Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain E3 2015 Gameplay Trailer Analysis

Konami did not disappoint Metal Gear Solid fans at E3 2015 with two trailers: a 5-minute long cinematic trailer, and a 40-minute gameplay trailer. It not only confirms what we previously know about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but also demonstrates a lot of new touches to the gameplay since we last saw it in Ground Zeroes.

The gameplay trailer begins with the narrator talking a bit about the micro transaction rumors. He explains that the game does have micro transactions but only as a way to let players quickly develop Mother Base (as well as potentially other stuff), if they don’t have the time to do so on normal playthroughs. But Konami also stresses that this feature is optional, and everything in the game will be available.

The first thing I noticed is that the main menu showed a selection saying “Download MGSV: Ground Zeroes Save Data”. It has already been confirmed that you can upload your Ground Zeroes save to The Phantom Pain which will (according to Reddit) allow you to use the prisoners you extracted as well as several other VIPs from the side ops. The demo then starts inside your mobile headquarters which is a chopper containing your weapons, your buddy, and other miscellaneous items such as pictures.

An important feature in Phantom Pain is the ability to customize your weapons. Think MGS4’s weapon customization on steroids and you get the picture. The demo promises near limitless weapon combinations to make a weapon that is truly yours. You can also customize your logo, and even the weapons and uniform of your buddy as soon as they become available. So it is possible to give D-Horse some armor for added protection, or give Quiet some proper military clothes. You can also choose missions there, or free-roam, the latter of which will allow you to run around Afghanistan. As an added bonus, you can choose a song in which to play in the chopper’s speakers during the start of the mission.

The most robust weapons customization I've ever seen in a video game.
The most robust weapons customization I’ve ever seen in a video game.

Before starting a mission, you can choose buddies, and choose a vehicle you can traverse with (provided you did not select D-Horse as your partner, the demo selected D-Dog). Unlike previous Metal Gear games, you choose which mission you want, as well as any side-ops in the area. The demo chose the mission “Hero’s Way” and then proceeded to do a side-op where you have to capture a Russian interpreter which will provide you with on the spot translations.

The demo showed the mission during the day, but you can also choose to start by night. It is important to note that you will be able to discover things on the fly, like prisoners with good stats that can help your Mother Base develop, blueprints for your Research & Development team to use for your arsenal, as well as hardware in the form of gun and anti-air emplacements. You can use D-Dog to distract the enemy as well as locate their positions.

You can also choose to play as someone other than Snake. Sadistic Kitten, here I come!
You can also choose to play as someone other than Snake. Sadistic Kitten, here I come!

It is unclear from the demo if side ops will be available only during a mission or you can also do them during free-roam. But the main missions is only set in a specific area and if you leave without the objectives being done, it will lead to a mission abort.

The mission “Hero’s Way” (modified for the demo), has you eliminating or extracting a Spetznaz commander. Unlike the soldiers you encountered in the side-ops, the target has elite troops in his command. From the blueprints taken earlier, your R&D department managed to make a silencer for your sniper rifle, which you can use to take out the enemy sniper on the roof. You are shown a new buddy this time: the D-Walker. A small multi-purpose mech that looks like a mobile suit. It has its own weapons, ability to do CQC, and can provide mobile movement that allows you to quickly move from one position to another.


The demo also shows how your tactics in past missions can affect future ones. In this case, the soldiers were provided with bullet-proof shields. There is also a soldier wearing full-body armor, making most attacks useless. This group also used a decoy, similar to what Snake can use. Since the Phantom Pain gives you total freedom in which to accomplish your mission, you can choose not to kill your target and extract him to be part of your army instead.

Once alerted, all the soldiers in the base try to eliminate you. Showing more advanced AI than in Ground Zeroes, the soldiers not only flanked Snake, but reinforcements tried to block his escape. They also tried to send in rockets and used grenades to disable D-Walker. When things got really testy, they even called in a tank.

In this game, everything can go downhill pretty quickly.
In this game, everything can go downhill pretty quickly.

Unlike in Ground Zeroes, the chopper provides you with life-saving cover. But you would also need to eliminate anti-air threats because the chopper can and will be shot down. The demo ends after Snake is extracted by chopper.

Air support. Finally....
Air support. Finally….

With all the possibilities in Phantom Pain, it’s easy to forget that all this is set against the backdrop of Snake’s revenge against those responsible for the destruction of his old private army. But it also lets you feel that you have an army, that you are a soldier in a war, and that your actions have an effect on the battlefield on a much bigger scale than stoking the flames in a conflict zone to harvest weapons for profit like in MGS4. You can even do a mission not as Snake but a member of his army (most likely not the story missions, though). Watching that demo, I already have three scenarios playing on my head as to how I will tackle the Hero’s Way mission, all of them involve extracting most, if not all, the Spetznaz members. I am already thinking of ways I can play around with D-Walker, using hit-and-run tactics, laying down maximum firepower before leaving the area full-speed (about the nearest I can get to becoming a Char).

Will I finally be 3x faster?
Will I finally be 3x faster?

The game definitely promises to be darker, but not without the quirks that are the series’ trademark. For everything that screams “realistic” in this game, there’s two or three things that will remind you that you are not playing a battlefield sim. For one thing, Snake’s favored modus operandi is stealth, but the D-Walker is one of the most unstealthily of vehicles, you don’t even have to hear it (there’s an argument over at Reddit regarding D-Walker’s sounds being “unstealthily”), any self-respecting soldier should actually be able to see it from a mile away.

The game looks to be massive, and the Mother Base mechanic is guaranteed to make you grind a lot trying to gather resources to build it up as well as obtaining and training staff. Building up your army will also give you real advantages, like weapons development. You can choose to focus on the story, but the open-world nature of the game means you would need to.

September 1 cannot come soon enough for fans of Metal Gear Solid. All indications point to this game being a very wild ride.