Essential ArmA 3 DLC

By Ian Boudreau 09 Sep 2019 0

ArmA 3 came out in 2014, and people have steadily trickled into the game since then. Frankly, it’s a scary thing to get involved in, because it’s such a free-form sandbox with so many possibilities. While there are many ways to own Arma, and myriad additional bits to bolt onto the game once you do, we'll run through all the DLC available so that anyone who's not sure where to start can find their feet.

Want something more advanced? There are some great ArmA 3 mods out there.

One thing to note is that with each piece of major DLC Bohemia Interactive has launched, there’s been a concurrent platform update that benefits all players, whether they buy the new stuff or not. I’m a big fan of that, as it means even if you don't pick up all the DLC below, you're still benefiting from a few years' worth of free content updates.

Apex - $34.99, or $59.99 as the “Apex Edition” (Review)

Apex

Highlights:

  • Completely new landmass, Tanoa, with a gorgeous jungle biome
  • The best Arma single-player campaign bar none, plus tons of new weapons, vehicles, and gear
  • The basis for all the best mods 

Is it worth it?

I’ll be upfront: You absolutely need Apex if you’re going to play Arma in any serious way. It’s a big ask - an expensive piece of DLC on top of an already expensive game, but Apex is now considered the “baseline” Arma 3 experience and you’ll need it if you want to participate in many of the best mods available for the game. But add to that the glut of new content that it comes with, including a really interesting and intense - and fun! - single-player campaign, and the price tag actually starts to make sense. If you’re new to Arma 3, you’re going to want to buy the Apex edition, period. Apex is gigantic and transformative, and if you’re going to play Arma for any serious length of time you’re going to need it. If you buy no other DLC, buy this. You can think of it as the 2017 version of the 2014 military sim.

Arma 3 Jets - $11.99

Jets

Highlights:

  • Three new jets
  • A fighter showcase
  • Better drones

Is it worth it?

For a game that’s so hyper-focused on infantry, it’s a bit weird to have jet fighter pack available at all. Arma’s Jets DLC is actually kind of good, but it’s of questionable value if you’re into either infantry operations, which the game is good at, or air superiority, which it isn’t. This DLC won’t satisfy grogs wanting the BRRRAAAPPP of the A-10 Warthog, and for flyboys it’s going to come off as incredibly shallow. But the DLC did come with a platform-wide update that provides a better flight model, so you automatically get some of the benefits for free.

Arma 3 Helicopters - $11.99

Helos

Highlights:

  • Provides a needed level of realism to Arma’s infantry ops by modeling utility chopper chores
  • Actually fun to fly non-combat missions

Is it worth it?

Air assault soldiers don’t just zipline out of Blackhawks, they’re also trained on sling-load operations. These are crucial infantry operations in unfriendly terrain, and helicopters like the CH-47 “Chinook” are the warhorses of modern warfare. I haven’t had a great time with Arma’s rotary-wing options, but the addition of Huron and Tau are quite exciting.

I’ll point out here that I’ve had a fairly awful time trying to get my HOTAS setup working in Arma, either with the fixed- or rotary-wing vehicles. If you’re into that level of nerdery, as I am, be prepared for a fight. You’ll have to spend a lot of time tuning your setup to work with both jets and helicopters, and Arma really doesn’t make it any easier.

Karts - $1.99

Highlights:

  • Go-Karts

Is it worth it?

It’s two dollars and lets you race around in go-karts. Is it good? No. Is it fun? Yes. Absolutely worth it.

Arma 3 Marksmen - $11.99

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Highlights:

  • Five medium-range sniper rifles that actually require you to use rifle marksmanship
  • Two new light machine guns

Is it worth it?

Arma’s commitment to realism makes its sniper pack pretty appealing, even if it’s a tad expensive. It doesn’t just add shooting; you also can act as a laser designator for guided munitions. This one’s definitely not essential, but if you’re into long-range engagements it’s worth your time.

Arma 3 Laws of War - $11.99

Arma3DLC

Highlights:

  • A new campaign that actually wrestles with the idea of being a soldier in a human rights environment
  • A suddenly much more real environment to operate in

Is it worth it?

Laws of War doesn’t always work, but it’s a gut-punch for those of use who have been playing Arma for decades. Think of it as a Telltale-esque diversion and a chance to hear an interesting side of the story that’s not often told. Definitely worthwhile if you’re into the single-player Arma 3 experience.

Arma 3 Tac-Ops Mission Pack - $5.99 (Review)

Highlights:

  • Three mini-campaigns for single-player aficionados
  • The AI is still awful

This is purely a handful of single-player missions, and my experience with them was severely limited by Arma’s godawful AI. Don’t feel bad about skipping this one - the new missions aren’t anything to write home about and are more than compensated for by the game’s modding community.

Arma 3 Tanks - $11.99 (Review)

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Highlights:

  • Three new armored vehicles
  • A fun series of single-player missions

Is it worth it?

The new campaign is nothing to write home about, and it’s riddled with contradictory orders, but blasting around in the new T-140 Angara is an undeniable hoot. The Tanks campaign is designed to create spectacle moments, but it’s equally frustrating in its execution. This pack is a tough sell because it doesn’t add anything essential, but the new hardware is admittedly fun.

Arma 3: Contact - $27.99 (Review)

arma 3 contact dlcHighlights:

  • A creative & engaging narrative that feels like it could be an X-Files episode.
  • A couple of interesting new gadgets to play with.
  • A new map - Livonia.

Is it worth it?

It's not that this expansion isn't "worth it", but it's a very niche sell. The singleplayer campaign is pretty decent, with a worth-while pay-off (although it can get a bit repetitive in places). The new toys the campaign lets you play with are cool and interesting, but ultimately very little of the content Contact introduces is applicable to the wider war simulation. The new map is interesting, for sure and the expansion does come with some additional MP scenarios. Contact is mainly about the solo campaign and the factions, gear etc... that come with it, and little of it can be used outside of this setting. To finish off, it's quite a pricey pack as well.

If you like the idea of a more bespoke and creative single-player campaign, then there's definitely something to be said for Contact, but be mindful of what you're buying. We'd also suggest to wait until it goes on sale.

Editions & Bundles

So, all this said: Which Arma should you buy, if you’re interested? You can buy the $39.99 base version, which is frequently on sale. But if you haven’t ever touched Arma 3 before, what you really need to buy is the Apex Edition, which retails for an eye-watering $69.99. This includes the base game, the Apex expansion, as well as all the DLCs included in the 'DLC Bundle 1' package, discussed below.

As I said above, though, Apex is the “modern” version of Arma 3, and buying it after the fact will run you $34.99. Buying it all together is a savings of five dollars in the end, but since you will absolutely need Apex, going the piecemeal route means spending money that’s simply not worth spending. If you already own the base version, you really need the Apex add-on. Yes, it sucks to have what many consider essential components to a game locked behind another premium purchase, but if you’re an Arma player, it’s more than worth it. Think of Arma as a model train diorama you’ve been keeping in your basement for fourteen years. Apex is the engine upgrade you need to keep things running around the track.

20180502184204 1

The DLC Bundle 1 includes the Helicopters, Karts, and Marksmen DLCs, and on its own costs $19.99. The inclusion of the helicopters pack makes this DLC worthwhile if you don't already have all those DLCs, in my book. But keep in mind DLC Bundle 2 retails at $29, far beyond your initial Arma 3 price point.

DLC Bundle 2 is currently the better option in terms of value for money, though. It includes Jets, Tanks, the Laws of War and Tac Ops packs all for $24.99. All of this is meatier content than what’s included in Bundle 1, but it comes at a premium price point. As opposed to its cheaper brother, however, the majority of the content included is worth your time, my own gripes aside.

For newcomers, Arma 3’s base edition will absolutely give you a good idea of whether it’s a game you want to spend a lot of time with, and that’s going to determine how much of this DLC is worth your money.

But without spending a penny, you’re automatically getting Malden and Zeus. Malden is a massive map that re-engineers everything from Operation Flashpoint and drops it into the game, while Zeus provides new weird ways to play Arma 3 in multiplayer.

The Breakdown

Finally, here's our list of top individual Arma 3 DLCs, ordered from most essential to least:

  1. Apex
  2. Karts
  3. Tanks
  4. Laws of War
  5. Marksmen

What are your thoughts on ArmA 3 and its DLC? Would you want to see more or would you rather have ArmA 4 at this point?

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