What’s one thing Metal Gear Solid has consistently done every game? Blow me away. And once again, Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is no different. Fans of the series will know the setting – the early 80’s, following the events of Ground Zeroes. Big Boss/Snake returns to the battlefield after a 9 year hiatus (and coma). He is back and once again building his army, the Diamond Dogs, which will become the eventual precursor to the mercenary army in control of Outer Heaven from the original Metal Gear.
Our hands-off demo experience showed a fleshed out game, a world full of possibilities. Similar to Ground Zeroes, players will be able to take Snake and maneuver through missions objectives as they see fit. The game opened with Shalashaska, or Ocelot, leading Snake into a scaled down map of Afghanistan. His mission: rescue Kazuhira Miller from enemy forces. After a brief reintroduction to the battlefield, Snake was off with no limitations. No other rules than “find and rescue Miller.” This gives you the ability to take any path, any wild idea you may have, and run with it to the end.
Immediately, we took off riding horseback down to a small outpost. This is when we saw some of Snake’s new moves, like hiding on the side of the horse to remain undetected. The game seemed to contain many of the series’ well known mechanics and features, like controls and weapons. At the outpost, the guards went down swiftly, though not through Snake’s trusty tranquilizer pistol. New CQC moves, even environmental-based ones, are available and watching Snake slam enemies’ heads into walls is a brutal and satisfying affair.
After dispatching the guards, we got to see the Fulton system again. The Fulton system was used in Peace Walker as a means to move enemies from the battlefield back to Mother Base, adding them to your army. Within Phantom Pain, this can be done on enemies, vehicles, and even large supply crates; all in an effort to expand Snake’s growing military. These additions become important for growing a variety of things – his military size, weaponry, research, and more. These also play into upgrading the new Mother Base into a formidable ocean fortress, much like it was before its destruction in Ground Zeroes.
Continuing on, Snake made his way to a cliff side overlooking the main enemy base. From here, Snake spotted a number of enemies to keep them visible on the map. After that, we used a new item – the e-cigar – to help the passage of time. We watched the weather change, day and night progress, and the enemies change shifts and positions throughout the course of time. Granted, I’m not sure how Miller could still be alive after the 4 or 5 days of time considering the urgency of the mission.
Before the final assault, we utilized Mother Base to research and then deliver a cardboard box. Why this needed research, I’ll never know. However, the delivery was the best – well planned and placed drops can incapacitate enemies, knocking them out cold. The level of detail in this game for small things, like this and the horse pooping randomly are just astounding.
The infiltration was rough at best. Reflex Mode was utilized many times and Snake even managed to secure a supply crate for Mother Base, but we had some very close calls before reaching the objective point. Inside, we used the IDroid from Ground Zeroes to quickly recover the intel and then rescued a POW inside. Leaving the base, proved to be a much different challenge. Immediately after walking out, we were spotted. Held down by enemy fire, we called in an artillery strike from off-shore before running across rooftops and more for the getaway. We decided to steal a handily parked jeep, turning the camera around in time to see the shells begin pounding away at the stronghold. Quite the explosive show overall; it completely decimated the enemy forces as well.
Finally at the extraction point, we headed back to Mother Base and took a slight tour around. This sprawling ocean fortress is upgradeable over time, as long as Snake keeps bringing home the goods from faraway places. New areas can be built and expanded, allowing for everyone to have their own distinct Mother Base according to our demo presenters. Snake can also see his spoils of war too – anything he brings home, from people to animals and vehicles will be present on the platforms.
The demo ended with an incoming enemy attack and our presenters explained these attacks can come from both in-game enemies and from abroad, hinting at the possibility of online matches between players. At this point, the demo ended and I had to pick my jaw up from the floor.
The game has no set release date yet, but will be hitting the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One either later this year or early next year.