In 2030, war erupts on the Mediterranean islands of Altis (formerly Lemnos) and Stratis, killing half of the civilian population, rendering thousands of them homeless, and causing a refugee crisis. Under harsh conditions, NATO peacekeeping forces deploy to the region to secure peace and establish joint NATO–Altian Armed Forces (AAF) bases on the islands.
Five years later, with NATO investment in the Aegean dwindling, the Canton-Protocol Strategic Alliance Treaty (CSAT), a military alliance of eastern hemisphere countries, begins subsidizing the AAF and mobilizes its own forces in the Pacific. Facing political pressure to withdraw at the end of their peacekeeping mandate, NATO begins reducing their forces causing tensions to rise between AAF and NATO forces.
By July 2035, the AAF have control of most of the two islands. NATO has nearly finished dismantling its equipment and bases, and a few infantry units and a helicopter group are left in Stratis. The NATO commander is called to the Kamino Firing Range for unknown reasons. While working on the island, U.S. soldiers Corporal Ben Kerry and Staff Sergeant Adams are also sent to Kamino by the commander of the nearby Camp Rogain. Eventually, they find their commander dead and AAF forces suddenly attack the remaining NATO forces, causing command elements to fall and severing communication with the outside world. Before they can rally with other survivors, Adams is killed by a landmine, forcing Kerry to continue alone.
After arriving at a decommissioned NATO camp, British special forces led by Captain Scott Miller takes command and the survivors attempt a number of missions on the island, but are met with limited success. Miller manages to contact NATO MEDCOM and arranges for a re-invasion of Stratis. He splits his forces into four squads, Alpha through Delta, and begins a mission to clear a path for the invasion. The operation appears to be a success as AAF forces retreat, but it goes wrong when CSAT forces arrive to back them up.
Captain Miller reveals the operation's real goal was never to retake the island, but instead, to evacuate the survivors from Stratis. Surviving NATO forces escape Stratis by boat and make for the island of Altis. Kerry is frustrated by Miller's deceit, but Miller only divulges that on arrival they will link up with a local loyalist group called the FIA. Suddenly, AAF attack jets arrive and capsize the boats.
On Altis, Kerry wakes up and finds himself in a skirmish between the FIA and the AAF-CSAT forces. He later reunites with Miller and his team and is taken to the FIA. He is given charge of a guerrilla squad and he does numerous missions in Altis. Later on, they learn that NATO will be invading the island through the main airport. The FIA plan to assist NATO by attacking a smaller airfield, drawing forces away from the main one. Meanwhile, Kerry's squad destroys a nearby artillery position controlled by CSAT special forces before withdrawing back to airfield which the FIA had managed to capture.
En route, they witness NATO gunships fire upon the airfield and Kerry is informed that NATO forces have mistakenly engaged the FIA in the airfield. Confused, Kerry approaches a downed gunship, the pilot of which is shocked to hear they had been firing at friendly forces. The pilot radios his superior, which promptly orders NATO to disengage their attack on the FIA-held airfield. The NATO commanding officer, Colonel Armstrong, meets with Kerry and tells him that they were unaware of the FIA's activities on the island. When Kerry asks about Captain Miller, Armstrong responds that he has no knowledge of 'Scott Miller' and tells Kerry that British forces moved off from Stratis many months ago. Confused by what he has heard, Kerry boards a helicopter to be debriefed.
Kerry meets with the NATO commander Colonel Armstrong, call sign "Crossroads", and learns they failed to capture the Altis airport. Crossroads says that Captain Miller is to be considered hostile until further notice, and he sends Kerry to the front line on Altis. While on patrol one night, CSAT launches a counter-offensive against NATO positions near the airport. After receiving Crossroads' approval, Kerry links up with the FIA and leads a squad. After repelling the counter-offensive, NATO launches an assault on the airport and secures it right before an earthquake hits the island. Tectonic activity increases, and NATO continues their assault on Altis, taking the capital before launching a final effort to wipe out the AAF. Crossroads again warns Kerry to avoid Cpt. Miller or any of his team. While NATO is on the brink of defeating the AAF, Kerry is contacted by Lt. James, one of Miller's squad members. Here, the player must make a decision: join NATO for the final offensive or disobey and find Lt. James.
If the player chooses to regroup with NATO, Kerry scouts and marks artillery and CAS supports so friendly forces can move in. Shortly after the assault begins, the AAF unconditionally surrenders. Six weeks later, life on Altis has returned to normal, albeit with heavy NATO and private military company presence. Kerry, now promoted to Sergeant, is tasked to escort a journalist. On the way, the journalist asks Kerry about his involvement in the Stratis incident. Hiding what he knows about Captain Miller or anything that had happened, Kerry tells about his behavior during the NATO withdrawal. Shortly after arriving, Crossroads calls Kerry back to base to help deal with a 'situation', and the story ends.
If the player chooses to look for James, Kerry finds him alone and wounded. Just before dying, James orders him to find a truck loaded with a special device and take it to Miller. Fighting through CSAT special forces, he brings the device to Miller. The device is revealed to be a tectonic weapon responsible for the recent tremors, and it is implied that Miller had caused the incident on Stratis. It is also revealed that he provided misinformation to the FIA, and caused the failure of the first NATO invasion attempt on Altis, all in an effort to buy time to acquire the device.
CSAT launches a massive invasion and Crossroads orders all NATO forces into tactical withdrawal. Miller tells Kerry that he will come back for him and to stay put while he and his team take the device off the island. After some time, Kerry contacts Miller, but Miller replies that with the invasion it will be impossible to come back for him. Kerry's fate is left in the hands of the player: he can either escape from the island by boat or helicopter, with or without friendly forces, or die trying.Ben Kerry – The main protagonist of the game, a US Army corporal from Oregon deployed on Stratis. He becomes a member of Alpha squad led by Sergeant Conway. He later joins the FIA and fights against CSAT on both Altis and later Stratis, leading Omega squad, before returning to NATO on Altis and leading Nomad squad.
Scott Miller – A British captain who is the sole surviving NATO officer on Stratis in the first episode of the campaign. He leads NATO soldiers against the AAF and later helps the FIA. His team's callsign is Falcon.
Kostas Stavrou – The leader of the northern FIA forces during the events of Adapt, he cooperates with Miller and Kerry. His callsign is Slingshot.
Colonel Armstrong – The commander of the NATO forces deployed to the Republic of Altis & Stratis after the events of the first two episodes. His callsign is Crossroads.
Nikos Panagopoulos – An important member of the FIA responsible for the unity and supply of the organisation. He is last seen in the third episode as the new leader of the FIA.
Lieutenant James – Second in command of Miller's Combat Technology Research Group team.
Staff Sergeant Adams – Kerry's commanding officer and friend. He fights the AAF with him when the flashpoint starts.
NATO – North Atlantic Treaty Organisation is a military alliance and has a peacekeeping mission on Stratis. Decades of economic and political turbulence across member states has left NATO weakened and facing a strategic paradigm shift. The peacekeeping forces on Stratis are planned to be withdrawn, with British forces said to be pulled out before the events of the game, as the US focuses more on the Pacific theatre, amid increasing tensions with CSAT in the east.
CSAT – Canton-Protocol Strategic Alliance Treaty is an alliance of states with the goal of mutual defense, expanded global influence, and sustained economic growth. Set against the context of floundering economies and civil unrest across the west, CSAT has risen in prominence over the last decade. Its forces support the Altian government. It is reminiscent of the real-life SCO, but according to their speaking language and design of their assault rifle (named Katiba and similar to Iranian KH-2002 assault rifle), the CSAT forces encountered in Arma 3 appear to be composed of the Iranian Armed Forces.
AAF – The Altian Armed Forces are loyal to the Altian government. Although it officially operates under the observation and training of international peacekeepers, the force remains loyal to the new, hard-line Altis government and acts with de facto judicial and executive authority. However, it is debilitated by an inexperienced command structure and is blighted by widespread corruption.
FIA – The Freedom and Independence Army is a loyalist army that joined NATO to fight against the Altian government and CSAT. Believed to be chiefly composed of former and defected members of the AAF, disparate fragments of opposition to the 2026 Kavala coup d'état joined together in the grind of bloody civil war. The FIA have begun to gain traction among the largely displaced population of Altis and has found international support in the west.
Bohemia Interactive officially announced the development of ARMA 3 on May 19, 2011. In June 2012 an alpha version of the game was demonstrated at E3. In August 2013, Bohemia Interactive announced that they will release three downloadable content episodes for free after the game's initial launch. An alpha version of the game was released on March 5, 2013, allowing players to experience the game during development, as well as assist in development by reporting bugs and giving feedback on their experience. The beta version was released on June 25, 2013 and anyone who owned the alpha would have their copy automatically upgraded. The final version of ARMA 3 was launched on September 12, 2013. At its launch, ARMA 3 featured more showcase missions and the large island of Altis.
ARMA 3 uses a new version of Bohemia Interactive's Real Virtuality game engine.
In February 2014 the first, free DLC for the game titled Zeus was announced. It allows players to use the game's Zeus mode in multiplayer where the player becomes god-like and can control scenarios in real time. Zeus was released on April 10, 2014.
Bohemia Interactive featured an April Fool's joke video on April 1, 2014. It announced a DLC Karts that would add a Go-kart racing into the game. The video was a parody of Jean-Claude Van Damme Splendid Split video with character of Scott Miller. The video became popular and fans liked the idea so Bohemia Interactive released the DLC on May 29, 2014. The DLC added 20 types of Karts, and objects useful for creating tracks and driver models. ARMA 3: Karts is the first paid DLC for ARMA 3.
This DLC was released on November 4, 2014. It was announced on May 1, 2014 alongside another DLC, Marksmen, and an unnamed expansion for the game. ARMA 3 Helicopters featured two new transport helicopters and new flying mechanics. Features exclusive to those who have bought the DLC include:CH-67 Huron, twin-engine, tandem rotor heavy-lift helicopter.
Mi-290 Taru, coaxial rotor, modular, heavy utility helicopter.
Sling Loading Showcase, a tutorial-like scenario to practice the sling loading mechanic in.
Four helicopter time trial courses.
Alongside the release of this DLC a platform update was released for the game, with features available to all players regardless of DLC ownership. Notable such features or content include:Firing from vehicles, using personal weapons from certain passenger positions in vehicles.
Improved flight model, based on a modified version of the flight dynamics used in Bohemia Interactive's Take On Helicopters, made available for all helicopters in game, including those outside this DLC.
Sling loading mechanics to carry externally slung cargo under helicopters added to all suitable helicopters.
Support multiplayer mode, sector control-inspired game mode focusing on support, logistics and medevac.
Four courses for the VR training mode, focusing on helicopter flight.
Various objects, mostly relating to the helicopter theme, for custom scenario and content creation.
ARMA 3 Marksmen includes new weapons and shooting mechanics, and was released in May 2015. Weapons released for Marksmen are:Sniper rifles: MkI-EMR 7.62mm, Mk14 7.62mm, Cyrus 9.3mm, ASP-1 12.7mm, MAR-10 .338 Lapua Magnum
Medium machine guns: SPMG .338 Norma Magnum, Navid 9.3mm.
Bipods were made available for most rifles, light machine guns, and sniper rifles.
ARMA 3: Apex is ARMA 3's first expansion, released on July 11th, 2016. It was announced as part of Bohemia Interactive Roadmap for ARMA 3 in 2015-2016. The expansion costs $35 and includes some free features for users which optimize the game and act as a visual update as well. The main features for this expansion are:Tanoa - A new map for ARMA 3 set in the South Pacific Islands with an overall map size of 100 square kilometres (38.6 sq. mi).
A cooperative campaign.
A new faction, the Syndikat, a local criminal organisation with deep roots in Tanoa.
New vehicles types such as: VTOL aircraft (e.g. Y-32 Xian and V-44X Blackfish) and Light Strike Vehicles (e.g. Prowler and Qilin).
New weapons including: the AKS-74U, AKM, AK-12, LIM-85, RPG-7, PM 9mm, SPAR-16, SPAR-17, CAR-95, Type 115, CMR-76 and the Protector SMG.
New uniforms, headgear, backpacks, NVGs, weapon optics and other gear.
Important legacy issues.
The Bootcamp Update was released on July 14, 2014. It features training content, a terrain Virtual Reality and a short campaign. The Bootcamp Campaign serves as the prequel to the main game. It follows Sergeant Conway and Sergeant Adams one year prior to the East Wind Campaign. The goal of this update was to present the game to new players. The Nexus update was released on December 1, 2015. It brought an improved version of the official multiplayer mission "End Game", a spectator mode, and multiple improvements such as soldier protection, stamina, and an audio overhaul. The Eden update, released on February 18, 2016, mainly added a 3D editor to the game, making the creation of missions easier. On 21st October 2016, Bohemia Interactive announced that Arma 3 will continue to receive updates and additional DLC in 2017 and released the 2016-2017 roadmap for the game.
Arma 3 also supports a number of mods, which can be downloaded through the Steam Workshop
Arma 3 Eden is a free update to the game which was released at the end of February 2016. This update was announced in the 2015-2016 roadmap for the game. The main features added were:A new in-game 3D editor.
Overhaul of the in-game server browser.
Various bug fixes.
The 'Visual Update' that was scheduled to release in the Eden Update has been released with the 1.60 update.
ARMA 3 has received generally favorable reviews, garnering a score of 74 out of 100 on the review aggregation website Metacritic based on 38 reviews. Some reviewers praise the modifications Bohemia Interactive have done with the engine, animations and sound. However, others criticised the lack of single-player content on release, namely a campaign.
PC Gamer selected the game to be the simulation game of the year. ARMA 3 also gained Czech game of 2013 Award for technological contribution to Czech video game output and was elected to be best Czech video game of the Year in Booom 2013. Rock, Paper, Shotgun selected ARMA 3 to be 16th best FPS of all time and the 10th best Simulation Game of all time.
The islands of Altis and Stratis also received much praise. The Guardian even included them along with Chernarus (the setting of ARMA 2 and DayZ) in its list of 10 most beautiful video game environments. Other video game worlds in the list included Skyrim, Los Santos, Empire Bay etc.
It was announced on May 28, 2014 that the game had sold one million copies. In October 2015 sales had reached two million units.
The Greek media reported on September 10, 2012 that two Czechs were arrested on the Greek island Lemnos and charged with espionage. According to Greek media reports, the two men claimed to be working for Bohemia Interactive in an official capacity, recording videos and taking photographs for the development of ARMA 3. Under Greek law taking photographs of military installations and the like is prohibited for reasons of national security. Prior to the incident, the issue of the game causing potential threats to Greek national security was discussed in the Greek Parliament in 2011.
The two were initially identified as David Zapletal and Pavel Guglava, although it was later confirmed that the two were actually Martin Pezlar and Ivan Buchta. The duo's employee status under Bohemia Interactive was confirmed, but the company later stated that they were on the island "with the sole purpose of experiencing the island's beautiful surroundings". Buchta and Pezlar refuted the charges of espionage, maintaining that they "went just to a holiday [...] to enjoy the beauty of the island", noting that the layout of the virtual island in the development studio "was practically done" prior to their arrival, and that any video or photographic recordings were intended for memorabilia purposes and that they would have little or no use in the game's development. After being held in custody for 128 days, the Greek government released the arrested developers from jail on January 15, 2013.
While the two were in jail, Bohemia Interactive shut down access to one of the threads on their official forums titled Greek Military which was created on August 1, 2012. Bohemia Interactive has since made several statements regarding the situation on their official forums, discussing legal matters and warning users regarding the problems arising from photographing Greek military installations. As a result of the incident, on February 2, 2013, Bohemia Interactive announced that the name of the main island 'Lemnos' would change to 'Altis'. The Greek island of Lemnos was chosen as inspiration after Bohemia Interactive CEO Marek Spanel had visited the place on vacation. According to Bohemia Interactive, the name change is meant to emphasize the game is fiction. The game's smaller island named 'Stratis' will remain unchanged.
In September 2012, Iran's National Foundation of Computer Games and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps refused to allow the sale of ARMA 3 due to the game portraying the CSAT faction (similar in equipment and language to Iran) as an enemy to NATO.
Lukáš Veselý, the Associate Producer on ARMA 3, speculated in a 2014 interview for HerniMag magazine that ARMA 4 could be released in February 2017. He also said that he is pretty sure that the sequel will be produced in future as ARMA series "still proves to be a strong brand and a viable project and we will take care of it."