What MGSV: Ground Zeros Taught Me to Expect from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeros (now refered to as Ground Zeros) has been out on Windows for nearly one month. I have now played every mission and experimented with many ways to play the game, from full ghost, to pacifist, to lethal stealth, and finally open combat. I want to talk about what I expect from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (now refered to as Phantom Pain) from the story, gameplay, world, and AI.
Take into account that the only content for Phantom Pain I have watched is the gameplay demonstration from E3 2014, which you can watch below.
The gameplay from E3 2014.
What I expect from...
In Ground Zeros you play as Snake, or Big Boss (also known as Venom Snake in Phantom Pain), with the story being set a few months after the events in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. For the story of Phantom Pain I am expecting one of the main antagonists to be Skull Face, the leader of XOF - which is magically FOX backwards, maybe in reference to FOXHOUND and the game's Engine - you see Skull Face in the opening cut scene of Ground Zeros talking to, and being pretty damned evil to, Paz.
The rather unfortunate soul in the face department, Skull Face.
The gun play in previous Metal Gear Solid games were not the series strong points. This is not the case in Ground Zeros, with very well done, and sharp handling gun play, it really is excellent. Also There is finally a good cover mechanic, when you rub yourself up and down a wall you will take cover behind it, without being stuck to the cover. This then allows you to aim out from behind cover, attack guards from around the corner or over a low wall with CQC, or to simply hide. In Phantom Pain I expect to see this be taken a bit further, as being said in the E3 2014 gameplay that aiming from behind cover is now slightly faster. Based on how it worked in Ground Zeros I also expect to see the climbing mechanics improved. Maybe even due to Phantom Pain being set in Afghanistan, we may see some sort of free climbing mechanic.
The simple yet effective cover mechanic.
In Ground Zeros if the AI spots you briefly, they will look at where you were for a short while then move back to what they were doing. If the AI sees you for a bit longer, they will move to investigate. AI will also call in gunshots, being knocked out, or any suspicions behaviour over on the radio. Shooting security cameras will lead to one or more guards moving to investigate. You can hold up enemies, interrogate them and even use them as a human shield, all of which are nothing new to Metal Gear Solid, but are all things which make the game world feel more alive. In Phantom Pain I am expecting to see this AI behaviour but on a larger scale, so a guard in a watch tower or forward lookout point will call back to the main base, as well as the local area. I am also expecting AI to react to sounds of objects being knocked over, or the wall tap system coming back - as shown in the E3 2014 gameplay, Venom Snake will use his new robotic arm to do this - I expect the AI will be reacting more dynamically. Perhaps depending what the sound is a guard may call over some other guards to check out the area.
Snake holding up a guard. This image is for the Hands Up Achievement in Ground Zeros.
The world in Ground Zeros may just be a single base, but the variety of ways you can move around the base, the amount detail put into the overall layout, even just the small details like chairs, boxes, rubble, grass, etc. make the place feel alive. They make the place feel real in a way I have not felt in previous Metal Gear Solid games. The setting of Phantom Pain is about 200 times larger than that of Ground Zeros, making Afghanistan very large. I want to see the level of detail in Ground Zeros being put into Phantom Pain, I trust in Kojima Productions ability to deliver on this. From the mountainous, areas to the desert flats I hope for each area to have the same sense of living that the base of Ground Zeros has.
The Map of Phantom Pain.
...The Little Things
The attention to detail that Kojima puts into his games, and the cool tricks he plays on you are always great. Notable examples of tricks are, swapping your controller into port two for Psycho Mantis making him no longer being able to 'read your thoughts', or moving the system clock forward so that The End dies of old age to name two.
Lastly, the PC port for Ground Zeros was outstanding, I want this to continue with the Phantom Pain. The Fox Engine appears really well optimised for each console, and PC and I wish for this to continue.
Video showing The End dying of old age.
I am really looking forward to all the surprises the Phantom Pain has in offer, to this end I purposefully have not watched any trailers, or read much on the game as I want to come into this as fresh as possible. I trust Kojima to do an amazing job, and am glad they have finally fixed the gun play issues which have plagued the series since it's inception. Metal Gear Solid is the game which got me into stealth action games, and I'm excited to see what the future holds for the series.