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Lighting not good enough for 2013
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Of course, in comparison with arma 2, lighting in arma 3 has received noticeable improvement in the alpha. Unfortunately, and this is my opinion, the overall lighting still doesn't look as good as you would expect from a game in 2013.

I noticed that in the graphics settings you can't set HDR higher than "standard", that gives me some hope, that there might be higher settings available in the final version, but i don't put too much hope in it, so i'd rather mention my concern right now.

I think lighting is one of the most important factors too make a game look more realistic, even if a game has bad textures or animations, good lighting can make a huge difference on the overall graphic impression of the game.

There is a thread over at the BI forums, that shows the impact lighting has on a scene quite well (just read the first post):

At the time Arma 2 came out, i found its graphics to be impressing enough, with arma 3, even it might look better at some things than arma 2, this is not the case. Improvements are too small to call this a game, which has satisfying graphics for 2013.

Other engines, like the frostbite engine, use middleware like this for lighting:

I read particularly this solution - for example, scales pretty good on multicore, i don't understand, why such a solution can't be integrated into arma. If it takes too much resources, alright, make an ultra setting for lighting, that only people with high end machines can use.
Then, in one or two years, graphic cards will be evolved enough, so that everyone can play on ultra without having a high end machine.

I understand that Arma is an unbelievably huge open world game, that takes up quite some resources and i appreciate all the effort. But seriously, i think after 4 years, since arma 2 was realeased, we could expect this game too look significantly better than this, starting with the lighting.


Legacy ID
No Bug

Event Timeline

z-boson edited Steps To Reproduce. (Show Details)Jun 4 2013, 10:39 PM
z-boson edited Additional Information. (Show Details)
z-boson set Category to Engine.
z-boson set Reproducibility to Always.
z-boson set Severity to None.
z-boson set Resolution to No Bug.
z-boson set Legacy ID to 368988327.May 7 2016, 2:25 PM
Rewan added a subscriber: Rewan.May 7 2016, 2:25 PM
Rewan added a comment.Jun 4 2013, 10:50 PM

The lightning in ArmA III with DX11 cards is already stunningly realistic. '-'

z-boson added a subscriber: z-boson.May 7 2016, 2:25 PM

I'm sorry, but i can't share your opinion.
Unfortunately, whenever i try to take a screenshot i just get black, so i can't show you what i mean on a picture.

But look at a container or hesco standing on the ground for example, look at how it looks somehow flat and seems to float over the ground because of the weak lighting.
Compare arma 3 lighting to frostbite engine 2-3 and cryengine 2-3, if they had arma's authentical graphics style, they would be able to produce much more convincing scenes.

bez added a subscriber: bez.May 7 2016, 2:25 PM
bez added a comment.Jun 4 2013, 11:23 PM

I agree with you up to a point, let me expand please

In my opinion lighting in ARMA 3 is more realistic than most games
where it's falling short is the shadows, that makes it look not as realistic
as modern games, but lighting in itself is impressive in my eyes.

Now, comparing ARMA 3 engine to BF3 engine is not really fair.
While ARMA 3 engine have many new features, it is not a brand new engine,
it is a patched engine which is more or less using the same technologies
for some time, while the new Frostbite engine has been redesigned from scratch.

I agree with you that ARMA 3 can look and feel better,
I can give you a long list of things I think are not up to par with modern AAA games
but it would probably require an engine redesign from scratch,
and to do that to a game like ARMA, would take much more time than a BF/COD game would.

I admit that when they announced ARMA 3 with ragdolls and Physx I thought
YAY, we gonna get a brand new engine, sweet!!! So yes I am also a bit disappointed
that it's not the case, but I am afraid, that now nothing can be done about it.

Let's hope BI would make enough money from ARMA 3 to give us a brand new engine for ARMA 4.

hm, maybe you're even right at some point.
also i just thought again and noticed, it might as well be the textures causing me to think, that lighting is bad, because they don't really give the feeling of beeing a real surface, like they don't reflect the existing light realistically enough. but then again, i count that and shadows to be a part of lighting.
also, if you turn your head around in game, you'll notice the lighting tends to shift very unsmooth.

But i still don't understand, why decent middleware solutions can't be integrated into the existing engine. after all, even cry and frostbite were not really re developed from scratch i guess, they just modified and buildt on what they already had. and i don't understand why this can't be done with armas engine. but then again, i'm not a developer, maybe we really have to wait for a complete new engine, which would be sad, because this would be a long way to go.

How is the lighting in 2013 not good enough? Was it better in previous years, and have you seen the future and is it going to better?

I think you mean compared to other engines of it's Generation it's lighting isn't as good.....well.......

Lets Compare ARMA's engines with other Game Engines, they cannot render a full persistant Open Sandbox with huge numbers of AI and massive battles.

It's like saying a Motorbike is more Powerful than a 14 Ton Articulated Truck, because the Motorbike is Faster.

You cannot just highlight one Facet and say the engine is bad, they are all optimized for different things. For Example Call of Duty can look really good, but you have zero freedom of movement in that game, so it's an on Rail's shooter (not my cup of tea, I prefer a more free form experience where my decisions and actions lead to different outcomes) .

I can live with the Light issues in return for the Huge leap forward ARMA 3 has been for the Series. Personally I think it looks amazing.

Also I would wait for the ARMA 3 Beta - Saw the Live feed a few days ago, looks like Beta is a significant step up.

I never said the engine was bad and as i said, i know it's a sandbox game, i know that. it's huge, really. but i don't know, what that has to do with graphics? as i said, if it's just a performance thing, put them in ultra settings, where's the problem.
and have i seen the future? yes i have, and i have seen the past, this is a crysis mod from 2008:,647910/Ultra-realistic-forests-in-Crysis-new-texture-mod-in-the-works/Imagegallery/&article_id=647910&image_id=839717&show=original

and this is the future:

now you saw it too. and note aside, cod hasn't really looked good again after cod 2...

tpw added a subscriber: tpw.May 7 2016, 2:25 PM
tpw added a comment.Jun 5 2013, 5:31 AM

I'm with bez on this - the lighting itself is massively improved, the shadowing is what lets things down.

The trouble is that as the visual fidelity and realism of the game engine improves, the areas where the engine is unrealistic become more glaring. To me, the lack of dynamic shadows (even if it were just from weapon lights and headlights rather than every light source) is incredibly immersion breaking. Other open world sandbox games (eg S.T.A.L.K.E.R) had dynamic shadows 5+ years ago.

I'm aware that dynamic shadows can't simply be bolted on to the existing engine, and would incur a performance hit, but I truly hope they make an appearance in Arma4

Exactly, it's an Engine limitation. If ARMA 4 was rebuilt from the the ground up it would be on the list, along with better sounds, better Physics implementation.

@z-boson - Proper full dynamic Lighting is just not something you can bolt on, as tpw said.

If there was a Game Engine that could do everything, it would be used in every game. Unfortunately there isn't, and thats because of Trade off, better Performance, Graphics, Render distances, draw distances, AI, effects, sound.

No Engine can do it all well, and that's the problem, we just have to live with it until someone creates an Engine that can do everything or we just learn to live with it. It's just the way it is.

MadDogX added a subscriber: MadDogX.May 7 2016, 2:25 PM

While I don't disagree with the OP - lighting in Arma3 could use a lot of improvement - this ticket is really too broad in formulation and needs to be reduced to a specific feature request.

"Improve the lighting" is too vague.

Lighting is all right, it should be "Improve the shadowing", which really boils down to one most important issue: light shining through objects or objects not producing shadows. Houses vs. flashlight, smoke vs. sun, sunshine in the valleys etc.

Arma doesn't need Crysis-like lighting and shadowing just for the looks, but it needs them, because of how they shape the battlefield and influence tactics. There is already a massive difference in gameplay in areas, where shadows work correctly.

There is already a ticket for the shadows issue (#4180), so it would need to be something else.

"Other engines, like the frostbite engine, use middleware like this for lighting"

If they do - why BF3 lighting is so ugly and eye-tearing?

ArmA3 lighting is the most realistic lighting I've seen in any open world game yet. The only thing that needs improvement is stencil shadows, or better to say - getting rid of them and putting soft shadows in their place.

@mwncibo "Exactly, it's an Engine limitation."

You mean hardware limitation? Power that current graphics technology offers is still very weak and can't produce realistic scenes.

You either draw shadows from every single light source or you don't. Otherwise for one guy you will be hidden in a shadow in MP, while for another guy you will be lit up like it's a bright day. No videocard existing now will be able to handle that.

But as Dwarden said - maybe for ArmA4.


i heard many people say that it's an engine limitation by now, but when i tried to get some decent information about armas engine, there's almost no information. so how do people know it's an engine limitation?


because battlefield does not pursue an authentic graphic style like arma does. they use color filters and exaggerated post processing in bf3. frostbite could do way better.
concerning hardware power, i think you can produce very realistic looking scenes by now,just look at this screenshot from a crysis mod from 2008:,647910/Ultra-realistic-forests-in-Crysis-new-texture-mod-in-the-works/Imagegallery/&article_id=647910&image_id=839717&show=original

i thinks this already looks very convincing and it's 5 years old.


even though i agree with you, for me graphics are not only important for tactics, but in a simulation like arma, i'd love to be as immersed as possible, and thats where convincing graphics play a major role, besides sound and gameplay.


i agree, that this formulation is a bit broad, but there seem to be many things, among some things that were already mentioned in this thread, that i would consider part of lighting. should it be broken down into single issues with tickets for their own? like e.g light shining through objects or objects not producing shadows, or textures not reflecting light realistically etc?


Yep, that's the idea. Just make sure to search before posting each one, just in case it has been posted before. ;)

@z-boson it's nothing to do with Hardware.

"The term Engine when used to describe a piece of software is frequently used by developers when speaking to a wider, layman audience, to describe what they would otherwise refer to as library, platform, SDK or object, to denote an encapsulated block of functionality."

BIS will not give out full access to their Engine because it's their intellectual property and their Money Stream. It's how they earn their money, this isn't open source development, this is a profitable business.

If they gave out the Source Code of the engine, we would as community probably re-build it from the ground up.

Why would they give it away, when they have invested untold millions in this Engine? They would effectively cut their own throat.

I would suggest if you want to know more about Software Development Lifecycle, and it's methodologies (AGILE etc) you do some courses in it.

Or learn some programming languages, like C+ C# Python, java etc, and maybe do some asp.NET 4.5 programming to get some experience. Software development follows very similiar methodologies, it's the technical coding that is difficult, Software Project Management Methodologies are roughly the same whether you are developing "Customer Facing Web Apps", or "Games".

Games however are much more complex, as they require things you wouldn't normal need in Web Apps or Office Type software. Examples such as 3D Graphics, surround sound, Remappable Buttons, TS integration etc etc etc.

Honestly try building some software, even little things it will open your eyes to the complexity of some of these issues.

The Physics of Light is a massive thing to accurate code and replicate.


of course i don't expect BIS to fully reveal their technology, but with other engines like with frostbite, at least we know such things like the middleware they use for lighting.

and as i said, when there's almost no information about the technology used, how can we know, that the engine is not capable of doing bettter? for the new sky in arma3, BIS even used a middleware, we know that, not sure anymore what the name was (the one from take on helicopters). i wish there was more information like this. but you're right, i don't have any experience in game development, so maybe i'm not seeing what others may do just by looking at the game and its files.

@ MadDogX and others

before i try to be more specific with the title of this ticket, or i open another ticket considering the lighting, like suggested, would it even make sense at all? because if as many say, the engine is not capable of doing better than now, there can't be anything done about it, until a new engine will be rebuildt from scratch anyway.

Bohemia added a subscriber: Bohemia.May 7 2016, 2:25 PM

You should wait until the beta is out and then base judgements there, since no changes will likely be taking place during that time as beta, presentation, data preparation, and small fixes will likely be the focus until then.


Search for other lighting related tickets, maybe there is one already. I'm interested in more developed lighting/shadowing aswell and I think that pretty much all issues are already covered.

I believe, that the "engine" itself is capable of doing much more interesting things. This is still Alpha and I can see certain, not always obvious or listed in changelog, improvements in Dev build. It's just that we're now in a pre-release heat and lots of important things have to be fixed and tweaked at the same time. Reporting issues and features is always good, if not for the initial version, then for possible Arrowhead-like major update later on.

Closing, since the description is still too vague.

Feel free to create new tickets for specific bug reports / feature requests on the subject, but make sure they are well defined.