Mento Gear Solid V: The Fandom's Pain: Part 7

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I wanted to preface my observations for the second half of the game with a brief "who's who" character guide, now that it seems to be focusing on smaller character moments and the swelling unrest within the Diamond Dogs in lieu of a major foe to unite everyone together in common purpose.

Snake is Snake, as reticent as he's always been. Kiefer does a fine enough job with the vocals, though it's not like Snake ever talks much in this game. I've noticed a majority of the main characters actually refer to him as Snake rather than Big Boss; this seems odd to me, as they themselves have said that a significant reason for why Diamond Dogs is able to keep growing is that they capitalize on the legend that is the Big Boss "brand", which is powerful enough to unite all these mercenaries and soldiers from across the globe. It's explained that the reason everyone we bring back is eventually persuaded to join the DDs is because of Big Boss's reputation as the ultimate soldier. It's probably nothing worth mentioning - a Metal Gear Solid game always has you play some variant of "Snake" for consistency - but I found it curious all the same.

Kaz Miller has grown increasingly unhinged throughout the course of this game's story, and he's especially ramped up the paranoia since Yorick alas'd his way to the great beyond. I didn't play Peace Walker, so this is technically my introduction to the character - the Master Miller we heard in the first Metal Gear Solid wasn't him, of course, though we can assume it was a convincing impersonation especially now after we've learned that he and Liquid are acquainted with each other. I imagine there would be some bad blood fomenting between him and Big Boss at some point in the game's story, given that Miller went on to train his would-be assassin (and clone) Solid Snake, and I'm starting to see that here with how Miller vehemently disagrees with every other decision made by Big Boss, and how his dismemberment trauma at the hands of Cipher and the Soviets has made him unstable in more ways than one. I'm not making any calls about a possible heel turn coming up (and I swear all these leg/foot puns are unintentional), but I think the contentious relationship between him, Big Boss and Ocelot may be the Diamond Dogs' ultimate undoing.

Ocelot often seems like the most rational person on Mother Base, yet I know enough from four Metal Gear Solid games not to trust him completely. His storyline through the four games highlights that while he was never loyal to any one country or organization, he did always have Big Boss's best interests in mind. That doesn't necessarily mean he has the Diamond Dogs's best interests in mind also, nor the wellbeing of any of its other staff. In fact, I get the impression that he wasn't in Peace Walker and only showed up this time because Big Boss needed rescuing from that Cyprian hospital. Also worth noting that he's still a quietly vindictive son of a boss, even more so than Miller who seems to be running (sorry, did it again) on pure vengeance these days. Hard to say what Ocelot intends to get from all this, though I think it's safe to assume that - in his mind - he'll be doing whatever benefits Big Boss the most.

Quiet has some tragic conclusion in the works, since the few times we've seen her in a cutscene after her capture she's been desperate to prove her worth to the Diamond Dogs. Gameplay-wise, that means a very competent buddy to watch my back, who I think I use almost as much as D-Dog. (Digression: I really like D-Dog. Highlighting all enemy units within 100m and being able to Fulton on his own can really make a difference, though he's not the occasional lifesaver Quiet is.) We understand more now how Quiet came to be, and why she has the powers she does. I figured there'd be a link to The End and there is; Code Talker, who created the parasite-enhanced powers of the Skulls and Quiet, first found the little bugs on the remains of the Cobras. We're still not sure where her ultimate loyalties lie and why she seems less... "Borg" than the other Skulls. Given that she's the most significant new character, I'm sure the second half of the plot is going to involve her pretty heavily.

I get the impression that Huey Emmerich is meant to be a version of Otacon with far less scruples but a similar intellect and cowardly disposition. While Otacon was genuinely aghast at the idea that his nuclear-powered, heavily-armed bipedal robot could be used for evil (did I ever mention naivety is a big element of his character?), you get the sense Huey doesn't really care who he's working for. That he's so determined to prove his loyalty to Diamond Dogs seems motivated more by the fact that Ocelot and Miller keep threatening to kill him over his perceived betrayal than him feeling a true sense of camaraderie. It's telling that, once Sillynamethropus is brought back to Mother Base, he's more excited than you've ever seen him. His work is his reason for being, his family and friends coming a distant second. Whether that makes him a bad guy or simply a negligent and selfish one is left to the beholder, I suppose. (I also like that he looks a lot like a young Gary Oldman. I'm sure that actor's penchant for playing weaselly characters and sinister villains has some bearing on this.)

I'd trust little Eli about as far as I could throw him, except I bet I could throw him pretty far. Off one of the Mother Base platforms, if the game lets me. As a pintsize megalomaniacal supervillain in the making, and one that definitely doesn't care for his genetic basis a whole lot, keeping him around seems like the least intelligent thing the Diamond Dogs could be doing right now. And I'd be saying this about the little grudge-holder even before he was given a vial of English-language vocal parasites and shown to have an apparent involvement with the temporary insanity of the Somnanbulist mech during Mission #31. My current working theory is that the young Psycho Mantis, who had been following the orders of Sir Daniel Fortesque up until that point, found a more intriguing specimen in Eli's pent up rage and hatred and decided to latch onto him instead, transplanting his will into the big robot instead of Cipher's erstwhile leader. At any rate, we've had a few ominous cutscenes of Eli attempting to kill his fellow child soldiers since the chapter break, and I don't think the game's done with him by a long shot. (Also, all the Lord of the Flies references? Way too forced.)

As for the rest of the cast, they're either exposition dumps (Code Talker) or they're too tied up in Peace Walker's plot for me to have much to say about their presence here (Paz). There is some progression with Paz's story - we see that the many photos we bring back for her is starting to unravel her trauma-induced amnesia - though I'm not sure she's ever going to factor into the main game's plot. I guess the game can't assume that players spent time checking all the doors on Mother Base for Easter eggs, and throwing her into a late-game cutscene apropos of nothing would be really out of place.

Part 7: X-Treme X-Filtrations

  • I have to say, the instability of Konami's online servers is troubling, but it's perhaps not as troubling as how the game's online component operates in the first place. To reiterate a point made in an earlier update, that the game ties up so much of your resources "in the cloud" is ridiculous. It's not just the gains you earn from completing online tasks - revenue from any FOBs you have, spoils from invading other players' FOBs, rewards for the long-term high-risk dispatch missions designated as "online" - but a huge proportion of the money, resources and acquired vehicles/weapons you find in the regular single-player mode are automatically designated as "online" and become unavailable if the servers go down. Almost without exception whenever I can't connect, and it happens frequently when I boot up the game, I am greeted with Miller discussing how far in the red the Diamond Dogs are, despite having close to a million GMP locked away where I can't reach it. The worst part is that the proportion of resources kept online is always vastly greater than what you have offline, for no real reason other than to keep you online and at risk from its obnoxious forced PvP at all times. There aren't a whole lot of purely negative things to say about MGSV - I think its reputation as a 2015 GOTY contender is well-deserved, even if I personally agree with Giant Bomb's decision to hand it to Super Mario Maker - but the online component is definitely the worst part of the game. It actually surpasses the naked avarice of having microtransactions and free-to-play elements bolted onto full price retail releases into something approaching anti-user malice. An exaggeration, perhaps, but given Konami's present toilet-dwelling reputation I don't think I'm too off (forward operating) base here.
  • Anyway, the second half of this game. Well, I say "half" but perhaps only in narrative terms, if not a discrete 50% amount of the game's unique content. I can immediately see why folk were disappointed by the "lightness" of chapter two, because out of the three new missions that appear after Mission #31, two are repeats. Specifically, they're previous missions that have some new, challenging rules to follow. The two I have now are a "subsistence" variant of the very early mission involving the destruction of radar dishes (#4) and an "extreme" difficulty variant of that horrible time-based vehicular destruction mission (#9). Since the game doesn't really reveal what these modifiers mean, I looked them up: Subsistence means that I'm not allowed any weapons or equipment in my loadout, excepting my default arm. I have to acquire weapons and gear on-site, not too dissimilar to how missions have always been in the Metal Gear Solid series, though here I don't even get a tranq pistol or cigarettes. Extreme means enemies kill you far more quickly, so protracted firefights are out. Total Stealth, the remaining category, means the mission is immediately failed if I get spotted.
  • On the one hand, I don't believe these missions are strictly necessary for progress, and I can continue with the chain of story-crucial missions (marked with the usual gold dot for critical targets) and leave the retreads for whenever I bother to get around to the rest of the game's content. On the other hand, they're also worth a lot of money - that Extreme vehicle mission earns me 400k GMP, which is almost double the payout of the last couple of story missions - so I might just jump into them for the sake of assuaging increasing development costs. Talking of which, I've acquired a few new... let's say "reality incongruous" upgrades since starting act two: one is something called the Hand of Jehuty, unlocked after capturing a rare bird, that allows me to magically pull enemies and animals closer to Big Boss so I can more easily knock them out and Fulton them. Another is the wormhole tech for the Fulton devices, which allows me to capture soldiers and resources from inside buildings and caves. The deployment costs for both are absurdly high. We're getting to the point now, I've observed, where there's a value consideration with the higher-level equipment - I've been using the "level 3" beanbag assault rifle because it only requires 30 fuel resources to include it in a sortie, rather than the 200 the level 4 model costs with its minor improvements. There have been times when I don't think I'll need certain pieces of my usual equipment and have left it behind, but I'm also now taking into account whether or not I need that equipment to be as high level as it can be. For weapons I use all the time, like the tranq pistol and sniper rifle, I think it's worth going as state-of-the-art as possible, but for everything else I should probably consider whether or not I'll need them at their best. But then, the dilemma with this game is that you never really know what you'll need if it's your first time on a particular mission.
  • Mission #33. Fortunately, you don't need to worry about bringing the right equipment on Subsistence missions, because you aren't given shit. Equally fortunate, however, is that the C2W mission that gets the first "extreme difficulty" redux treatment is also a mechanically simple one that's only beholden to some amount of luck. I'll admit to retrying a bunch: not only do you have little in the way of defending yourself if you get spotted, but Subsistence missions don't even let you have the lifesaving slow-motion "reflex mode". In truth, I got into a cycle of getting spotted and reloading until I was lucky enough to complete the bare minimum of the mission objectives - destroying the radio equipment inside the central building, rather than all three radar dishes - and get out of there as quickly as possible without anyone seeing me. The large time bonus for infiltrating and exfiltrating so quickly would offset the lack of bonuses from completing additional objectives, I figured, and I was right: that's another S-rank I probably didn't deserve through a frantic five minutes of running and sneaking, not including the four or five times I reloaded from a checkpoint. But hey, I'm very grateful that this game doesn't demote you to an A-rank maximum for restarting, because that would be an abhorrent thing to deal with in some of the longer missions. Challenge is always a very difficult thing to balance, but I think erring on the side of player convenience is always the best course. Don't force them to replay whole swathes of your game just to make things "acceptably difficult".
  • Mission #34. For shits and giggles, I also completed the Extreme version of that horrible mission with the vehicles too. The game tells you that the reflex mode and humiliating Chicken Hat mode aren't available for Extreme difficulty missions, but is cagey with further details. There's a lot to glean from this mode that I wish the game bothered to surface: enemies do more damage, take more damage to be killed (or destroyed, as is the more pertinent consideration for this vehicle destruction mission), and - perhaps most crucially and inexplicably - there doesn't seem to be any checkpointing whatsoever. This is a fifteen minute mission, by design, so the fact that you could get twelve minutes in, mess up and be forced to start over or just take the crappy result is definitely not what this mission needed to improve it. However, I did previously admit that this course was the one I looked up on YouTube after completing it the first time to see how an S-rank is possible, figuring if I ever return to it it'd be in the process of sweeping up S-ranks for the game's toughest trophy and thus it would be fair to cheat a bit with some Pro Tipz. Turns out that knowledge came in useful here, as I managed to get an A-rank in spite of my bumbling. Spotted right at the end, figures, as I misjudged the distance between myself and the final few targets and got within their vision/firing range before they exploded, but an A-rank is better than nothing for now. Once I've beaten all the missions and have cash to spare, I'll upgrade my explosive weaponry a few times in case I ever come back for Round Three (and Four, since I'd need to S-rank the original too). Don't hold your breath, game.
  • All right, I better get back to this story. I get the impression that the second chapter will just be a smattering of story missions and interstitial events, but I'm also hearing from those leaving comments (thanks for the replies, duders! Thanks for covering up the spoilers too! Please continue doing that!) that these missions are also some of the most rewarding. Whether they mean in a dramatic sense or a "Kojima, you so crazy" sense remains to be seen, but here's hoping it's door number two. Speaking of interstitial cutscenes, the game's plot is clearly not waiting around for me to move onto Mission 32. Since the end of the last story mission and after a handful of promising side ops and the above optional missions, I got three cutscenes, only one of which was triggered by me: the first involved the death of one of the child soldiers, and while it was presented as an accident, the game wanted me to know that Eli was in some way responsible by centering the camera on him for a few ominous moments. The second was similar, with the child soldiers attempting to retrieve their dead leader's necklace even though it had somehow ended up where the tanks were getting their hazardous chlorine douches. That event managed to rough up Quiet pretty bad, who was so eager to prove herself that she hopped down there and got some gnarly chemical burns for her trouble. She recovered quickly enough, thankfully. Those hardy skin parasites, huh? The last cutscene involved Paz, who has ceased the carefree childlike state she regressed to when we first met her and is now mostly catatonic. Maybe it wasn't a good idea to keep poking at her traumatic memories with all these photos. Hey, I'm Punished Snake, not Psychiatrist Snake. Anyway, it looks like the game's got plot cutscenes to spare and perhaps not enough story missions with which to deliver them, so I look forward to more shoehorning.
  • Mission #32. Whenever I see a mission that is essentially "go extract this guy", I've learned to anticipate that something is up; that he won't just be holed up in a hut somewhere with a couple of goons to guard the door. That paranoia was validated here, as it has been several times before, by the fact that the target you want is not in the two outposts or one guard post contained within the mission area, but somewhere out in the desert with four walker guards protecting him. With a huge open space and the ability to quickly wake each other up using their walker's loudspeaker (I think? That's how it usually is with vehicles for the "eliminate armored vehicle unit" side ops, and I noticed folk waking up almost immediately after their companion spotted them sleeping), I figured this mission would a considerable challenge unless I could find some way of either separating the walkers or hitting all of their riders with tranqs as close together as possible. Fortunately, while I was still figuring out the best plan of attack, a sandstorm suddenly appeared and let me get close enough with the pistol (which has a much higher fire rate than my rifle presently) and allowed me to knock out all four from within their midst. Lucky, I guess, but I can't help but feel I might've been better served with some area-of-effect tools like a sleep grenade. It's an easy and quick mission - especially now I know where the target is - so I'll come back for the S-rank another time (the A-rank I got is fine for now).
  • Battle Gear is ready. I figured out its purpose: I need it for dispatch missions. Specifically, the higher level "critical" dispatch missions which unlock useful unique items like equipment blueprints. (Digression: The nature of most dispatch missions is to earn GMP and resources while also giving people in your combat unit experience that lets them raise their skill grade, and some can even lower the enemy's effectiveness in the field, similar to destroying ammo and food storage huts in MGS3 and 4. It's a neat idea insofar is it gives the people you extract, most of whom were soldiers, an outlet to actually do the job they were trained for.) The Battle Gear is just a big quadruped tank, but Emmerich seems into it. Kind of odd we have a fifty foot tall hulking battle mech we "borrowed" from Cipher and the Soviets, but we're gearing up this puny tank to do our dirty work for us instead. (Snake won't actually let anyone near the Snagglepuss - he considers it too powerful to let into the wrong hands, hence why the Diamond Dogs are holding onto it at all. Useful deterrent too, having that giant robot looking over us.)
  • Talking of things Emmerich's into, our next mission isn't a mission but a side op: like meeting Huey for the first time, we're simply to extract the AI pod in his old haunt back at the Afghan Central Base just whenever we have the time. I suspect that procuring it will segue into a mission, like the Huey encounter did, so I'm going to get some other stuff done in the local area. I like that the Afghanistan theater appears to have become the focal point of the game again, though I've no doubt we'll need to make a few more sojourns to Africa as well.
  • It didn't become a mission - in fact, I didn't have to figure out how to get the AI core out of the R&D building Huey was kept in, as it took off on its own with its little jets - but it did lead to another "critical" side op: the recovery of the Man on Fire's body, supposedly crushed by the Shpadoinkle's loading platform. He's in the Supply Depot, which is one of my less favorite places to infiltrate in Afghanistan given it's difficult to get anywhere without passing through a courtyard with a whole bunch of jerks watching it like a hawk. If you're very careful, you can sometimes avoid being spotted by taking one of the underground trench/ducts to where it opens in one of the courtyard's corners, and then quickly going into one of the doors before anyone sees you. Because the game's so merciful, it stuck ol' Flame Princess right in the middle of that courtyard, necessitating the speedy removal of the seven or eight (they beefed up security) guards between you and it. If that wasn't enough, it suddenly sprang to life as it was getting Fulton'd, making me worry that I was supposed to go up against it with nothing but my small amount of remaining tranq ammo and a dog that attaches balloons to people. Nah, it was just a cutscene, proving one and for all that this was Volgin and that his corpse was kept alive through pure vengeful malice up until now. Very "King Lysandus". That reference still plays, right?
  • After we safely stick Calcifer's inert body in a cage, which I hope has a high melting point, we get our next batch of missions. As with the first bunch from Chapter 2, it's a brand new mission followed by two revisits. We see our first Total Stealth mission here - the one where you steal the walker robots (#15) - and an Extreme difficulty variant of the hijacking mission with the truck full of Skulls (#16). And, as before, these two "Elite" missions have a huge payout, so I'm gonna go do them. I think once I get to around Mission 40, I'll have to put the kibosh on these bonus rehash missions. Aren't many days left in August, and the 31st is my deadline for this game.
  • Wow, all right, I was going to save the tapes for their own reactions blog entry, but the one I just got was quite something: Strangelove, who I've never met but heard plenty about in this game due to her significance to Peace Walker, was not only found inside the AI pod as a desiccated corpse but is apparently the mother of our own Japanese anime fan Otacon. She was an AI programmer, the one who actually programmed Snuffleupagus, so her calling the kid Hal makes a lot of sense in retrospect. That Huey knowingly kept her in there for a year afterwards rather than deal with her death and properly bury her is super unnerving. Forget the guilt keeping you from concentrating on your work, what about the smell?
  • Mission #36. Let's check out that Total Stealth mission. Even though we're in Africa now, where the difficulty ramps up, I recall it being fairly easy to find and extract the walkers. The issue is that there's at least seven guards around, three of which are the heavily-armored kind that can't get tranq'd. It took a bit of luck to knock out everyone while they were separated - I sort of wonder if creating a diversion somewhere else, like blowing up a C4 a hundred meters away in the opposite direction, would've been an easier way to handle this mission. If there's one benefit to the game's mission structure, is that completing a mission once gives you enough intel to have a better idea about how to complete it again, and that helps immeasurably with these "extreme difficulty" remix missions which don't seem to modify the important stuff like guard placement and the location of the mission targets.
  • Mission #37. Still scratching my head over this one. If you remember before where I described the mission in question - #16 - I explained that it's a wild goose chase that grows increasingly more bullshit the further you get into it. It begins with a "go to this guardpost to hijack the truck" objective, followed by "find the truck on this route to hijack it", then "find out that there's two armored vehicles picking up the truck under heavy guard at the airport" and finally "the truck has Skulls on board who suddenly appear based on proximity to the truck, making it impossible to hijack or extract it without dealing with them first". Now, I figured I'd be best suited sprinting for the speed bonus again, so I deployed with a jeep and drove straight to where I knew the truck was waiting at the airport. The late-game difficulty spike once again meant that many if not all of the guards around the truck were in heavy armor and couldn't be tranq'd. That all became moot when I got close enough to the truck to trigger the Skulls, managed to extract it quickly but obviously got spotted, and began a mad dash out of the hot zone before they killed me (and on Extreme difficulty, they can do that very easily). I somehow managed to escape and... got an S-rank? But not only did I get that huge time bonus, I also got a "perfect stealth" bonus (I think the Skulls might disagree) and an enormous "no traces" bonus I'd never seen before. I imagine that's for getting in and out without extracting or tranqing anyone? It feels like I cheated the game on a technicality, but I ain't buggin'. Easy 800k GMP with the bonus.
  • I looked it up, since I want these blogs to be at least halfway informative. "No traces" means never touching the R1 button or triggering reflex mode. Shooting a gun, throwing or placing a grenade/mine or using CQC just once, even if you don't hit anything, will void the bonus. As there was nothing I encountered that could be affected by my tranqs or CQC, and Extreme difficulty disables reflex mode anyway, I hit upon a winning S-rank strategy without even realizing it. Naturally, I then immediately used this newfound knowledge for evil, grabbing near-instant S-ranks for Missions #9 and #34 (a.k.a. "that one vehicle mission" and "that one vehicle mission redux") by creating a roadblock for the first tank I came across, Fultoning it from behind (gross) and then letting the timer count down with a cigar for a mission result that, while giving me squat for time or multiple vehicle bonuses, netted a huge enough "no traces" bonus that it didn't even matter. I'll be cheesing a few other older missions this way too, in all likelihood. Did I mention that I've almost checked out with this game?
  • Mission #35. I acquired the cargo crate Fulton upgrade a long time ago - it was the only way I was going to get enough materials to upgrade Mother Base this century - but this is the first mission to actually require it. It's kinda cute that the game suggested I go R&D it, in case I hadn't bothered until now. I suppose someone somewhere hadn't picked it up yet, or hadn't bothered scrolling far enough on the iDroid to find them in the R&D menu. Goal here is to explore the jungle area just south of Lufwa Valley's mansion for two cargo containers holding all of Code Talker's vocal parasite research and bring them back before Cipher can nab them. D-Dog can't sniff out containers, but he sure can sniff out the three or four guards each of them predictably had. The game's in this wonderfully disagreeable place right now where every literally every guard has full body armor, instead of just a handful of them in prominent locations, so if I wanted to get past any of them I'd have to use the jungle for cover Rambo-style and either avoid them or get close enough to choke them out, since my zero-penetration tranqs are useless. Interrogation would also reveal where the containers were, if I couldn't spot them myself. I made a startling discovery in this mission: if you get on top of a container and try Fultoning it (I was a bit desperate, since I climbed on top of the second one without an escape plan), you can actually grab onto the Fulton and go with it back to base. No expensive chopper pick-up, no worrying about sneaking my way out of the hotzone on foot. That I'm just learning about this now close to the two-hundred hour mark (look, I leave this game on pause a lot, all right?) is a testament to its endless ingenuity. Kojima's always been brilliant at this.
  • We're treated to a scene of Quiet getting some impromptu shock therapy back at base, as she was identified as having vocal parasites by the MRIs we're giving everyone, now we know what to look for. We learned several quite crucial things during this cutscene: Quiet's skin parasites are deathly allergic to saltwater, Quiet is probably in love with Big Boss ("join the club", Ocelot more or less says), Quiet was indeed the hospital assassin at the start of the game who almost burned to death, and Quiet can speak, but refuses to. Code Talker reaches her in the Navajo language (I assume?) and she admits that she has a vocal parasite and was instructed to use it once she reached Mother Base. What's more, it's the third English-attuned vocal parasite, the one Skullmageddon warned was "very close to Big Boss". I suppose I could've predicted the few of these twists I didn't already guess at before now, but there's still a lot about Quiet that's yet to be ascertained.
  • Mission #39. This is a Total Stealth variant of Mission #5, the one where I had to rescue the bionic arm developer from the basement of the Wakh Sind Barracks. Back when I did this mission the first time, I discovered an alternate route into the base that evades a lot of the patrolling guards, cutting directly to what I designated as the "upper" portion of the outpost. Of course, I only found this path on the way out of the mission, when that knowledge had ceased to be useful. Or so I thought. Recalling the same route this time, I only had to get my way past three guards - one of those was now in full body armor, of course - and head back the way I came in. Trying to sneak in the regular way with the harsh limits of Total Stealth would've been a nightmare, considering it not only forces you to restart from a checkpoint if you get spotted (which, hey, I usually do anyway. Not easy to rescue someone once the whole base has been alerted) but removes the handy reflex mode, which normally saves me two or three times a mission. With that route, I was in and out in five minutes. I'm sure this chain of S-ranks will abate eventually, so I might as well gloat while I have the chance. Gloat gloat.
  • Mission #40. This is a blast from the past: the sniper battle against Quiet. On Extreme difficulty, a single shot from her sniper rifle is enough to kill you immediately, which changes the dynamic of this fight completely. Whereas in the original mission you might get hit a few times while rooting out her nest before you're able to retaliate, that option is now way off the table and you have to rely entirely on D-Dog, her sniper rifle's glare/flash and memorizing the handful of locations she always sets up shop in. I'll admit to dying a lot here; I finally got into the rhythm of "teabagging" cover so that she'd be pushed to fire and miss at my yoyo impression, allowing me to hit her in the brief window as she reloaded. She also has a lot more health too - even with a level 5 sniper rifle, I barely took a sixth off her lifebar with a head shot. So yeah, while it's an easy S-rank to get - like the other boss fight missions, they just hand the perfect stealth bonus to you since the boss doesn't count and there's no other enemies to worry about - it's not an easy mission to complete in the first place. What I did spot, and this was immediately confirmed by the reward I received, is that Quiet is done up like Sniper Wolf, complete with the "strategically open" uniform jacket and the green make-up from The Twin Snakes.
  • Mission #38. This'll be the last update for today, and sorry in advance to ZombiePie who will be skim-reading this to figure out which missions it covers. This is the next story-critical mission and the goal here is to head to Spugmay Keep in Afghanistan to find a hidden film canister that an informant stashed away with information concerning the military research and background of the "extraordinaries" we've met: Kid Mantis and Volrog (that's... a Volgin/Balrog portmanteau. Look, I ran out of my good references a while ago. Yes, those were my good references). It's a clever twist on the "extract a thing" mission, because A) you don't really know where it is, though the active area is thankfully fairly small, and B) there's a whole squad of Spetsnaz goons there looking for it, which also means they're constantly moving around searching in general - this makes it a little harder to sneak by them, though slightly easier to divide them up and remove them individually if needs must. As long as you get the body away quickly, that is, because someone else is likely to poke around the same area tout de suite. For such a mechanically simple and quick mission, it's actually quite difficult to get in and out with the item you need. Well, except I imagine it's a lot easier once you know exactly where the item is. (I tried it again - they actually move the location of the canister. I think there's a photographic accompaniment to this mission to help narrow its location down, but I have no idea where in the iDroid's many menus they stashed it.)

Next update will, I hope, cover the rest of the game's main missions and as many side ops and non-critical extreme missions as I can fit in before that aforementioned August 31st deadline. After that, I'm putting the game away and moving onto other things. Gotta be strong.

However, I may still create that "bonus" episode of tape intel I talked about further down the line. I've been listening to them as the game's been progressing, and it feels like it's where Kojima vented his usual overexplaining of certain aspects in his stories, whether that's the loosely "inspired by" military conspiracy theories, the supernatural elements that actually have a perfectly scientific but still completely insane explanation, and the additional backstories of some of his characters. I remember back in MGS4 how out-of-place (and entirely gross) Drebin's long-winded stories about how the individual members of the Beauty and Beast squad came to be in their unfortunate PTSD states. At least this way, Kojima can let the events of the game breathe a bit and stash his hours of loquacious clarifications in an optional repository. Anyway, a lot of those tapes are worthy of some mordant commentary from yours truly, so I'll try not to let this feature end without that extra episode.

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