Want to experience intense, large-scale military combat for zero dollars? Here‘s how to download and install the popular shooter Arma 3 on Steam completely free in just 5 minutes.
I‘ll provide step-by-step instructions to get you set up with the full base version of Arma 3 on PC. Once installed, you can dive right into this realistic combined arms sandbox through both singleplayer and massive multiplayer battles.
As a long-time fan of Arma games, I couldn‘t believe my eyes when I first saw Arma 3 available for free. This in-depth military simulator lets you take control of advanced air, land and sea vehicles across expansive open world maps.
The attention to detail with ballistics, weapon behavior and tactics is astonishing. Arma 3 stands in a league of its own when it comes to realistic modern combat.
And the best part? All of this is yours free of charge if you follow this simple guide. Let‘s get started!
What Makes Arma 3 Special?
Before we jump into the installation process, let me highlight some of the key features that make Arma 3 worth playing:
Massive Maps – The terrain maps in Arma 3 are truly massive in scale, spanning over 100 sq miles of playable area. As you look across expansive forests, rolling hills, towns, bases and more, you‘ll be amazed at the level of detail and openness.
Hundreds of Vehicles – Take control of over 300 air, land and sea vehicles – all modeled after real-world counterparts. Each vehicle has fully simulated physics and handling, from small civilian cars to MBTs, transports, helicopters, jets, boats and more.
Realistic Gameplay – Arma 3 strives for maximum authenticity with its ballistics simulation, weapon resting, stances, fatigue and other mechanics. Engagements often happen over hundreds of meters requiring proper positioning and tactics.
Combined Arms Warfare – Coordinate infantry, armored units, artillery and air support to take on objectives. Arma shines when you utilize proper military tactics and teamwork.
Massive Battles – Official multiplayer servers support 50+ players while community servers can reach 100+ players, leading to epic large scale battles complete with tanks, choppers, jet flybys and more.
Content Creation – Arma includes a full featured editor to create your own scenarios, missions, mods and more. Custom user generated content helps drive the game.
Honestly, no other shooter on the market matches the sheer scale, realism and possibilities of Arma 3. And the fact you can play it free makes it a must-try.
Now let‘s get you set up with the game!
Step 1) Install Steam
Arma 3 is played through Steam, an online gaming marketplace by Valve. Fortunately, installing Steam takes just a minute:
- Go to steampowered.com and click "Install Steam"
- Run the installer and follow the steps to complete Steam‘s setup on your PC.
Over 30 million gamers worldwide use Steam to access thousands of games. It offers server browsing, matchmaking, mods and more.
Installing Steam is 100% free and easy. Just keep clicking Next until the installer finishes!
Step 2) Create a Free Steam Account
Once Steam is set up, you just need to create a free account:
- In Steam, click Sign Up in the top right corner
- Enter your email and password and complete the account creation steps
And that‘s it – you now have a Steam account ready to play games for free! Creating an account takes under a minute.
With an account made, Steam will now track your game progress in the cloud. You can install Steam on any PC and pick up right where you left off.
Step 3) Install Arma 3 for Free
Now comes the fun part – installing Arma 3.
- In Steam, search for "Arma 3" using the search bar
- Click on Arma 3 in the results, then select "Install Game"
- Steam will now download and install the full Arma 3 game free of charge
- The download size is around 30GB total, so make sure you have sufficient bandwidth
- Grab a snack while Steam works its magic!
The installation process is completely free and only takes a few minutes depending on your internet speed.
Step 4) Setup Your Graphics and Controls
Once installed, Arma 3 will launch and begin optimizing itself for your PC by tweaking graphic settings.
When this completes, I recommend spending 5 minutes going through the calibrate and control options:
- Calibrate – Run the display and audio calibration wizards
- Controls – Set keybinds and mouse sensitivity
- Settings – Adjust graphics quality and performance
Take the time to tailor things for optimal visual fidelity and FPS on your specific hardware. It makes a huge difference in gameplay!
For example, turning off unnecessary post processing effects, lowering terrain detail and increasing draw distance can help weaker PCs significantly while retaining good visuals.
Step 5) Find a Match and Start Playing!
Now the exciting part begins – jump into Arma 3 gameplay!
For your first game, I suggest trying:
- Singleplayer Showcases – Short solo missions demonstrating core mechanics
- VR Training – Covers basic infantry controls like shooting, movement
- Bootcamp – Lengthier missions teaching you critical skills
Once you get the hang of things, hop online!
- Use the multiplayer server browser
- Filter and sort by map, mode, players and ping
- Join a newcomer friendly match like King of the Hill or Wasteland
Arma 3 is best played with others, so squad up with friends or make new ones in-game! The community is very inviting to new players.
I‘d also highly recommend eventually joining an Arma 3 clan. This gives you organized teamwork and unlocks the true combined arms potential of this game.
Free DLC and Mods
The base free version of Arma 3 provides hundreds of hours of gameplay. But you can expand it further through free DLC and mods:
- Arma 3 Karts – Free go-kart racing activity
- Arma 3 Malden – Free remastered classic Arma map
- Arma 3 Laws of War – Free mini campaign
- CBA – Core scripting framework
- ACE3 – Advanced realism and mechanics
- RHS/CUP – More vehicles and factions
- Antistasi – Guerilla warfare persistence
Browse the Steam Workshop and get any free mods that interest you. They greatly expand upon the core Arma 3 experience.
And remember – the paid DLC packs like Apex, Contact, and Jets all add nice new content and frequently go on sale. Keep an eye out for deals to expand your Arma 3 experience.
Why is Arma 3 Free?
At this point, you may wonder why such a fully fledged mil-sim is available for free. What‘s the catch?
Well, there are a few reasons Bohemia Interactive offers the base Arma 3 platform gratis:
- Expand playerbase – A free price attracts new users to try Arma 3 and populate multiplayer
- Sell DLC – Players getting the base game free are more likely to buy the DLC packs for additional content
- Promote the Arma series – Increases awareness and interest for the overall franchise
- Mod support – Vital for free community mods which extend Arma 3‘s longevity
So while the core Arma 3 experience is free, you can purchase expansion DLC packs like Apex, Contact, and Jets for more maps, factions, vehicles, weapons, and gameplay features.
However the free version still gives you an immense amount of content – over 300 vehicles, 100+ weapons, 3 massive maps, modes like King of the Hill, Wasteland, and the ability to install community mods and custom user generated content.
Rest assured the base Arma 3 platform will remain free on Steam for the foreseeable future for all to enjoy!
Can My PC Run Arma 3?
Arma 3 has some hefty system requirements compared to other shooters. Here‘s what you need under the hood:
- Windows 7 64-bit
- Intel Core 2 Duo 2.4GHz or AMD Athlon 64 X2 2.5GHz
- 4GB RAM
- DirectX 10 GPU like Nvidia GTX 260 or ATI Radeon HD 5770
- Windows 10 64-bit
- Intel Core i5 6600K or AMD Ryzen 5 1600
- 8GB RAM
- DirectX 11 GPU like Nvidia GTX 970 / AMD R9 290
Shoot for at least 8GB RAM and a mid-range GPU like an Nvidia 1060 or RX 580. This delivers 60fps gameplay on High settings. Lower end rigs can still run Arma 3 nicely after some graphical tweaking.
The game is well optimized – Arma 3 surprsingly scales down well even on potato rigs. Plus you can always upgrade components later!
Congratulations, you now have the acclaimed Arma 3 military combat simulator installed and ready to play for zero dollars!
Follow the steps in this guide to:
- Install Steam
- Create a free account
- Install Arma 3 on Steam
- Configure your settings
- Hop into your first matches
Take the time to learn Arma 3‘s controls and mechanics to get the most out of it – the effort is well worth it. This game provides an utterly unique combined arms experience.
Soon you‘ll be commanding tanks, flying helicopters, calling in airstrikes and battling alongside dozens of players in epic sandbox warfare. And it‘s all free!
So rally up your squad and lead the charge onto Arma 3‘s massive battlefields today. I‘ll see you out there, soldier!