The First Hour Of... Operation Flashpoint 2

It's been eight years since PC gamers waged war in Operation Flashpoint. Now the sequel - in name, if not developer - is coming to console. How's it shaping up?

A caveat before I begin: I'm playing a preview build here. This build consists of two missions only. There's no campaign for me to test out, nor any multiplayer. This isn't the final game; in fact it says "Work In Progress" up in the top right-hand corner while I'm playing. Just in case I forget.

I arrive at Operation Flashpoint never having played the original. However I do enjoy a good shooter, especially a thinking man's type of shooter, which is what I envisage this to be. I'm playing the Xbox 360 version.

00:00 - I jump into a mission entitled Dragon Rising, described as an "introduction" to the game. Not sure if this is the first mission of the actual game, but it does sound like it acts as a tutorial. My mission objectives are to destroy the early warning radar network in the island's south and, as a secondary task, destroy the surface-to-air missile emplacement to the north. 00:03 - I take a moment to assess my squad. There's four of us (the squad select screen shows up to five soliders can be assigned to a specific squad) including a machinegunner, engineer, medic and leader (me). Each solider has a loadout consisting of a primary weapon, a sidearm and two other equipment slots. I can look at these pre-mission, but at least for this mission in this build I can't change them. 00:05 - We're dropped in a field dotted with trees and a smattering of waist-high stone walls. In the distance smokes plumes from a burning tank. Looking through 360-degrees it's clear this is an expansive environment with few obvious barriers to exploration. A waypoint marks my progress to the base of a gently-inclined hill. 00:08 - Upon reaching the waypoint marker, a tutorial pop-up informs me I should order my squad to suppress or flank right. Heeding the advice, I run to a nearby wall and crouch just as the enemy further up the hill opens fire on us. I hold down RB to open up the command menu and fumble around for a few moments trying to find the relevant orders. Bullets are flying past me ears and pinging against the stone in front of me. 00:10 - Still unable to find either the suppress or flank right commands, something explodes and the camera pulls back to show my body lying in the grass. I appear to be dead.

00:14 - Restarting the mission, I try to familiarise myself with the command menu before heading to the waypoint. It's not entirely intuitive. You hold RB and then use the d-pad to navigate a series of sub-menus, each with four options. I eventually find suppress under the Orders/Fire sub-section and flank right under the Orders/Offense sub-section. Got it. 00:16 - We advance to the waypoint and I get my guys to lay down suppression fire. I'm just about to sneak up the right-hand side under some tree cover when two of my guys go down injured. A tutorial pops up to tell me I can heal them by dressing their wounds. Trouble is I can't actually see my guys any more. Still crouching, I scramble around the area near the waypoint before finally spotting one of my guys as he stands up to shoot. I'm not sure if he's one of the injured or not, so I heal him regardless. I spot a second of my squad and try to heal him, but can't. Guess he's not injured. Still, for some reason, two of my squad icons are still red. Dunno where the third guy is. 00:20 - I give up and tell my squad to flank right instead, while I cover them from here. I spray the enemy sandbags up the hill while my guys move forward. Soon there's no return fire, so I cautiously make my way up the hill. Upon reaching the sandbags I can't find any corpses, but at least no one's shooting at me.

00:25 - From my position near the top of the hill my compass is showing two clusters of red dots indicating enemy units. The cluster to the southwest lies directly ahead over the hill's crest and that's where my next waypoint leads. To the southeast, beyond where the hill sharply drops away, is the other bunch of red dots. I go prone and crawl to the southeast ridge before pulling out my binoculars. While hidden in the long grass I can survey the small village below the ridge, spotting five or so troops milling about. Opting to chicken out that discretion is the better part of valour, I crawl back to the crest of the hill and call my squad to regroup and follow me to the southwest waypoint. 00:29 - I can hear gunfire over the hill. I crouch behind a couple of rocks near the summit and command my squad to lay down suppression while I scope out what lies ahead. Down below, about 100 metres away across an open field is a small base. A half-dozen enemies are bunkered down, returning our fire. To my right the hill appears to abruptly turn into a cliff overlooking the sea. To my left a series of rocks and bushes give way to a few trees, providing a bit of cover even if it does take me closer to the occupied village over the ridge.

00:33 - Still commanding my guys to suppress, I begin to crawl along behind the rocks. With the long grass and other foliage all around me, my visibility is low but I press on and hope I'm heading for the trees. I poke my head out from a shrub for a second, edging just that little bit too far into the open before ducking back. It's too late though, as the bullets start to rain down on my position. I get hit and notice the damage indicator bottom left shows my head a different colour to the rest of my body. The screen is starting to turn red and my vision fading. I've just switched to my first aid dressings when the camera once again pulls right back over my body. I'm dead. 00:38 - Thankfully I can restart from the checkpoint I hit at the top of the hill. This time I notice a camouflaged tent slightly to the west. Next to it I find a weapon cache including - oh the convenience! - a QBZ95, which the bracketed class designation tells me is a marksman rifle. I grab it and crawl to the top of the hill, instructing my squad to flank left through the trees while I snipe from above. They manage to take out a couple of guys near the sandbags and I drop the remainder huddled near a building. All clear, I think.

00:42 - I crouch-run down the slope, instructing my guys to move into positions near the sandbags. I reach the base and find one of the enemy soldiers is only injured, he's just lying on the ground, writhing there. I switch to my handgun and put him out of his misery. Then I search his corpse and take his ammo. Then I search his friend's corpse and take his ammo too. Gunfire and the rumble of what I assume to be a plane flying overheard can be heard. I hunt around for more corpses to loot. 00:45 - At this point I've actually forgotten what my objective was. I'm still poking around the base when I remember I was meant to destroy the radar. That would explain that waypoint marking an important location just a few feet away underneath the communications tower. Just as I've equipped the demolition charges, my commander radios in to tell me I've taken too long and they're aborting their mission. There is no option, sadly, to tell him "I'm right here and I'm about to blow this shit up and, hey, maybe I'd have gotten it done quicker if you'd briefed me better on the controls!" 00:48 - So I have to repeat that section again, choosing to use the same successful tactics. This time, however, I forgo the corpse-looting until I've set the demo charges and taken out the radar tower. Unfortunately, despite moving behind some sandbags at what I thought was a safe distance, I still manage to injure myself in the explosion. I staunch the blood loss with my trusty bandages as the commander radios in his next instruction. Apparently I have to call in combat support using my binoculars. Those things have a phone? Awesome!

00:52 - After making cautious progress to the ridge overlooking the village to the southeast, I pull out my binoculars and see those same five or so guys I spotted earlier. Only this time they're under fire from several friendly squads perched atop the cliff opposite my position. I bring up the combat support menu, my active options currently limited to a howitzer, which I choose to deploy in "scattered" fashion. I watch the shells rain down, throwing huge clouds of dust into the sky. Command tells me I've done well. 00:54 - My squad is now redeployed back to near where we started this mission, so I tell my guys to follow me and we jog to the waypoint some 300 metres away. We're nearly there when command informs me that some light vehicles have been spotted heading our way. We're to intercept and eliminate them. 00:56 - Moments later I can hear at least two jeeps approaching from the north. I drop prone on the spot and tell my squad to advance to the dilapidated shack up ahead. Now crouching I manage to snipe one of the drivers before the rest of the enemy soldiers scatter. I pick off a second guy crouching behind a wall. My squad reports a third and then a fourth enemy has been eliminated. 00:58 - The compass shows one guy left. Through my rifle's scope I spot him hiding in the trees on the other side of the road. I hit him but he's still alive. My squad moves forward across the road and we finish off the injured enemy. As we turn back we spot another couple of red dots on the compass coming from the same direction we'd arrived. 00:59 - I command my troops to take cover by the stone wall on the side of the road while I approach one of the abandoned jeeps. There are options to jump into the driver's, passenger or gunner's seat. I opt for the latter, but just as I do the preview code starts to wig out. I can't look around, shoot or even get out. The battle continues all around me but my controls have locked up. Which is good timing. 00:60 - Because time's up!

So, the big question is… Do I want to keep playing beyond the first hour?

I've seen enough here to know that I want to check out the final game come September. It's clear this is a shooter that prioritises quick thinking above being quick on the trigger. Yet it also advantages the player who understands they need to proceed with caution. That appeals to me far more than the shooting gallery type of FPS.

Even though by the end of the hour I'd gotten the hang of issuing basic commands, there were a host of other options I'd barely looked at. A proper tutorial would be of huge benefit. The evidence points towards a deep, complex experience. Let's hope it also manages to be accessible to those willing to give it a try.

If you've got any questions about Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising, let me know and I'll try to answer them today.

Kotaku AU Note: This post was originally published on July 28. We were later informed there was an embargo in place on Operation Flashpoint 2 preview coverage. That embargo has now lifted.


Comments

    A good read.

    Would you say OpFlash is prettier than ArmaII? It certainly looks like it from the screenshots.

      Prettier? Perhaps. Certainly it's more polished. It doesn't look as good in action (on 360 at least) as it does in those screens.

    How large was the area that you were able to move in.
    Was it being played on the 360 or PC with a 360 controller?
    If it was on 360 how do the graphics look compared to the screens that have been released. Im assuming that the screenshots have been for the PC.

      Fairly large. I get the sense I could have wandered off in the opposite direction to my objective, if I'd felt so inclined. That I didn't is irrelevant. As long as it feels like you can, that's all that matters.

      As mentioned, I played 360 code. I suspect you're right in assuming the screenshots are from the PC version (with all the visuals dialed right up).

    would it be fair to say it's about halfway between COD and Arma?

      It's nothing like Call of Duty. In the sense that it isn't a corridor shooter with respawning enemies, it's much closer to ArmA II.

    It sounds awesome, but do you think they've taken the realism too far David? Also when issuing squad commands, does the game pause or is it real time? As tricky commands in real time aren't a lot of fun

      Too early to call on the realism front. For me, going too far is when you're getting killed by enemies you not only can't see but never even knew were there. On the two occasions I died, I was very much aware of the enemy position. I didn't find it harsh or unforgiving.

      Squad commands are issued in realtime. Once you know where they are on the menus, it's quite quick. Your allies are fairly smart too, so when you say "flank right" they know where to go. You're not fiddling around telling them exactly which enemies to flank or which route to take.

    Great first impression thanks David.

    A couple of quick questions:
    The time limit on blowing up the radar, was this just a one off thing? It could get very frustrating if most missions have them (and discourages free roaming).
    When reloading, did the troops always seem to be found in relatively the same position between loads, or did they at least roam somewhat (ie, does it prevent you from rote learning the missions, as a timed mission would somewhat encourage rote learning).

    Lastly, the enemy troops appearing on the compass. Can you turn this function off? How accurate was it in terms of being able to recognise an enemies hiding place prior to actually spotting them for yourself? I realise knowing their locations encourages tactical thinking, but it also removes some of the proper quick tactical thinking required when you suddenly realise you are within firing range of someone you just spotted/ambushes etc.
    I'm worried that this will remove the need for situational awareness, surveillance and the feeling that something could go down at any moment that ARMAII has.

    In terms of gameplay, is OPF2 as much as a battle simulator as Arma II?

    Are the environments as open and interactive as Bohemia's Arma titles (capturing the unique feel of the original Operation Flashpoint)?

    Cheers David.

    I don't have any questions to ask, most of them have been asked already.

    All I want to say is, I can't bloody wait for this game!

      Hi David,

      I was wondering why it was difficult for you to determine which team mate was wounded or not. Were you not able to tell by blood stains on their uniform or blood on their faces? Do you remember call outs from your team mates that they were hit (if you were able to make that out over the noise of the trade floor)?

      Thanks in advance

    How customizable are the controls? Can you get in there and remap each button function?

    The game comes out in October..

    Thanks for the great preview. All the Fans from official forums are reading this. Our comments can be found here: http://community.codemasters.com/forum/showthread.php?t=368559 - if it's inportant to you.

    It's good to see the AI is functional and the game is as lethal as noted. Its very nice to know "It’s nothing like Call of Duty. In the sense that it isn’t a corridor shooter with respawning enemies, it’s much closer to ArmA II." it's one of the greater fears of people.

    It's nice to as well here what you feel from the game. It's very good to know that this game casts the sense of grandeur and exportation rather then "Heres your limited mission zone" go forth!.

    If you ever feel like providing a larger hands on, keep typing - The OFP:DR community will find your post :D. We are really interested in how fluid the game is and the level of realism. We have such limited information from CM at this time, so we must we rely on people like your self to fill us in.

      Thanks for the feedback. I know you guys have a lot of questions, so I'm planning to spend a bit more time with the game today and pay attention to the specific issues you and your fellow fans have now raised. Stay tuned.

        Good on you :D. If you want a audience we have a IRC channel which I can fill up in a few moments depending on the time of day.

        #OFP2.Gamesurge.net: http://widget2.mibbit.com/?server=webirc.gamesurge.net:6007&channel=%23ofp2

        Let me know here or via e-mail if your game and I'll send out a mailing list alert.

          Sadly I'm now bound by this surprise embargo. But, on the bright side, it does give me plenty of time to follow up on all the things you guys wanted to know. Check back on August 10.

            So when is Diablo III coming out? LOLOLOLOL.

            (Don't publish this plz Mr. David)

    Do you have to tell your squad to get down or will they take visual cues when in line of site and crouch or go prone when you do?

    Sounds good. The thing about those waypoints. The tendency is to ahead directly for them, when usually the best thing to do is use that most ancient of military tactics, flanking. I tend to think in the same terms I use when playing a game of chess with these kind of games. There's a certain Zen attitude to it which is a refreshing change from simple twitch reactions and ammo use.

    How was the frame rate on the 360 preview build? When there were a lot of units trading fire, was there any stutter or was it smooth?
    Thanks for taking our questions.

    Great reading, david. very interesting!

    my questions:
    1 - did u notice if the gun bobs up and down when u aim down the sights and walk?

    2 - did u notice gun sway when u aim down the sights but remain still?

    3 - how was the enemy AI? did they look for cover? were they always taking cover behind the same sandbags every time u re-tried?

    did they use trees or vehicles as cover or only pre-made cover-nodes behind obvious structures (sandbags, buildings)?

    4 - were the AI (enemies) dynamic? did they seem to move around a lot, flank and maneuver?

    5 - did u try and look for your injured teammates in the map?

    6 - did u try and see if enemies appear on the map as well?

    7 - did the friendly AIs take care of themseves? did they find cover without u pointing them towards that cover? does it seem like they can assault, take cover, suppress and such on their own or did u need to hold their hand?

    thanks!!

    My main question is this? How well does the AI, friendly and hostile work? I've heard reports of them being very good, but also at other times simply firing at their own units or not firing at all.

    Did you see anything as to how the destruction system works? If so were you impressed or was it simply average?

    You said you used the Chinese sniper rifle, did gravity apply to these rounds? Did wind alter the flight path?

    Did you choose your own loadout? If so how did the kit selection system work? If I wanted to could I just pack one weapon and lots and lots of ammo?

    As for other people's questions I can answer this. The demo is on assisted or easy mode, CM has stated there will be a Hardcore mode where your HUD is gone completely. You must do all the navigating by yourself, ammo management is an issue, and there is no saving or checkpoints. Graphically I can understand why the Xbox version isn't up to the level of games on the market as of now, but back in the day OP Flashpoint: Elite for the original Xbox didn't have very good graphics either.

    Do you have a choice between freeroaming around the large island or is it go here and do this with a time limit?

    Also did you see any ninjas?

      The demo takes place on the island south of Skira, so I guess no ninjas =P

      But are there any Samurai in the demo that could be holding out to launch a full scale invasion along with the Marines to find the ninjas?

      It's quite possible.

    Yes, you can change/modify the HUD. In "Hardcore" mode, there is no HUD whatsoever. Each difficulty level only takes away parts of the HUD, not making enemies tougher like usual games.

    When you looked downward, were you able to see you arms/body/legs?

    After sprinting for a long period, were the breathing sounds/effect realistic?

    If you were holding a rifle, would you run slower than if you were holding a pistol?

    Are explosions realistic?

    After the artillery was fired, how long did the smoke linger in the area?

    When you saw the tank smoke, was it really high in the air, or low?

    Were any Codemasters representatives there to assist you with controls?

    You said you saw the jeeps being driven by AI. Did the jeeps look like they were being driven realistically, like how they bounce if they hit a bump and such?

    Do enemies and squadmates scream things in the middle of combat?

    You said you saw an enemy just wounded and lying there. what did he look like? Was he wielding a weapon? Was he ghasping for air? Was there blood stained onto his uniform or on the ground surrounding him?

    I know these are a LOT of questions, but can you please answer them? Thanks.

    a good read thanks so much for the review

    Sounds like fun.

    On XBOX 360 can you modify your controls (I use Legacy and Tactical botton positions on the remote).

    Thanks in advance!

    If youre still answering questions..

    1. How do missions work? Do you have to complete all of them at the same time, and if not can you freeroam around the game world blowing crap up and shooting enemys? Are you always being timed or is it only during missions?

    2. Whats the largest group of soilders you can have following you?

    3. When the enemy calls upon reinforcements does this mean you'll be surrounded by 100s of enemys in a matter of seconds! or is it a small group of guys you have to deal with?

    4. Do you think in your opinion that the time limit will kill the fun in OFP2DR?

    5. How much damage can you take on easy mode before you die? Will a headshot kill you instantly?

    thanks.

    While in a vehicle can you play music on the vehicle's radio?

    Hi. Couple things that would be nice if you could answer and I would really appreciate it.

    1. Is there a time limit? I was looking forward to just free roaming the map for fun with a friend. Sounds lame I know.

    2. Did you ever notice random search parties, or enemies that weren't near the current objective.

    3. Could you pick your equipment, such as full customization before being dropped in, or could you choose classes, or no picking at all.

    4. Can you use ghilly suits???

    5. Hows the destruction?

    6. Last question... If you get shot lets say in the arm, do you lose your effectiveness at aiming, or running if shot in the leg. If so, once you "fixed it" or used a medkit on it, do you still have the aiming disability or running disability.

    Thank you very much for the time and effort your putting into answering these questions.

    D'oh.

    Will there be any heat from the publisher for accidentally breaking the embargo.
    Don't want another gamespot on our hands.

      Ha. It was their fault for not telling us about it. No dramas.

    How good are the gore/blood efects?

    It's August 11. Answers! Demandathon!

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