Mento Gear Solid V: The Fandom's Pain: Part 2

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Suffering Shagohods! I'm back again, and so soon after last time. Turns out Metal Gear Solid V is absolutely packed with features and mechanics to talk about, so even though I didn't make much plot progress since part one there's more than enough observations here for another update.

Progress through the game has been... slow. I tend to take my time with stealth games (when I'm not being forced to move, at least) and it's beginning to dawn on me just how much of a timesink an open-world stealth game might be. I'm going to double-down on the missions for the time being, perhaps only completing any Side Ops if they're in the vicinity, and try not to lose my cool so much. While I don't particularly appreciate that the default tranq weapon has less bullets than I have fingers and toes (wait... 21? No, that's right), as long as you're fast on the grabbing button, you can usually make do with choking people out and can get some decent intel on collectibles in the process. I'm all about those collectibles, especially if it means I can keep myself dressed in the finest of sneaking suits. It is the manner to which I have become accustomed, after all.

  • Whenever you complete a mission, it sprouts a whole bunch of bonus objectives for you to accomplish if you decide to re-challenge the same mission with better gear later in the game. It's an effective means of increasing longevity, but I wish I could see all these bonus objectives the first time through. It might be risky with low-level gear and my inexperience, sure, but some of them are just fetch quests and spins on the primary objective (for instance: shooting the target at a distance, or completing it without resistance, or not using any assistance).
  • After your training at Mother Base, you get three new missions you can take on in any order. The game now settles into a cycle of mission -> free roam -> mission, where the free roam sections allow you to complete Side Ops, often unlocking better recruits or new blueprints for the R&D department, and run around collecting shit if that's your bag (of diamonds (or feces (sorry, "biological material"))). I'm into the open-world aspect, but it's also a little intimidating. It's a big map and I'm not really sure where anything is yet.
  • As for the recruits thing, that's what the balloons are for. You attach one of those to anyone who is out of it and off they go. The chopper then sweeps them up before they float off into space. Well, most of the time. I try not to think about the few times it's failed. Just saying, there might have been a few Laikas.
  • Mission #3 is to assassinate a Spetsnaz recon captain, though you have the alternative to Fulton the guy (he's got a high rank for martial ability, which unfortunately isn't a job I can assign to anyone yet). Both times I attempted this mission he was fast asleep deep within the barracks, and both times I almost walked into him because he wasn't marked and was lying fairly close to the wall. I also found Kim Wilde's "Kids in America" tape here too, and I can't even begin to imagine why Soviet soldiers would listen to that. Maybe living for the music-go-round is universal?
  • Got my first crash soon after the first of the three "open" missions. Well, not so much a crash as it freezing on the loading screen. Just me and my tool-tips as I waited over ten minutes for the resume button to show up. Hopefully that's not a frequent thing - the game's being constantly patched, which is surprising given Konami's laissez-faire (that's French for "We no longer give a shit about anything besides pachinko and health spas. Would you like us to clean your balls? In either sense?") approach to game development of late.
  • As well as collecting "biological material" from underneath the bunks of soldiers, which I may or may not have done, you can also capture live animals. Ocelot gives me some excuse about protecting the indigenous wildlife from the perils of war, preserving them from crossfire, and animals are recorded as "rescued" on the results screen with a small boost to GMP (my presumably leather-bound currency) and Heroism, the latter of which I'm still not certain what it does. This seems like an incredibly altruistic spin on "hey, attach a balloon to a wolf and laugh your ass off as it yelps away at the speed of light".
  • Talking of wolves, I managed to find a wolf puppy. Apparently you can just Fulton it right away. I shot it first with the tranq gun and Ocelot (or Miller, they sound the same) told me off. What? You don't want to take that terrifying balloon trip conscious if you ask me. Anyway, D-Dog is back at base but still a tiny baby puppers, so I'm probably not going to see him in action for a while.
  • They've really taken to heart the complaints about how OP tranquilizer weapons are in earlier MGS games. In addition to the ammo scarcity, if you don't shoot an enemy in the head with a tranq, they have time to radio in the news that some random dart just appeared in their arm, eat a sandwich, watch a movie, raise a kid, live long enough to see themselves become the villain and then finally zonk out. This might be rich from a guy who spent the last nine years in a coma, but these guys need to get their low blood pressure checked.
  • Mission #4 involved blowing up some radar dishes, and was when I realized I'd have to R&D the remote-detonation C4 explosives if I was going to do this effectively - the alternative was to chuck grenades at them and hope no-one notices. New weapons and equipment are regularly unlocked for research once you've built up your R&D and Supply departments, which is where most of the Fultoned recruits go early on. It's not an easy area to sneak around in either, though you do have the choice of coming in at the top which makes you harder to spot, somehow. People just don't look up, I guess. We're like dogs in that way.
  • I also discovered that many bases have an anti-air jamming box thing in them. Blowing these up lets you helicopter land in more places, so I've been doing just that whenever I've accomplished all I need to in an area and am ready to bug out.
  • It's neat that you have a mobile base of sorts by taking to the sky in the Pequod (yes, that's the helicopter's name. I don't remember Ahab hunting Moby Dick with a tomahawk missile, though it would've been a lot easier on the guy) and using the iDroid Mother Base menu from up there, including where to go next for a mission. It's a handy fast travel system too, though the chopper can only "land" in certain drop zones. You can at any time select the option to return to this air base from the Select menu though. I like when a game opts for convenience over realism. We suspend our disbelief for all sorts of things already, I can't see why video games should be any different if it's for a good cause like fast travel.
  • Mission #5 is a rescue mission, which is good because we're a rescue team, not assassins. Specifically, we're saving the Soviet scientist who made my arm, and in doing so giving ourselves a future upgrade path for ol' clamps over here. A lot of R&D topics, like weapons or armor, require experts beyond a certain level and that means having to find them in the general armed populace. The base he's held in is interesting: if you try the direct path, there's a chokepoint from the lower area to the higher area, which makes it very dangerous since this path has guards on it. You can go also around to the far side of the base to reach the higher area, which is one of those things I'm glad I know now but maybe would've been happier to learn earlier. There's an inconspicuous incomplete building where he's being held captive, and according to the bonus objectives there's a hole that leads all the way down to the basement where you find him, and you can Fulton him out from the basement level by threading the needle. What happens if the ceiling catches him though? Does he just float there a few feet off the ground?
  • For that matter, what happens when you inhale a Fulton? Do you start squeaking or just explode?
  • I've been working on a few Side Ops. They pay less than full missions, but I'm curious about how they work. Right now it's normal stuff like finding blueprints (you can find these in the regular missions too, but you often have to interrogate a guy with CQC to get the location out of him, and I can't ever get that close without getting spotted and losing my perfect stealth bonus), rescuing guys and perhaps extracting a sheep? Maybe later Side Ops get a bit more distinctive and weird. I might just leave them be unless they're conveniently located - it takes long enough to get around without making detours for a bunch of minor errands.
  • Challenges! As soon as this achievement-based reward system opened up, I managed to net a huge amount of resources and talented recruits for a few of my previous accomplishments. Like the game's assortment of actual achievements/trophies, these are earned from a mix of story-related progression, optional challenges and milestone goals. I'm not going to pay too much attention to it - I can go achievement-hunting after the game is over, if I'm not completely burned out - but I will check back on it periodically for the freebies. I really appreciate "tangible" in-game achievement systems like these in RPGs and open-world games - for each achievement, Tales of Xillia gave you Grade (a recurring Tales system that is essentially currency for new game plus bonuses like XP doublers), Stardew Valley allowed you buy new cosmetic headgear and Xenoblade Chronicles gave you little XP boosts.
  • Mission #6. This feels like a big one. My goal is to sneak into a mountain fortress and the former base of the Mujahideen rebels in this vicinity, and recover an anti-air weapon before the Soviets can find it. I get to start around a kilometer away, so already I'm dreading the fact that there's going to be 30 minute plus "endurance" missions where I have to complete the whole thing without screwing up, or lose a lot of bonuses. Honestly, while I'm not ruling out coming back to these missions for their bonus objectives, I might draw the line at S-Ranking them all. Unless some late-game developments make it super easy, like a tranq sniper rifle or one of those stealth camouflage gadgets from the first MGS.
  • As expected, as soon as I grabbed the weapon from deep within the compound (and man was it difficult to find my way through there), all hell breaks loose. I get my first clouded glimpse at the new Metal Gear, come face to face with Hugo Weaving and the Skulls Unit almost manage to clobber me. I just ran, like last time, but I have no idea how you'd get through all that without taking a few hits. Good thing Snake can walk most of those bulletholes off. As for Skullomania, he appears to know Big Boss and have a grudge against him, which makes me wonder if he wasn't someone from MGS3 or Peace Walker (let's hope it's not the latter) that I left in a burning building for no doubt heroic reasons.
  • Other tidbits learned from that long mission: First, animal cages are a good way to get some free shit if you remember to space them out. You get them restocked after every ammo supply drop (I needed two because I kept running out of tranq pistol ammo. I really only get 21 shots?) and I have no idea if that causes the last lot to vanish, but at the end of the mission I got a little extra cash and heroism, not to mention the start of a pretty rad petting zoo going. Albeit, the sort of petting zoo that has ravens and snakes. That one's going to have to be for big kids.
  • Second, don't summon a supply drop if there's a rock outcrop over your head. Some lucky goat just got a whole bunch of free balloons to play with.
  • Third, I've been finding a lot of posters lately. I didn't catch if they added anything besides extra GMP, but I distinctly recall that you can customize the cardboard boxes (which I've not been using enough) with girly pictures to distract guards, so maybe the posters are related to that? Either that or there's some MGS2 style Easter egg where Big Boss plays with his Little Boss, and I can do without that imagery.
  • Fourth, don't hit the triangle button accidentally when trying to interrogate a dude for information. Turns out an amateur tracheotomy isn't the best way to get a guy talking. Dang it, and I'd managed to get so far without kills that mission too. Checkpoints aren't as generous as you'd hope.
  • Four new missions just popped up after that last big one. Sensing a pattern here. If I complete a certain number of these missions, will another story one suddenly pop up the same way the anti-air weapon did? (I refuse to call anything "honey bees". Too many unfortunate MGS3 flashbacks. Fucking bee gun that shoots bees at people...)
  • Managed to upgrade my field tech, which I definitely appreciate as a recon- (and stealing-) focused player. My binocs can now identify an enemy soldier's skill levels for various aptitudes - I'm presently stopping for any "B"s or higher I can find - and my balloons now work for machine gun emplacements and mortars, both of which I can get a decent profit on. I also have way more balloons to play with, but I dunno if I'll ever need more than 24 at once. I guess by the time I'm lifting whole cargo containers and vehicles, I'll appreciate having a few extra.
  • Talking of upgrades, I managed to unlock a new Mother Base division to send my balloon fighters to: Intel. While R&D gives me more tech to unlock, Base Development increases resource procurement and Support speeds up various utilities like support drops and pick-ups, a good Intel division will fill in maps with additional data. Right now, they're giving me approximate locations of enemies within a nearby enemy base, represented by large red radii that encompasses their patrol route. What's interesting, which is to say amusingly dumb, is that I knew an Intel division was coming: there's a full set of roles that each soldier might be proficient at that the game makes no effort to conceal until you're ready for them. Why they're choosing to keep Medical and Combat locked for the time being is anyone's guess. I suppose both relate to being able to send out soldiers on their own dispatch missions, and you don't want to give players that ability right away. That'd be too fun.
  • Playing Metal Gear Solid, you live for those "aha!" moments. I just had one while scoping out this supply depot: Take On Me was playing on a radio nearby.
  • Mission #10 (eh, I was in the area). This one really grinded my gears, to the point of unattractive apoplexy. A two-part rescue mission that can be a one-parter if you decide to head straight to the only prisoner that matters before they get transported to a second location. Very irksome mission overall, in that there's a bonus condition to save three prisoners at the starting location (one gets shot about a minute after you start, so fuck you if you don't know exactly where he is) and the base that the other guy gets sent to seems to be filled with preternaturally observant guards. Fortunately, I somehow managed to scrape by with an "A" (the game only tells you if you retried or not from the nearest checkpoint; it doesn't dock you per reload) due to the number of extra prisoners I managed to emancipate. Remind me next time to systematically remove everyone in a base before I start trying to fireman's carry the prisoners out of there. Man, this game's just going to get harder and harder isn't it? I might do some Side-Ops until I have better gear... though that only mitigates the "I suck at stealth" part, not eliminate it.

Anyway, I had intended to keep going until I hit the next big story mission, but I think I'll cut it off here. I need to recharge after that last mission - it took well over an hour despite what the mission timer actually said, with all those restarts putting me 300m away from the base each time - and I might as well do that with another list of sarcastic reprimands for this annoying series. Did I mention that I'm not good at stealth games?

Mento Gear Solid V: The Fandom's Pain
MGSV: Part One: Missions 0-2.MGSV: Part Two: Missions 3-6, 10.
MGSV: Part Three: Missions 7-9, 11-12.MGSV: Part Four: Missions 13-16.
MGSV: Part Five: Missions 17-25.MGSV: Part Six: Missions 26-31.
MGSV: Part Seven: Missions 32-40.MGSV: Part Eight: Missions 41-47, 49.
MGSV: Bonus Tapes Edition