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10 Spoiler-Free Tips For Starting MGS V: The Phantom Pain

by Joe Juba on Sep 05, 2015 at 01:05 PM

After years of waiting, gamers are finally playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain today. In terms of depth and scope, this installment takes the series to a new level, which means fans have more Metal Gear to explore than ever. However, it also increases the chances that details and features might slip through the cracks. To make sure you don’t miss anything important, we’ve put together a spoiler-free list of tips and tricks to ensure you get the most out of your time as Big Boss.

1. Enter A Real Name, Fake The Birthday
Early on, you are asked to enter a name and a birthday. I won’t explain why, but I recommend using an actual name (it doesn’t even need to be yours) instead of something like “Buttz” or “Flaccid Snake.” As for the birthday, there’s just a fun in-game nod when the date rolls around. You can either lie about it, or tell the truth and just change your system’s internal clock.

2. Watch For Fast-Travel Stations
Getting around the massive maps in The Phantom Pain isn’t easy, and the game never clearly explains one of the ways it addresses the problem. As you explore, you find enemy bases and outposts. Some of these have cargo stations nearby, and those stations have posts with vouchers you can take. Once you have a voucher, you can use that station to ship yourself (via cardboard box) to the other cargo stations you’ve unlocked. If you start this early and stay on top of it, getting from place to place between missions is less of a hassle.

3. Return To ACC
The Aerial Command Center (ACC) is where you go to launch your missions. You need to call in a helicopter to get there from Mother Base, but not from the battlefield. When you’re in the open world, you can call for an extraction chopper that gets you there, but that costs GMP. Instead, pause the game (press the left side of the touchpad on PS4 controllers) and choose “return to ACC.” You can lose progress when you do this, so it's best to do right after a mission or side-op, but it’s a quick (and free) ticket home.

4. Pay Attention To GMP
Your basic currency is GMP, and most parts of it are pretty basic: You earn it, and you spend it. If you want to research new equipment, it costs GMP. If you want to expand Mother Base, it costs GMP. However, every time you deploy into a mission area, it also costs GMP based on the equipment you are using. Every item you bring along – guns, grenades, even buddies – has an associated GMP cost. Some items also require other items, like specific plants or metals. Unlike previous Metal Gear games, you don’t want to go into a mission loaded down with all of the best items you can carry, because you end up paying for stuff you never use and bleeding resources that could be better spent on other things.

5. Follow The Yellow
If you want to make sure you’re getting the key information about The Phantom Pain’s story, the game has conveniently color-coded it. Anything that is story-critical – including main missions, side ops, and even cassette tapes – is highlighted in yellow text or with a yellow dot. If you don’t know what to do next, you can’t wrong with something yellow.

6. Destroy Anti-Air Radar
Normally, your helicopter needs to land a fair distance from your mission areas. However, you can change that by taking out anti-air radar stations, which open up new landing zones right next to enemy territory. This is great for a quick extraction or for dropping into the action hot on later missions, but be warned that using these high-risk landing zones means that you and your chopper are likely to take enemy fire.

7. Get Skilled Personnel
Obviously, you want soldiers with good abilities on your staff at Mother Base. However, their prowess goes beyond the letter grade they have in various categories. Some staff members have additional skills (which you can see when you analyze them through your scope) that you should actively seek. The most important ones to look for are specialists – soldiers with expertise in fields like cybernetics, missile guidance, and noise suppression. You need to have staff members with these skills to develop important upgrades and equipment. The good news is that the main mission select screen shows you which specialists are available in each mission, so you know where to look if you’re missing one.

8. The Grind Made Easy
Like Peace Walker, the The Phantom Pain has a phase in which you need to continue doing activities to gradually unlock the next story-critical mission. The problem? The new main missions on your list will just be much harder versions of missions you’ve already completed, so you might think that you need to finish them to advance. That’s not the case. Doing side-ops will “advance the clock” in the same way, so don’t bang your head against the wall too much.

9. How To Customize Weapons
Weapon customization is a valuable tool. In my playthrough, it allowed me to add a suppressor to a non-lethal sniper rifle long before I unlocked the ability to research a silenced sniper rifle through the tech tree. However, unlocking this feature is weirdly hidden behind a series of side-ops that look just like the others. Keep an eye out for the operations about finding a legendary gunsmith, and complete them as soon as you can.

10. The Demon Inside
The game keeps track of your good deeds through a heroism score. When you do good things, like rescue prisoners or earn a high mission rank, your heroism goes up. When you do unheroic things, like trigger combat alerts or get injured, your score goes down. The heroism number is on display for players to see, but the game also keeps track of a hidden demon score. You won’t get notifications when your demon score increases or decreases, but bad things like killing people (or animals) and developing nuclear weapons make it go up. The most noticeable consequence of a high demon score is that the shrapnel/horn coming out of Big Boss’ skull grows larger and more demonic.

For more info about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, read the full review and watch the game in action.