Aliens might seem like a surprising addition to Arma 3 – more at home in a bombastic action game than Bohemia's excellent sandbox military sim – but that's exactly the kind of close encounter you'll experience in Arma 3 Contact. The new spin-off expansion, which is available now on Steam, offers a more realistic spin on an extraterrestrial encounter.
In the “First Contact” campaign, you play as a NATO drone operator deployed on a training exercise to a remote region of the fictional country of Livonia. Once there, though, things get a little more real – and real weird – as you're sent a life-changing mission to investigate the appearance of an actual alien craft. But even as you work to decipher this visitor from another world, open conflict seems inevitable thanks to the already boiling tensions between the local Livonian Defense Force and covert Spetznaz operatives infiltrating from the neighbouring Russian enclave of Kaliningrad.
Through its campaigns and expansions – and thanks to an active community of scenario creators – Arma 3 already offers a wide range of experiences beyond pure armed conflict. Contact goes further still, showcasing the breadth of Arma's gameplay possibilities. In addition to infantry combat, players are asked to perform field science, electronic warfare and reconnaissance, all modelled with the series' trademark authenticity in mind. Despite the sci-fi twist, Contact's campaign is a grounded, convincing representation of a first contact scenario.
Similar to films such as Arrival or Contact, here you're not single handedly saving the world from an invading force from another galaxy. Instead you're figuring out the mystery of a truly alien presence – trying to understand its purpose under the shadow of the more knowable threat posed by mounting geopolitical pressure. It's a fascinating subject for a PC game to tackle.
Beyond the campaign, Arma 3 Contact enhances the wider sandbox with a host of new features and additions. Chief among them is a new 163km2 map of the militarised region of a fictional Eastern European country. Livonia is a landlocked Baltic state, bordering Lithuania, Belarus, Poland and the Kaliningrad region of Russia. It's a former Soviet country, which explains the aforementioned tensions between Contact's two new factions.
Those factions come complete with new gear, new skins and radio protocols in the native languages. The expansion also bring five new weapons to the sandbox. Players will be able to get their hands on the Livonian Defence Force's Promet Assault Rifle, the Spetznaz's RPK-12 Light Machine Gun and AKU-12 Carbine, the civilian Mk14 Classic Hunting Rifle, and the Kozlice Shotgun, which also comes in a sawn-off variant.
Many of the weapons come in several variants with multiple camo paints, giving enthusiasts plenty of options, but it's Contact's two new vehicles that promise to add something different to the sandbox. The ED-1E UGV is a small, remotely piloted robot that proves to be an essential tool for science and demining operations. And then there's the tractor, which will no doubt lead to some unique custom scenarios.
In addition, Contact brings new gear – from CBRN clothing to a tinfoil hat – as well as new multiplayer scenarios that take place across Livonia, and a host of free bonus content for every Arma 3 player, including NATO woodland camouflage, civilian clothing and over 100 decorative props and terrain objects for content creators to use in their projects. Whether you're seeking answers from beyond the stars, or just looking to expand your Arma 3 sandbox, the truth is out there in Arma 3 Contact – available on Steam now.