What is JCOVE Lite?

JCOVE Lite is a stripped down, freeware version of the UK Ministry of Defense’s Joint Combat Operations Virtual Environment (JCOVE). JCOVE is based on VBS2 VTK by Bohemia Interactive and uses the same Real Virtuality 2 gaming engine as ArmA Armed Assault. You can download it by registering at jcove-lite.co.uk

First Impressions

If you are familiar with ArmA, JCOVE will be vary familiar. The menus, editor, scripting language, and control keys are all basically the same. The differences on the surface are negligible but nice improvements.  For example the gear menu is more functional:

  • allows squad leaders to move gear between nearby squad mates, bodies or ground
  • shows the weight of your gear, carrying capacity and load
  • provides a description and image of items

Gear Menu

One additional menu Item I like allows you to interact with vehicles. This will give you a graphical look at the vehicle and crew positions, allowing you to mount or move around the vehicle, open doors, start the engine etc. with a mouse click.

Interact Menu

Other additions include an action item for turned out crew members called Use Personal Items. This will allow some crew members of certain vehicles to shoot their personal weapons (rifle, grenades etc) while mounted in the vehicle. A nice addition that was always lacking in ArmA. Two features of VBS2 that have been stripped out of JCOVE lite are the After Action Report and Realtime Editor. Understandable since JCOVE Lite is not to be used for training, but disappointing.

The two landmasses that come with JCOVE are based on real world data and are quite detailed.  A woodland area based on the Warminster Land Warfare Centre in the UK and an arid landmass based on As Samawah in Iraq.

As Samawah

As Samawah


Both landmasses are quite detailed and provide a number of possible scenarios for mission builders. Personally I found As Samawah the most interesting, especially it’s large dense urban areas.

As Samawah JCOVE

As Samawah Street

The Downside

Since JCOVE was used for training, by design it is not as graphically impressive as ArmA, even though it uses the same engine.

Soldiers in a field

Soldiers in a field

The extra detail and fidelity of the models offsets not using the advanced shaders, but some gamers may still be put off by the lack of eye candy. Of greater concern to gamers are the limitations imposed on the freeware version of JCOVE. There is a maximum of 8 players in multiplayer. There is no dedicated server available. You can’t use any addons so you are stuck with the two landmasses and U.K./generic insurgent equipment. Unfortunately these last items limit the usefulness of JCOVE Lite for the casual gamer as compared to ArmA or Arma II. Still, for the price (free) JCOVE provides more play value than your average first person shooter. For a gamer looking for a more mature, realistic shooter, JCOVE Lite provides a nice free introduction to the world of ArmA and Arma II and is well worth the download.



  • It’s free! Hey, can’t go wrong with free.
  • hundreds of high quality addons.
  • large landmass – realworld based with many objects
  • some of the cool features of VBS2
  • can create and distribute your own single player and Multiplayer missions
  • well made, if small collection of single and multiplayer missions


  • only 8 players
  • no dedicated server
  • no additional addons,  only U.K. units
  • only 2 islands
  • no server browser, only direct connect through ip address
  • no After Action Report
  • no Realtime editor
  • small community
  • some of the models appear incomplete