With Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain mere days away, I decided to round up the most important tapes from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker that may be relevant to MGSV. There are hours of tapes; so, I made this abridged selection of them in the hopes that this may save you time and help you get even more out of MGSV.
On Metal Gear Scanlon, @danryckert and @drewbert watched the supercut of Peace Walker's cutscenes, and while that is entertaining, my favorite(and most substantial) part of the game was mostly left out: the tapes. Much of the story is in the tapes, and MGSV apparently has a similar focus on tapes, as well.
Many of the tapes in Peace Walker are vital to understanding major characters like "Kaz" Miller, Paz, Huey Emmerich, Strangelove, and Chico. Plus, most importantly of all, the tapes help shed light on the motivations behind Big Boss(Snake) building Militaires Sans Frontiers, standing against Major Zero(CIPHER), and turning from the ideals of his mentor, The Boss, to forge his own destructive way forward. (I have also included multiple amusing tapes from Peace Walker, because in my opinion, the humorous bits of MGS are nearly as important as the more serious story bits.)
There is significant reason to believe understanding these characters and Big Boss's motivations will be important to fully appreciating MGSV as Hideo Kojima intended it. So, after listening to every tape again, this is my selection of the most important tapes for understanding Peace Walker and potentially getting the most out of MGSV. Hope you find it helpful!
[Note: If you want to avoid Peace Walker spoilers, please do not read this; this is all PW spoilers. Also, I mention "Snake" multiple times instead of "Big Boss", because from my understanding of the story, Snake does not fully accept the title of Big Boss until the end of PW. Accepting the title thematically marks his shift toward a darker path that we will see in MGSV.]
[Note 2: Don't let the length of each video fool you. Most of the tapes are only 1-2 minutes long, and it's quite easy to get through all of the tapes on this list. I have labeled each tape name and the corresponding video that includes them. So, you don't need to listen to the whole videos, just the relevant tapes named in the list.]
-- A Selection of Peace Walker Tapes Worth Listening To --
(Presented in roughly the order they are in the game. Along with a brief summary of each one.)
"Between Two Women". This tape of Strangelove talking to The Boss AI and struggling with her will speaks to The Boss's thought process as an individual. After fighting against the AI, it is quite interesting.
"Cardboard Boxes" and "Two Men in a Box". Kaz discussing cardboard boxes. Considering boxes remain a mainstay of the series and will be in MGSV, this is utterly amazing.
"Militaires Sans Frontiers" and "MSF goals". Kaz and Snake discuss why they built MSF, which feeds into their betrayed dream and transformation in Ground Zeroes and MGSV.
"Watermelon sellers". Dammit Kaz.
"The Cold War and Peace" and "Perpetual Peace". Are Kaz and Snake war-mongers? Why do they view war as necessary?
"Electronic Cigarettes". Can you imagine a world without vaping? Snake can.
"Manhattan Project". Emmerich discusses why he can't walk and is so wary of nukes.
"Hiroshima and Nagasaki". More on why Emmerich resents his father and the idea of using nukes. Relevant to some of his motivations for MGSV.
"Father". Chico talks about his father and fleshes out his character further.
"River Valley" and "The Real Basilisco". Chico and Snake talk dinosaurs and his interest in unusual creatures. Fun and shows Chico's charm. There are a dozen tapes of him and Snake talking about Big Foot, Loch Ness, and all sorts of mythical creatures(UMAs). Worth looking up if you like this one.
"Paz". Paz discusses her name and backstory. Ultimately, it is a mix of truth and fiction, as you find out over the course of the game.
"How Huey met Strangelove" and "Letter to Strangelove". These tapes highlight Huey and Strangelove's backstory and have a bit of fun with Snake.
"2001: A Space Odyssey". Huey and Snake talk AI, Strangelove, and the name of his son, Hal Emmerich. "Hal. Now there's a good name..."
"Cecile Cosima Caminades". Kaz, Cecile, and Snake discuss Cecile's name and the potential message in it. Hilarious. Must watch. Kojima is God.
"Cardboard Tank". Another must watch. Shows part of Kaz and Snake's dynamic and is just beautifully Metal Gear. A masterpiece.
"Upbringing". On a more serious note, Kaz talks about his growing up. Likely a necessary tape before MGSV.
"Why Miller quit the JSDF" and "How Miller met Snake". His reasoning for quitting the Japanese Self-Defense Force and how he met Snake. Really cool and once again vital for MGSV.
"Naked". Miller talks about Snake's "naked" outfit in Peace Walker and the origin of his old "Naked Snake" codename. Quite funny.
"Metal Gear" and "Shagohod". Metal Gear!? Tape discusses why certain weapons are called Metal Gear in the series. Plus some interesting comments on MGS3.
"Cassette densuke". Not a necessary tape, but it has fun Cecile and Kaz silliness. They discuss why tapes are so cool.(And they better be, as we've got a lot of tapes in PW and MGSV!) Plus, Kaz reveals he loves manga and trains. Kaz is great.
"Mimicking animal calls". Cecile and Snake. Another Cecile gem.
"Soviet Research on Bipedal Locomotion" and "Granin". Explains Huey Emmerich's 2-legged Metal Gear and how he stole foreign research. Plus correspondence with Granin, with connections to MGS3.
"Che Guevara" and "Che's Footsteps". These tapes speak to the thought process behind Snake's decisions with MSF and its darker, later incarnation, Diamond Dogs, in MGSV.
"How Strangelove met The Boss" and "The origin of 'Strangelove'". Bonus info about Strangelove and The Boss. Plus Strangelove's name and some talk on sexuality. Probably not necessary for MGSV, but cool.
"The Need for Metal Gear". More of Snake and Kaz discussing why they need a Metal Gear like ZEKE. Relevant to his ever-changing ideology going into MGSV.
"Puppy Love". Such a cute tape. Chico talks about his crush on Paz and Snake gives him advice.
"Transmitting Data to NORAD". Hilarious. Snake and Emmerich talk Santa Claus.
"Personal History". Strangelove backstory. May not be necessary for MGSV, but a decent listen nonetheless.
"Huey". Strangelove discusses her thoughts on Emmerich, where the nickname "Huey" came from, and reveals things about Huey's character.
"The Boss and peace". Wrapup on The Boss AI's decision in Peace Walker to not retaliate due to her ideals. Appears to be foreshadowing for MGSV and Big Boss's fall.
"Survival requires pragmatic thought and action. But, you must still retain your ideals. If the gap between reality and those ideals ever leads you to lose them... I doubt MSF will survive."
"AI and the female brain". Strangelove discusses empathy and foreshadows future problems with society. Not necessary but interesting. Especially relevant to the folly of the evolving Patriot plan to run the world with detached AIs.
"Sartre". Cecile discussing the philosopher Sartre and the evolution of "Big Boss" from Snake. How people defined him and he became "condemned to be free". Worth listening.
"Picasso"(just the ending) and "Macaroons". Cecile, Snake, and Kaz talk macaroons. Funny.
"Wine". Amazing. Drunk Cecile and Snake discuss how she dislikes "Monsieur Miller" Kaz.
"CIPHER". A short discussion of CIPHER(Zero) and Paz. Probably relevant to MGSV.
"Paz's True Self". An important discussion of Paz's motivations from the end of Peace Walker. What is the real nature of Paz? Why was she sabotaging ZEKE when she was planning to use it? She was being used by CIPHER, but as revealed in Ground Zeroes, she is now setting out to have CIPHER killed by Skullface. Where do Paz's true loyalties lie?
[So ends the main story Peace Walker tapes.]
What follows is a series of EVA tapes about The Boss and The Philosophers. May not be necessary for MGSV but could still be interesting, as they shed some light on a major character and the larger timeline of Metal Gear Solid.
- Session 1. As revealed in this tape, the Boss was part of the "Mercury 7" team that brought the US back into the lead in the space race. Yet, she was scrubbed out of history and then selected to infiltrate Russia to get space research secrets. This is why she had to leave Snake unexpectedly for Russia. The Boss didn't abandon him; she was still on her mission.
- Session 2. Eva discusses The Boss's spy mission in Russia. How the Philosophers had her son, who grew up to be Revolver Ocelot, and so she had to be careful. More talk of space. Plus, once again, the CIA is awful throughout the MGS series.
- Session 3. First manned space flight. Soviets tricked America through controlling intelligence and public perception. CIA lied and put The Boss in JFK's bad graces, leading to her eventual demise.
- Session 4. CIA pushed The Boss into becoming a NASA guinea pig. NASA now planned to send her into space, but they insisted on putting an unstable window on it for potential propaganda purposes. Due to its lack of safety, The Boss was basically sent to die in space.
- Session 5. The Boss's flight in space. As she went up, she saw "a world without borders".
- Session 6. Suddenly, the window failed. The Boss's body was scorched by radiation as her capsule crash-landed into the sea. NASA and the CIA scrubbed the mission and her name from the official history. She would now only be used for "dark" missions. US leaders became increasingly suspicious of the anti-Soviet portion of Philosophers and wondered if they had been compromised. Thus, they sent The Boss to Russia to find the truth.
- Session 7. In a tragic turn, the Boss found out the one who had tricked her and the US was The Sorrow, working for the Soviet-aligned Philosophers. Former lovers, they had never told him that his actions would deceive The Boss. They were then set to kill one another in service of the anti-Soviet and Soviet Philosophers' wills. They could not resist, because their child, young Ocelot, would likely be killed by the Philosophers if they both survived. So, The Boss had to kill The Sorrow. After that, Major Zero(CIPHER) reached out to her to form a new FOX unit and begin the mission in Russia to stop Colonel Volgin. At the end of the tape, knowing what he knows now, Snake(Now "Big Boss") says he can't choose the same route as The Boss.
These 3 tapes are likely not necessary for MGSV, but they are still kinda cool for fans of the series. These tapes include her take on The Boss and everything else in Peace Walker. It includes a retelling of her personal perspective of what EVA talked about.
- A Chance Meeting. A tape about her meeting The Boss. She mentions the attraction between them and how close they became.
- Joy. A tape about The Boss telling an old story from her past. The Boss found out she was pregnant and then was gravely injured in a failed mission. She lost part of her brain but recovered. The Boss talks about her larger plans to bring the US and Soviet Union back together.
- Separation. The subsequent space mission and crash, as EVA described. It includes more on the Boss's perspective from space and her mission to change the world. Plus, her duty and fondness toward Snake.
These tapes appear to be Paz's diaries of her secret mission to assist Cipher's network by spying on Snake and Militaires Sans Frontiers. Yet, as revealed with in them, spending time with Snake and his crew slowly changes her. She is cold at first but begins to care about these people she was told had to be stopped. Tapes worth listening to for what they show about Paz's development and her struggle to get out from under CIPHER's brainwashing. Worth listening to before MGSV.
- 1st Entry. Tricking Zadornav. Dislikes kittens. Names "Nuke" the kitten.
- 2nd Entry. Fishing. Getting to know the men.
- 3rd Entry. She seems to enjoy cooking with Cecile and Amanda but is cold about them. She still mocks them but is starting to see them more as people. Hints at interest in Snake.
- 4th Entry. Soldiers playing soccer. Paz even played and then rested with them. She is starting to sound like she cares about them and appreciates the freedom from Cipher and the Patriots.
- 5th Entry. Sunbathing. Strangelove talks about Paz's beautiful skin and how she needs sun lotion. Despite Paz's hesitance, Strangelove even puts some sun lotion on her. A bit uh... "heated".
- 6th Entry. Paz caught a cold. Quite funny. Kaz plays a song. Strangelove offers to rub a healing medicine on her chest. Chico offers a little flower. She keeps acting like she doesn't care about them, but she seems sad that she has been raised to be a spy when she clearly enjoys their company.
- 7th Entry. A Birthday party for the soldiers. Snake and Kaz know it's smart to let them blow off steam once in a while. Former enemy soldiers rubbing shoulders and having fun. She wonders, if in leaving other countries to join Snake, maybe soldiers leave their hatred of other countries, too. Paz starts to question whether this is real "peace" and whether it is worth it. Cipher took her in as an orphan, and she fears if she defies him.
- 8th Entry. She discovers Miller's weakness is women. Funny. Snake and Kaz has a wild brawl nude. Then they just laugh it off. Paz sees that Miller really only trusted one person, Snake. Realizes that she can't deny she cares about them. A must listen tape.
- 9th Entry. Preparations are under way for a Festival! Paz has even been selected to be part of a band for the festival. Thus, she wants to stall CIPHER's plans. She relishes the idea of such a day of peace and doesn't want to have to kill Snake. She is starting to come apart at the seams.
- 10th Entry. Somehow, her cover has been blown! She just wanted three more days for the festival before doing the mission, but CIPHER found out Metal Gear ZEKE was done and ordered her to act immediately. Paz figures out there must be another CIPHER agent in the base with Snake. She tries to sabotage ZEKE to delay their plans and hold off on killing Snake. Unfortunately, Chico sees her, and instead of keeping her cover, she decides not to kill him. Paz is sad and crying, just wishing she didn't have to do this, mere minutes before the final fight of the game between Snake and her piloting ZEKE.
Kaz's phone call after its all over. He suggests that Snake(now Big Boss) does not suspect the truth. He is surprised to hear two sons have already been born from Les Infantes Terribles. Kaz suggests that Paz did not know -he- was the other inside agent reporting on Snake to CIPHER. He reminds CIPHER that he is only doing this as a business partner and is not an ally to him. The man, Zero.(CIPHER). This tape sets up how CIPHER betrays him and Big Boss in Ground Zeroes. Ultimately, it appears Kaz outlived his usefulness.
A Japanese release exclusive, these tapes are unnecessary for MGSV but still worth listening to for Kaz and Snake being their usual amusing selves.
I also went through the tapes from MGS: Ground Zeroes, and while many may be relevant, the Pre-mission briefing and this tape of Skull Face explaining his origins and how he lost his skin seem especially worth checking out. Likely crucial for MGSV and not to be missed.
I hope this selection of the most important tapes(in my opinion) from Peace Walker may be useful and/or entertaining for you. MGSV is just days away, and digging through all these again got me even more excited for it. I love Peace Walker's many tapes, but I know not everyone has the time to listen to them all. So, hopefully this selection of short tapes will enrich your experience of MGSV!