Metal Gear Solid V, released in September of 2015, is the latest numbered entry in the series that dates back to 1998. This time around, you play as Snake during the 80’s. The game’s open world looks beautiful and the terrain offers ample variety in your approach to missions in order to receive the coveted S ranks and Foxhound emblems.
The story sends Snake to both Afghanistan and Africa, where he tracks down a mysterious villain called Skull Face while simultaneously developing his offshore oil rig hideout known as Mother Base. Snake and his group, the Diamond Dogs, are mercenaries by trade and take on many missions that serve to destabilize existing power structures in the regions where they operate. With around 50 story missions, a handful of which are repeated earlier missions with a higher difficulty, the main story will take the player through a sci-fi alternate reality filled with superhumans, mechs, and world-ending threats. The story is tense, while also maintaining a mood of lightness and silliness that is almost a trademark of the series. Hiding from enemies in cardboard boxes, having your helicopter bombard the enemy base with the sound of any mp3 you have on your PC, and slipping C4 onto the back of an unfortunate guard are all valid options to thrive in Metal Gear Solid V. The story will take some time to finish, especially if they are pursuing the highest post-mission rating available, the coveted S rank.
Ranks are determined by the speed it takes you to complete a mission, how many enemies you killed, how many times you were shot, and other metrics that are fed into an esoteric algorithm. Admittedly, time seems to be the most important factor, and many missions can be S ranked by blazing through them with little regard for your own personal safety. Each mission also has on average six optional objectives, which means that the completionist will be playing each story mission several times through in order to fill out the checkboxes. Completing all the missions with various ranks and side-objectives will give the player some very cool unlockable content, which might be motivation enough.
Apart from that, a mission can be approached by the player however they’d like to. You can enter the battlefield alone, or you can take a buddy along. The game offers four different companions, including a horse, a dog, a sniper, or a robotic exoskeleton- each outfitted with their own unique utilities and abilities. If you spent a lot of resources developing a new sniper rifle as opposed to a new rocket launcher, feel free to take the sneakier route. If you prefer to capture enemies alive, you might place a priority on developing technologies such as the sleeping gas landmine or the enhanced tranquilizer gun. I don’t recall the last game that gave me such a huge degree of freedom in accomplishing tasks, and replaying missions can be fun just to try a different approach.
With over 150 short missions called side-ops, there is a wealth of single player content. Some of these missions are as simple as disarming a minefield, while others have you taking out a squad of armed vehicles backed up by a fearsome gunship. These side-op locations can be found in free-roam, or specifically deployed to from your helicopter. There are other collectibles in the game as well, including animals and plant life from the various locations you’ll visit.
During the story missions and free-roam, you will sometimes rescue prisoners or capture enemies alive and bring them back to your Mother Base. There, these men and women will work for you in a variety of capacities. Some might develop weapons, others might do mercenary work to bring you extra income, and others might aid you on the battlefield by providing accurate intelligence updates to your map. Once you develop extra Forward Operating Bases, you will put together some of these mercenaries as a security team. Once you invade another player’s FOB, you can be targeted yourself. Invading a player’s FOB is an online game mode where you stealthily maneuver around their oil rig while capturing resources and staff. If you are caught or trip a combat alarm, that player can teleport to their FOB in an attempt to fight you off. If they’re offline, they will get an alert that the invasion took place and are free to retaliate against you at anytime, so be careful. In a small social network-like feature, you can support your friends’ FOBs and can serve to their aid in the event of an invasion.
Metal Gear Online 3 is a free addition to MGSV, which allows you to play a variety of game types with other operatives in a PVP format. At this point in time, Metal Gear Online 3 is woefully underpopulated. That doesn’t mean empty, but finding full teams to play with can require coordination outside of the game. That said, it is a ton of fun working with and against human players in a stealth oriented playstyle.
Metal Gear Solid V is an excellent introduction to the series, or a perfectly fine standalone game that doesn’t require knowledge of the existing lore. The gameplay gives the player an incredible amount of freedom to accomplish their tasks however they’d like, and the sheer number of things to do will keep someone engaged for a very long time. With unparalleled freedom in a game that looks gorgeous, everyone ought to give this one a try.
-FOX Engine allows the game to run well even on lower end machines
-Gigantic variety of content including missions, online invasions, and side-ops
-Constant development of weapons and tools allows you more freedom as you explore the game more deeply
-The game is packed with small details and tricks that allow a seasoned player to fully express themselves
-Metal Gear Online 3 is fun with friends and strangers alike
-Mother Base coins are expensive, but ultimately only serve to reduce wait times between upgrades
-Grinding for resources in the post-game can feel tedious
-Fans of the story might be let down by an ending that can feel incomplete with certain plotlines
-Mission scores places too much emphasis on speed, which might encourage some to break the spirit of a tactical espionage playstyle
-Enemy markers make the game simpler than it has to be. These can be disabled, but they are on by default