On our way into an exclusive demonstration of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, we viewed a graphic comparing the traversal area of the fifth game, compared to every other Metal Gear. The sheer and overwhelming size of the open-world environment is very different to what players have experienced in other entries. Even with such a huge playground, Metal Gear Solid V still focuses on the series’ pillars – tactical, stealth-based gameplay. Big Boss, or Venom Snake – as he shall be known in MGSV, also returns as the playable protagonist. For our E3 demonstration, we were shown Boss’ adventures in 1980’s Afghanistan and his Mother Base headquarters. The demo we saw was running on a PlayStation 4, outputting 1080p and 60 frames per second. Visually, MGSV is one of the most beautiful games of this generation.
The game opened with Ocelot informing a beaten and weary Snake that he was heading in alone to rescue a compatriot (name withheld because spoilers!), and that he must reclaim his legendary status among everyday soldiers. The cutscene transitioned flawlessly into gameplay, with Snake riding his horse into enemy territory. Snake accesses his iDroid – which servers as your in-game reference for maps and information – to pinpoint the last known location of his lost friend. Heading off on horse over the desert, Kojima Productions demonstrated the art of ‘next-gen’ stealth, with Snake handing off the side of his horse to avoid detection.
Snake dismounts and sneaks up on a few unsuspecting guards. The developers have made hiding and peaking around cover more robust than in Ground Zeroes, and players can use Snake’s prosthetic arm to tap on walls and attract enemy guards. The player knocks out the guards before using the Fulton recovery system to send the soldiers back to Mother Base, adding to their army, exactly like in Peace Walker. Snake also applies the Fulton to a shipping crate, adding to the Mother Base’s resource stockpile, and then comically attaches the device to a goat, sending it wildly into the air, because reasons. The demo also shows the game’s dynamic weather, and how a sandstorm can be used as cover for sneaking past guards in reduced visibility.
Snake eventually approaches the base where his objectives lies, and uses his iDroid to fast forward to early the following day, just as the guard shift is changing and there shall be fewer enemies on alert. The player, however, first allocates some of the Fulton-recovered soldiers returned to Mother Base’s intelligence section. The allows fresh information to be send to Snake so he knows where exactly enemies will be patrolling, and hence make an even quieter approach. Snake can also call in supplies via Fulton, and in the demo, the player had a ‘next-gen’ cardboard box delivered. From this paper sanctuary, Snake can shoot and also use the Fulton to recover resources.
Snake sneaks his way into the enemy camp, being careful to avoid foes, silently knocking out anyone in his way and also attaching a jeep to the Fulton system. The player shows that despite his mechanical augmentations, Snake is still extremely agile; ducking behind cover and rolling out of sight while prone. The player eventually discovers information pointing to the next line of investigation, but things get loud and Snake has to shoot his way out of trouble. Again using the resources he has allocated at Mother Base, Snake calls in an airstrike to cover his retreat to an awaiting chopper.
The next segment of the demo showed Snake visiting a fully functioning Mother Base. Our demonstrated said that the base can be upgraded with new platforms and defences. Snake is free to explore, taking part in firearms training or even sparring with the new recruits. Visiting Snake’s home will serve to break up the stealth operations and increase the player’s available resources.
Our demonstration of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was short, but demonstrated the outstanding scope of the game and the multitude of options players shall have to embark on tactical stealth operations. Kojima looks to again leave his mark on a new generation of consoles when the game is released in the near future.
The series has polarised many a player, the creator continues to claim that he didn’t want to make another one, but here we are at E3 2014 at the presentation for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Regardless of how keen he was to make it, Hideo Kojima himself was constantly patrolling the show floor throughout the show, and possibly looking in every now and then to see whether his baby was been treated properly. In any case, we got into a very special half hour presentation of the latest build of the game.
The majority of the demo showed off the way that the game is supposed to expand on Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. Most interested players will have cottoned on to what the story is about – following the events of Ground Zeroes, Big Boss/Snake is back, minus an arm but plus a mighty wicked horn (from shrapnel)… and is hell bent on revenge. It is quite clear that the events of The Phantom Pain will be setting into motion the lead up to the escapades of Solid Snake. Something that was evident though, while the story is taking on some rather dark and serious material, the gameplay has a lot of tongue-in-cheek moments, similar to the rest of the series.
Given the penchant for Hideo Kojima to ‘surprise’, it would be remiss to assume that the game would entirely take place in the mountainous deserts of Afghanistan. Still, we were told that the game area would be 200 times larger than the area of Ground Zeroes. The whimsical demo showed off the Fulton Recovery system – as started in Peace Walker – which was used to capture soldiers, cargo crates, cars… and even a sheep. The pace of the stealth was impressive, with Snake (now known as Venom Snake) being faster, more agile and reflexive than ever. The favoured cardboard box was impressively upgraded as well, with the ability to pop out and shoot enemies, as well as escape out of the side of the box if spotted.
A lot of time was also spent on showing off the dynamic environment effects, as well as the gameplay possibilities for planning and executing your tactics. For example, you can could lay out a path of way points, having used your scouts from ‘Mother Base’ to observe where the scouts are. And following an appropriate equipment drop-off, you could follow this path towards your objective. Now speaking of Mother Base, this demo was the first occasion that revealed you’ll be rebuilding your very own Mother Base – which will be entirely of your own making (meaning no two bases will be the same) and can be visited and walked around on between missions. Also, players will need to defend their base from enemy attacks – given those you’ll make through your play time.
Even with the additions and changes, the game is still distinctly Metal Gear Solid, as indicated by the played up story, the whimsical stealth gameplay and overdrawn cut scenes. Yes, it will like polarise players but at the same time, there will be nothing out there quite like it, when it eventually does release…