So it’s been a week since the launch of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (MGS V:TPP) – I’ve spent around 15-20 hours playing the game and it feels like I’m only just scratching the surface of this mammoth title. On the surface, MGS V:TPP looks like a typical open-world game. It has a vast area to explore, many things to collect, and plenty of side activities to take part in. What sets it apart is a series of incredibly well implemented game mechanics that make me want to spend all my time in this living world.
One of the brilliant things that MGS V:TPP does is to use your tactics against you. After you’ve done enough missions in a certain way, your enemies start adapting to your tactics. For example, my usual tactic is to do a night operation with a silenced tranquiliser pistol and go for headshots only. So after I’d done this a certain number of times (I’m not sure how many), my enemies started wearing helmets, and the lookouts started using night vision goggles. In addition, the enemy AI is also quite impressive. There’s a mechanic in the game that lets you airlift people, animals, vehicles, and containers out of the area of operations and add them to your base. If you decide to take a vehicle or container, the patrolling guards will notice it’s missing and call a search. It doesn’t seem to happen with missing personnel, but it is a nice touch.
Another key feature is Mother Base. Mother Base is your home and is also where all your support staff live, so managing Mother Base becomes an important aspect of playing the game. Of course, base management could potentially be overwhelming, but it’s not up to you to micromanage, you simply choose which direction to head. You get to pick which platforms to expand when you have the right resources, but more importantly, you get to choose what equipment to develop, which directly affects what you can take into the field. Not a fan of stealth? Then develop the biggest, loudest guns you can and load up on explosives. Prefer the sneaky approach? Develop the stealth suit and weapons with suppressors to capture an enemy base without them even knowing you were there. The freedom that Mother Base provides is a fantastic addition, and the staggered development progression feels right. As yet, I haven’t found myself getting bored of a particular loadout, as there’s always been something else I can research to change my play style.
You can tell that MGS V:TPP is a labour of love. Everything in this game comes together so well, and for the first time in the series, I’ve felt like the mechanics of the game have been explained to me well. All I can say story wise is that it features the same baffling characters and convoluted plots that the series is known for. I haven’t played enough to know what’s going on, and honestly I’m not sure I will even fully understand what this game is about. But every day I look forward to the journey that I am being taken on, and the freedom of approach that MGS V:TPP offers. Check back at a (much) later date for a full review.