The lights are on
As part of its grand opening for Kojima Productions’ Los Angeles studio, Konami staged a new live demo of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes. The setting was the same prison camp that we’ve seen before, but the content highlighted some mechanics that depart from the series’ traditional formula.
We already knew about a few major adjustments coming for MGS V. For instance: It’s open-world, and Snake has a new voice actor. But the surprises don’t end there. In the demo (prepared especially for the grand opening), Snake’s mission is to find a badge bearing a black-and-red Kojima Productions logo. Along the way, Hideo Kojima explained several new features that will shape the MGS V experience and make it different from its predecessors.
[As a point of clarification: Kojima and Konami refer to both Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain as separate entities that comprise a single Metal Gear Solid V experience. However, neither will comment as to whether the two projects are included in one purchase.]
If you’re a Metal Gear fan, these are five things that won’t be how you remember them. Determining if these are good changes is impossible at this point, but remember: Things can’t evolve without changing.
1. No more health bar
When Snake started getting shot after his infiltration went sour, I noticed that he no longer has a life bar. Instead, Kojima Productions seems to be taking a cue from popular shooters, having the screen get tinted and bloody as Snake nears death. He can also apparently regenerate health automatically if he stays out of harm’s way long enough. If the life bar has changed, that means that the use of rations has changed as well — assuming they’re in the game at all).
2. Clean screen
The disappearance of the health bar also helps the interface appear much sleeker and less intrusive. Feeding into the cinematic presentation of an open world, you don’t constantly see equipped weapons or blinking mini-maps pinned to various corners of you screen. On one hand, having an unobstructed view of the action could make it easier to get immersed in the world’s activities. On the other hand, I might miss all of my relevant information just being a quick glance away.
3. Degrees ofdetection
Previous Metal Gear games played around with different degrees of detection, but in most cases, a guard either saw you or not. In MGS V, players are given clearer feedback as to how aware a guard may be. If you see a white flare on the screen, you know you’ve raised suspicion; you can run to safety and assess the situation. It’s essentially getting a warning as you approach danger. You can even see which direction you were spotted from, making it easier to plan an escape and/or attack. This should help avoid the “I accidentally stepped into a guards line of sight and now I have to reload my save” syndrome that sometimes strikes hardcore players.
4. A way out
Even if you find yourself staring a hostile soldier square in the eyes, all is not lost. When you are detected by an enemy, the action briefly slows to a crawl, giving you a chance to put your reflexes to the test. Not only is the slow-motion effect cool, but if you can take out your observant foe before it ends, you can prevent the full alarm from being raised. This probably won’t do you much good when spotted by a whole group of guards, but it could keep a few isolated mistakes from escalating into full-blow battlefields.
5. Fewer cutscenes
The live demo didn’t touch on new story points, so I didn’t get to see this philosophy in action. Even so, Kojima says that he and his team are working to ensure that gameplay takes priority in MGS V. The bad news? That means less story is delivered through the traditional Metal Gear style. The good news? You get to spend more time playing Metal Gear and less time watching it. The frequent cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid IV was a sore spot for many gamers, and the team seems to have taken that feedback to heart. However, the story is still an integral part of MGS V, even though it may not be doled out in such massive portions.
Keep your eye out for more MGS-related info in the coming weeks. The Tokyo Game Show happens later this month, and Kojima Productions teased that it might be showing Metal Gear V running on next-generation hardware. It already looks amazing on the current generation of consoles, so an even better-looking version is something fans will have to see to believe.
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I'm sad about loosing the heath bar. Everything else is exciting.