If you’ve not been paying attention to any gaming news in the past month (if so then where the hell have you been) then you’ll know that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is pretty much the second coming of Christ. Raking in perfect scores all across the board, it looks like even all the hassle between Konami and Kojima wasn’t enough to hinder the juggernaut stealth series.
With such an amazing reception, it’s no surprise that so many copies of the game, 3 million to be exact, have been sold since its release. This means that a lot of gamers who previously haven’t touched any Metal Gear Solid games are going in quite clueless though the new gameplay and way the game plays means even old fans of the series will struggle. That’s why I though making an easy to digest guide like this would benefit everyone and even if you know the ins and outs of the game like the back of your hand, a little refresher course never hurt anyone.
DO use your binoculars as much as possible
Admittedly this one might seem a bit obvious but bare with me on this. Unlike previous entries that had a map that showed your enemies with blips along with a cone of vision, The Phantom Pain takes away player’s stabilisers and leaves them to fend for themselves. This means that to keep them tagged on your map, you’ll have to pull out your trusty pair of binoculars to keep them tracked. Not only do your binoculars tag enemies but they also analyse them to show you their stats and role. Which brings me onto my next point…
Quick tip: if you find yourself constantly being one bullet short in a gun fight, press the reload button with a full clip to grant yourself an extra bit of ammo.
DO NOT forget to fulton enemies
Mother Base in the Phantom Pain is pretty much what it sounds like: a base where you keep and improve your own personal army. However soldiers don’t just grow on trees, I think, so to get your army up and running, you’re gonna have to venture out into the open world and capture yourself some willing, or unwilling, volunteers.
Your aforementioned binoculars analysing ability will come into use here. As you tag your enemy, a little box will appear showing how well they are in different Mother Base departments represented by a letter grade, these departments being Combat Unit, Research and Development, Support, Intel, Medical and Base Development. Once you’ve found a desirable soldier to “borrow”, just sneak up, stun or put them to sleep and then Fulton (i.e hook them up to some mini balloon thing) them into…space? A conveniently placed plane? However they get from the battlefield to your base is a mystery to me but without soldiers, you’ll get no new equipment or guns and with neither of these, you’re not gonna get very far at all.
Quick tip: before you fly your helpless victim off to Mother Base, make sure to interrogate them. Not only will they provide mission crucial info but they’ll more often than not reveal the locations of rough diamonds which provide a huge boost to your GMP.
DO take care of your buddies
So you know that you have to complete your missions as well as tackle a bunch of side ops to get some crucial allies and funds. All the quests you’ve got will keep you entertained for hours and hours (40 hours into the game and I only have 17% completion) but slitting throats and blowing up buildings can get a bit lonesome.
Which is why Buddies will not only give you some crucial company on those lonely journeys but also provide you with some useful help. Take for instance D Horse, who’ll help you cover large distances much faster than you ever could hope to achieve on foot. Or Quiet, the controversial sniper who can tag and kill off enemies if your approach is more “shooty shooty shooty” rather than “sneaky sneaky sneaky”.The most talked about buddy and arguably my favourite is D Dog. He might be the best dog in existence but don’t let that cute act fool you. He can be commanded to track down, distract and even kill enemies, all within seconds, bringing a whole new meaning to bloody adorable.
Quick tip: don’t let the “defecate” command for D Horse fool you. It might look like some inside joke but command him to do his business on the road and watch enemy convoys lose control and crash, saving you some precious ammo and providing some laughs as well.
DON’T use the same tactic
Back when video-games were arguing over the amount of bits they had, game play was fairly light and more often than not developers would crank up the difficulty to make up for that. Now that we’re in the generation of consoles that can run games with 1080p graphics at a smooth 60 FPS, there’s no excuse for games to be light on the gameplay side of things and The Phantom Pain shows just how much can be done with the specs of both PS4, PC and Xbox One but even last generation consoles like Xbox 360 and PS3.
There’s so many ways of approaching enemy bases that you’ll feel spoiled for choice which is why it might feel a bit unfair that the game punishes you for using the same tactic over and over again. Tend to attack at night? Enemies will be equipped with night vision goggles. Tend to attack with CQC? I hope you like a face full of Shotgun. If you consider yourself a head shot pro on top of this then you’ll find that to your disappointment, soldiers will be donning helmets like they’re something off the Meat Is Murder album cover. This means that you’ll have to rethink your strategy. Maybe you’ll develop the decoy so you can distract a large group of enemies and, unbeknownst to them, set off the C4 you sneakily hid beside it. This kind of approach to gameplay actively encourages experimentation, meaning the game still feels fresh even after hours and hours of your life have been sunk into it.
However the game hasn’t made your normal approach impossible. If you wish, you can deploy your troops out on missions, Assassin’s Creed Brotherhood style, and terminate the production of all this equipment used against you, meaning that if you love sniping enemies in the middle of the night, you can happily do so. There’s no right way to play the game and that’s what makes it so enjoyable.
Quick tip: something to bare in mind when invading outposts is how long certain attacks will keep enemies incapacitated. Choking people keeps them out for longer than tranquiliser shots to the head with CQC allowing the least amount of time before the enemy awakens again. Or, yeno, you could always kill them.
DO listen to all the tapes
If The Phantom Pain is your first Metal Gear Solid game then you might be wondering where all of the infamous cut-scenes are off to. Every gamer is well aware of them, some of them lasting for nearly as long as a film at the cinema though fans and players are usually so engrossed by the story that they don’t mind spending a good bit of time with the controller out of their hands.Just in the same way Kojima and co. have changed the series’ approach to gameplay, so to have they changed the way The Phantom Pain handles story telling. That’s not to say there’s absolute no cut-scenes as the prologue for the game is quite reliant on them though this doesn’t lessen how amazing the opening 15 minutes are. A great chunk of the story, however, is hidden away on casettes that you can listen to whenever you please on your Walkman, surely making the more mature players feel a bit old.
The cassettes aren’t mandatory to listen to as I know a lot of gamers who haven’t and still felt in the loop. They’re not tacky either as they fit the narrative, updating Big Boss on what has happened while he was in a coma so don’t expect to be retold the same story over and over again. Although you can skip them, I’d definitely recommend listening to all the cassettes available to get the most out of your experience.
Quick tip: remember the Fulton I mentioned previously? Not only can it be used to take vehicles and mounted guns to Mother Base, it can also be used as a quick trip home. Just pop all your enemies into a container, pop on top and Fulton it away back to Mother Base, saving yourself a huge chunk of GMP.
So what do you make of The Phantom Pain? Has this guide helped at all? Let me know what you think in the comment section below and don’t forget to vote in the poll below for what nostalgic video game I should review.
Also thanks to my pal Keiran Davidson (@PeanutKD) who gave me some of these useful tips below:
- Animals can rake you in an enormous amount of GMP. Look out for Side ops that give you the opportunity to repeatedly capture super rare ones.
- The infinite amount of empty magazines you have at your disposable can be used to knock out enemies.
- Quiet was the most useful buddy for me, especially so when you deploy her near a base to act as a distraction, allowing you to capture a prisoner or steal some blueprints.
- If you’re planning on sending a large amount of enemy soldiers back to Mother Base and have a spare Jeep lying about, fit them all in and Fulton them away, saving money and time.
- If you’re having troubles with finance, any precious metals you have that you don’t intend on using can be sold off to help get you out of the red.
- Lastly, never forget to go and visit your troops. Attacking them will, somehow, boost their morale and decrease the chances of fights breaking out. Just don’t chuck them over barriers.
Big love, Liam x