Well, we started E3 2014 right this year in terms of previews.
Eric Frederiksen and I (Joey Davidson) sat in on a preview for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. We’re fans of the series in different shades. Personally, I like the games and try to play each as they come and hit the discount rack. They’re good, not my favorite.
For Eric? Metal Gear is a must play series. It’s one he conquers every time it drops, and it’s one he gets super excited for.
So, the two of us saw today’s E3 preview. Truth be told? The bar for the show has just been set super high. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain looks really good.
An Eye for Expanse
This demo impressed me a lot, man. We talk about Red Dead Redemption on a daily basis now (which still blows my mind), and I think a large reason for that is our love for how it looks. The old west is super distinct, and the desert always has the ability to wow and impress.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is set in Afghanistan, at least in part, and our demo opened up with that expanse. It looked gorgeous. The dirt, the vista, the plant life, the animals and the encroaching sand storm. All of it looked huge and interesting.
It does trip a lot of the same triggers that Red Dead did, absolutely, but The Phantom Pain transforms it from what I would describe as an inhospitable world in Red Dead to a downright hostile one. It’s a gorgeous place, but you have to keep your guard up and keep your awareness stretched out much further.
The dynamic weather system will certainly help make the world a bit more convincing, too. In our demo, a sandstorm rolled in, providing cover but limiting the options available to the player. In a lot of previous games, weather was just a visual change. I just didn’t like going outside when it rained in Red Dead, but in The Phantom Pain it might be a deadly choice.
Right, that deadly and tense nature of this game makes it interesting in terms of its environment. Instead of just being dropped into a small level and told to move from point A to B while avoiding detection, you’re given a mission and minor intel and told to just “go.”
So, we saw our demo driver set waypoints in order to perch up high and watch an area he needed to infiltrate. We saw him take out the e-cigar to pass time. Then we saw him pop into a base and move about the space in a unique way.
That’s the thing that I think is really interesting about the open world set up of Phantom Pain. This truly looks like a stealth game that will let players explore it however they like. It’s cold, brutal and hard to move about thanks to the constantly vigilant guards, but it’s stealth at all times, and that’s kind of neat.
When Sheep Fly
Whether you’re a long time fan of the series or if Ground Zeroes was your first dip into the series, there are lots of new mechanics to look forward to in The Phantom Pain.
Mother Base will play into just about every aspect of the game. Mother Base itself won’t be anything new to those who played Peace Walker, but it didn’t play a role in Ground Zeroes.
Using captured resources, you can call in a cardboard box, reconnaissance assistance, or even an air strike.
The classic Metal Gear cardboard box was shown off in some deep detail. It used to be a place to hide for Snake, but if things went sour he didn’t have many options. Snake can use it to hold up enemies or he can even use it as a distraction. It was mostly an amusement before, but now I’d call it a real part of the game that I think players will use with some frequency.
There are tons of things Snake can capture to use for building up Mother Base, augmenting his army, and as assistance in the field. Even enemies are a potential resource. The Fulton Recovery System is back and better than ever.
Anytime you drop an enemy non-lethally, you can tag them and watch them get airlifted off.
What did you think of this mechanic?
It killed me. Every single time. It killed me.
Strapping a recently knocked out baddie to a balloon and hearing him scream as he soars away to Mother Base is hilarious. It gave me a good chuckle every time it happened during the demo, which you can attest to given the fact that you were sitting right next to me.
To me, this moment of clear and precise humor was one of my favorite bits about the Metal Gear demo. Yes, the world and mechanics all look extremely solid and well polished, but the sense of humor and randomness is part of what makes the Metal Gear recipe work so well for me.
Seeing people and sheep lift off into the atmosphere constantly is hilarious, and it sort of makes me love this series a bit more.
The big reveal for the demo, though, was that Mother Base is now a place, not just a menu to manipulate. As you gather resources and build your army, you’ll build up the mid-ocean oil rig sort of thing that Mother Base stands on. It’s bit unclear how detailed the customization is, but the presenter emphasized that the customization is deep enough that knowing your way around your base matters when it gets attacked and that it’s detailed enough that you’ll want to show the resultant base off to your friends.
This could bring a new level of personalization to Metal Gear that gives it more longevity in our libraries. It’s clear after this demo that Ground Zeroes was just the start.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is looking pretty amazing so far. Like I said in the opening, it’s set a high bar for the rest of E3. We’re off to see a few more games now, but they’ll be hard-pressed to top what was presented to us this morning.
The Phantom Pain is officially even bigger on our upcoming radar than it was before. Thank goodness for that.