The short answer is no, Arma 3 is not a free game on PC. It must be purchased on platforms like Steam or directly from the Bohemia Interactive store.
But I know that price tag can be intimidating for gamers on a budget. And with so many free-to-play shooters out there, you might be wondering if it‘s really worth paying for Arma 3 in 2023.
As someone who has put hundreds of hours into this hardcore military simulator over the years, let me walk you through everything in detail so you can make an informed decision. I‘ve also got plenty of tips to improve your experience in Arma 3 as a new player!
A Realistic and Tactical Military Sandbox
Before we get into pricing and availability, let me give you an overview of Arma 3 and why people like me love it so much.
At its core, Arma 3 is a combined arms, open world tactical shooter. It strives to provide an ultra-realistic simulation of modern warfare down to minor details like weapon ballistics and avionics.
The development studio Bohemia Interactive worked closely with military advisors to recreate vehicles and guns with precision. Everything from tanks to helicopters is modeled based on real-world counterparts.
This focus on realism creates incredibly immersive battles whether tackling story missions or sparring with other players. Moments like piloting attack choppers low across vibrant islands while door gunners spray suppressive fire are exhilarating.
Arma 3 gives you the freedom to approach objectives how you want. Do you stealthily infiltrate at night using night vision goggles? Or barrel through the front door in an IFV supported by your squadmates?
With support for 100-player servers, the scale of combat is also unmatched. As someone who loves commanding a platoon during cooperative scenarios, the ability to synchronize complex infantry, air and armored assaults is incredible.
There‘s so much versatility through all the customizeable weapons, gadgets and vehicles. I‘m still discovering new tactics and loadouts after hundreds of hours!
How Much Does Arma 3 Cost on PC?
Now that you know a bit about the gameplay, let‘s talk pricing.
Arma 3 is sold on two primary platforms for PC users – Steam and the Bohemia Store. Here are the editions available and their prices:
- Arma 3 (Standard Edition): $39.99
- Arma 3 Digital Deluxe Edition: $49.99
- Arma 3 (Standard Edition): $39.99
- Arma 3 Digital Deluxe Edition: $44.99
- Arma 3 Apex Edition: $64.99
The Digital Deluxe Edition includes the official soundtrack, tactical maps of the islands, and a few extra singleplayer missions.
The Apex Edition bundles in the Apex DLC expansion pack which adds a massive new tropical island, co-op campaign, weapons, vehicles, gears and more. Definitely provides the most bang for your buck.
During major seasonal sales on both platforms, prices can be discounted up to 75%. So you may be able to snag the base Arma 3 for as low as $10! The DLC packs also see significant discounts usually.
I‘d recommend wishlisting the game on Steam and adding it to your Bohemia Store watchlist. That way you‘ll get an email alert for the next big sale.
Can You Download and Play Arma 3 For Free?
Since the game isn‘t free, is there any way to download and play Arma 3 for free? Let‘s go through a few options:
1. Free Weekend Events
A few times per year, Steam will host free weekends for Arma 3. This temporarily unlocks the full game including multiplayer modes for free download and playtesting.
The duration is usually 3-4 days giving you enough time to experience the gameplay and make an informed purchase decision after.
2. Arma 2 Free Version
This is a pared back, free-to-play version of the previous Arma 2 game, also developed by Bohemia Interactive. It includes both singleplayer and multiplayer with 4 maps and 3 factions.
The graphics and gameplay are dated compared to Arma 3, but could be an option if you just want to sample the series.
3. Refunded Retail Copies
If you buy a used physical copy of Arma 3 and it doesn‘t come with a one-time redemption Steam key, you could play during the refund period before returning it.
But this is pretty unethical and would quickly ruin your reputation if you tried to join established Arma communities later. I don‘t recommend it.
4. Game Sharing
If a friend owns Arma 3 on Steam, they could share it with your account using Steam‘s Family Library Sharing feature. This allows temporary access when not in use by the owner.
So in summary – yes there are a few limited ways you can download and try Arma 3 for free temporarily. But there is no unlimited free version available. You‘ll soon need to purchase if you want to keep playing.
Great Free Alternatives to Try
I know not everyone has the budget for premium games like Arma 3. So here are some solid free alternatives on PC to look at:
Arma 2 Free – Pared back version of Arma 2. A good budget intro to the series.
PUBG – Popular battle royale shooter that started as an Arma 3 mod. Realistic gunplay.
Ironsight – Futuristic team-based military FPS with various PvP modes.
Warface – Modern tactical first-person shooter focused on PvE co-op and competitive PvP.
Garena Free Fire – Streamlined battle royale for low-end PCs with 10 minute matches.
World of Guns: Gun Disassembly – Free educational game to learn how real firearms work.
So while these games don‘t provide the same level of depth as Arma 3, they are all solid options for casual military shooter fans. Give them a shot if you want free entry to the genre.
What Kind of PC Do You Need for Arma 3?
Arma 3 demands decent gaming hardware, especially if you want to enjoy buttery smooth framerates during massive multiplayer battles. Let‘s look at the minimum and recommended specs:
- CPU: Intel Dual-Core 2.4 GHz or AMD Dual-Core Athlon 2.5 GHz
- RAM: 6 GB
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 660 or AMD Radeon HD 7850
- Storage: 30 GB HDD
- CPU: Intel Core i5 6600K or AMD Ryzen 5 1600
- RAM: 16 GB
- GPU: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 or AMD Radeon RX 580
- Storage: 30 GB HDD and SSD
To enjoy maxed graphics and high framerates on 1440p or 4K monitors, a modern gaming rig with components like an i7 CPU, 32GB RAM and RTX 3070 GPU will do nicely.
Installing Arma 3 on an SSD rather than HDD is highly recommended – this cuts down on map loading times significantly.
But with some graphics tweaks, even budget gaming rigs can run Arma 3 decently at 30-40 FPS for smaller coop missions.
Download, Installation and First Steps
Ready to take the plunge and grab yourself a copy of Arma 3? Let me quickly walk you through installing and launching the game:
1) Purchase Arma 3 through Steam or the Bohemia Store. Add it to your library.
2) Start the download, which is around 30GB total so download speeds will vary.
3) Once finished, Arma 3 will auto-install itself. Let the progress bar hit 100%.
4) Fire up Arma 3 and accept any license agreements on first launch.
5) The Arma 3 launcher appears. Tweak graphics settings to your PC‘s capabilities.
6) Hit the Play button to load into the main menu. Start tackling the bootcamp training!
I suggest playing through the bootcamp/showcases as they act as a tutorial teaching all the basics of movement, combat, flying etc.
Once you‘ve got that down, you can look to join other players through the multiplayer browser or Steam server browser. More on that later!
Gameplay – Singleplayer Missions vs Coop and PvP
The Arma 3 experience can really be divided into two components – structured singleplayer/coop missions versus the open-ended competitive multiplayer modes.
The campaign serves as an extended tutorial taking you across 15 missions spanning jungle, urban and arctic environments. I found the story decently engaging as your squad helps restore peace between factions.
There are also standalone instant action scenarios you can dive into solo. These range from infantry assaults to piloting jet fighters.
While pretty enjoyable, Arma 3‘s meat is really in the…
Multiplayer Coop and PvP
This is where things open up to limitless possibilities. Hop onto one of hundreds of public servers to join tens of other players in massive battles.
Some popular multiplayer modes include:
- Coop PVE – Work together against AI enemies in user-made missions
- Team Deathmatch – Compete in teams to get the most kills
- Capture the Flag – Coordinate to capture the enemy flag and return it to base
- Annex mode – Control cities across the map to gain points.
Arma 3 does have a learning curve when transitioning from singleplayer to online multiplayer. But joining an established community that trains new players is a great way to get up to speed on teamplay.
Communicating and working together is what makes Arma 3 multiplayer so rewarding. Moments like having air support save your pinned down squad at the last moment really get the blood pumping!
Mods – Expanding the Arma 3 Sandbox
The base Arma 3 experience already provides endless gameplay possibilities. But mods expand the scope even more.
Some of the most popular Arma 3 mods include:
- ACE3 – Adds ultra realistic ballistics, medical systems and mechanics.
- RHS – Hundreds of modern military vehicles, aircraft and gear.
- CUP Terrains – High quality community-made maps like Chernarus from DayZ.
- STALKER – Brings in mutants, anomalies and horror elements. Totally converts the experience.
Mods range from minor tweaks to complete overhauls. And the best part is they are super easy to add through the Steam Workshop with a simple click to subscribe.
Bohemia has also released 5 paid DLC packs over the years:
- Marksmen DLC – Long range combat focus with new weapons.
- Helicopters DLC – Attack choppers and transports like the CH-67 Huron.
- Apex Protocol – Massive new tropical island, co-op campaign and 100+ assets.
I recommend Apex for the great value in expanding Arma 3‘s terrain and gameplay possibilities. Grab them on sale if you can!
Tips for Arma 3 Beginners
If you‘re new to Arma 3, it can feel intimidating. But follow these tips and you‘ll be dominating the battlefield in no time:
1. Tweak Controls – Set pitch/roll to joystick if using a flight stick. Map Stance to conveniently reachable keys.
2. Adjust Graphics – Turn down shadows and clouds for higher FPS. Visual quality varies hugely.
3. Use Stances – Crouch and go prone to improve aim and avoid detection. This is key!
4. Rangefinder – Use the built-in rangefinder (Ctrl + R) to gauge distance for accurate sniping.
5. Play Medic – Carry a rifle plus medical supplies to revive teammates. Great for learning teamwork.
6. Start on Coop – Hone skills in coop missions before trying competitive PvP.
7. Find a Unit – Join an established Arma 3 community for structured training and regular gaming sessions. This is the best way to master Arma‘s depth!
Follow those tips and you‘ll be well on your way to conquering the battlefield and enjoying all the immersive moments this sandbox has to offer.
Reviews – Opinions From Critics and Average Players
With over 7 years of active development since its 2013 launch, what do reviewers think of Arma 3 in 2023? Let‘s round up some opinions:
According to Steam, 82% of 40,000+ user reviews are positive. Gamers praise the authenticity, customization and large scale battles. But some find the complex controls tedious.
PC Gamer: "One of the most ambitious and impressive simulations in video game history."
IGN: "Arma 3 is a powerful piece of technology, but it’s not always fun. Mocking the laws of physics is amazing until you walk straight through a house."
Polygon: "It remains a divisive game – boggling in its ambition, but clunky in its execution."
Critics agree Arma 3 stands in a league of its own for offering a combat sandbox of unparalleled scale and realism. But the complexity does make it less accessible than AAA shooters like Call of Duty.
Overall, if you have an interest in tactical military simulations and are eager to experience combined arms combat, the depth and freedom Arma 3 provides is extremely rewarding once you get over the initial learning curve.
Is Arma 3 Worth Buying in 2023? My Verdict
I‘ve put more hours into Arma 3 than any other shooter, so I can easily say it offers an unequaled level of immersion, realism and scale in military gaming.
The ability to hop into a server with 50 coordinated players, piloting attack helicopters while commanding AI squads on the ground is exhilarating.
Moments like pulling off a narrow last minute rescue of your pinned down fireteam feel so cinematic. Coordinating the perfect ambush with your unit and seeing the tactics play out is intensely satisfying.
While the complexity means Arma 3 takes dedication to master, joining a friendly community that trains new recruits makes getting over the initial learning hurdles smoother.
If you have a genuine interest in tactical military simulations, I have no hesitation recommending Arma 3 in 2023. The continued updates, active playerbase, endless assets and massive scale provide unparalleled gameplay depth.
Just make sure your PC meets the recommended specs for a smooth experience. Keep an eye out for sales to grab the base game or Apex edition for less.
With hundreds of hours of singleplayer, coop and competitive PvP gameplay, plus near endless mods, Arma 3 is well worth the money for the right gamer. Hope this deep dive helps you decide if embarking on this challenging yet massively rewarding tactical journey is for you!
Let me know if you have any other questions!