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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (PS4) E3 Impressions

/ Jun 20th, 2014 No Comments

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain made an impact during Sony’s E3 press conference (or on the internet a day beforehand). The brand new story trailer cut by Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima featured an intense and serious look at the narrative driving The Phantom Pain. In typical Kojima fashion, the trailer focused on footage from the cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid V.

While the trailer was certainly eye catching, it didn’t show much in the way of gameplay. Gameplay from The Phantom Pain is what people want to see, especially after Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes teased the open-world style the series is moving toward. Thankfully, Konami and Kojima Productions demonstrated  30 minutes of gameplay from Metal Gear Solid V in a presentation on the show floor.

This infiltration and rescue mission showed off several new elements in The Phantom Pain. These elements include the ease of plotting an infiltration route, dynamic weather conditions, the day and night cycle, calling in supply drops, securing assets for Mother Base, information about Mother Base and the debut of a sexy new box.

The demo began with Ocelot, voiced by Troy Baker, explaining the parameters of the mission to Snake, voiced by Kiefer Sutherland. The small bit of story serves to give context, taking place after Snake has been on ice for nine years. Now he is tasked with infiltrating this compound to get information on the whereabouts of Kazuhira Miller.

Ocelot with his sly, gray mustache hands Snake Kaz’s signature sunglasses before leaving him on his own. Snake travels through this arid bit of Afghanistan on a glorious white horse. As he heads toward an area with soldiers, he can use the horse for cover in a pinch by hanging from the side of it.


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Snake rides a glorious white steed into his rescue mission.

After avoiding detection by using the horse for cover, the demo showed how Snake will populate Mother Base. The Fulton Recovery System from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker is back in The Phantom Pain. Snake can Fulton enemy soldiers by knocking them unconscious with CQC or tranquilizers.

Once unconscious, Snake can Fulton them back to Mother Base to swell his ranks. Not only can Snake Fulton soldiers as the demo illustrated, but he can Fulton vehicles, shipping containers, supplies and even sheep. Fultoning is dependent on weather and a proper open space, with the UI indicating the percentage of a Fulton successfully bringing the resource back to Mother Base.

Anything Fulton’d and sent back to Mother Base adds to the resources available to Snake during a mission. When resources reach Mother Base, Snake is alerted in-game.

Having Fulton’d a couple enemy soldiers and secured a valuable shipping container, Snake heads off toward the compound with the information he needs. A violent sandstorm kicks up and obscures everything on screen in a flurry of swirling dust as he rides off. This provides more cover for Snake because enemies cannot see in the sandstorm.


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Fulton everything!

However, it is also a detriment because he can only see a few feet in front of him. So if he happens upon an enemy he needs to act quickly to avoid being spotted using either CQC or a tranq. Dynamic weather like this can pop up during missions in the new open-world gameplay of The Phantom Pain. Later in the demo back at Mother Base, it goes from sunny to pouring rain as Snake moves around the base.

[adsense250itp]Snake moves to higher ground to get a better vantage point on the compound. Using his binoculars, he tags as many enemies as possible to help plan the safest route to his target. Not every enemy can be spotted at once as guards have routines and change position throughout the day. To help aid in planning his route, Snake uses the Phantom Cigar.

The Phantom Cigar is an e-cigar that allows Snake to pass time in-game. This gave an idea of how day and night cycles affect gameplay. Players can see how soldiers move around during different times of the day. While sneaking into an area at night gives Snake better cover and decreases visibility, the enemy knows it is more vulnerable then and increases soldier deployment.

Plotting how and when Snake infiltrates a compound is highly important in Metal Gear Solid V. The options are open to how the player wants to tackle the scenario, whether it is stealthier or a more guns blazing. The demo preferred a stealth approach. So after tagging as many enemies as possible, Snake plotted his course using the iDroid and began sneaking into the compound.


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Snake can use his Phantom Cigar to pass time and gain a tactical advantage when sneaking.

Finding a distracted guard, Snake called in a supply drop from Mother Base utilizing resources gained from the Fulton Recovery System. This tactical drop happened to be calling in the most advanced and useful stealth tool possible: a cardboard box. Now the cardboard box can be upgraded through R&D at Mother Base and boasts a ton of new features.

After calling in the supply drop, the box slowly drifted to the ground knocking out the enemy soldier allowing for Snake to recover the box, the ammo and Fulton the enemy. Possessing the trusty cardboard box, Snake becomes a tremendous threat. He no longer has to equip and un-equip the box to go from cover to action. Instead, he can move around under the protective cover of the cardboard box, stop and pop out of the top to tranq or CQC an enemy like Freddy Rodriguez in Dead Presidents. He can then hide back in the box and move toward the body to gain a better position to Fulton it.

Moving closer to the target, Snake was spotted in his box. Normally the jig would be up and he’d have to fight the enemy. However, Snake can now burst forward out of the box avoiding detection. In the case of the demo, he ran around a building to try and sneak behind the enemy investigating the box.


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

The infamous and trusty box returns in The Phantom Pain with some new tricks.

The plotted waypoints done with the iDroid provided a smart path toward the target. It wasn’t foolproof as enemies still have their own patterns. and as Snake moved through the compound, there were still times that required quick thinking to prevent guards from alerting each other. Other times an enemy that didn’t get tagged would gum up the works and Snake would have to book it into a dumpster or other cover to avoid detection.

Once Snake infiltrated the building with the information he needed. The mission became less about stealth extraction as an enemy easily spotted him trying to extract a valuable soldier back to Mother Base. Once the alarm went off and soldiers began storming his position, Snake went into fight mode and started using heavy weaponry to take out enemies. After the alarm fell, Snake sneaked off to a safe distance and called in a chopper for extraction. And he also called in an air strike from Mother Base to take care of any enemies that might pursue him.

After being picked up, Snake watched the air strike lay waste to the compound. Once extracted from a mission, he heads back to Mother Base. Here the player can see all the soldiers, vehicles, shipping containers and sheep they have acquired/Fulton’d during a mission, adding to the population of Mother Base. Players will also plot how they want their Mother Bases to look by constructing different parts of it as they see fit. No one player’s Mother Base will look the same.


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Each player will decide how they want their Mother Base to look.

When touring around Mother Base saying hello to sheep and Ocelot, the base came under attack prompting everyone to take defensive positions. The demo ended with Snake getting into a helicopter to go defend Mother Base. The online component of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will see players’ Mother Bases come under attack and task them with defending it. The more resources gained during missions, the better off players will be when it comes time to defend their base.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is going to be 200 times larger than Ground Zeroes, which means the small bit of gameplay shown at E3 2014 doesn’t even scratch the surface of what will be in the full game. The small portion played on a PlayStation 4 looks gorgeous with the dynamic weather and day and night cycles. Moments when Snake’s hair and scarf blew in the wind looked spectacular. The demo also gives a good idea of the various new kinds of gameplay opportunities the open-world format allows. The extensive management of Mother Base adds another personal touch to the overall experience. It will be interesting to see what else Kojima has in store for this massive entry in the Metal Gear franchise.


Kalvin Martinez

Kalvin Martinez

Senior Editor at Gaming Illustrated
Kalvin Martinez studied Creative Writing at the University of California, Santa Cruz. He writes reviews, prose and filthy limericks. While he is Orange County born, he now resides in Portland, OR. He is still wondering what it would be like to work at a real police department. Follow Kalvin on Twitter @freepartysubs
Kalvin Martinez

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