Operation Flashpoint: Hints & Tips
Note that all keys and key combinations described below are based on the default settings.
Learn how to control your avatar. As with any game, learning the controls and practicing until they become second nature are key to becoming adept. Flashpoint has an unusually broad range of controls, including sprinting, going prone (lying down), crouching, strafing... and all this with the option of going from first-person to third-person and back again. Learning how to control and place yourself within the Flashpoint world is a basic but fundamental aspect of surviving and becoming a better player.
Flashpoint defaults your guy to a jog. The 'walk' key - F - allows you to move around slowly which is very useful for situations requiring stealth or caution. It also slows strafing down, which is perfect if you want to carefully edge around a corner without exposing yourself too much.
The 'zoom' button - Right Mouse - doubles as the 'report' or 'reveal' button. If you aim at an enemy unit and right click, you will report them over the radio to any other members of your squad (this also marks the location of said enemy on the map in Cadet mode). Similarly, right clicking on an enemy unit you destroyed will broadcast the "TARGET IS HISTORY" radio message. On a similar note, in many vehicles and certain weapons (such as the anti-aircraft rocket launchers) the right mouse doesn't zoom but instead locks onto whatever vehicle or object is in your crosshairs. In these cases, you can still zoom in by pressing NUMPAD +.
There are many ways of looking around. Besides simply looking around with the mouse (which turns your whole upper body), you can also hold ALT to free look. This allows you to look around by turning just your characters head, which allows you to look around to the sides while still sprinting ahead, for example. Pressing NUMPAD * does the same thing, but is a toggle.
- These are from the notes section of the briefing for the second 1985 Campaign mission, Combined Arms. They're worth repeating here for anyone who hasn't read them already.:
- When moving under fire, zig-zag randomly. This gives the enemy less opportunity to lock you in his sights. Don’t stray in front of a buddy or you might get shot in the back.
- When stopping, do so behind partial or full cover (a bush is concealment, not cover, since bullets can go through bushes). It makes you harder to find and hit.
- Try not to be predictable when moving from cover to cover - all the enemy has to do is aim and wait for you to run into his sights.
- When firing from behind cover, change firing positions/places to keep the enemy from predicting where you will next appear. Confuse him, and remain unpredictable.
- After diving for cover, do not return fire from the point you dived in. The enemy is aware of your location and will be expecting to see you fire from there.
- Lie prone whenever possible. It reduces your silhouette and the target it represents. (And also reduces weapon recoil, which is especially important if you're using a machine gun)
- Don't get caught with the horizon or open sky behind you; it makes your silhouette easy to recognize and target.
- Do not move and fire at the same time. Even with a machine gun this is very inaccurate. Moving and firing also slows you down when in an exposed position.
- Keep moving. It forces the enemy to look for you and try to predict what you are up to. And if you stay stationary too long, he's going to send someone to flank you.
- Reload only behind full cover.
- Scan the area to your front as well as sides, rear and up – avoid tunnel vision. The main reason flanking is so effective is because of tunnel vision.
- Don't get so suppressed you won't peek out of cover. The enemy might walk up and shoot you.
- Use cover and concealment whenever possible, when running OR taking cover. The enemy can't see you coming if there is a tree between the two of you.
An important factor in staying alive and being effective in combat is to be alert to your surroundings - a trait often referred to as situational awareness - at all times. Keep tabs on where the enemy is and where your allies are, and look around frequently while on the move, especially in between contact with the enemy. Remember: It doesn't matter if your opponent is a better shot than you if you spot him first. Combat experience will further augment situational awareness because as you learn what the different weapons and vehicles sound like, you will be able to discern what model of helicopter is hovering in the distance or guess what side distant rifle fire is likely to belong to, for instance.
Cover and concealment
Learn to move in such a way that cover (or at least concealment) is never far away in the event that you suddenly take fire. Use the environment to your advantage, using foliage and changes in terrain elevation to stay out of sight.
AI cannot see around corners, nor can they see through buildings. The 'quirky' clipping handling of Flashpoint means those two features may not always be the case, but generally speaking, if you hide behind a house you are temporarily safe.
AI cannot see over hills. If you are approaching a village, and there is a hill between you and the town centre, you are invisible to units in the town square. It is possible to make your way to any point on the map without being seen, simply by using the geographical features around you, and by being patient.
AI may be able to spot you inside forests. Individual trees and bushes do obstruct the view of AI, but unfortunately it has been found that forests do not quite work as well as they might in terms of concealment at short range. It must be stressed however that a tree, any tree, even in a forest, will stop an incoming bullet.
Terrain can be a double edged sword. For example: if you approach your target from a hill you expose most of your squad, but you also pick up the advantage of maximizing the effect of grenades. A hill can provide cover for you if it's in-between you and your target, but this will sacrifice intelligence for you, as you lose sight of the target and it may have moved to a more defendable location by the time you are in position.
By default, only the gunner can operate the weapons in vehicles such as tanks and helicopters. If you're in a vehicle on your own, select 'Manual Fire' or (in a tank) stop and switch to the gunner's position. You don't want to be killed for lack of shooting back.
If you're in a vehicle as commander and you have a gunner, select 'Manual Fire'. The reason for this is that AI will report the presence and position of enemy units. While they are reporting this, said enemy units are shooting at your vehicle. Under normal conditions, you have to tell the gunner to target an enemy unit, then give the order to fire. If the AI is busy telling you about the enemy units, your order to fire will be put in a queue of messages, and will only be acknowledged when it reaches the top of the list. By this time your vehicle will have been blown up, which is most annoying. However, if you have selected 'Manual Fire' and manage to order the gunner to target the enemy, you won't have to wait until he's finished reporting before you fire - just press the mouse button. As a helicopter pilot, there's another reason it's best to use 'Manual Fire' rather than leave it to the gunner: AI gunners will often waste half of your rockets on a single target when you only need to use a few.
Remember where you park.
AI versus humans
It goes without saying that Humans are generally more devious than AI, at least in Flashpoint. However, Humans suffer from more limitations too.
While AI follow pre-set patterns in the way they deal with a threat, patterns that can be learned and anticipated over time, Humans are unpredictable.
On the other hand, AI can see through forests. Humans cannot. AI can see through smoke from a smoke grenade. Humans cannot. AI do not got bored, tired, or suffer from lapses in concentration, so can they do things that humans are unlikely to do (such as wait in a bush for 30 minutes to ambush you). The point is, tactics must be adapted according to whether you are playing against AI or Humans.
When you first play Operation Flashpoint and start the campaign, you will be part of a squad where an AI unit is the leader. Eventually you will become the leader of your own squad. It is therefore a good idea to learn the controls and radio commands as soon as possible and to get as much out of them as you can. The beauty of playing the game is the amount of control you have over your men. Given time and practise your squad control will give you the edge in most situations.
The most important commands are those governing the attitude of your group, in other words, how to tell them to shut up, get down, and watch that house over there, but not to fire until you give the order. Only experience will imprint the key sequences in your subconscious. An important key is the '`', just under the 'Escape' key on this keyboard. It will select the entire squad. Otherwise you would have to press the F-keys one after the other.
Something relatively overlooked in squad control is the ability to assign separate team call-signs to members of the squad. For example loons 3, 4, 5 and 8 could become Team Blue, and loons 2, 6 and 7 could become Team Red. Both teams will still be under your full control, but instead of typing the F-keys for the corresponding loons before giving them a collective order, you would simply access Team Blue or Team Red, and proceed with orders. Much faster.
Navigation is an important skill in Flashpoint, especially once you're given command of a squad as it then becomes your job to guide your men to the objective. In Cadet mode a bracket on the HUD is often visible telling you where your next objective is, and your position, and those of all of your men, are visible on the map. Veteran mode strips you of these luxuries meaning the only way to find out where you are, unless you're on a marked road or by some unmistakable landmark, is to study the surrounding terrain, down to each and every tree, to figure out your location. If you're the leader of a squad, however, you can cheat by ordering one of your men to "report status" (key combination 5-5). Assuming they're right by you, they'll then report their map-grid location, pinpointing your squad's position.
Your main navigation aids are your map and compass, accessed with the M and G keys, respectively. In some missions you're also provided with a GPS device that displays your location as a map reference. On rare occasions you're deprived of a map and compass, such as in one campaign mission where you have to navigate by the stars in the night sky.
OFP features a full time and date system. Tides and sunrise/sunset times change with the date. In some missions, consideration must be paid to timing. Some missions (usually stealth-based 'Black Op' missions) impose certain time deadlines, such as to complete a mission before daybreak. Whatever the case, if you know something is going to happen at a certain time you can use the watch (T) to monitor the time.
Keep in mind that at any time during a game, you can place markers on the map in addition to those that were placed there by the mission's author. To place a marker, simply double click anywhere on the map, and the marker will appear with an empty text box beside it. You can fill this text box in or leave it empty. You can also specify the type and colour of the marker you place (the default marker type is a red circle) by pressing the up and down arrow keys to cycle through available types, and holding down shift and pressing the up and down arrow keys to cycle through available colours, when you're done, press enter and the marker will be placed on the map. You can also remove any markers you've placed by hovering the mouse pointer over them and pressing Delete.
Markers can be very useful in both multiplayer and single player. In multiplayer, you can use them to illustrate plans to your teammates and pinpoint targets. Keep in mind that in multiplayer games, who can see the markers you place is directly tied to which text channel you have selected at the time, so if you want to place a marker for all players (including enemies) to see, you'd use Global channel, while if you want to place a marker for only your side, you'd use Side channel, and so on. In cooperative games, many players become spotters once killed, and fly ahead to warn their still-living comrades of approaching foes, marking these enemies on the map is often easier than trying to describe their locations.
In single player, markers can still be very useful in some circumstances, usually as reminders. For example, say you were driving around behind enemy lines in a jeep and parked it at the edge of a forest to go and search for an enemy base on foot, you're likely to have a great deal of trouble finding your vehicle again once you lose sight of it, as there are rarely any easily recognizable landmarks in the forest, and no one wants to get themselves killed because they're stumbling around in the forest trying to find their jeep. The easy solution is to mark your jeep on the map. It can also be useful to mark stationary targets like enemy vehicles and structures on the map for reference later.
All of the following cheats require you to hold Left Shift down and then press the numpad - (minus) button. Then let go and type the appropriate cheat code (not in caps).
Ends the mission
Unlocks all campaign missions (This must be entered in the appropriate campaign screen you want unlocked. Unlocking one campaign will result in other campaigns that are unlocked to be re-locked.)
Saves the game in your current mission. Can be useful as a quicksave function.
Generates a map in vector format