Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is one of the most anticipated games of this year’s E3, and after seeing a lengthy demo of the game in action we can certainly see why. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes was released earlier this year, and while many took issue with the amount of content for the price, the game did do a fantastic job of giving us a brief taste of the open world gameplay we’ll be seeing in The Phantom Pain when it comes out next year.
As was demonstrated with a clever image released last week, the world of The Phantom Pain is not only 200 times bigger than that of Ground Zeroes, but it is larger than the worlds of every other Metal Gear game combined. Like Ground Zeroes, The Phantom Pain will run at 1080p and 60fps on the Playstation 4, so the increase in scale doesn’t seem to have taken a toll on the performance. The E3 demo took place in just one of the many enormous open world regions in the game, and here the mission was to rescue Miller. One of the first things we saw was a horse taking a dump in 1080p glory, which is apparently something that will happen often.
The new uses for the fulton recovery system, which returns after originating in Peace Walker, were shown to some humorous effect in this demo. Whereas previously the fulton recovery system was used to extract individuals, now it can be used on animals, vehicles, and objects, all of which then show up at Mother Base later as part of Snake’s team, even the animals. If you happen to be on top of a large object or vehicle as it launches away, Snake will actually be extracted to Mother Base with them. The Phantom Pain also features the return of knocking, which was missing from Ground Zeroes. Snake was able to lure an enemy out by knocking and then brutally take him down with environmental CQC.
The demo also showcased some dynamic weather, in particular a sandstorm. In addition to being a visual flourish, it also effects tactics by altering the visibility of both the player and enemies and blowing things around. As well as the weather, we also got a glimpse of the day/night cycle. By smoking a cigar Snake can pass time, much like York could in Deadly Premonition. As time passed, enemies continued on their regular routine. Some enemies went to sleep, others moved to other areas, but most importantly every enemy that had been marked previously remained marked as time passed. This allows you to wait for a more opportune time to make your approach at a heavily guarded position. If you wait until night to begin your infiltration, there may be fewer guards on patrol.
Another missing feature of Ground Zeroes that was lamented by many is the cardboard box, and it makes its triumphant return in The Phantom Pain. Not only is it returning, but it is now better than ever. Snake can quickly pop out of the box to use items, including the fulton recovery system. He can also slip out of the box to avoid enemy detection. You can even use the box as a decoy to attract enemies out in the open to investigate it, making them vulnerable to surprise attacks.
One of the functions served by Mother Base is to send snake supply drops with equipment. Interestingly, these supply drops can serve an added function of being an airborne weapon if you choose to call it down on an enemy position. As for what actually comes in these supply drops, Snake can request a variety of items from Mother Base to aid in his mission. Between missions you can head back to Mother Base, which is a huge customizable and upgradable offshore facility that resembles an oil rig. Players can use the resources and individuals they extract using the fulton recovery system to expand and improve Mother Base, giving the game a lot of depth. You can even simply walk around Mother Base and interact with the characters hanging around, but you also need to be wary of attacks on Mother Base from enemies you make while on missions.
Of course, being a Metal Gear game, MGS V revolves around stealth based gameplay. Obviously a direct continuation running on the same game engine, the gameplay of The Phantom Pain is largely the same as Ground Zeroes from a mechanical perspective. Given that the gameplay of Ground Zeroes was among the most praised elements of that game, it’s certainly a good thing it returns for the full Metal Gear Solid V. All the same freedom of tactics and unrestricted level design of Ground Zeroes are present in the Phantom Pain, but with the added features and significantly more expansive environments, you have even more freedom. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is set for release next year, and is likely a contender for E3 game of the show this year.