December 24, 2014

Introducing Arma to EVE Mercenaries

I'm a huge Arma fan. It's probably the single game that got me into gaming, way back when I was 13 years old or so (although it didn't actually manifest until 2005). It's probably a large reason why I eventually got into EVE - these games aren't common, and they share some ancestral roots for sure. But not everyone likes military simulators, so I was pleasantly surprised to see a pretty sizable interest from my corporation in EVE when I linked a Youtube video (embedded below) in our Slack chat. Coupled with Arma being on sale, we've got quite a few guys who are buying it!

Of course, with the Christmas holiday, it's been tough getting people together at the same time. So while I've been urging people to get some awesome mods downloaded, I've also been taking people out and showing them the ropes via a few multiplayer modes, usually one person at a time.

Last night I managed to get three other guys - Sovereign Apocalypse, Feetzor, and Demetri Slavic - online at the same time, so I suggested we jump onto my Arma grou's Zeus server for an interesting change of pace from the ever-so-boring Battle Royale modes. Sovereign had never played before, only having finished his installation a few minutes earlier, so I figured Zeus would be an easier transition for him anyway.

Zeus, by the way, is pretty awesome. Think Dungeons & Dragons, except inside of a first person shooter with a massive scale. One person takes the role of Zeus who can spawn all sorts of things, from friendly (or enemy, or even neutral) units of infantry, squads, vehicles, air assets, etc, to camp fires and barrels, or even artillery. The Zeus has complete control over everything except the players themselves. He can drag and drop an infantry squad across the whole island, delete something at will, or even blow it up with a bolt of lightning. Zeus can also create in-game objectives and briefings that the players can complete, keeping a pretty high level of immersion in the process.

So, as Sovereign was getting a quick course on all of the basic controls in Arma, I began setting up a little setting for my three soldiers:

A group of terrorists has captured a scientist and have been quite vocal about their intention of using him to build weapons - namely explosives. Unfortunately for the terrorists, the scientist they captured is an expert in primates, not explosives. Despite the inability for the terrorists to use this scientist against us, you are being sent to retrieve him.
We believe that there are only half a dozen or so infantry with makeshift weaponry guarding him in a nearby town.

So, with that, they set off! I scattered roughly 14 infantry (although I later deleted one squad of 6) around the town as forward scouts with two groups of two guard squads protecting the scientist himself at a chapel in town. Using the AH-9 Littlebird helicopter I provided them, they flew towards the Area of Operation - in fact, they flew directly over it and were subsequently fired upon by practically every single unit in the area.

We were all in Teamspeak with one another, so it was great to hear their plan and laugh quietly as I knew what would happen.

Luckily (for them) they managed to find a better landing zone without taking any direct hits, but I did use that as an excuse to give the closest squads - a two man recon team and a four man fireteam - an idea of their location and pushed them up towards the landing zone. They dispatched the recon team with ease, with me controlling one of the units. This was fun, because I was able to spray bullets toward their location, carefully avoiding actually hitting them, but giving - what I hope - was an intense moment. They worked well to suppress, move, and fire on the two man team.

Unfortunately, the fireteam provided them with a lot more trouble. This team had moved to take cover behind a few buildings, while the players were approaching from a forest - good concealment, but since the enemy already knew where they were, hard cover was much more important. They died quite a few times here, sometimes due to silliness, like running across a field in the open, and other times due to bad luck - the NPCs are no slouches!

However, they were able to eventually take the fireteam out, even giving me the slip a few times while controlling the NPC infantry, and moved into a good position above the town on a hill with solid tree cover.

From here, they were able to get eyes on the scientist and the two sentry groups protecting him, as well as a fireteam that was patrolling the town itself. They also managed to spot an APC I had spawned in after Sovereign spawned in as an AT soldier. He did well, having never shot one before, and managed to disable the APC in one shot without being spotted in turn. The two sentries were quickly dispatched thereafter, although I think the sole survivor of that group did manage to score a kill before he was shot.

The last remaining recon team was tougher to dislodge, digging into houses and using the excellent cover provided by all the walls. Our heroes were not well versed in urban warfare! After a few deaths, they prevailed - as one does with unlimited lives! - and the scientist was recovered and shuttled into a civilian vehicle for extraction at the docks.

I had one last surprise in store for them, which was an attack helicopter that I had edited a bit, making its accuracy abysmal. It followed them down the road as they fled, laying down convincing fire at their retreat. Bad Zeus that I am though, I accidentally sent a bolt of lighting to destroy it when I meant to take control of it instead. Woops!

Next time I plan on doing two things differently: letting someone else Zeus (I really am bad at it!) and taking screenshots. This would have been a much more fun report if I had thought to do that! Oh well, next time!