The short answer is – Arma 3 is a paid game, not free-to-play. It is a hardcore military simulator developed by Bohemia Interactive exclusively available for purchase on Steam for $39.99. While addictively realistic with hundreds of hours of content, the game does need a powerful PC and involves a learning curve. This detailed guide provides perspective on pricing, gameplay and whether Arma 3 is worth buying for you.
Introduction to Arma 3 Gameplay
Released in 2013, Arma 3 builds upon Bohemia Interactive‘s 20 years of expertise in realistic military combat games like Operation Flashpoint. It provides a sandbox of true combined arms warfare across air, land and sea. Players are immersed in tactical infantry skirmishes, coordinated armored assaults, close air support from attack helicopters and fast jets.
The 273 square km Mediterranean island of Altis serves as the massive open world. Gameplay involves coordinating with AI squads and human players to complete objectives through tactics and teamwork. Realistic ballistics, vehicle physics, dynamic environment and sensor systems provide an authentic experience.
Options to play singleplayer scenarios or competitive multiplayer battles means gameplay variety for all. With modding enabled, user generated content exponentially expands the scope. From hardcore PvP modes to RP survival on persistent servers, Arma 3 offers something for everyone.
Is Arma 3 Free to Play or Paid?
Arma 3 is not a free-to-play game. It is exclusively sold on Steam for USD 39.99 and requires the client to play. This base edition comprises of the main game only without any DLCs.
However, Bohemia does organize free weekend promotions on Steam periodically that allow temporary free access. This serves as a demo for new players to try the game out.
There is no permanently free version unlike the F2P spinoff Arma 2: Free. The devs have clarified this on Reddit:
We do not have plans for an Arma 3 Free version. This was a big commitment for Arma 2, which occupied our resources. Arma 3‘s platform benefits from learning and technology here, but is not designed for a free/premium model.
Only discounted sales bring down the price. It has gone as low as USD 14.99 during promotions. At launch, Arma 3 was priced at USD 44.99, so the current USD 39.99 MSRP can be considered fair value for money given the rich content.
Pricing of Editions and DLCs
The Arma 3 base game can be purchased as a standalone edition on Steam for USD 39.99. It is frequently bundled with DLCs as part of sales:
- Arma 3 Apex Edition – Includes base game, Apex expansion, Karts DLC
- Arma 3 DLC Bundle – Includes Marksmen, Helicopters, Jets, Tanks, TacOps mission pack
- Arma 3 Extended Edition – Base game + Apex + DLC Bundle
Here is a comparison table of the pricing for editions and extra content available for Arma 3 as of 2023:
|Arma 3 (Base Game)||$39.99|
|Apex (Expansion DLC)||$19.99|
|TacOps Mission Pack (SP Campaign)||$9.99|
|Malden (Terrain DLC)||Free|
The Apex expansion is a must-buy since it adds Tanoa, a vast 100 sq km jungle terrain along with new vehicles, weapons and coop campaign. Marksmen DLC adds precision rifles for long range gameplay. Jets, Helis and Tanks focus on vehicular warfare while Karts is simply fun bonus content.
Overall, around $90 investment buys you the base game and most essential DLCs during sales. This is great value considering the hundreds of hours of diverse gameplay content available.
Gameplay Experience and Realism
Arma 3 gameplay can be broadly classified into:
- Singleplayer – Campaigns, missions, challenges, virtual reality
- Coop – Scenarios, capture the island, survival
- Competitive Multiplayer – King of the Hill, Wasteland, altis life
- Custom Scenarios – Zeus game master mode, scripted user missions
The military simulation aspect differentiates Arma 3 from popular shooters like Call of Duty or Battlefield designed for casual gamers. Real world tactics, careful planning and teamwork are key to success.
On large maps, coordination of infantry, armored units, helicopters and jets by human commanders is essential for victory. Players need to master various equipment and skills like parachuting, rappelling, sling loading etc.
Advanced ballistics modeling means shots have to account for wind, gravity, bullet drop and penentration capabilities. Stealth, reconnaissance and ambush are more effective than run-and-gun. Overall, Arma 3 provides one of the most realistic combat experiences in gaming.
Arma 3 System Requirements
Since the large open world maps and AI populations put heavier load, Arma 3 demands powerful hardware for smooth gameplay. Optimization is essential for good performance:
Minimum System Requirements
- OS: Windows 7 SP1 (64-bit)
- Processor: Intel Dual-Core 2.4 GHz or AMD Dual-Core Athlon 2.5 GHz
- Memory: 4 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce 9800GT / AMD Radeon HD 5670 / Intel HD Graphics 4000 with 512 MB VRAM
- Storage: 45 GB free space
Recommended System Requirements
- OS: Windows 10 (64-bit)
- Processor: Intel Core i5-7600K or AMD Ryzen 5
- Memory: 8 GB RAM
- Graphics: NVIDIA GeForce GTX 1060 / AMD Radeon RX 580 with 4 GB VRAM
- Storage: SSD and 25 GB free space
Upgrading to 16GB RAM, quad core i7 CPU and GTX 1070 level GPU recommended for best experience. Launching the game in offline mode, disabling unnecessary apps and adding -nousersonline startup parameter can significantly boost FPS.
Arma 3 remains CPU reliant because of advanced AI, physics simulation and scripting. Multiplayer mods like King of The Hill with 100 simultaneous players are extremely demanding.
Arma 3 Mods and Community Content
The huge amount of user generated content makes Arma 3 infinitely repayable. The Steam Workshop hosts over 85,000 mods and counting! These extensively modify and expand the core experience through:
- Game Modes – Wasteland, King of The Hill, Battle Royale
- Scripts – AI tweaks, optimizations, mechanics
- Terrains – Real world locations, islands, fictional maps
- Total Conversions – WW2, Vietnam War, Sci-Fi etc
- Missions & Campaigns – Coop and singleplayer
- Units & Vehicles – Aircraft, tanks, ships, gear
- Quality of Life – UI, controls, visuals etc
The easy-to-use Eden Editor allows creating custom scenarios rapidly without coding skills. This facilitates collaborative development of incredibly detailed missions.
There are near endless gameplay possibilities through combining mods. Want large scale PvP combined with survival mechanics and resource gathering? Custom servers like Sa-Matra Wasteland or Exile mod achieve this through mod compilations.
Development History & Ongoing Support
The initial legacy of Arma 3 comes from Bohemia Interactive‘s previous military sim series Operation Flashpoint, which launched in 2001. The direct predecessor Arma 2 released in 2009 and introduced the realistic gameplay foundations like large open world terrain, tactical focus, combined arms combat and modding.
Over the last decade, Arma 3 saw significant evolution through major free platform updates like the Tanks DLC, Jets DLC, Marksmen DLC, Eden Update and Encore Update. These improved graphics, gameplay and capabilities. DLC terrains like Altis, Stratis and Tanoa vastly expanded the sandbox.
Bohemia continues rolling out new free content like mini-campaigns, multiplayer modes, weapons and vehicles. The remote development tools added allow collaborative editing of worlds and missions. The game engine Enfusion will enable further multiplayer optimization and graphics upgrade.
Upcoming paid DLCs like the CSLA Iron Curtain will add 80s era Cold War equipment alongside a new 100 km2 terrain. Renewed focus on modding and community creations ensure endless future content.
What Players are Saying about Arma 3
With over 5,000 hours played on Steam on average, veterans love Arma 3‘s endless scope for emergent gameplay. Here are some common opinions shared on forums and reviews:
"Arma 3 is a platform, not just a game. The huge amount of community content means endless new possibilities."
"It‘s a challenging game requiring tactical thinking and coordination. So much to master across air, land and sea."
"Mods like ALiVE provide dynamic battlefield simulation and reactive AI unlike anything else."
"Being able to create deeply customized worlds and missions via the editor and scripting adds infinite replayability."
"The realism of ballistics, sound and radio communications leads to unparalleled immersion."
New players do face a learning curve understanding the nuances and unforgiving gameplay. But most agree the effort to git gud is well worth it for the incredible emergent moments enabled by the platform.
Should You Buy Arma 3?
For an authentic combined arms combat experience across air, land and sea on a massive scale, Arma 3 has no parallel. The military simulation is unmatched in depth and realism. Ever-expanding user generated content and scenarios means endless gameplay variety.
The open-ended sandbox truly comes alive when coordinating gameplay decisions and tactics with other players. The emergent outcomes from hundreds of interacting factors are unique to Arma.
While immediate run-and-gun gratification is lacking, disciplined teamwork and tactics are ultimately more rewarding. Mastering the complex mechanics across different domains offers a sense of achievement. Successfully executing a coordinated ambush along with air support after methodical planning is intensely satisfying.
Given the reasonable pricing around USD 40 and frequent discounts, Arma 3 offers great value for money considering the vast content and infinite replayability. Close attention to detail with advanced ballistics, sensor systems and radio communications heightens the immersion.
For fans of hardcore military simulations and combined arms combat, Arma 3 is certainly an essential buy. The authenticity, depth and customizability create gameplay experiences emulating actual warzones. Your hundreds of hours mastering tactics across air, land and sea will prove to be a worthwhile investment.