1.1 Dear BIS Community,
within a little less than nine months, ArmA2 completely overcame the flaws of its troubled birth and evolved into a breathtakingly promising game/simulator full of potential and never before seen extensiveness. This is all thanks to you, dear community members, and the wholehearted support of the game’s developer, Bohemia Interactive Studios. I would even go so far as to say that ArmA2 is not only a worthy successor of the glorious Operation Flashpoint, but may have indeed surpassed its old predecessor, both visually and in terms of game mechanics, features & immersion.
Personally, my initial skepticism towards the game (due to the seemingly rushed release) turned into pure appreciation for the hard and remarkably talented work of both, developers and fans who added innumerable content enhancements, features & fresh ideas.
Features most of which originated from the minds and skills of dedicated community members and which have been taken up by BIS and implemented into ArmA2 (the SLX mod being a prime example), or completely new, ingenious game enhancements, such as TS3 implementation. The Advanced Combat Environment, ACE 2 mod, a vast, modular, auto-updating compilation of additional game content and features, in particular, excels at this, and actually takes ArmA2 to the next level.
Thousands and thousands of hours have been invested by fans to open up the game to its own engine’s huge potential. By the way, for anyone new to the game and for all those who appreciate a solid, very well-written base of instructions, hints, tips and tactical planning guidelines it is strongly recommended to have a look at the very elaborate Tactics, Techniques & Procedures Guide created by the very committed tactical gamer Dslyecxi and his team, ShackTactical!
1.2 Purpose and aims of this Add-On Guide
The goal of this thread would be to combine as many of the exceptional efforts of this community to a new and revised “Add-on Compilation” and create a customized, highly challenging, realistic and immersive gaming experience. Before we begin, there are three things worth mentioning (and hopefully worth reading, too!):
a) As indicated by the thread’s title, the latest ACE2 – along with the latest patch / beta version of ArmA2 itself - will function as the base of functionality and game features. This, of course, effectively means we will try to avoid redundancies by making use of the modular design of many of the fan add-ons. In short, if ACE2 has it, we don’t need another add-on to add that very same feature.
b) Many of the following settings and add-on file set-ups have been chosen as a result of countless hours of empirical testing and adjusted to evade any compatibility issues. It must also be noted that some of the following configuration adjustments (such as difficulty settings, config entries for mods such as GL4, or audio-visual enhancements) are completely subjective. While I will certainly not be able to explain the chosen set-up in due detail, I will try my best to identify and remark these particular items accordingly. You can choose to follow the guide step-by-step, of course, but it is best if you invest some time into choosing your own settings/preferences and share your results & experiences!
c) I assume that most of you are familiar with Startup Parameters and Mod Folders. If not, please do check out the pertaining links and familiarize yourselves with these basic add-on loading procedures.
For the add-ons used in this guide, the proper loading order for the ArmA2 shortcut looks as follows:
"…\ArmA II\arma2.exe" -nosplash -mod=@CBA;@ACE;@ACEX;@GL4;@zcommon_ace;@SLX;@MMA;@MMA_XEH;@Misc;(@Audio-visual Content);(@Additional Content, like models, islands, etc.)
(ArmA2.exe, beta version)
"…\ArmA II\beta\arma2.exe" -nosplash -mod=beta;@CBA;@ACE;@ACEX;@GL4;@zcommon_ace;@SLX;@MMA;@MMA_XEH;@Misc;(@Audio-visual Content);(@Additional Content, like models, islands, etc.)
This guide was written to work with beta version 71726 - however, issues with ACE2 and the very latest beta patches currently exist!
Right, enough said! Here we go:
2) Core Modifications and Game Functionality Enhancement Add-Ons
2.1 Adjusting the Difficulty Settings
Before we start adding any actual add-ons we should take a quick look at the user profile config file, usually found in “…\Documents\ArmA 2\yourprofilename.ArmA2Profile” (unless, of course, you chose to use the –profiles start-up parameter).
Right at the beginning of the file, there are “class difficulty” entries for all the difficulty settings used in the game. Adjusting the difficulty settings is a very subjective and personal option. For average, casual players we found the following settings to be more than acceptable while still maintaining the highest amount of realism the game can convey. Feel free to copy & replace the below entries to your .ArmA2Profile, after making a backup of the original file or just make adjustments according to your own personal skill and preferences:
Believe me when I say with the add-ons we are going to use, this will make for quite a challenging coop experience for casual gamers and smaller squads alike - without turning the AI into magical war androids.
2.2 Advanced Combat Environment (A.C.E.) 2 (@CBA, @ACE, @ACEX & UserConfig\ACE)
As mentioned before, ACE2, our “main modification“, will be the core add-on base for our set-up. We will be using the ACE2 core files @ACE and its additional content @ACEX. Also a key prerequisite for the initialization of ACE2’s features, as well as many of the add-ons to come is the @CBA folder. It’s hard to tell how many hours these guys put into the development of ACE2, but we can’t thank them enough! Amazing job!
All of these files will be automatically maintained by the SIX Updater. A very good and quick guide on how to set it up can be viewed here. Please read it carefully and reder to the official ACE2 thread(1st post) for detailed information and help. I would also recommend personalizing your update / download options.
After downloading ACE2 through the SIX Updater, you should have at least four new folders (if you did not personalize your update options there will, of course, be additional folders, but we shall disregard them for now):
ACE2 folders & files:
…\@CBA\AddOns (all included files mandatory!)
- Community Base Add-Ons, to maintain compatibility between all fan-made add-on modules.
…\@ACE\AddOns (all included files mandatory!)
- ACE2 Core Files, adds all the features and gameplay enhancements.
…\@ACEX\AddOns (all included files highly recommended)
- ACE2 content files, such as new soldiers, weapons and vehicles.
…\UserConfig\ACE (user configuration files, mandatory!)
- Here ACE2 let’s you customize the mod concerning graphical features and additional key bindings. Open any of the .hpp files with a text editor and personalize your "ace_clientside_config.hpp". The configs are really self-explanatory.
You can keep these folders and their file contents up to date by running the SIX updater from time to time. Again, refer to the official ACE2 thread for guidance, if you are not acquainted with it.
We have now established our main add-on base and you will find ACE2 will greatly enhance the player’s features. In the next two chapters we are going to add and configure additional community-made add-ons concerning AI enhancements and immersion.
2.3 Group Link 4 (@GL4 & UserConfig\GL4)
The Group Link 4 Special Edition created and maintained by SNKMAN is a great and powerful script collection that includes vastly boosted AI reaction & more realistic behaviour and additional graphical & sound effects. Download the add-on and extract it. The more difficult task now would be to adjust the included UserConfig files. I recommend you try my GL4 UserConfig templates, which are designed to work optimally with all the other add-ons discussed in this thread.
GL4 folders & files:
…\@GL4\AddOns (all included files mandatory!)
- The main GL4 folder containing the GL4 add-ons.
…\UserConfig\GL4 (user configuration files, mandatory!)
- customize GL4 which modules and scripts to run and in what manner. If you are unsure on how to set them up, please try my pre-defined values in the context of this thread before you edit them yourself.
2.4 Zeus Combat AI for ACE2 (@zcommon_ace)
Protegimus’ Zeus Combat AI will complete and round out GL4’s AI scripts and also enhance & replace SLX’ AI features (see ↳2.5 for details). It will make the AI much more aggressive and more alert. The pertaining thread features an excellent detailed introduction to the mod’s features, if you need more info. In the context of this guide it’s rather simple with this one: Download the whole modular pack and just use it! No further config set-up needed!
Zeus Combat AI folders & files:
…\@zcommon_ace\AddOns (all included files mandatory!)
- The main folder containing the AI routines for Zeus Combat AI.
2.5 SLX (@SLX)
Solus' well-known SLX mod has been one of the main contributions to ArmA. His latest SLX project for ArmA2 is scripting art at its best! Since v1.99 the mod is stable and almost completely modular! After a lot of tinkering I decided to only use some of its core features for compatibility's sake. For instance, SLX' AI core and GL3 are disabled and replaced by ZeusAI and GL4. The files indexed below should lead to a stable, properly balanced integration of SLX - however, I strongly suggest after downloading SLX, you try out all SLX features at first and then make your own, personal choice of what to use. Preferably, server and clients should run the same SLX set-up which renders this complex mod impractical for open public gaming yet makes Squad gameplay so much sweeter.
Download the mod, then extract it and use the following files given in the recommended set-up below:
SLX folders & files:
…\@SLX\AddOns\ (for optimal compatibility use the indexed files below exclusively and disable all the other SLX files!)
- This will add SLX' incredible wounded features and healing system. Leave these out if you like to keep things simpler and minimize the risk of compatibility issues.
2.6 Mando Missiles (@MMA & @MMA_XEH)
Mandoble’s ingenious Mando Missiles system has always been the key contribution to anything related to ingame missile operations and handling. Highly recommended add-on that implements itself perfectly and contributes to a much more realistic missile warfare within the game. What more can be said? Get the latest version and, if necessary, follow the guidelines and instructions given on the pertaining forum thread.
Mando Missiles folders & files:
…\@MMA\AddOns (all included files mandatory!)
- Contains the main add-on/necessary script suites
…\@MMA_XEH\AddOns (all included files mandatory!)
- Contains the @CBA-dependant self-initialization scrips. Make sure you stick to the required loading order (@MMA before @MMA_XEH)!
2.7 Miscellaneous Add-Ons (@Misc)
There are quite a bunch of smaller useful and great “stand-alone” community enhancements for ArmA2. Looking at the “big five” (ACE2, GL4, Zeus Combat AI, SLX & Mando Missiles) there couldn’t be much left to add ... or so one might think – but the community proves you otherwise!
For convenience reasons I decided to put them all together in one folder, which we will call “@Misc” (or anything else, whatever floats your boat!)
…\@Misc\AddOns\RoadsVisibleAtDistance_Visuals_C_ PROPER.pbo (Improved drawing distance for roads)
…\@Misc\AddOns\StaticsVisibleAtDistance_Visuals_ C_PROPER.pbo (Improved drawing distance for static structures)
…\@Misc\AddOns\TreesVisibleAtDistance_Visuals_C_ PROPER.pbo (Improved drawing distance for ...bananas)
…\@Misc\AddOns\VehiclesVisibleAtDistance_Visuals _C_PROPER.pbo (Improved drawing distance for vehicles)
2.7.2 JTD Fire & Smoke
DMarkwick’s JTD_FireAndSmoke add-on adds greatly enhanced effects of “pyrogenic” nature to the game. It also adds flocks of birds flying off trees after a sudden movement of a nearby unit, which is great to spot enemies before they spot you! You really have to see for yourself, so take a look at the forum thread and download right ahead! If you are using my GL4 userconfig settings, there should not be any significant effects-related compatibility issues – the two add-ons play along rather nicely, to be exact! Due to the considerable strain on the CPU (unnecessary script delays might occur, thanks for the info, Rommel!) and the unforseeable complexity in multiplayer, it is advisable to tweak the attached configuration file according to your hardware!
JTD Fire & Smoke files:
…\@Misc\AddOns\ jtd_fireandsmoke.pbo (The add-on's main .pbo file)
…\UserConfig\JTD\JTD_FireAndSmoke_config.hpp (The add-on's configuration file. Tweak the smoke effects' life duration. For multiplayer in particular, my advice would be to turn off forest fires by setting "#define JTD_ForestFireEnabled false")
zyco’s LandTex is a high resolution texture replacement for ArmA2’s main map, the Chernarus. Look at the screenshots and decide for yourself if you (or your hardware) want to use it. Personally, I’d recommend it, as it adds a much smoother and more organic look to the Chernarussian countryside. This add-on is purely client-side!
…\@Misc\AddOns\LandTex_v1.0_chernarus_Data.pbo (The add-on's texture replacement file)
…\@Misc\AddOns\LandTex_v1.0_chernarus_Data_Layer s.pbo (The add-on's texture layers file)
2.7.4 WarFX Particles
Opticalsnare's amazing effect show! WarFX Particles will enhance and add many of the ingame graphical effects. Featuring remarkable FFAR trails and bullet impact dust effects it eats up some frames per second and the "full & dusty" effect mod might not be to everyone's taste - but give it a shot! I highly recommend this one! This add-on is purely client-side!
…\@Misc\AddOns\WarFXWEPS.pbo (Weapon effects, such as impacts, missile trails, et cetera)
2.7.5 Night Lighting Effects
Part of Sakura_Chan's beautification project for ArmA/ArmA2, this mod will do exactly what its title suggests by enhancing and fine-tuning the nocturnal lighting scenery (vehicle headlights, street lights, camp fires). Many thanks to Daniel for suggesting this (we should have a game again sometime, by the way)! This add-on is purely client-side!
Night Lighting Effects files:
…\@Misc\AddOns\sakulightfx.pbo (Night Lighting Effects' night lighting effects (you heard me))
2.7.6 VFTCAS - Terrain Collision Avoidance System
Scripting veteran VictorFarbau brings us this great (and desperately needed!) tweak: No more easily crashing AI pilots! The only regret I have with this is that it took me so long to add this to the list - sorry! Must-have add-on! Also check out VB's other projects!
…\@Misc\AddOns\VFTCAS.pbo (Prevents AI pilots from drinking two bottles of vodka before each mission)
2.7.7 BD MultiGunFix
Big Dawg KS' elegant mod will fix the muzzle origins of every vehicle-mounted multiple gun & launcher system in the game! Smart, small and useful - really speaks for itself, try it out!
BD MultiGunFix files:
…\@Misc\AddOns\bd_multigunfix.pbo (Fixes muzzle origins on all vehicles)
2.7.8 STHUD - ShackTac Fireteam HUD
The well-known and dedicated gaming community ShackTactical provides the community with this little gem to enhance ingame situational awareness. This is, of course, primarily intended to improve squad gameplay and coordination but its usefulness goes way beyond that. Please read detailed instructions and descriptions on ShackTactical's STHUD page.
…\@Misc\AddOns\fthud.pbo (The STHUD)
2.7.9 Sound Effects Replacements
This is arguably the most subjective section of this thread. Before anything else, let me say this: There is no “best" and no “most realistic” sound modification. As good as ArmA2's sound engine is current game technology does by no means emulate the complexity of realistic sound wave dynamics. It really is up to your own personal taste and preferences. Just choose your own favourite sound mod, or mix them all together - most of them are very or even entirely modular!
I will merely list all available, up-to-date sound mods that are also compatible with ACE2. You can easily find plenty more by searching the forums or checking fan pages like Armaholic.com! All sound replacements are purely client-side!
… ACE2's ACE2 SM: Naturally, we'd have to start with ACE2's very own sound replacements, contained in the mod's “@ACEX_SM” folder. Sturdy sounds, very consistent, worth a look!
… Mark XIII's HiFi SFX: The biggest, most up-to-date, most extensive, most consistent sound modification available for ArmA2 at the moment, HiFi SFX offers pretty much everything. From obligatory rifle and smashing canon sounds to excellent vehicle and environmental sounds, it is entirely modular. For good reasons, this is my personal favorite and my thanks and appreciation go to the incredibly talented Mark and his team for presenting this project to the community!
… Chammy's CSM2: On the same quality level of HiFi, Chammy's Sound Mod 2 scores with its very consistent soundscape and great atmospheric trail-offs, especially for assault rifles and the like. Chammy and his team invested a lot of effort into the details - very recommendable!
… vo.2's VopSound: One of the earliest sound mods available for ArmA2 and still preferred by a good number of players, VopSound shines through its great small calibre sound effects and vehicle sounds. This was the first mod I used for ArmA2 and I am still very fond of it!
… TangoRomeo's TR Soundmodules: TangoRomeo's TR Soundmodules are an incredibly detailed, high-quality approach on all ingame vehicle sounds! Consider using these in combination with the sound mod(s) of your choice! Highly recommended!
3) New Content Add-Ons
This section includes a small personal choice of additional content add-ons, including new maps/islands, units and weapon packs. It is by far not complete! I tried to include any top quality add-ons that enhance the general scope of the game, without adding any too particular faction, function or feature. Just because an add-on might not be featured here, does not mean it is not worth downloading. Adding them all would turn this list into a textbook.
3.1.1 FDF Podagorsk
The good guys from FDF created an impressively detailed peninsula here. A temperate zone featuring vast rural areas and autumn forests with an outstanding performance compared to ArmA2's Chernarus!
3.1.2 Isla Duala
IceBreakr's "Isla Duala"! The map includes two African savannah-themed islands with their own indigenous military units and an incredible immersion due to the author's love for detail and structural composition. Performance is excellent as well. One of my personal favourites!
Isla Duala files:
…\@Islands\AddOns\brg_africa.pbo (Isla Duala's military units)
3.1.3 Namalsk Island
Sumrak, the author of this beauty, reportedly spent two years working on his island. The results appropriately breathtaking! On Namalsk Island the player will find deserted post-Soviet industrial areas, vast tundra forests and snowy hills. Performance is quite flawless, even in more crowded areas. Don't forget to download the patch, Namalsk 1.02 for some minor sensible fixes!
Namalsk Island files:
…\@Islands\AddOns\namalsk.pbo (Namalsk Island - make sure to use the patch version of this file)
…\@Islands\AddOns\ns_rocks.pbo (Are you into lithology?)
floosy's brainchild, the small but mighty Quesh-Kibrul, throws the player into desert combat scenarios with vast open plains, industrial petrochemical areas and settelements from clay huts to huge building blocks. The only thing better than its gritty atmopshere is the islands' exemplary performance, even beating Utes!
3.1.5 Thirsk Island
Thirsk Island, courtesy of the obviously very talented Raunhofer, is a vast Scandinavian-themed island that comes in two versions - winter and summer - featuring massive forests, a tundra-esque countryside and abandoned ghost towns and military bases. With the right missions & settings you will experience an almost hauntingly immersive gameplay. Remember good old "Project I.G.I."'s later levels? If I had to pick my absolute favourite island, this would have to be it! Performance is generally good but only high-end gaming rigs will play Thirsk on full details without noticeable stuttering. Important: Make sure to also download KuiK's Winter Camos units for the winter version of Thirsk Island!
Thirsk Island files:
…\@Islands\AddOns\thirsk.pbo (Thirsk Island)
…\@Islands\AddOns\thirsk2.pbo (Thirsk Island)
…\@Islands\AddOns\thirsk3.pbo (Thirsk Island)
…\@Islands\AddOns\thirsk4.pbo (Southern Venezuela - no, I'm only pulling your leg, it's actually Thirsk Island)
[too many - and too many good ones at that! I might omit this section and just post the Armaholic.com Files link for you to pick your own... :-)]
This guide is still under construction and will need more input over the time. I will try to maintain this post as well as I can, but my free time is very limited at the moment. However, if there are any questions/suggestions or advice/criticism, feel free to post here or send me a pm.
Awesome. Thanks for putting this together. One thing that's not clear is whether or not we should be trying to run SLX at all? You mention SLX lite but I never heard of it.
SLX is a modular mod that allows users to custom tailer SLX to their own tastes. I imagine by saying 'Lite' that he has eliminated any possible PBO conflicts between SLX and any of the other mods he might be using.
Hi, The.D! Thank you very much for effort.
Seamless compilation of this brilliant mods is my old dream.
As i understand, you do not intend to use SLX_wounds. But it provides a bunch of immersive features: location based wounding system, randomly applied custom and BIS anims for wounded. Will AI soldiers be able to drag teammates out of line of fire and bandage them without this pbo?
Thanks for the kind words :-)
About SLX: You can add it in, of course, nuggetz, but make sure you remove the GL3 components (GL4 should kick in instead) and the AI routines (they are completely replaced by Zeus Combat AI). The problem with SLX is, it is not quite all modular. Removing some .pbo's will result in error messages. As Imperator_Pete said, I came up with a severely trimmed file set-up (I even removed some animations, etc.), and I'd feel bad for making this public without Solus' permission as it really does not give him enough credit for his outstanding work with SLX.
Velzevul, there are some things with SLX that will collide with the rest of the add-ons and, amongst one of them is the wounding system. It's very slight and nothing that could severely break (coop) gameplay:
Originally Posted by The.D
The only conflict I cannot seem to get rid of is a weird "bug" (or is it just stupidity on my side?) when healing enemy wounded soldiers. In the mouse wheel menu there are two "healing" options, one that says "Give first aid to [soldier name]" and one that says "Heal [soldier class name]" - the first one is undoubtedly from SLX, as healed enemies surrender instantly. The second non-SLX one will heal the enemy alright but will also get him to shoot you right afterward.
It's a bug nonetheless (you accidentally click on "Heal Soldier", instead of the SLX option, and he will shoot you instead of surrendering) so that's why I chose not to put it in for now. That will also mean no dragging, no cool wounded animations after a battle, etc. I really do miss that feature!
I just cannot get rid of the "Heal Soldier" option, though (while I would dearly love to keep SLX' "healing & immediate surrendering" system for enemy wounded soldiers) - maybe I am missing something?
I will be back at home later this evening and will finish the guide for WarFX 1.4 (might have to tweak GL4 effects a bit, otherwise it should very probably fit right in?).