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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain // E3 Demo Impressions

Something a little new.

A note: All screenshots in this article were captured by me from the direct-feed footage of the E3 2015 demo.

Most were captured from the official source, while a small handful were captured later from YouTube on YongYea’s channel (Which is why his icon appears on a few of the images)

Now, let me first preface this by letting you know that I was not able to attend E3 – in fact, I’ve never actually been. It’s a bit too expensive to really be feasible for me. That said, I do try to keep up with everything that happens during the conference. I try to watch all of the press conferences, and try to follow as much of the news that I can.

With that out of the way, let’s get into something I’ve wanted to do for a while – talking about something that was shown at E3. This is the first time I’ve done something like this, so it only seems fitting that I do it with a game that’s in the franchise of the very first game I reviewed – Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.

Want to watch the demo?

To start things off – the presenter gets right to one of the things people were worried about – the microtransactions. He states that while, yes, it is true that microtransactions do exist in the game, there is no “pay to win” option. He assures us that everything is unlockable by playing the game normally, and that it’s all balanced fairly. He ends by saying the microtransactions are only there for the users who maybe don’t have a lot of time to invest in the game.

That sounds to me like small fees to cool down or speed up development times or OUTER OPS times. There could also be microtransactions for the multiplayer, like there were in MGO2 within MGS4 – these were purely cosmetic items, and could also be purchased with an in-game currency that you could earn by playing.

He then jumps into the game, and right off the bat, I noticed the menu option to “Download MGSV:GZ Save Data”. Obviously, this will be to import your POWs from Ground Zeroes. Whether or not it covers any other content, I don’t know – he didn’t say anything about it here.

When he starts the game up, we’re inside Big Boss’ Aerial Command Center ( ACC ). This basically acts as your hub for setting up between missions and managing Mother Base without actually heading back to base. I love the attention to detail here. On the walls, you’ll see various photos pinned up. You can also see your currently selected weapon hanging on a rack above the door of the aircraft.

The ACC acts as your hub away from Mother Base.

You can also see your currently chosen “buddy” for the mission. In the demo, this was Quiet for the moment. The presenter states that her demeanor will change depending on a variety of factors – such as your relationship with her. Whether this is true for other buddies, such as D-Dog, is unclear.

After the tour of the ACC, he jumps into the customization options in the game – and there are a lot. You can customize weapons, your helicopter, vehicles, buddy equipment, emblem, and the base color. Here, he chooses to show off the weapon customization – and believe me when I say – it’s impressive. Much like MGS4, you can customize various parts of your weapons – but The Phantom Pain cranks that system up to 11.

I feel like I'm going to spend a LOT of time here.

This customization is much, much deeper than MGS4’s. You can change items on the underbarrel, the barrel, the stock, the scope – just about anything you want. You can even give your gun aesthetic changes – like a new paint job. The presenter goes on to say that you will be able to swap parts from other guns to make your own, unique weapons. I’m unsure if this means we’ll be able to take, say, the barrel of an SVD and put it on an AK or not, but it sounds promising.

He next shows off some of the music that will be available in the game via cassette tapes, and shows that any of the songs can be used as helicopter music, which is cool, and a feature I kinda liked in Ground Zeroes.

After that, he decides to jump into the game proper. He shows that there is a mission select menu – but that you can also just jump into free mode, which will allow you to just go into the open world and explore at your leisure, with no real constraints – you can also start missions ( Both SIDE OPS and main story missions ). Once he selected a landing zone for the chopper, he gets taken to the loadout screen.

Here you get to select your weapons, buddy and other items.

He starts to go over some of the options you have – including choosing a buddy. For his playthrough, he decides to go with D-Dog. When choosing your buddy, it’s show that you have a few options for customizing them. You can choose their weapon, as well as uniform & gear. Nice touch. Yes, even the animals can have gear equipped – such as D-Horse being outfitted with what seems to be a Kevlar vest. He also selects a vehicle to drop with him.

Last, he shows that, much like Peace Walker, you don’t have to play as Snake – you can choose any of your combat soldiers from Mother Base, who all have different skills.

A note: You can only choose to play as other soldiers in SIDE OPs. Main Story missions are played as Big Boss, so it’s a little bit different to Peace Walker, but not much.

Upon selecting everything you want for the mission, you’re given one more option. You can choose to commence the mission right at the moment you’re at, wait until the day, or wait until night. He reminds everyone that the enemy patrols, mission parameters, and visibility can & will be different depending on the time of day you undertake the mission.

Look at this badassery!

After choosing to deploy ASAP, you’re then flying into the map via helicopter. You seem to be able to move around the cabin, but it’s a little unclear whether this is a cutscene or if you have any actual control over things. Snake opens the door on the aircraft and takes in the beautiful view. As they’re flying, his chosen music begins to play from the helicopter.

Seriously, if this game allows for custom soundtracks like Ground Zeroes, I’m totally playing Little Richard’s “Long Tall Sally“.

I wanna pet 'im! I wanna!

Upon jumping out of the chopper – D-Dog proceeds to take a leak right on the sand. I wonder if this has any use, like D-Horse’s poop. Maybe something like in MGS1, where D-Dog pees on the cardboard box and allows you to traverse among wild dogs? Snake hops into the jeep he selected that was waiting at the landing zone…somehow (It’s still a video game, after all). D-Dog hops in the passenger seat.

He then selects the mission he wants to play – called “The Hero’s Way” – and he makes a note to let us know that the mission has been altered a bit for the E3 demo, due to time constraints. What these alterations are, I don’t really know. Before heading to one of the 3 mission start points, the presenter decides to tackle one of the various SIDE OPs available. This particular SIDE OP is to recruit a Russian interpreter for Mother Base.

Yes, Big Boss can no longer speak Russian. Likely due to the head trauma he received, and the shrapnel in his head (Or some other reason).

As they drive to the waypoint he set, D-Dog barks, alerting us to the presence of a wild animal nearby. This is D-Dog’s skill – he can detect and mark plants, animals and even enemy soldiers for Boss. Pretty nifty.

D-Dog can also be used to distract or attack enemy guards.

They reach the waypoint, and the mission instantly starts. No cutscene, no load. Slick. Kaz radios information about the target and Boss & D-Dog begin their infiltration, starting with checking the enemies guarding the entrance from a distance – with the monocular. Unlike Ground Zeroes, marking enemies doesn’t just make them appear on your iDroid map – while you’re viewing them with the monocular, you’ll also see their stats – ranks in different skillsets, and even any special skills they may have. Whether this is an upgrade to the basic monocular that you get later, or you actually start with this tech remains to be seen – but it’s nice.

They run down the sandy hill to their destination, and DD barks some more – marking more enemies, and even a POW available for rescue. Once they get down to the sandbags in front of the fortress, Boss commands DD to wait where he is, just before commanding him to keep one of the two soldiers busy while he quickly subdues the other. After killing the guard that DD distracted, Boss tries to interrogate his current hostage, but to no avail. He speaks Russian, and mother base doesn’t have an interpreter yet.

Surveying the lay of the land.

Instead of leaving the soldier there, unconscious, or killing him – the presenter chooses to Fulton him back to Mother Base since he has decent stats. He then pets DD ( YES. ) and proceeds to also Fulton away the small machine gun emplacements – not only removing them from play against himself but also adding them to his own base. Neat. Boss can also use these weapons while they’re in the area still if need be.

He also finds some fuel on a table nearby, which he collects, sending it back to Mother Base. The presenter doesn’t go into much detail about this system, suffice it to say that you will find resources out in the world like fuel and metal that you can use to develop new things and expand your base ( Maybe this is where the microtransactions will come in? )

He proceeds to fulton away a mortar emplacement as well, and I notice now that the fulton is limited, unlike previous builds. I’m glad for this – having it be essentially unlimited would be way too overpowered.

Boss now enters a blown-out building – and the presenter points out that the enemies within have already been marked for you, thanks to DD’s ability. Sweet. He commands DD to stay where he is and heads into the building carefully. He sneaks around a bit – and you can hear a somewhat familiar song in the distance. Rounding a corner, Boss spots a soldier walking along the upper floor. After scanning him with the monocular, we find out that he’s the Russian interpreter we were looking for!

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James Headrick
James Headrick

Gamer & Fractal Artist. // Lover of giant robots & Fighting in Streets. I've been gaming for over 20 years, and writing reviews for over 10 now. ReviewHaven is my baby.

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