E3 2014: Making Peace in Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

It's what Kaz would have wanted.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes established the start of a new era for the Metal Gear Solid series. It was also pegged as a primer that would introduce players to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain's style of stealth. Having just watched over 30 minutes of gameplay from The Phantom Pain during a live demo, I can honestly say that Ground Zeroes left many of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain's most unusual aspects off the table. Some mechanics from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker are reintroduced in The Phantom Pain, including the Mother Base system, but there's also a wealth of brand new mechanics to discover. Some are ridiculous and goofy; some are impressive displays of aggression. All told, The Phantom Pain is the most complex Metal Gear Solid game yet, and I can't wait to dive into it headlong; under the cover of a cardboard box, of course.

The demo started the same way the trailer did from E3 2013. Ocelot and Snake ride on horseback into a sandstorm in the middle of Afghanistan with the aim of infiltrating a Soviet-controlled base to rescue their comrade, Kazuhira Miller. This scene takes place relatively soon after Snake awakes from his nine-year coma following the events in Ground Zeroes. At one point, Ocelot hands Snake a canteen of water, but he struggles to grasp it; Snake is learning how to use his new prosthetic arm, but clearly hasn't gotten the hang of it yet.

The pair stops at a cliff that overlooks a small canyon. Ocelot remarks that Snake has three days to rescue Miller, or else they'll lose their shot at revenge against those who destroyed Mother Base at the end of Ground Zeroes. For the moment, Snake needs to infiltrate a base to gain information as to Miller's whereabouts, but after that mission (which was designed specifically for E3 in this case), Snake is free to tackle the remaining Soviet bases however he sees fit. Meanwhile, Ocelot will return to the new Mother Base in order to provide aid to Snake via radio and oversee the expansion of their base. After Ocelot hands Snake Miller's sunglasses, control was handed over to the producer who was running the demo. The camera rotated behind Snake, and then, his horse defecates. The producer clarified: "Your horse will defecate. That's a feature."

Snake then rode into the desert, which was dotted with wildlife and dilapidated, dusty structures. He approached a building guarded by a tandem of Soviet soldiers. He then tranquilized one of the guards and proceeded to hold up and interrogate the other. Then, I caught the first glimpse of the return of the Fulton recovery system from Peace Walker. Essentially, Snake can incapacitate a soldier, attach a helium balloon to his back, and in a matter of seconds, the soldier will jet into the sky on his way back to Mother Base. Once there, hostages are indoctrinated into the Diamond Dogs, Snake's private military organization.

Then the demo took a comedic turn. Apparently, the Fulton recovery system can be used to abduct a number of things--not just humans. Sure enough, I saw a goat, a storage container, and a military SUV hoisted into the air via balloon. Depending on the weather conditions and your surroundings, there's the chance that the recovery won't go as planned. You're given an indication of the success rate in the form of a percentage, which is typically around 80% in good weather. Interestingly, rather than call for a helicopter when you want to be evacuated to Mother Base, you can take a seat in a vehicle, or hop on top of a container, and use the Fulton system for a quick escape. However, if you try to do so in a sand storm, there's a chance that you'll be thrown off course, and likely die as a result.

Your horse will defecate. That's a feature.

A minute after attempting to recover a person, animal, or thing, you receive an indication as to whether your package was safely delivered back to base. If the recovery was successful, you earn GMP, which you can use to build up Mother Base and order airdrops in order to acquire new items and weapons in the field. If you're feeling brave, you can order the airdrop to fall on top of an enemy, but you run the risk of disrupting order in crowded areas. During the demo, Snake called in a cardboard box, a mainstay of Metal Gear games. You still use the box to sneak around, but you have a couple of new options when it comes to dealing with enemy forces while in disguise. Snake can temporarily pop out of the top of a box in order to encounter enemies, rather than shed the box altogether. He can also pop out of the side of the box and sneak away, leaving it as a decoy for a curious soldier.

After the presenter snuck away from his box, he went around a building and spotted a nearby enemy. It was then that he demonstrated Snake's new method of wall knocking; the technique that beckons nearby guards. Rather than rapping his knuckles against a wall, Snake spins his prosthetic hand at the wrist, which emits sparks and a series of audible clicks and clacks. You no longer need a wall to knock. However, Snake was leaning against a wall, and when a soldier came around to investigate, Snake scooped him up by his neck, turned 180 degrees, and slammed the soldier's head into a wall. Similarly, when you're hiding in a dumpster, you can pop out and wrench an enemy inside, incapacitating him.

Then Snake approached the base where he hoped to find information regarding Miller's whereabouts. Sure, Snake can mark guards and track their movements, but there are some guards that remain out of sight. Always the man with the plan, Snake has a way to monitor the movements of soldiers over the course of an entire day. How does he do this? By smoking an e-cigar, of course. Yes, it's absurd, but while Snake puffs away on his smokeless cigar, which emits fake, holographic smoke, time passes unusually fast, and you can use the iDroid to keep track of different patrol patterns. Once you've got a good idea of where soldiers like to go, you can set multiple markers and use them as waypoints to steer yourself clear of harm's way.

After employing the usual sneaking and close-quarters-combat tactics, Snake winds up in a room with a document related to Miller's location. Rather than steal it, he scans it with his iDroid device, forwarding it back to Ocelot at Mother Base for analysis. With his mission complete, Snake exits the building, but is quickly spotted. After dashing out of harm's way, he uses his iDroid to call in an airstrike on the base to eliminate traces of his infiltration, and the enemies on his tail. He also summons an escape helicopter a few hundred meters away from the base, and steals a vehicle in order to make his initial escape. Eventually, the chopper comes to his rescue, but as Snake flies away, enemy reinforcements begin to close in. In some scenarios, they can fire upon the helicopter, but in this case, it was a clean getaway.

Then, Snake arrived at Mother Base. Here, I got to see the results of all of his hard work. Every player's Mother Base is built to their own specifications, and contains all of the people, items, and yes, animals, that were recovered from the field. At one point, after roaming around his domain, Mother Base came under attack, but this was where the demo ended. Snake hopped back into a helicopter and took off, but not before brandishing the Kojima Productions badge, which he proudly attached to his harness.

For a demo of a game that I thought was a well-known quantity (from a gameplay perspective), there was a lot of new information to absorb. The bottom line is: in The Phantom Pain, Snake and Mother Base are intertwined, and one cannot survive without the other. The extent of this complex relationship relies on the player's willingness to participate, but given the ease at which you can build up your resources in the name of protecting your back, it doesn't seem like this will be too great of a distraction from the main game.

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Discussion

135 comments
snake3rules
snake3rules

I just wish they wouldnt shoehorn in these tacky elements like horse poop and that mother base evac thingy. The evac thing was lame and super fake-looking in peace walker, and I assume in phantom pain it will be just as effective at taking me out of the moment, and reminding me that I'm playing a videogame made by someone that has some real odd tastes and eccentricities.

Gitano
Gitano

I really think MGSV will be up there with game of the year. MGS 1 was a revolution and ( I know these are big words) I think MGSV will be as big as MGS 1 was back in the day.

bk2fut
bk2fut

Ground Zeroes is a low point for the franchise in my view as it's gameplay (once I disabled reflex mode) is crushingly life-like, to the point it is not fun as a game should be. The cover system is very "hit & miss" and I am annoyed that you cannot use a button to take cover like MGS4 or MGS:PW as it is a much more reliable method. I also do not like how the game no longer pauses when you access your inventory as it adds frustration rather than challenge to the game. I also found GZ's climax to seem pretentious and immature. Up until GZ, I always found MGS games to have fantastic stories and the humour was the only immature part (which I loved). TPP has a lot to account for and a lot to recover from as MGS: GZ is the Splinter Cell: Conviction of MGS. However, GZ has gone too far in the opposite direction (gameplay-wise anyway)....with frustratingly keen-eyed enemies and little warning or feedback for the player. I do not want to play MGS with reflex mode just because the enemies can see you a mile away, it should not be so fun-suckingly realistic. 

There are realistic games due to the story they tell (and the aesthetics) and then there are "realistic" games due to dull ultra-realistic gameplay....Ground Zeroes has boring, excessively realistic gameplay with a storyline that supposedly attempts to seem realistic whilst coming across as surreal beyond belief. I miss the "?" marks over enemies (they still have the "!" marks though) and I miss MGS4's gameplay where the cover system was reliable and the game gave you a chance before getting spotted.

Bowser05
Bowser05

Oh my goodness I absolutely cannot wait for this!

burnettaj
burnettaj

Anyone know the name of that song and artist? 

diggyphelps
diggyphelps

It's what PAZ would have wanted.*


FTFY Gamespot, ya bunch of noobs.

thefjk
thefjk

this game looks kinda banging!

arsnakeheart
arsnakeheart

This is a dream come true! Metal Gear becomes Delta Force... and then some!

opellium_52
opellium_52

Is there any chance for this game to come to pc??

ctlaltbatman
ctlaltbatman

Kojima's pulling out all the stops for this one. Can't wait to get my hands on it.

Gazz_mann
Gazz_mann

Reading this makes me so excited! I hope it comes out at the start of next year, not the end.

BuNKiTZ
BuNKiTZ

I am so getting a bunch of goats or sheep or whatever the hell else animal I can find.

MooseyMcMan
MooseyMcMan

Yeah, but does his shadow have hair now? It didn't in Ground Zeroes. 

BFKZ
BFKZ

I hated his voice, everytime he talks I think of david hayter...:(

gba1989
gba1989

Standing on the edge of the crater
Like the prophets once said
and the ashes are all cold now
No more bullets and the embers are dead
Whispers in the air tell the tales
Of the brothers gone
Desolation, devastation
What a mess we made, when it all went wrong.


edhc44
edhc44

While it looks spectacular and makes me want to play Peace Walker just to catch up (I've tried and haven't enjoyed it), I still can't wrap my head around the fact that Kojima ditched David Hayter. The excuse that this game is sooooo different that they had to go with Keifer Sutherland is complete bullshit as they still have cast the same japanese voice actor.

Heshertonfist
Heshertonfist

Anyone else think you'll have to fight Snake at the end of this game?

gba1989
gba1989

@bk2fut MGS Peacewalker is exactly the opposite. Extremely myopic enemies. Can't even see you a few feet away. V has corrected this one.

-s3r6i0-
-s3r6i0-

@bk2fut Hmm... everything you complained about I loved about GZ. The game is more immersive when it's realistic and more challenging. It will be even better once all the features are introduced. Reflex mode was actually a good idea. One thing I hate about old MGS games is that once you are spotted and the enemy radio's for help, you have to hide and remain hidden for a minute and a half. After a while it gets tedious. With reflex mode, sometimes the enemy will be behind a wall and hard to shoot so it's kind of balanced. I played the game more than once so I know. The real-time inventory? Please. Resident Evil was famous for that. You kinda have a point about the cover system but look at it this way, Kojima is known for squeezing every last drop of juice out of a controller; dual function buttons and a large arsenal of moves. Using a button for cover will just take a resource from another more valuable action that could be used to enhance game play. And using the cover is not that hard, you just have to practice. It seems your not really a fan of trial and error, you like to casually breeze through games. 

doc-brown
doc-brown moderator staff

@diggyphelps Sure, that's the quote, but maybe you missed the part where this demo focused on the rescue of KAZuhira Miller. Get it?

gokuss4z
gokuss4z

Couldn't agree more!! :)

fox89die
fox89die

@BFKZ In my opinion, from the very beginning of time they had to use different voice actors for Big Boss and Solid Snake. They used same voice then suddenly changed it in MGS4 !
I'm aware they are clones and they must be identical in many ways though.

Xristophoros
Xristophoros

@BFKZ couldn't agree more. it is jarring to say the least. after 15 years knowing a character it is hard to get over this drastic change. a hayter cameo at the end of the game would be welcome. 

NbAlIvEr10000
NbAlIvEr10000

@edhc44 Well he said he wanted to differentiate the sound of Big Boss and Solid Snake to give the characters more realism, as a MGS fan it is difficult to get past, but Sutherland does a good job IMO.  If Solid Snake ever comes back then I'm sure they'll get Hayter back.


I'm like you too, I tried playing Peace Walker and it just didn't feel much like a MGS game to me and also had trouble playing though it; eventually did though, but at a half-assed pace making it hard to follow for me..  Good thing is though Kojima always puts a "cliff-notes" section in the Extras menu of all his MGS games so you can follow the story more vividly.

diggyphelps
diggyphelps

@Heshertonfist Solid? He's like 12, so no.

JJB03
JJB03

@fox89die @BFKZ Perhaps Hayter will reprise his role with solid snake in which case the sudden change in voice actor is justified 

NbAlIvEr10000
NbAlIvEr10000

@Xristophoros @BFKZ Well, Kojima did say they wanted to differentiate the realism of how Big Boss (aka Naked Snake) sounded more like Solid Snake......I guess thats a hint at if they ever do another sequel with SS then we might get Hayter back.

BFKZ
BFKZ

@Xristophoros @BFKZ I think people have worshipped Kojima so much, that he is starting to fix things that aren't broken, his work is still very impressive though.

diggyphelps
diggyphelps

@Heshertonfist @diggyphelps What Snake are you talking about? Solid, Liquid, Solidus? Or are you talking about Big Boss? If Big Boss, no I doubt it.

Heshertonfist
Heshertonfist

@diggyphelps Solid Snake, you are Big Boss in this game. The only reason I think you might fight Solid Snake is because it takes place in 1984, the very first Metal Gear was released in 1987, Big Boss, who you play as in MGS:V is the final boss of the original Metal Gear. Just a random thought I had.

normanislost
normanislost

Unless I missed some news David hayter hasn't done any voice work for this game so that's no solid snake

diggyphelps
diggyphelps

@JJB03 @Heshertonfist @diggyphelps 1.He's 12, Hayter isn't going to voice a 12yo. You think Cam Clarke is going to voice 12yo Liquid? 

2.Kojima changed actors because Kiefer will perform better when it comes to line delivery and facial expression. 

3.If they do remake MG1 and 2 then they need to have 2 separate actors otherwise people won't know who the hell is talking.

Dan11223344
Dan11223344

@diggyphelps @JJB03 @Heshertonfist There's no reason why time can't 'flash forward' at the end of the game. I could see a small prologue where Solid Snake fights Big Boss. It would definitely  bring the series "full circle" as Kojima likes to say.

normanislost
normanislost

I was pointing out the last boss wouldn't be solid since hayter isn't involved, unless your suggesting they got a new voice actor for the games last boss a 12 year old solid snake?

diggyphelps
diggyphelps

@normanislost No, the game is set in 1984 where Solid and Liquid are both 12. It wouldn't make any sense to have Hayter voice a 12yo.

normanislost
normanislost

I know that..... your missing my point lets just leave it at no solid snake isn't the last boss

littlegoodson
littlegoodson

@diggyphelps @normanislost  Probably no SS battle, but he could still appear as they age much quicker than regular people due to the effects of the "Les Enfants Terrible" project - so although 12 years old, may appear to be late teens/early twenties (about the same age as Ocelot who makes a brief appearance in the trailer, which would be interesting).


Also, the fact that Hayter and Konami have made such a big deal about not working together makes me wonder...

diggyphelps
diggyphelps

@littlegoodson @diggyphelps @normanislost Liquid has the same accelerated aging and he looks like a normal 12yo in PP, so if Solid is there I assume he will look preteen as well. Personally I hope They remake MG 1 and 2 and bring back Hayter for Solid and Sutherland for BB.