Five (!) Tips For Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

After three long years, one of the strongest games of the year is finally here! Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain hits stores worldwide today (September 1st) and it’s a doozy!

But it’s also very different when compared to other Metal Gear Solid games, and it’s definitely going to be incredibly overwhelming. Some of our writers have reviewed the game already in part to a review event held at MindScape, but after some expensive and timely imports, we have spent upwards of fifty hours with the final retail version of the game too.

MGS5-FrustrationThere are of course many other things we could tell you about Phantom Pain. It’s a ridiculously huge game after all. But these are the simplest tips we thought would make everyone’s experience just a little bit better. Just taking these tips into consideration during your play of the game may leave you NOT looking like our friendly Venom Snake above.

So without further adieu – here’s five simple tips you need to know before playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Don’t worry. We won’t spoil you either.

MGS5Tips-OpenWorldDon’t Be Overwhelmed – You’ll Get Better

When you’re first thrown into the open world of Aghanistan following the very Kojima-esque prologue, there’s heaps to see and do but there’s one very important thing. Do not feel overwhelmed at all! The main missions can be completed in any order. The Side Ops, which are more or less the “side quests” of the game are not time sensitive and will be available for the entirety of the game (and even allow you to repeat them for more rewards if you finish them early on).

Given the change in the game world, the mechanics are fundamentally more different when compared to other Metal Gear Solid games, but thankfully most of the mechanics from Ground Zeroes carry over. Explore the open world. Raid a few outposts. Blow up a few radars (if you can). Take everything in at your own pace knowing that you can return to any of it later. This may be Kojima’s first foray into open world game design, but he’s keen to ensure that players get a chance to experience everything regardless of their play-style.

MGS5Tips-MotherBaseExplore Mother Base – Always

Mother Base is your base of operations. Your recruits stay here and your empire is built here. You’ll see it expand and grow as you fund it’s expansion. But it all seems rather pointless, right? It’s just an open area to explore with nothing of value, right? Wrong!

Mother Base is FILLED with all kinds of interesting things. Showering might seem pointless – but it increases your reflex time when you’re back in the field, for example. Target practice is a great way to improve your skills with the aiming system. Heck, walking around and just meeting your soldiers you’ve recruited in the flesh will improve their morale.

But more importantly, and perhaps controversially, there’s some pretty big story moments that unfold on Mother Base. Some of them are tiny and give an idea of what life on Mother Base might be like. Others are huge. We’re talking major plot twists. We have no idea why Kojima would include such major plot points in what could ostensibly be locations never discovered by the player, but we highly recommend exploring your base whenever you get a chance.

MGS5Tips-StaffDon’t Stress Over Your Staffing Lists and Assignments

We’ve all been there. We play a game, get wrapped up in a meta game of sorts and never actually get time to play the game proper. With Mother Base and it’s Staff Assignments, you’ll be able to influence which sections of your play through are developed first and foremost. I hate Peace Walker for requiring me to constantly micro-manage my staff. Thankfully, The Phantom Pain does almost all of the work for you.

Whenever your base is full, and you recruit soldiers, the game will automatically work out which of your soldiers are the weakest of the lot and automatically remove them from the Staff Listing. This means you’ll have more time to actually complete missions and less sifting through intense and numerous menus. Even better, if you fill your sections of Mother Base and recruit any more soldiers, they’ll be in the “Waiting Room” area and will automatically propagate to their relevant sections when (or if) your expand Mother Base.

MGS5Tips-FastTravelThere Are Fast Travel Options – You Might Just Not Realise It

Given that the Phantom Pain is a large and open world, there’s obviously going to be some travelling to do. But it’s not immediately clear what the fast travel options – especially in a post Ubisoft world where large towers tend to be fast travel points. The Phantom Pain features two major methods of fast travel – Helicopter and Cardboard Box. Yes, you heard that right.

Helicopter is simple. You simply call for a helicopter using your nifty iDroid, choose on the map where it will land and go and wait while it heads over to your location. Don’t forget that upgrading your helicopter will reduce the time it will take to arrive at your chosen location. Once you’re up in the air, you can choose to return to Mother Base, relax and listen to cassettes or select a new mission to complete and a new landing zone to drop into. Just don’t forget to take out Anti-Air Radars whenever you can – they’re big and rotating – as they’ll open up more landing zones for your helicopter.

The other is a little bit more unorthodox and unexplained but really is a Metal Gear staple. Throughout the game world, you’ll find bright orange coloured platforms. Running up to these and inspecting them will add them to an address book of sorts. Sit on the platform in the right cardboard box (which can be developed through Mother Base) and you’ll be off to your location in no time! Cheap and economical, right?

MGS5Tips-ReconDon’t Underestimate Recon – It’s Not Cheating

The Phantom Pain is a stealth game, after all, and this means that you’ve got to do the best to make sure you don’t get caught. Of course, with the games new open world design, there’s more freedom in how you approach your missions, but you’ll have to be extra stealthy to get the coveted FOX and FOXHOUD ranks. The answer? Good recon, of course!

Scout out locations with your binoculars before you go running and gunning in. Find all the enemies during the day, use items like the Phantom Cigar to advance to night, and then go in as more often than not guards will have fallen asleep or sometimes even reduced in numbers. Knowing where every enemy is on the map prior to infiltrating a location isn’t an unfair advantage – the fantastic guard AI still proves a challenge whether you know where they are or not.

Similarly, utilise your buddies! Without giving too much away, some of them are excellent for scouting out the locations of enemies, hostages, prisoners, weapons and resources – and the more you use them the better they get at their job.

There’s one more bonus tip we just have to sneak in for all those people who might be worried about the apparent lack of focus on the story of the game…

MGS5Tips-StoryThere’s Story! Lots Of It. You Just Need To Listen!

Gone are the lengthy codec calls of yesteryear. Instead, Snake can listen to all his conversations retroactively on tapes. The benefit? You can listen to them while travelling between areas, while infiltrating bases or while sitting in your command centre in the sky. It’s a simple change that builds the lore of the world, the back story of the characters and the current political climate of the locations you’re scouting out.

And without saying too much – don’t worry! There’s still those grandiose Kojima moments from time to time too in full cutscene form too. Just nothing as ridiculous or long as Metal Gear Solid 4. But fans of the theatricality of previous Metal Gear Solids will definitely not be disappointed as they play further and further into the main missions of The Phantom Pain.

So that’s all from us, but what about you? Do you have any tips (spoiler-free, of course) for The Phantom Pain? Let us know in the comments!