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Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising

Soldier versus developer: how real is it?

Dark blue icons of video game controllers on a light blue background
Image credit: Eurogamer

As we all know, Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising is positioned as the realistic war game - the fact to Modern Warfare's fiction, if you like - and Codemasters' ballsy approach has worked well: the game is enjoying a third week in UK charts top-five surrounded by blockbuster competition.

But then selling a wargame to some of us as being "realistic" is like telling a small child about Santa Claus - we have no grounds to argue otherwise. That's why skipped off to quiz former army Major Neil Powell - a veteran of the Balkans - about the game, hoping to catch Codemasters out.

In the spirit of sportsmanship we also quizzed the developer, and wrangled plenty from both parties about army games, downloadable content and Modern Warfare 2. The interviews are presented separately, one after the other. Dragon Rising executive producer Sion Lenton strikes first.

The Maker

EurogamerOperation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising has been out for a few weeks and reviews are in - are you happy?
Sion Lenton

On the whole, yes. In reviews I'm seeing that a lot of people are 'getting it'. That was one of the big things from my point of view. The game does step up and do something different, and it does require thought because it is different to [Call of Duty]. I'm also really enthused that the co-op and online is going down an absolute storm, which I knew it would because we love it here. Server numbers are up as well, so that's all good. There's still a way to go, but I'm very encouraged!

An old, never seen online (apparently), print concept of Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising.
EurogamerWhat's first on the fix-list?
Sion Lenton

We're hoping to get some optimisation to the network code [and] streamline that a bit further. The problem with that is you never know, unless you do a full beta test, what the performance is going to be online. We're tracking it now and it's in line with our expectations. We've got some more tweaks that we can do just to optimise that experience and make it flow a bit better.

EurogamerWhen are we going to see the first Xbox 360 patch?
Sion Lenton

Very quick. Weeks as opposed to months.

EurogamerSo one is just around the corner?
Sion Lenton

Yes. Within two-to-four weeks of release, tops. Our intention is to align it with the first DLC pack that's coming out as well, which is due around the end of October. Hopefully we'll do the whole thing in one.

EurogamerThe "first DLC pack" - does that mean there will be more?
Sion Lenton


EurogamerHave you got a number in your head?
Sion Lenton

Not yet, no. But, given the engine, it's quite open-ended. It's not a lot of fuss for us to make new content - it's actually quite easy for us to get it out there, with regards to things like levels, game modes, etc.

The other thing we actually like to look at is getting some new equipment in there as well. One of the things we're hoping is we can address the balance of vehicles in the game, as there are people who expected to be able to use them more than they can in the final game. We're really ramping up the vehicle-specific missions in there. It's all really great tech, it all works, you can get in these things, so again, we'll be trying to exploit that as well.

EurogamerWill you expand on the campaign missions at all?
Sion Lenton

Who knows? I'd like to. As I said, we're pretty open-minded at the minute. We've got some stuff initially planned for this year, which I'm sure we'll be announcing soon - I'm looking at the PR here. I guess at the end of the day, let's see how it goes. But we'd love to do more stuff with it, we really would.

Codemasters has the tech and desire to expand on vehicle use in OFDR.
EurogamerOperation Flashpoint 2: Dragon Rising is billed as realistic, so I'm talking to a real-life army man tomorrow to see what he thinks. What do you think he'll say?
Sion Lenton

He'll probably tell you that you don't carry a gun like that - that's one of the bits of feedback we've been getting. Most of the people that pick this up are people with military experience, so we've got something right. We had Marines playing in multiplayer, barking orders at each other, totally in the zone. The irony is that they were barking the same orders and instructions that are in-game. Even the tactics lend themselves very well to people with military experience and a military background.

As long as he's got experience playing first-person shooters then I'd expect him to pick it up pretty quickly. I bet you he plays it completely differently to anyone in the office, and probably better! No seriously, these guys, we've watched them playing, and it's very impressive watching them, they know exactly what they're doing - it's obviously a vocabulary they're familiar with.