Hands-off Preview: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Hands-off Preview: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Even the Boss needs a buddy. Anyone hanging around the Konami Booth at E3 were treated with a nice long gameplay demo of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. For this stage demo we got a take a look at how the open-world mission structure as well as a closer look at the amount of options and resources you have at your disposal. We also got a better look at the buddy system.

To show off the basics of the buddy system, our demo driver brought out D-Dog to accompany Snake. In the same way that you can customize snake, you can also customize your buddy’s outfit. In D-Dog’s case, they went with a sneaking suit equipped with a stun knife.

That’s right, they gave a dog a stun knife.

Snake can use D-Dog to distract enemies by barking to get their attention. If you want a chuckle, you can give the order for D-Dog to put the stun knife in his mouth and knock out an enemy sentry. I should mention that other Buddy options we saw in this demo included a horse named D-Horse, the mute sniper Quiet and robot/personal tank named D-Walker.

We were also given a brief look at the weapon customization during the mission prep phase. The combination of guns and modification seem endless. Things like color, scopes, stocks, etc can be changed on the fly. New weapons and mods can be researched by finding blueprints scattered throughout in the game’s world.


The real purpose of this demo was show you can just how open ended the gameplay is. When you’re not doing a story mission you can drop into Afghanistan at any time and mess around with a large assortment of side missions and tasks like recruiting the right soldiers for Mother Base. After picking a starting area, your chopper drops you off and you’re free to cause trouble.

Our demo featured one of those side missions and it involved eliminating an enemy operative. Since you’re mostly dealing with Russian soldiers you quickly find out that Snake doesn’t speak a lick of Russian. To rectify this, Snake needed to find at a nearby outpost and recruit a translator by knocking him out and dragging him back to Mother Base.

When you you tag and scan an enemy you’ll be able to see their stats. Some soldiers and POWs have certain skills that’ll provide support during your missions. This a good way of figuring out which soldiers are worth bring back to your base. Once they were able to capture a translator, Snake was now able to understand the language for interrogating other soldiers for intel.

If you’ve played Peace Walker then some of the Mother Base options will look familiar. Every soldier you recruit is given a goofy codename like Sly Iguana or Black Adder and thrown into a variety of teams like research or support.


Now that Snake understood Russian in the demo, we moved onward to his objective. The operative we were pursuing was heavily guarded so they brought in a new buddy, D-Walker.

You can swap out your buddies on the fly. You may have seen one of these D-Walkers during the most recent multiplayer trailer. Not only is D-Walker a powerful walking tank that you can climb into but you can also have him scan the perimeter and auto tag enemies for you as well.

The scan revealed the target. Kaz contacts you over the codec explains to you that this guy might make a good addition to your army since he’s got great stats. It’s your call to kill or recruit. For the demo they went with recruit. After sneaking into the base, Snake knocked out his target and used the Fulton system to bring him back to base.


Too bad for Snake that got him some unwanted attention in the form of armored soldiers. It was mentioned that enemies will often upgrade their gear depending on how well you’re doing. If you been scoring a lot headsets with a sniper rifle, you might notice more troops walking around with helmets on. The idea is to force the player to try new approaches for each mission.

The solution for this fiasco? Snake hopped inside D-Walker and used its mounted gatting gun to chew through the armored soldiers. He held them off long enough for a helicopter to come get snake out of there before the tanks arrived to ruin his day.

This provided gave us a clearer picture of just how much content will be in The Phantom Pain, how dynamic its world is, and how the buddy system takes gameplay to a new level. If this much work went into a side mission, you can imagine what sort of craziness would come from the main campaign.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain releases this September for the PS4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360.