Steam-exclusive military shooter Arma III will enter alpha on March 5, developer Bohemia Interactive has announced. Gamers can gain entrance to the prerelease period by prepurchasing a standard copy of the game through Steam at 24.99 EUR/19.99 GBP/32.99 USD or the Digital Deluxe Edition for 9.99 EUR/34.99 GBP/49.99 USD.
The Digital Deluxe version includes the game's soundtrack, extra maps, a tactical guide, and a copy of Arma: Cold War Assault (formerly known as Operation Flashpoint: Cold War Crisis).
Both versions of Arma III include access to the upcoming Arma III beta and a digital copy of the full game at release. Gamers looking for a deal will want to prepurchase, as Bohemia said the price of both editions will jump when the beta and final game become available.
The Arma III alpha showcases four missions (Infantry, Vehicles, SCUBA, and Helicopter), a "limited subset" of weapons and vehicles, two multiplayer scenarios, access to the scenario editor, and modding support. The Arma III alpha will take place on the virtual island of Stratis.
"The Arma III alpha is a big milestone in the project's development. Testing early and often puts us on the right track towards improving performance, stability and delivering on our goal of creating a robust final release," said Arma III co-creative director Jay Crowe in a statement. "It's also a big opportunity to get the game in the hands of our passionate community, which enables them to start work on their own creations, tailored to the fourth generation of the Real Virtuality engine."
Gamers looking to spend even more can purchase the Arma III Supporter Edition (69.99 EUR/59.99 GBP/91.99 USD) through Bohemia's virtual marketplace. This premium version includes all extras from the Digital Deluxe Edition, a Steam Gift of Arma X, all future Arma III downloadable content, a special forums medal, and the opportunity to have their name in the game's credits.
Lastly, Bohemia said it will release a free, limited version of the Arma III alpha, called Arma III Alpha Lite. This will be available one week after the initial alpha release (March 14), but notably does not include multiplayer or modding support.
Access to the Arma III Alpha Lite is on an invite-only basis and can be obtained only from those who have purchased the full Arma III alpha. The Arma III Alpha Lite expires June 15 and does not include access to the Arma III beta or a copy of the final game.
Arma III is due out in full during Q3 2013 (July-September 2013). For more, check out GameSpot's previous coverage of Arma III.