As an on-off Arma 3 fan (250 hours seems like nothing in the Arma scheme of things), I generally find the base game not much of a game. Even with all the DLC, it’s still more of a sandbox for you to fill and play, but that’s what it was built to do. Others agree, which is why there are 89,000 mods on the Arma 3 Steam Workshop. Here’s some of the best.
This is, in some way, a skeleton of a list. My interests generally lie in making the game more exciting and more dynamic. I don’t usually add new factions to play with, as my knowledge of war is minimal, and I don’t have a favourite side to play as.
But I do wish Arma 3 had engaging, dynamic scenarios where the game’s sandbox generates a personal war. That’s here, in mission and campaign form. I also love how something as big and as detailed as Arma 3 isn’t enough for the community, which added ridiculous realism into the game like ammo in burning vehicles going off. I hope you have fun with the mods below. I rarely do without them.
How to install Arma 3 Mods
Though there are many, many Arma 3 mod sites, I’ve never really strayed outside of the Steam Workshop. This is where my favourites are, and all quickly grabbed with the Subscribe button. In-game, Arma 3 has its own mod manager that you can use to enable and disable any mods. There’s little to no faff if you follow the menus.
Best Arma 3 Mods
ACE3 Mod by ACE3
Realism is a tricky concept, even in a game like Arma 3, where bees have shadows. ACE3 Mod’s ultimate goal is precise realism. As an example: with ACE3 installed, you need to find an injury on a body, diagnose the best form of treatment, then apply it correctly.
Arma 3 is realistic in a macroscopic sort of way. Big battles look amazing as those giant calibre bullets ping and zing. But you know what truly suffers when a player stands behind a mounted weapon, blasting away at the enemy? Their ears. If you don’t equip the mod’s earplugs doing, you’ll slowly go deaf. And those bullets are now affected by air density and altitude, just FYI.
Ridiculous realism is taken to the extreme where it becomes fun, where in the heat of battle, you accidentally pump a friend so full of morphine that they die. Where an explosion in a vehicle causes a chain reaction that starts setting off all the ammo in there. This trailer is from six years ago, and it still looks cool:Download ACE3 Mod
Community Upgrade Project by CUP
The “Community Upgrade Project” is a fantastic effort to port over all the official content from Arma 2, Take On Helicopters, as well as a pile of “community donated Arma 2 and Arma 3 assets to Arma 3”. In raw numbers, it brings 16 maps, over 870 weapons, more than 960 vehicles, and 18 factions. In made-up numbers, that’s 12 billionty.
The Real Virtuality Engine’s long history means that the maps from Arma 2, like Chernarus, which is now more closely associated with DayZ, can readily be brought into later games. The Community don’t just port it in, though. They upgrade it to Arma 3 standards. There are versions of Chernarus in the mod for each season of the year; there’s an updated Chernarus 2020, with newer assets from the recent DayZ Livonia DLC and reworked areas.
The same goes for all the additional units, weapons, and vehicles. Everything being ported over is looked at with a critical eye before being reworked. This is the sort of glow-up that only a dedicated community, or one well-trained manatee, can pull off.Download Community Upgrade Project
Enhanced Map by Hoplite
Arma 3’s tactical map has been given a nice tweak in this add-on. The update focuses on creating a more readable Altis, with clear topographical features, enhanced contours, and overall more contrast between elevations and areas. There are two versions, one compatible with ACE3 mod, and one for vanilla.Download Enhanced Map Ace Version
As expansive as Arma 3 is, it always seems to be a little bit conservative when it comes to movement. Even jumping over a small wall is surprisingly stiff-legged.
Enhanced Movement improves on that. It adds smoother climbing, vaulting, ladder climbing... If you’ve ever run screaming up to a wall in Arma, then had to negotiate the complex series of interactions that involves bypassing anything other than a small brick, this is for you.Download Enhanced Movement
Seb's Briefing Table by Seb
This is, conceptually, a lovely idea: it lets you take a region from the game’s map and render it onto an in-game table. This is for tactical purposes, where manly men can gather around it and suggest where the best place for tanks should go.
It’s a complex idea made simple. You move a small region around the map, and the game will capture it and recreate it perfectly on a table. There’s no abstraction here: what you see is what’s in the game, and it lets you stand around with friends and play war before heading out into the real fake war you’re in.Download Seb's Briefing Table
ACRE2 by Acre_team
For big Arma 3 battles with friends, a good communications platform is vital. You could just all hop into a Discord server and enjoy the chaos, or you could install ACRE2 and turn your voice channels into an immersive, and complicated, communications platform.
ACRE2 needs Teamspeak 3 to pull all its fancy tricks. It works on local in-game sound, so just chatting to people close to you will be handled by the mod. Directional audio works and the mod takes into account the player’s physical status. If they’re in a building or car, their speech will be affected.
It’s the accurate simulation of real-world radios that makes it the best of its kind. As you’d expect, radios have their own frequency bands, but each unit’s power output is also simulated. The range of a radio in a city or a thick forest is far lower than in an open field. If you’re close to a player using a radio, you’ll be able to hear what’s broadcast through the speakers. It’s an excellent companion to something like ACE3.Download ACRE2
JSRS Soundmod by JSRS
JSRS Soundmod is one man’s efforts to punch up the Arma 3 soundscape. The always slightly muted Arma 3 ear assaults have been tweaked into a more robust, almost movie-like soundscape.Download JSRS Soundmod
Dynamic Recon Ops by baby yoda
For me, the best sort of mod you can add to Arma 3 is one that’ll take care of the mission business for you. Dynamic Recon Ops is a mod that generates a mission for you, choosing enemy placements, tasks, and more.
You select the location and factions or let the game take care of them. You can set the time of day and weather. Then you’re dropped into the tactical map with all the information. You build your team and load-outs, which is a smart idea if you want things to go well. The game will drop you into the map by your base, and then you’re off. From then on, it’s Arma vs you, with all the trappings of a typical unstructured play session vs the AI. It’s not all-out-war: it’s recon, so there are limits as to what to expect. Missions string along a few scenarios, like observing a specified area before rescuing a captive or taking down a high-value target. It’s so easy that it’s something I really wish were baked into the base game.
The collection below contains the mod across various maps. Just grab your favourite. It can be played solo or with friends.Download Dynamic Recon Ops
Dynamic Universal War System Xtra by Killa Tomata
As you can tell, this is a similar idea to the mod above, but it generates all-out war across the entire map. Dynamic Universal War System Xtra is a large scale mod that builds a country-sized conflict for you to take part in.
War. WAR! No simple missions here, but the sort of thing you’ll see on the nightly news when countries bash heads. You select a side to join, where you want your base to be, and then the mod generates the conflict.
Your goal is to protect your base while expanding into enemy-controlled areas. Down on the ground, you’re grunting away like a good soldier, but each battle you take part in generates resources to enable your expansion. You can simply target an enemy-controlled sector and try to take it over, or there are missions within the more extensive campaign, like the usual Arma rescue jaunts. It all adds up into a month swallowing, randomised campaign that you can take solo or with friends.Download Dynamic Universal War System Xtra
Operation TREBUCHET by Article 2
If all this war is a little bit too real for you, you can temper it with Operation TREBUCHET, a mod that turns Arma 3 into Halo.
It’s not too much of a leap here. Halo is about a war of a different kind, and TREBUCHET leans on that, enabling players to experience the high-level Arma 3 tactical traipsing, but with Scorpions idling in the furrows and Pelicans delivering troops.It’s set before first contact with the Covenant, a handy period that enables a lot of sci-fi fun but doesn’t bring any full-blown aliens into the mix. It’s a great mod to grab and play with a few friends. Download Operation TREBUCHET