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Kato Answers Your Questions About Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

by Matthew Kato on Jun 09, 2015 at 03:00 AM

I recently had the privilege of playing several hours of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, experiencing many different facets of the title. You've been kind enough to send me your questions about the game, and here I endeavor to answer them the best I can.

I must reiterate that I cannot talk about anything related to the game's story, cutscenes, and other sensitive matters. That being said, I will talk about elements such as gameplay, the game world, and missions – which you may or may not consider SPOILERS. So, consider yourself warned.

In general, I can say that I've played through the infamous hospital scene shown in the game's initial trailer and that at the end of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Mother Base was destroyed. Snake and Kazuhira Miller are trying to figure out what happened, the identity of Skull Face and his XOF unit, and who led Cipher to the door of Snake's Militaires Sans Frontières organization.

So, without further ado: Your questions (in no particular order) and my answers, to the best of my ability...

How big does the game world seem? – masterassassin51
The areas you are in – in this case Afghanistan – are open and you can go wherever you like, but I wouldn't say MGS V is an open-world game, per se. It just doesn't have the scale of a Witcher 3 or a GTA, for instance. Afghanistan in the game didn't strike me as particularly large or small, but there was plenty to do there. You will also travel to Africa, but I didn't get that far in my time with the game.

Co-op? – @MetalGearArabic
No. There is multiplayer, but not co-op in the single-player campaign.

Does the game run well in the last-generation? – @HassaneManson
I only played the game on PS4, so I'm not sure about the other versions, including the last-gen ones.

Is there a lot of varied side content in the open world, or is the open world just meant to give you more options on how to approach story missions? – jimmy2tymez
There are plenty of optional side missions that pop up on your map that you can ignore or fulfill while you are on other missions. The world itself gives you different ways to approach a situation. You can do so at different times of the day, come at a base from another direction, or use varied methods of infiltration like sneaking in on a truck. My favorite is to wait for a sandstorm to kick up and then run through the front door!

How are the loading times from what you've played? – carcosam
There is no loading once you are in the world, but if you choose to go back to Mother Base there is a load. I'm not going to characterize that loading time because I simply don't know how that may change when the game comes out.

Can you bring buddy A.I. along for any mission or only select ones? – Frosty
From what I played, you could bring a buddy with you (your horse, Quiet, the dog DD) via the loadout screen when you leave Mother Base. If it's restricted in other missions, I wouldn't know. 

Hideo Kojima has apparently stated that some missions in MGS V will take a whole six hours to complete. With the short amount of time you have had with the game, have you encountered any missions with a noticeable time length? If so, were there enough checkpoints littered throughout to not make such long missions frustrating after a few deaths? – Tommy2crunchy
I did not experience anything that long, but there were a couple of base-infiltration missions coupled with hostage objectives that took me a while to complete because they were big and I kept dying! Afterwards I would respawn back at the outside of the base.

Already a hot discussion among our friends, but can we steal each other's sheep or plant sheep in each other's bases? – Duelit
Unfortunately, I cannot talk about the game's online component, but more info is coming the morning of Tuesday, June 16, so please come back then. If you're not referring to the game's online play, then that's between you, your friends, and any sheep involved. Just be nice to the sheep.

When some lonely guard spots you, does everybody almost instantly magically know about you, or does he have to use a radio or raise an alarm to contact others? – Fors 
When you're spotted the game goes into slow-motion for a few seconds, allowing you to get a shot off like in Ground Zeroes. You won't be unrealistically converged upon, but they will call for backup. If you encounter a small patrol or even a single soldier out in the wild (not on a base, for instance) they will also get on the radio for backup, but it's also easier to just take care of the situation and disappear into the hills. In a larger sense, I think the game does a good job requiring you to be aware of your surroundings in the world without having to worry too much about being spotted every five seconds when you're just trying to ride your horse around and explore.

Read on for Fulton Balloons and more!

How is the game structured? Is it a point-to-point experience akin to previous MGS games, with set goals one after another but now set in an open world, or can you go back to base and start up one-off side missions to gather resources whenever you please? – Spitznock
Sometimes I got one mission after another, and other times I might have multiple ones to choose from as well as the always-optional side missions. Thus, I wouldn't say it's point-to-point. It's good to go back to Mother Base every now and again (more on this later), but not only can you control a lot of the base's activities when you're in the field (via the menu screen) but you can request air drops of ammo and weapons during missions, so you don't have to go back if you run out of bullets or need a particular weapon.

Is the reconstruction of Mother Base an expansive, creative mechanic? Can you create new wings and branches of the base? – Serge Drevlan 
I had a lot of fun with reconstructing Mother Base. I wouldn't say it's creative like you're making custom car decals or something, but it's a meaty part of the game that has several gameplay tentacles. New wings of the base must be constructed with resources, and they level up depending on the soldiers you capture in the field and bring to your side (more on this later). There is a medical wing, brig, engineering, Intel, and battle wing, to name a few. Level up your intel wing, for example, and you'll know more about enemy locations on the map. There's even an animal conservation wing!

Do they cap how many Fulton balloons you can carry at one time? If so, can you upgrade the ability to carry more of them? I literally want to Fulton balloon EVERYTHING back to Mother Base, I'm hoping they don't limit us OCD/clepto gamers too much ;) – LowlyKnight 
The Fulton Recovery Method – the balloon apparatus you attach to a solider, animal, or even anti-aircraft gun or vehicle so it can be picked up by your aircraft and brought to Mother Base – is how you stock and upgrade the base. Some resources like fuel, for example, is automatically transported back to your base as soon as you touch them. Others, like soldiers, demand that you use a Fulton balloon. You start out with eight or so, but you can upgrade to carry more. You can also request these via a supply drop.

One of things I liked to do was recon soldiers – you can see letter grades for different categories to see what skills they'll use back at Mother Base. Once I'd upgraded my binoculars to be able to see their grades, I'd only send back those soldiers who had good grades in certain areas depending on which part of the base I was trying to upgrade. At one time I couldn't interrogate Soviet soldiers because I didn't understand Russian. Thus, I had to knock out and Fulton back a Russian language specialist before I could interrogate anyone!

Eventually you'll be able to send soldiers from Mother Base on Assassin's Creed Brotherhood-like off-site missions for resources and even more recruits.

Can you hide bodies in dumpsters/cabinets like in all previous MGSs!?! – tomclumsy
Yes.

Is there any reward system in place to make exploring fun, or will the game be strictly mission-centered? – Mattyhew
At the end of a mission there is an extensive grade screen showing you all kinds of stats for how you've done. The better you do the better the resources for Mother Base. There are also emblem parts you can earn. It's definitely in your interest to explore to not only see what you can find for Mother Base, but to see what stat categories you can excel in.

Were a lot of weapons and items available, or was the selection limited because of how early in the game the demo it was? – Jon_G
There are a lot of weapons and items in the game, including those you find on soldiers and those you can buy via Mother Base. There are a lot of different weapons available, including upgrades for all your equipment, whether it's your base helicopter, your horse's dressings, or what your Fulton balloons can carry. There are eight support weapon slots alone, if that gives you any idea of how much stuff there is in the game and how much you can carry. 

Does the weapon customization from MGS 4 make a return? – @ransparks88
Not that I saw.

Are there any survival elements like those present in Snake Eater, such as eating wild animals? – Proprietary-Windmill
Not that I encountered.

Keep reading for info on the game's adaptive difficulty, getting around the terrain, and the big question.

How varied was the level design? Did you feel like the enemy outposts and mission-specific areas were distinct from one another or did they all feel kind of the same? – Tadelis 
The parts of Afghanistan I explored were mainly mountainous (that's Africa above). Traveling the main roads can be dangerous because there are often patrol trucks and road stops along the way. While there are times when it's hard to get around a set of mountains, your horse is pretty good about getting around the terrain, and there are some mountain passes that make things easier. There is a also a fast-travel system on the map.

In terms of the enemy encampments, the larger ones all felt different. Some were on hillsides, others were in valleys. Although some of the really small road stops were similar, most of the bases, forts, and outposts had their own look and geography. I definitely liked the variety in them, and I was encouraged to just roam around and see what would happen if I poked the hornets' nests.

Are there missions like holding up 10 people with a banana? Those missions were fun! – Nano1124
The specific side missions I encountered weren't like this, but there is a huge amount of them in the game. Plus, you get post-mission stats covering all kinds of stuff. So, my guess is that this kind of thing will be rewarded in the game.

Was the adaptive difficulty from earlier preview footage apparent in this demo, like how enemies would wear helmets if the player relied too heavily on headshots? – Jon_G 
Yes. After a while in Afghanistan, I started noticing that. I also died enough times that the game asked if I wanted to play on a lower difficulty – if I wore the chicken hat!

What can you do in the Mother Base, regarding interactions with other characters, training, or meaningless activities like petting wildlife you bring in from the field? – nanowolfex 
Going back to Mother Base every other mission or so is a good idea. You can not only run around it and see how it's changed (some parts are accessible by jeep), but you'll also boost your troops' morale. You can spar with them, complete side missions like shooting targets, see your puppy grow up, and other stuff that I know I missed out on.

What do you get from Ground Zero's save file? Do the rescued POWs in GZ do anything useful in TPP, something you really benefit from or gain anything significant besides the GZ sneaking outfit? Will I still get the full game experience without that save file and its POWs? – Atika 
Unfortunately I'm not exactly sure, since we started the game fresh without a save. 

Is the healing spray from GZ back? Because I'm really not a fan of that thing. If it isn't back, what replaced it? – Armandoalday 
I don't recall seeing the healing spray, but similarly, Snake can take a few moments to adjust himself if he's really messed up. This takes some time as he tweaks his arms or shoulders, or whatever, and isn't something you can do in the middle of a hot-and-heavy fight.

Is there any choice/consequence? – PMT1992
I can't say anything in terms of the game's story, but I was told that it's not a given that you'll have all the game's buddies. I know that I almost didn't find the puppy in Afghanistan, which would have been heartbreaking if I couldn't have him/her by my side.

Does it feel like other MGS games in terms of gameplay? – Danielle
I got variations on this question a bit, and in a broad sense, I'd say that – in my opinion – it feels every bit like the Metal Gear we all know and love. I had a great time with it and feel like the gameplay, world, and various systems all come together nicely.

Do you need to play any other games in the series to understand the game? – BigB2002
I would play Ground Zeroes first, for both the story setup and getting used to any of the new controls. Ground Zeroes itself has text entries explaining what's germane to that title – the events of Peace Walker – and The Phantom Pain also has its own entries explaining things. In terms of games, the timeline events preceding The Phantom Pain are, in order: Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Portable Ops, Peace Walker, and Ground Zeroes.

Thanks everyone for your questions, and I hope I've been able to answer them to your satisfaction!