They also each have their own unique equipment.
“Arma 3 Contact,” the bad:
One of the most tedious parts of the new campaign was the communication scenes. The expansion does not do a good job of explaining what to do and I spent 30 minutes trying to communicate with a UFO. In addition, the new campaign scraps many of the traditional features of the game’s original campaign such as saving your progress when you please. The new objective bar is also very tedious to use.
In addition, having the storyline take place in a fictional country can take you out of the immersion. While I fully understand why a fictional country was used considering the story’s plot, the expansion still features American, British and Russian troops who all serve real countries. A game that features several real countries, but has one fictional country to avoid offending anyone, is just contradictory. Previous campaigns in the game have been guilty of this too, the original campaign featured Iranian troops (the game is banned in Iran because of this) and Chinese Communist troops make an appearance in the Apex expansion, both armies as opposing forces. However the settings in both of these campaigns were in fictional countries. In addition, it is quite easy to tell what country Livonia is based on. The soldiers speak Polish and use Polish military equipment. When the game shows where Livonia is located, it borders Poland.
Overall I would recommend the DLC. It has an excellent map, cool new equipment and soldiers, as well as a decent campaign.