Arma 2 Free: Bohemia’s Opus For Nowt

By Jim Rossignol on June 9th, 2011 at 5:46 pm.


Arma 2 is going free-to-play. Really. It’s a bold move from Bohemia and a fascinating one. It’s basically a cut down version of the game, allowing you to play the multiplayer aspect – complete with multiplayer servers and the powerful editor – for free. The original games will remain, and you will need those if you want mod support, the full suite of graphics options, or the story campaigns. This is, then, like a big fancy demo. Of a genuinely great PC game.

Trailer below, some additional info here, and we’ll have more on this next week.

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62 Comments »

  1. Torgen says:

    Wow.

  2. KingKio says:

    Yay!

  3. Dominic White says:

    So, I assume the Free version is running the Operation Arrowhead engine? If so, it should run and generally behave a lot better than the original Arma 2 version.

    Clever move by Bohemia there. Let people see all the framework first, then let them actually hang a game from it.

    • mlaskus says:

      Is performance a lot better in OA? I bought only ARMA quite a while ago and I was unable to play it even on the lowest settings, though my computer runs pretty much anything else without any problems.

    • Mike says:

      He might mean stability rather than performance. I had a lot of situational glitching in ARMA2, certain parts of the map causing GIGANTO-OPAQUE TEXTURE POPUP obscuring the entire screen, that sort of thing.

    • Dominic White says:

      My PC hasn’t seen a notable upgrade in 5 years (creaky first-gen dual core is hobbling everything else), and I can run Arma 2 at mid-high detail. And haven’t had any stability issues, either. Dunno what’s up with your machines if you can’t even run it at the lowest settings.

      OA runs a later engine build, though. Better performance, AI, etc.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      mlaskus: yes.

      Basically, they optimised the engine quite a bit, and then took out all the fucking trees (and grass). OA runs much better.

    • royaltyinexile says:

      Sure, It brings along a lot of the fixes and optimisations associated with the ‘arrowhead’ version engine, as well as many of the improvements like alpha to coverage– meaning I had to re-shoot every bloody scene of that trailer which involved using bushes and trees, because they have more ‘depth’ with that tech (AtoC), important for making the game feel rich, even though the textures are capped at low-res.

      However, the point is that a lot of the gameplay and advancements brought about by Operation Arrowhead still require a player to invest in that platform, should they enjoy what they see in A2Free. Not to mention the modding, which is a significant driver of the long-term appeal.

  4. MiniTrue says:

    Good! All my friends can see what all the fuss is about.

  5. Hunam says:

    Locking down the graphics is a bit of a cheeky thing to do IMO.

    • Unaco says:

      Releasing a sizeable chunk of game, with the ability to play custom missions, or make them yourself, all for free, more than makes up for any reduction in graphical quality.

      If you want the full graphics options, buy the game.

    • sinister agent says:

      The only time you’ll ever actually notice the graphics is the time immediately before you get shot anyway.

    • jonfitt says:

      I think it’s clever. It gives a reason for the paid version to exist, and means that people can play without having the game laugh at their system and tell them they can’t play with high settings.

      I’m guessing it’ll be like BAF lite and PMC lite where the objects have low res textures. So it’ll have the added benefit of reducing the file size.

    • Turin Turambar says:

      I know. How they dare to not give everything have done for free!!

  6. JonClaw says:

    One of the things that turned me off about ARMA 2 was this one little part of the tutorial. You had you pick a guy up, move him somewhere, and put him down.

    It was bugged. You’d pick him up and couldn’t move. That little bug ruined the rest of my experience. I don’t know how, but it did.

    • jonfitt says:

      The tutorial was an awful experience and explained very little. I think it was only useful for OpF and Arma players. New players would miss out on significantly important things.

    • studenteternal says:

      Personally I got a bit miffed that the guys playing the op-for in the tutorial apparently forgot they were training a friendly. I got killed a lot trying to get through the tutorial. Kinda damped my enthusiasm. In fact, until the witcher 2, ARMA 2 probably held my personal record for number of times killed in the tutorial.

  7. Premium User Badge

    Schaulustiger says:

    I bought ARMA 2 shortly after release, but found the campaign to be a mess and stopped playing after about 30 minutes. I always want to go back, so here’s my question: has it been patched into a functional singleplayer experience? I’m not intersted in multiplayer, just solo play.

    • Unaco says:

      “I’m not intersted in multiplayer, just solo play.”

      I believe we have found your problem.

    • shizamon says:

      For me (I bought the game with the Operation Arrowhead expansion, then patched to OA 1.54 and it combined the 2) the singleplayer campaign worked great. I had a little trouble with the free roam portion, due to the helicopter pick up and drop off function, but once I figured that out it was awesome. Very different take from what I was expecting with having played OFP and ARMA.

    • Alexander Norris says:

      ArmA is not a single-player game. It just isn’t.

    • jonfitt says:

      The best bits of the campaign are the Eastern European actors doing American accents and trying to emote it’s hilarious.

    • malkav11 says:

      To say that ARMA 2 is not a singleplayer game is to commit grievous violence against fact and truth. Between the original game, Operation Arrowhead, and the two DLCs, there are four substantial singleplayer campaigns (with coop supported but hardly required) in addition to a minicampaign they patched in later, a few dozen one-shot scenarios included in the game, the Armory mode which permits all sorts of futzing around with various in-game assets, and an extremely robust scenario editor which can drop you into quick action or even randomized open world play very easily, on top of what must be hundreds if not thousands of fan-created scenarios and even full campaigns.

      You may certainly -prefer- multiplayer, but to claim that is the only functional part of the game is ridiculous.

  8. Dana says:

    If only my computer would run it. Oh well. Back to Crysis 2 I guess !

  9. mjig says:

    Ugh, now the game will be filled with underage BRs and ruskies. F2P ruins communities.

    • Tancosin says:

      I doubt it. ARMA II’s no CoD. I’m guessing it will be a bit too realistic for those kind of people.

    • jonfitt says:

      If it bothered a group too much you could just add a mod requirement (ACE) or a non-free item to a server and by my understanding f2p players could not join.

  10. gwathdring says:

    I was worried about getting this game specifically because of the learning curve and it’s relationship with multiplayer. The game seemed very difficult from the demo, and from what I could gather the community was fairly serious about planning missions and whatnot. That’s all well and good, but I’m worried about not being able to keep up and not having a good place to practice without the singleplayer. Even if it didn’t annoy my squad members when I died uselessly, I’d be worried about dying only to wait until the entire mission is done to get another shot at playing–and I get the distinct impression these rounds could go on for quite some time.

    Any advice from veterans? I wouldn’t buy the full game without trying multiplayer, but even with multiplayer being free I’m sure how to get into it for a proper taste.

    • Torgen says:

      Hmm, what about using a “throwaway” handle to learn MP, then when you feel you have the hang of it, change to your “permanent” name so that you aren’t associated with your noob screwups, AND you won’t feel so stressed about ruining your rep by letting your team down while learning the game.

    • sinister agent says:

      ARPS, the RPS group, is ideal then, or close to it. I only bought the game a few weeks ago, and after some abortive attempts at the singleplayer (which is shite), jumped right in. All you need to know for multi is how to navigate and some basic combat skills. You can learn both of those by setting up a firing range in the editor, which is a two minute job – just choose some units, stick them on a map, put some weapon crates down, and play with the guns for a bit. Navigation is just a case of using the compass and GPS/map to get your bearings.

      There are really serious planning and organising groups playing, but there are also some groups that piss around endlessly. ARPS is in the middle of the two, and we’re very forgiving – they put up with me doing bugger all for the first week or so, so you’ll be fine.

      You can also party with randoms easily enough, and if you’re a bit crap chances are nobody will even notice.

    • Premium User Badge

      JB says:

      “not having a good place to practice without the singleplayer. ” – You should be able to make yourself some practice missions up and play them privately, just run them as “multiplayer”.

      “Even if it didn’t annoy my squad members when I died uselessly, I’d be worried about dying only to wait until the entire mission is done to get another shot at playing–and I get the distinct impression these rounds could go on for quite some time.” – ArmA2 isn’t like CS, there is the option of respawn when making missions.

      tldr; Get it while it’s free and give it a go!

    • gwathdring says:

      Thanks for the advice. :)

    • jonfitt says:

      My first experiences of MP involved me running around after team mates like a lost puppy ducking and hiding when they did, while they fire at targets I hadn’t seen.
      It was atmospheric nonetheless and quickly I learned the pace and flow of the game and was participating. Even learning the range at which engagements happen is an important lesson (much further than you’d think). You start to think like an Arma player.

      If you’re in the US I can recommend joining the PC Gamer games. They even have had dedicated noob sessions where some of the editors show people the ropes.

    • Premium User Badge

      wengart says:

      Honestly you could join any of the big Domination servers and as long as you don’t try to take an important part (for example: Don’t fly helicopters) in the mission you’ll be fine. There are generally enough players and lack of oversight to let you do whatever without being noticed.

    • jonfitt says:

      I think Domination and Warfare are way too complicated for a first timer.

      I’d recommend a normal Co-Op mission or Insurgency for simplicity (although finding a normal co-op mission is hard).

      Don’t join a “Life” server unless you’ve always had a desire to play a version of GTA where you are given nothing fun to do for the first hour and the server admins are 14 year-olds on a power trip.

  11. jonfitt says:

    I can recommend the map Insurgency to everyone. It’s more of a mod than a basic map and it’s the perfect pub game in my opinion.

    You can play it as a bit of a lone wolf, but teamplay will improve it 100-fold.
    It has respawns, but in a sensible way.
    You can jump in a game in progress and lose nothing.
    There’s no AI controlling to be done.
    There’s an overall goal, but taking sectors one by one in a town and collecting intel is a goal in itself.
    It is very understandable to someone who is familiar with Battlefield games.

  12. BrightCandle says:

    Ha that video is a total fiction – nobody gets playable framerates with grass turned on, must be CGI :-)

    • Dominic White says:

      I get decent framerates with grass on, and I haven’t notably upgraded in 5 years. This myth that Arma 2 is completely unplayable on anything but the lowest detail setting has somehow persisted since… well, Arma 1 came out.

      How do we kill it?

    • jonfitt says:

      With FIRE!

    • jonfitt says:

      Take off and nuke the site from orbit.

  13. pandora says:

    Meanwhile in Poland, we get full ARMA II (“sp + mp” in press release, which I hope means full functionality?) on a 4-euro mag’s cover cd. Unfortunately but expectedly translated. And I still haven’t bothered to buy it yet, erm. Should I? Will I play it? Will I even install it? But the point is, it is consistent with this free version in that it proves the publisher gave up on future sales a little.

    • jonfitt says:

      Wow, full Arma2 for 4 euros! Buy it!
      I wouldn’t worry that the dev has given up on it, people still played/play Operation Flashpoint for years. You’ll easily get 4 euros worth of enjoyment out of it.

  14. Strife212 says:

    Presumably not free to walk around and aim down the sights of your gun in an intuitive way though.

    • Dominic White says:

      What does that even mean? RMB brings up sights, and then lowers then when you’re done. While sights are up… you move around as normal, but aiming.

  15. Delusibeta says:

    So, essentually it’s ArmA 2 Nations Forever?

  16. timmyvos says:

    This is what you have to do if you want to combat piracy. No intrusive DRM, no always online. Just release good demo’s and, even though releasing half of ARMA 2 is a bit extreme, something like this could very well help against piracy.

  17. Apocalypse 31 says:

    They should actually be paying people to play that terrible pile of crap game.
    Before you call me a CoD fanboy. I’m a 2-time Iraq veteran that has experience working with military simulations.

    Ok. I apologize for the blatant flaming, but I’m so sick of everyone labeling ArmA as the end-all, be-all of realism.

    Here’s the bottom line: VBS2/ArmA has a terrible engine. It’s buggy, sluggish and ugly. It is a cheaply made, dated-game that is dressed up, and pretending to be a military simulator. The US Army tossed money at the idea (because it was the only game in town) and now we’re stuck with it.

    VBS2 is NO DIFFERENT than ArmA. I often see people online treat VBS2 like it’s the holy grail of ArmA. It’s not, it just has a much wider array of vehicles, civilians and military characters. The graphics are from ArmA1, so they are extremely dated….much worse than you remember!

    My biggest gripe with ArmA/VBS is that the player and vehicle movement/physics are just GOD-AWFUL.

    With the amount of money that Bohemia pulls down from players and Government contracts you’d think they could update their game a little bit? How about: stopping vehicles from ice skating, or maybe develop some smoother infantry movement.

    I’ve done 12+ hour clearing operations in Baghdad during the 125 degree summer heat, carrying 50+ lbs of body armor, ammo, radios, water, etc. I have NEVER moved as sluggish as the characters is ArmA. I’ve done mounted operations in M1 Abrams, HMMMVW, Bradley’s and Strykers…I’ve never seen a vehicle ice-skate the way it does in ArmA.

    I’m glad the US Army is finally looking into the Crysis engine.

    • Unaco says:

      Sorry to hear you don’t enjoy it. ARPS have great fun with it… 20+ people at least, on (almost) every night, and we’ve been going for months, and months and months. Also, you do realise that the ArmA/ArmA2 tech is what’s in Virtual Battlespace 1 & 2, and that both are made by Bohemia. It’s one of the major and most successful military simulation environments used by the US Army, Marine Corps, Secret Service, the British army, and the IDF to name but a few.

      You might not enjoy the game, but I don’t think calling it a “terrible pile of crap game” is valid.

    • Thants says:

      Coming in to a thread where most people like a game and calling it a pile of crap with no further explanation isn’t terribly helpful.

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      Familiar with VBS?

    • Nim says:

      So why is it such a pile of crap then, oh great, mighty and wise Iraq veteran?

    • Premium User Badge

      MajorManiac says:

      @ Apocalypse 31

      I really like ARMA 2. Its near the top of my all-time favorite games. If there are better military simulations, that by comparison make ARMA 2 look crap, I’m genuinely interested to know about them.

      …So please enlighten us with their names?

    • psyk says:

      @MajorManiac
      I guess it would have to be VBS – http://www.bisimulations.com/products/vbs2

      @Apocalypse 31
      “that has experience working with military simulations.”

      Care to enlighten us?

    • Apocalypse 31 says:

      Ok. I apologize for the blatant flaming, but I’m so sick of everyone labeling ArmA as the end-all, be-all of realism.

      Here’s the bottom line: VBS2/ArmA has a terrible engine. It’s buggy, sluggish and ugly. It is a cheaply made, dated-game that is dressed up, and pretending to be a military simulator. The US Army tossed money at the idea (because it was the only game in town) and now we’re stuck with it.

      VBS2 is NO DIFFERENT than ArmA. I often see people online treat VBS2 like it’s the holy grail of ArmA. It’s not, it just has a much wider array of vehicles, civilians and military characters. The graphics are from ArmA1, so they are extremely dated….much worse than you remember!

      My biggest gripe with ArmA/VBS is that the player and vehicle movement/physics are just GOD-AWFUL.

      With the amount of money that Bohemia pulls down from players and Government contracts you’d think they could update their game a little bit? How about: stopping vehicles from ice skating, or maybe develop some smoother infantry movement.

      I’ve done 12+ hour clearing operations in Baghdad during the 125 degree summer heat, carrying 50+ lbs of body armor, ammo, radios, water, etc. I have NEVER moved as sluggish as the characters is ArmA. I’ve done mounted operations in M1 Abrams, HMMMVW, Bradley’s and Strykers…I’ve never seen a vehicle ice-skate the way it does in ArmA.

      I’m glad the US Army is finally looking into the Crysis engine.

  18. lunarplasma says:

    I don’t get it: what exactly would you be missing out on from the full game then, other than mod support, and the graphics settings? Is the single player campaign that great?

    • Premium User Badge

      Joshua says:

      Every single bit of Operation Arrowhead content.

    • pepper says:

      Multiplayer is pretty much run on mods(ACE,ACEX etc). So if you would want to join any of the combat groups(UO, shacktac etc) you would still have to get combined ops.

  19. psyk says:

    From the site
    Arma 2:free
    Mil-Sim – yes
    Multiplayer – yes
    Mission Editing – yes
    High Definition Graphics – no
    User Mods – yes
    Story Driven Campaigns – no
    Operation Arrowhead – no
    BAF and PMC Addons* – no
    *available at additional cost

    “Operation Arrowhead – no” So no upgraded engine?

  20. Artist says:

    Arma2 for free? *looks on the server browser* Who cares? Nobody plays it since Arrowhead/Combined Ops… Just another BIS PR move… *yawn*