Aliens are invading Arma 3

Bohemia Interactive has unveiled an all-new "spin-off expansion" for Arma 3, its ultra-realistic first-person military combat simulator. Entitled "Contact" (a play on the first word Arma's automated soldier voices utter when they spot an enemy), the expansion will see players take on the role of a NATO drone operator in Eastern Europe during humanity's first contact with aliens. Wait, what? 

That's right, aliens, as in weirdos from another planet: "When a massive alien vessel suddenly enters the atmosphere, you are sent to investigate the extraterrestrial visitors and determine their intentions. However, amid the tension and chaos, armed conflict inevitably unfolds. Over the course of the campaign, players will engage in field science, electronic warfare, and combat reconnaissance, in an experience delivered in authentic Arma style." 

There will be shooting, as you'd expect from Arma, but much of the campaign will be focused on other, more cerebral activities, including studying alien anomalies with a mini UGV sampling later and CBRN [chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear] defense equipment, and using a new Spectrum Device tool to control the electromagnetic spectrum for navigation, intel, and deception purposes. 

"Many of us have wondered if humanity is alone in the universe. I, for one, want to believe we are not. The premise of intelligent life visiting Earth from outer space has fascinated me since childhood, and combining that with the military authenticity of Arma 3 always seemed like it would make for a very cool and unique experience", project lead Joris-Jan van ‘t Land said.

"After our team’s previous project—Laws of War DLC—proved that players enjoy gameplay that’s a little different, our team felt motivated to go for it. I am personally very grateful for the opportunity to explore this theme, and I want to thank all Arma 3 players for their support and making it possible for this dream to come true."   

Arma 3 Contact will add 163 square kilometers of new terrain in the fictional Eastern European nation of Livonia. The Livonian Defense Force and Russian Spetsnaz factions will join the party with new weapons, vehicles, and gear including the Promet Assault Rifle, RPK-12 LMG, AKU-12 carbine, CBRN clothing, masks, and backpacks, and a tractor—this is Eastern Europe, after all. There will also be new multiplayer scenarios set on the new terrain, and free bonus content for all players including NATO woodland camouflage, civilian clothing, and more than 100 props and terrain objects. 

Encountering aliens in the world's most popular military sim is unexpected, but as van ‘t Land said, Arma 3 is not a straight-up shooter: The Laws of War DLC released in 2017 set players up as members of a non-combat NGO and focused on the consequences of warfare rather than the combat itself. Sales of that DLC raised nearly $177,000 for the ICRC. And if and when aliens do make contact, it will no doubt be the militaries of the world who handle (and probably screw up) first contact.   

Arma 3 Contact is slated for release on July 25 and will go for $28/£22/€25 on Steam or the Bohemia Store, with a ten percent discount available until August 1. It will also be available as part of the Arma 3 Contact Edition, which includes the base game and the expansion at a discounted rate. And for truly dedicated fans, there's the Bohemia-exclusive Arma 3 Contact Collector's Edition, which includes the base game and expansion, a field case, a pair of walkie-talkies, an EMF-blocking Faraday cage storage container (which may or may not actually block EM fields, Bohemia wasn't super-clear on that but did say that it will look great sitting on a shelf), a topographic map of Livonia, an Arma 3 Contact poster, two stickers, and the pièce de résistance, a pair of tinfoil hats, to ensure "your thoughts remain your own." Conspiracy theories not included. 

Check out some new screens from Arma 3 Contact down below. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.