The Metal Gear Solid 5 presentation at E3 was the first time Hideo Kojima showed off an extended demo of The Phantom Pain, the full meal to Ground Zeroes' light appetizer. Much of that demo focused on the revamped Fulton recovery system that was established in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, which allows you to procure soldiers and items from the battlefield for your own offshore base. But we also got to see some of the new equipment that the legendary soldier Snake, aka Big Boss, carries into combat.
Today at Gamescom, Konami showed a new demo of the same mission, but with a few added twists and features related to the game's multiplayer-focused Mother Base construction system. To top it off, the closing moments of the demo raise numerous questions in regards to the identity of Snake and his private military group, Diamond Dogs.
At the start of today's demo, Snake rode on horseback into an enemy base situated in Afghanistan. As in the E3 demo, Snake's horse, for lack of a better word, defecated in the road after riding a few meters into enemy territory, but it actually served a practical purpose this time around. Seconds earlier, Snake spotted an enemy Jeep heading in his direction, and lo and behold, his horse's waste sent said Jeep into a spin and the driver into a confused state. Snake then snuck up and sent both the Jeep and its driver back to his base using the Fulton system, which whisks objects and enemies into the air for automatic recovery via helicopter.
As Snake moved towards the outskirts of the base, he spotted a pack of wolves looming overhead on a small cliff. Although there wasn't any interaction with the wolves during the demo, it was made clear by the demo narrator that wolves and other animals will attack Snake if provoked. From there, he closed in on enemy soldiers, and in classic Metal Gear Solid fashion, shot a nearby enemy in the head with a tranquilizer dart. Unfortunately, the enemies in the area were wise to this tactic as Snake's had been there and done that before. In the Phantom Pain, unlike Ground Zeroes, enhanced enemy AI will force players to alter their strategies during repeated visits to the same location, which could prevent multiple missions in the same area from growing stale for the player.
At this point, Snake's cover was blown and nearby soldiers called in a helicopter for backup. Snake, ever the resourceful soldier, managed to destroy it using a remote-controlled explosive, a Jeep, and the Fulton system. After attaching an explosive to the Jeep, Snake sent it skyward and detonated the bomb as it passed by the enemy helicopter. Stealthy? No way. Effective? Absolutely.
Now in full alert, Snake hopped onto his horse, rode off into the distance and hopped into a helicopter of his own to return to Mother Base. However, for the purpose of the demo, he ended up on another player's base, and that's when things became really confusing.
For one, the Diamond Dogs logo that's usually associated with Mother Base in Metal Gear Solid V was replaced by a logo for the "Roughneck Ravens." Soon after, while exploring under the watchful eye of sentry drones, Snake ran past a shipping container with another new private military logo, this time for "Stubborn Sheep," and finally a small boat with the Diamond Dogs logo.
Why's this significant? Here's the situation with: every player in The Phantom Pain creates a Mother Base of their own using resources gathered from the field. They will also have the ability to invade bases of other players to steal equipment and soldiers, although how this is integrated into the game at large, and how it flows from the single player content is still unclear.
To support this system and give players a sense of ownership over their base, it makes sense that there would be individual identities such as the Ravens and the Sheep, but what does it say about the importance of the Diamond Dogs, which have until now been treated as a sacred component to Snake's tale? It's a tough question to answer, and it's not the only one. As Snake progressed further and further into the enemy base, he was eventually spotted and confronted by the base's commander: Snake.
Seemingly, against all reason, you aren't the only Snake in The Phantom Pain if the demo is to be taken literally. Of course, the overarching Metal Gear Solid plot involves clones and twins, so such crazy concepts are not unheard of, but relative to the events that come before and after The Phantom Pain in the series’ timeline, it's an incredibly risky move given what's already been established. How Kojima plans on justifying the existence of multiple Snakes at this scale, with potentially hundreds or thousands of them existing in the same world, is a mystery. Then again, Metal Gear solid games have always reveled in the seemingly impossible.
There's still no official release date for The Phantom Pain, but there's a chance we may hear more by the time Tokyo Game Show starts in late September. For now, Metal Gear fans have to ask themselves: do you think Kojima can justify these unusual twists, or will it create a massive hole in the series' long-winded and complex story? Let us know what you think in the comments.See more coverage of Gamescom 2014