September 1 is only a few months away, but that didn't stop Konami from showing off yet another gameplay demo of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The game was split into two parts with Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, which was out first last year. The short demo gave us a small prologue of the events that lead up to the latest chapter in Big Boss' story.
Just like most of the other demos at E3, we weren't allowed to take pictures of gameplay, but there was more than enough action shown to give us an idea of how players will handle each mission in the game.
Stealth has always been an important part of the Metal Gear Solid series. As a one-man army, you have to evade enemies, complete the mission objectives, and extract from the field without being seen. Of course, you can go the other route and just shoot everybody in sight.
Over the years, the series has slowly evolved from utilizing several areas to a completely open world, with the latter being heavily featured in The Phantom Pain. You can choose from an expansive list of missions, with each one not only advancing the story in some way, but also expanding your Mother Base, your base of operation in the middle of the ocean.
The demo started with Big Boss landing in the middle of an arid region, far away from his main target. Along the way, he encountered a few enemies, which can be dealt with lethally or non-lethally, or you can avoid them altogether. If you do decide to knock them out, you can use hand-to-hand combat, which includes a new weapon: Big Boss' Bionic Arm. The arm can be used not only for punching, but it also carries an electrical charge that can knock out enemies.
From there, players can use the Fulton Recovery System to strap large balloons on them to add to your army on Mother Base. Captured troops can then be assigned to various tasks to make the base more fully operational, such as weapons development and intelligence. The Fulton system is a useful tool, as it can also capture other things, such as small vehicles and animals, to help bolster your base's various resources.
The strength of your Mother Base is also a factor in online play, which Konami briefly discussed. Depending on the strength of your forces, you can launch an assault against another player's base to take more supplies and soldiers as your own. For some, this is a whole new feature, but it was actually carried over from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, a game that was originally for the PlayStation Portable, and serves as the predecessor to Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain in terms of the story's canon.
It's The Little Things
We also got another glimpse of D-Horse, one of the many options to traverse large portions of the map. The horse can also come in handy when traveling off-road, especially on steep hills. Big Boss can also lean on one of the horse to remain hidden from enemies as they pass by him.
Weather is another factor during missions. An oncoming sandstorm can be hazardous, as it's hard to see anything within 10 feet, but you can use it to your advantage to get closer to an enemy-infested compound or even getting the drop on a target. You can also use Big Boss' Phantom Cigar to speed up time so that you can infiltrate under the cover of night as opposed to daylight, when you can be seen from a mile away.
One of the best tools so far is the one that can fit in Big Boss' pocket. The iDroid is a device that displays known areas of the world on a map, as well as other information such as known enemy locations and mission objectives. You can also use it to call for reinforcements by way of attack helicopters. Throughout the game, it also serves as a way of displaying quick notifications to the player, such as when a soldier arrives at Mother Base, when you reach a customized waypoint on a map, or when research on a certain weapon or item is complete. However, the notifications can be a bit overwhelming, as I saw at one point during the demo, with multiple alerts coming in at the same time.
Big Boss eventually reaches his target, and even though he is discovered, he successfully evades death by deploying smoke grenades and even using inflatable balloons shaped to his likeness to distract enemies. He then calls a helicopter for extraction and the demo finally ends.
As a longtime Metal Gear Solid fan, The Phantom Pain serves as another marker of how far the game has come since I was first introduced to it in the late '90s. What started for me as a game featuring a pixelated 3D model has evolved into an impressive display of graphics, open-world gameplay, and a base management system. The story of Solid Snake ended with Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, and this game serves as another chapter in the story of his father, Big Boss. However, considering the reports of fallout between series creator Hideo Kojima and Konami, the game's publisher, this could be the final game in the stealth action series.