05: Powder Trail - Operation Flashpoint: Dragon Rising
This is a level heavily reliant on vehicles and will be your first time driving one if you did the short version of Mission One and ignored them on Mission Three. The main priority is to assist Dagger One Echo who are pinned down by the PLA, then rendezvous with them to search for a missing helicopter crew. Once found, we are to extract them to safety. Unfortunately, it doesn't all go to plan, as you will discover during the course of the mission. This is a longer mission than Mission Three and Mission Four.
Secondary Objective 1: Support Recon Team Dagger One Echo:
From the start you need to be quick and act before Dagger One Echo and their pair of HMMWVs are taken out by the enemy. They are pinned down so we need to get there fast. You have two options. You can head up the hill and directly towards Dagger One Echo, joining their position and helping them to defend the jeeps. This is problematic in that the enemy are concentrating on Echo and their full attention is in one place. If you head along the road, to the left of the hill, you can flank the PLA, split their focus and get some easy kills while they are concentrating on Echo.
From the start head left along the road, and once around the bend, veer off and head diagonally north-east. Look at your map to spot the enemy, and engage them as early as possible. This draws the fire away from Echo and should delay any attempts by the PLA to fire RPGs at the jeeps. While it costs you the element of surprise, it may save the entirety of Echo. I recommend setting your team to 'move fast' to a position not far away from the enemy, just so they get their quickly enough. If you just ask them to 'move' or even 'follow', they may end up taking far too long to support you. Once close enough, set your squad to 'assault' any targets in range.
Assault the PLA attacking Echo
There should be three PLA in the first group. Once they are dealt with, target the team across the road to the east. There is a third team, further north across the road, but you don't want Echo to get taken out, so prioritise the closest enemies. With them down, head to the RV point and rendezvous with Echo. Pilfer the M4A1 (Marksman) from the ammunition crate, and man the jeep. Tell your squad to join you, as HQ let you know where the helicopter crew may be found.
Primary Objective 1: Search for Downed Crew:
Wait for Echo to move out, and follow them at a decent distance. The dust makes it hard to see them, but just follow them as best you can. Click the right stick to change the camera (you can't move it around). Once you get into the large field (you'll see some tracer fire in the distance) and see some buildings and gun emplacements, head for the left hand side of them as fast as you can. They shouldn't be able to fire down the hill at you too accurately, and the AI on the guns is fairly woeful. Once you get behind them, you'll be free to disembark and flank the soldiers for easy kills (they tend not to get off the guns to engage you, especially if you overtook Echo and the guns are firing at them still in the field). Watch out for soldiers in the buildings and on the road to the south east. Don't get complacent that the area is clear, and keep your team with you. Ensure you hit the checkpoint in the centre of this small hamlet. Echo will join you to provide assistance.
Get behind the gun emplacements in the village
Secondary Objective 2: Search Last Known Position of Helicopter:
There is also an attack helicopter, which makes it vital that you don't attract unnecessary attention, as it will take your squad and vehicle out in one volley. When you are happy, either get back in your original vehicle, or, if it has been destroyed, get in the PLA jeep parked across the road at the northern side of the village. Head to the next RV point from here. You shouldn't be engaged by any enemies. Once you get close to the two wooden buildings, stop and walk the rest of the way. Activate the checkpoint here, and use the scope on your rifle to examine the house to the north-east. You should spot a good deal of enemies, and HQ will radio you with more information.
They have some intel on a possible crash site, and you are also given permission to engage an AA site nearby, complete with an additional fire mission. It comes in more useful later, so you are better off to save it for then. If you lie prone you may be able to take out some enemies at the house with your long range weapon, but before long you will need to move up closer. Take your jeep to try and flank the guns if you couldn't remove the gunner. If you are having problems, disembark and engage them on foot – moving through the trees to the west is a good direction, though one of the guns will be facing you. Look at the map and try to move up with Echo team.
Use the house as cover from the helicopter and PLA infantry
As soon as you can, get in the house with your squad. Echo will push straight up the hill, but it's imperative that you get out of the open as soon as possible, as by this stage the enemy helicopter will almost certainly be bearing down on you. It can destroy the house, but as long as you keep your head down it is unlikely to spot you inside. After one barrage it will make another pass, and give you a little respite to find somewhere to hide. Ensure your men are inside the building as well, or they'll give your position away. Shoot out of the window at the enemies on the hill to the north, helping out Echo team. Order your team to move up once the hill looks clear (note also that if they will not stay inside the building, or the helicopter is coming down on you, it's best to split up and send them to assault, or you'll all be killed in one). There is an ammo crate by the house where you can restock. Remember to take you vehicle if you want, but it's pretty much exhausted its usefulness now.
Secondary Objective 3: Destroy AA Site
Eliminate any enemies on top of the hill, where the enemy AA site is, and the objective to destroy it will be completed (you only need to clear it of PLA, not destroy it). This means the PLA helicopter will withdraw, making things considerably easier. Activate the checkpoint on top and restock at the ammo crate if you need to. Head to the eastern side of the hill once this is done, and use your binoculars to spot the helicopter wreckage in the distance (at around 99 degrees). You'll be radioed concerning it.
Try and spot as many PLA as you can amongst the trees as you listen, and keep an eye out for a truck on its way to your position. Open fire on any enemies you can see as soon as possible, and hold position, prone on the hill, to increase your accuracy.
Fight down the hill to the helicopter wreckage
You should get assistance from Echo at this point, and it's a good idea to move down the hill if they begin to engage the enemy up close. Engage the troops in the truck and clear the area of PLA. With that done, move up to the crash site, which should now be clear. Once there, the objective will be completed, and a checkpoint will be activated.
Primary Objective 2: Rescue Helicopter Crew:
HQ will tell you that the helicopter team are engaged in a shootout in a nearby village. You have 50 minutes to reach them. From your position, you should be able to see a gun emplacement ahead, just to the left hand side of the road and due east. Take out the gunner from here (approximately 200 metres away). There is another emplacement on the right hand side of the road, and you should snipe that too as soon as possible. Engage the other troops at this checkpoint, and move in yourself. There is also a virtual checkpoint here that you can activate. Use the ammo crate to stock up, specifically getting the QBZ95 Marksman if you need more Marksman ammo.
From here, head directly east along the road, slightly away from the next RV marker. Before long a PLA squad will come into view near the road. Take them out from range and continue. Once you get to the entrance to the village, move down the right hand side of the buildings (west). Send your team to engage any targets in the centre of the village as you flank down the western side towards the helicopter crew. Pick off any that you can see, but concentrate on getting to the building. You shouldn't encounter too many soldiers, with most engaged in fighting your squad. Most of the enemy forces will be to the east of the village, so stay on your side and use your squad to divert attention and suppress. Once you get to the fence, hop it, and begin to move diagonally towards the RV marker and helicopter team. They have armed themselves and, if you have got there early, will have the PLA at bay. Once you get to the building, enter the door and remember to call your team back to follow you.
Secure the house and the helicopter crew will join your squad
Primary Objective 3: Sagely Extract Helicopter Crew
A checkpoint will hit once you get in, and make sure to equip the SMAW that you have been keeping for just this stage of the mission. Ensure the helicopter crew, added as a fifth team member, are following you, and head out of the building, moving to the south-west. Sprint as much as possible, but keep an eye out for enemy helicopter transports, which will now be arriving to drop off troops ready to engage you. The first will probably drop off its troops too early for you to engage, but the second is a relatively easy shot. Bear in mind that the absolute main priority should be moving as quickly as possible to the extraction point. Don't spend too long trying to shoot these helicopters down, but if you get the chance, certainly do it while you are near the village. Send your team on ahead to the next RV marker and extraction if you want to (the 'move fast' order is probably best here), as there shouldn't be anything more en route from here than they can handle.
Take out the transport helicopters if you get the chance
There will also be two enemy vehicles that come into the village, with a bonus achievement available for taking them out. Check your map and use the artillery strike and any SMAW rockets you have left to do it (ensure your team has been ordered to run to the extraction point), but unless you want the achievement, don't engage, as they should remain in the village and not follow you very far if you leave quickly.
Achievemen/Trophy: Hitchhiker (Destroy the vehicles that enter the village area) Silver/30G
Extract the crew safely
On the way to the extraction keep the pace at a sprint, and only turn around to suppress the enemies following you if you get into real trouble. You can stop and fight of course, but there shouldn't be any need if you do this all quickly enough. Once the helicopters enters your sector, it's objective and mission complete.
Achievement/Trophy: Sandman's Saviors (Successfully extract the helicopter crew) Bronze/20G
With the length of this mission there are chances to go off exploring and attacking it from new angles. Specifically, you have a large area at the start of the map after having helped Echo team to explore. As well as the two jeeps that Echo guard at the start of the mission, there is the PLA truck in the first village you come to, and the truck that engages near the helicopter wreckage. You can snipe the driver and force the rest to disembark and then use this truck to assault the village, but without any weaponry it's pretty weak. One idea (untested) would be to attack the village from the back, where you eventually extract to, and leave the truck there. You could then, in theory, use it to extract the helicopter crew much faster. Of course, if you get hit then the whole mission is over, but it's a new possible take on the climax of this level.
Your initial jeep on the other hand has a mounted gun, and wouldn't be a bad choice to use to engage those at the bottom of the hill near the helicopter wreckage. You can send the helicopter crew running to the extraction point, as there are no enemies en route, and keep everyone busy in the village with perhaps 3/4 members of your squad. This will also allow you to take out the enemy vehicles for the achievement much easier.