One of the difficult things about approaching a possibility space as large as the one presented by Arma 3 is deciding what you actually want to do with it. Beyond the campaign, there’s the game’s powerful editor which allows players to create remarkably complex combined arms combat scenarios across vast land masses. But if you’re like me, sometimes that’s a bit… much. Sometimes I’d rather just fire up a quick game and lead a fire team over a hill to shoot some bad guys.
Thankfully, some truly amazing mods have emerged over the past year, so we’ve put together this guide to cover some of the new content out there – whether it’s total conversions, new models, or AI environments, you should be able to find something for you in this list.
Mods are often custom-built for a single map, but even if you’re not interested in that environment, chances are pretty good that there’s another version of the mod available for your preferred landmass. Just do a little searching in the Steam Workshop, and you’re likely to find what you’re after.
As ever, there’s an enormous variety of weird and wonderful modifications on offer – so why not start off strong, with a Halo mod.
Yes, you read that correctly.
ARMA 3 Overhaul Mods
Right off the bat, Article 2 Studios’ Operation: TREBUCHET (OPTRE) is a standout in the new assets packages you can get for Arma 3. It’s a full suite of soldiers, equipment, vehicles, and maps pulled from the Halo universe. The mod focuses primarily on UNSC infantry forces rather than the lethally-outfitted Spartans like Master Chief from the Halo series of games, but fear not: several Spartan variants are included as well.
OPTRE is a massive toybox full of Halo kit
What’s more interesting, though, are the new weapons and vehicles – take to the skies over the original game’s Blood Gulch in a Hornet or Falcon, or cover ground the more old-fashioned way in a Warthog ATV or Scorpion tank. Sure, some of the models look a little low-poly for modern eyes, but it’s impossible not to be impressed at the sheer amount of Halo bits Article 2 has recreated in Arma 3. OPTRE focuses on the more grounded aspects of Halo’s sci-fi fantasy, so you’re going to see more helicopters and traditional ballistic weapons than plasma rifles and alien tech.
At the moment, OPTRE is just a massive toybox full of Halo kit, but the growing community around the mod is busily creating missions with the shiny new assets. You shouldn’t have too much trouble finding both single-player and multiplayer modes in the Workshop, and keep an eye out on your server browser for large-scale UNSC battles to join.
Iron Front in Arma 3
Iron Front in Arma 3 (AIO Lite) is the mod version of what once was a full game – Iron Front: Liberation 1944 (It wasn’t a very good game-ED). It’s an Eastern Front-focused equipment makeover for Arma players who aren’t as keen on the game’s baseline present day/near future setting. The full, paid version of Iron Front featured eight-mission single player campaigns for the German and Russian sides, plus all the World War 2 equipment you could shake an M91/30 at.
Unfortunately, the full version has been discontinued and is no longer supported, and those single player missions aren’t included in the free “Lite” version available on the Steam Workshop, but there’s still plenty to like about the mod – there are five sizeable maps, tons of historic units and equipment, and plenty of clanky tanks to drive around in. The only other mod you’ll need to try out the free “Lite” version is CUP Terrains – Core, which you’ll quickly learn is a pretty commonly-used mod for projects like this one.
M1 Garand-eed fun! Check out our guide to the best WW2 games
Hopefully, the team behind Iron Front in Arma 3 will be able to continue supporting the mod – there’s still a healthy player base for it and the Arma system works very well in the World War II setting. There are also mods you can find that allow you to use elements of ALiVE in Iron Front in Arma 3, giving you that whole suite of command and mission tools in that Eastern Front setting.
Arma 3 Quality of Life Mods
The Enhanced Movement mod, created by Steam user badbenson, allows players to hop, climb, and vault over fences and walls. The mod adds animations for each of these movements, and it’s a matter of moments to bind a single key (it’s context sensitive) to the “mantle” command. This corrects a rather strange omission from the base game, but I’m glad to have it either way. Recent updates have broken this mod, so you’ll also need to use the ACEX fix mod, a temporary solution, in order for it to work with up-to-date versions of Arma 3.
AI Accuracy Fix
Another good mod for solo players to pick up is the AI Accuracy Fix by Steam user Twisted. Enemy NPCs in Arma 3 tend to be crack shots, even on lower difficulties. As the description says, this drops them back into the more human range of rifle skill. The other option of course is to just “get good” at in-game marksmanship, but who has time for that nonsense?
There’s a lot of gear to play with in Arma 3, especially if you’ve added any of the massive list of equipment mods. Personal Arsenal gives you access to the game’s virtual armory at a keystroke, so you can outfit yourself with whatever weapons and armor you like, as well as plunk down to-spec vehicles.
Faces of War
Faces of War is a mod that adds in a bunch of thematic faces for you World War II junkies out there. It not only adds more expressive and historically appropriate faces for Arma 3’s soldiers, it also includes a growing list of World War II uniforms and equipment. The team responsible for this mod does very high-quality work, so you’ll want to subscribe to this one – plus, it’s required for several of the more ambitious WWII mods.
CBA_A3 is an under-the-hood mod that basically makes modders’ lives easier, and you’ll most likely find it in the dependency list of mods you’re looking to download. Steam makes this pretty convenient by flagging up mods you’ll need to install. CBA_A3 lets modders create events and macros, monkey with the UI, and allow for custom keybinds for new actions they add to the game.
Arma 3 Operations & Missions Mods
Now for the meaty stuff. One of the most important mods I’ve come across over the past year is the ALiVE system, which goes a long way toward bridging whatever gap remains between Arma 3 and traditional wargames. It’s a full-on strategy simulation environment, allowing you to populate Arma’s maps with OPFOR and BLUFOR units, each with their own goals and objectives, which they’ll pursue intelligently. Missions can be easily created on the fly, and they can be persistent, with actions in one carrying over to the next operation in a campaign.
While the interface takes a few minutes to learn, once you have the basics down it’s an incredibly simple system to use, and the results are spectacular. Once you have ALiVE installed, head to the mission editor and add some new elements: they’re modules called ALiVE (Required), ALiVE Data, ALiVE Player Options, and ALiVE Virtual AI System.
I’ve only scratched the surface of what ALiVE is capable of
These entities don’t physically occupy any space, but they handle the raft of features and systems that ALiVE adds to Arma, such as intelligent commanders who spawn in and command appropriate units. Syncing these AI commanders with logistics modules and areas of operation is a bit touchy at first, but after a practice map or two you’ll have the hang of it, and it’s astonishingly powerful.
I feel like I’ve personally only scratched the surface of what ALiVE is capable of doing, but already I can’t imagine playing Arma without it. There are tons of add-on mods for ALiVE, too, so if you don’t want to bother with the mission design side of things you’re still in good shape as long as you don’t mind browsing the Steam Workshop for a bit. Plus, you can use ALiVE’s elements along with most other Arma content you have installed, but you may want to check the ALiVE wiki to make sure any particular map is supported.
Dynamic Recon Ops
Modder mbrdmn has created a system called Dynamic Recon Ops, which builds randomized recon missions to spec. These can be simple, involving a single objective, or surprisingly complex. You can specify parameters like time of day, weather conditions, and factions involved, or you can let the mod decide for you. The one-objective ops make for great bite-sized portions of Arma action, and you can download the mod for countless maps, both official and user-created.
While the base Malden map has tons of places to explore and operate in, I’ve enjoyed checking out the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone map. It’s unfinished and rough-looking in places, but the area has always fascinated me and it’s still creepy wandering around the ghost town of Pripyat even when you aren’t playing S.T.A.L.K.E.R..
DRO missions are fun and lightweight. It’s easy to dive straight in and start scouting, but as the “recon” name suggests, there’s usually a lot of walking (which, come to think of it, accounts for most of my time in Arma).
Generally, you and your squad will get dropped off by helicopter around 2 kilometers from your objective, which might be retrieving a prisoner or observing an enemy area. By default you’ll also have a resupply point, and the mod is fairly smart about putting a few patrols of enemy soldiers between you and where you’re trying to go.
Dynamic Universal War System
For a more robust experience, you can try the Dynamic Universal War System, or DUWS. Like DRO (and its sibling, Dynamic Combat Ops), DUWS creates missions on the fly based on a set of parameters you choose to set or leave random. The big difference here is that instead of one-off missions, you’ll be generating an entire persistent campaign. And unlike the single-player campaign that shipped with the Arma III base game, this one actually responds and changes based on your actions.
This opens the game up to some serious strategic planning
You begin by selecting either a random or hand-placed base of operations on the island. From there, you’ll launch missions to recapture zones held by enemy forces, or pick up side ops that become available from time to time. These tend to be pretty simple affairs, such as rescuing downed pilots, but they’ll earn you command points that you can spend on additional troops, vehicles, and weapons. Over the campaign you’ll also amass Army Points that can be used to unlock higher tiers of equipment.
It’s an ambitious mod and it’s a bit tricky to figure out how everything works, but it opens the game up to some serious tactics and strategic planning. Figuring out where you need to build FOBs, and planning your next strikes on enemy territory become nail-biting experiences once you’re on the ground leading a couple fire teams into hostile fire. I have yet to finish a campaign in DUWS, but one lesson I’ve learned the hard way is to save often. Autosave doesn’t quite work as well as you might like, yet.
Official ARMA 3 Mods
- Creator DLC
- Malden 2035
- ADR-97 Weapon Pack
Modders aren’t the only people who have been adding to Arma 3. Bohemia has been regularly pushing out new content for the game, including the free Malden 2035 DLC, which includes a remaster of one of the two islands featured in Operation Flashpoint way back in 2001. There are DLC packs for jets, helicopters, and even go-karts available as well, plus the large Apex expansion that released in 2016, which offers a slate of new equipment and a new campaign that can be played solo or co-op.
Bohemia Interactive developers have also worked on mods in their “spare time” (or so they claim), and one no-brainer addition to your mods list ought to be the ADR-97 weapon pack. It’s an “official mod” – meaning Bohemia has granted its imprimatur to the effort – and it adds in several variants of a top-loading bullpup sub-machine gun based on the FN P90.
Finally, Bohemia are releasing community content as add-ons under the label ‘Creator DLC‘. The first one is called Global Mobilization – Cold War Germany, and there’s expected to be others as well.