Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain E3 2014 Preview

A solid half hour of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain gameplay left Lowell with a positive outlook on Hideo Kojima’s latest game.

The Metal Gear Solid games are known for ample amounts of impressive cinematography. Cutscene after character driven cutscene moves the plot and develops characters in-between missions, and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain looks to be no different. The E3 2014 trailer showcases over five minutes of the game, but doesn't show any actual gameplay. That wasn't the case when I sat down to watch a live demo at E3 today. After a brief cutscene featuring Ocelot and Snake riding through a dust storm, Snake sets off on horseback into an open, fully explorable world. All that followed was pure gameplay.

Snake was tasked with gathering intelligence on the whereabouts of  Kazuhira Miller through infiltrating an enemy encampment nearby. Before setting off into the Afghanistan desert, Snake's horse defecated. The producer narrating the demo informed the small crowd that horse feces will indeed be a feature to look forward to in Metal Gear Solid V

A brief detour from the mission at hand took Snake to a small shack guarded by two men. Snake, utilizing sleeper darts, took out one guard and proceeded to interrogate another for information on the surrounding area. Then, the demo showed us the return of the Fulton system seen in Peace Walker. Snake can strap a balloon on the back of any number of things—men, containers of resources, trucks, and even the local wildlife—which abruptly jets off into the air and off to the headquarters of Snake's military organization. The Fulton system success rate is effected by the real-time weather system, so resources and captured guards can go missing in a dust storm, for example. 

When Snake arrived at the encampment which housed his mission objective, he passed time atop a cliff with an item called the Phantom Cigar, which speeds time up so Snake can best prepare his assault on any given area. The producer informed us the cigar houses some sort of drug which makes time fly. It's a great tool for speeding through a few hours of daylight until guards change shifts or go to sleep and the time to strike is more ideal. 

Once the time was set, Snake marked the men in the camp from a high vantage point. This allowed their outlines to be seen from just about anywhere. The producer told us many different approaches can be made to assault this base, much like you might see in a Far Cry game. We were told going in guns blazing was just as viable as pure stealth, and along with support for headquarters, supply drops and air strikes and the like, many options were available to Snake. Be that as it may, the man behind the demo chose to go pure stealth to better show off Snake's abilities. 

Snake slunk through the encampment, eliminating enemies and strapping Fultons to them. The classic box makes a return with new upgrades: Snake can eject himself from the box if spotted, or pop out of the top to surprise an enemy. Once Snake completed his objective—locating and scanning some information on the location of Miller—he called in a helicopter pick up nearby, but not before calling in an air strike on his location. Once outside the town, the rockets came down and eliminated evidence of his presence and any remaining soldiers.

This done, Snake went back to Mother Base, which serves as the headquarters of the Diamond Dogs. Each Mother Base will be different depending on what is upgraded and when, giving way to a level of customization not really seen in Metal Gear games. The guards Snake whisked away with the Fulton were there, along with the trucks, containers of resources, and even local wildlife. To close out the demo, the Mother Base came under assault, although we saw no attackers and only heard the alarms. It appears the base will have to be defended from the enemies Snake makes throughout the game.

The demo left me wanting. I wanted to see more ways in which Snake can take down enemy encampments. I wanted to see what else might lurk in the open-world desert. And I wanted to see how the Mother Base was defended from enemy attacks. Still, what I did see—the open-world approach and the evolving, customizable home base—gave me the impression that Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the most dynamic game in the series yet.