The Metal Gear franchise is older than I am. Despite being one of the biggest and longest running video game franchises I have never actually played any of the series entries for more than a few hours. I’ve dabbled in almost all the Metal Gear Solid games and watched my brother play through 1 and 2 but frankly the games have never been my cup of tea. Which is why I am shocked that I have put in nearly 70 hours into Metal Gear Solid 5. MGS5 is a big departure for the series, it utilizes a friendly drop in mission structure, emphasizes gameplay over story, and made a Metal Gear fan out of me. Below are seven of my favorite things that MGS5 introduces to the series that will intrigue even the most jaded gamer.
1. Buddies (mostly D-Dog)
The buddy system in MGS5 is game changing in more ways than one. First, the thought of Big Boss tackling a mission with a partner would have been ludicrous in a previous Metal Gear game. Snake has always been a soldier that works alone, a one man army, pairing him with a companion doesn’t sound like it would make sense for a solitary stealth game. Second, buddies add an entirely new dimension for how players tackle missions. Want to go in guns blazing? Take D-Walker. Want to take a silent approach? Take D-Dog. Want someone covering your back and causing a distraction? Take Quiet. Is your objective far from your drop point? Take D-Horse. No matter how you want to approach a mission MGS5 has a buddy that fits.
The title kind of gave it way but by far my favorite buddy was D-Dog. From the moment I met him in the plains of Afghanistan he became my favorite part of the game. Watching him greet you when returning to Mother Base after each mission is adorable but D-Dog only becomes more awesome when he grows up and can be taken out on missions. From spotting enemy locations, to locations of plants, wildlife, mines, and hostages D-Dog immediately became my go to buddy for nearly every mission. Once you develop a close enough bond with him you can develop a stun suit that allows D-Dog to stun your enemies while you remain hidden (particularly helpful when facing heavy infantry that cannot be shot with tranquilizer darts). The list of awesome dogs in video games is pretty long as it is, but for my money D-Dog belongs at the top.
2. Fultoning Everything That Isn’t Nailed to the Ground
The fultoning system in MGS5 is awesome. Stunning enemies and sending them back to Mother Base is addictive. Konami was definitely appealing to the Pokemon type hoarder emotion that many gamers share. Tying the device to a passed out enemy and watching them float in the air for a few seconds before getting zipped into the sky never got old (even after compiling over 1200 soldiers at Mother Base). Like most gimmicks in Metal Gear games a little suspension of disbelief is needed, not in the technology itself, but more so in the speed in which it takes place and the enemies inability to notice it (also the wormhole upgrade).
Upgrading the Fulton device allows you to steal nearly everything in an enemy base that isn’t nailed down; there is something immensely satisfying about sneaking up on an enemy tank and flutoning it, driver and all without ever alerting the enemy. Whether you are stealing everything to acquire more resources and upgrade your base or you’re simply feeding your inner kleptomaniac, fultoning is addictive.
3. Weapon Customization
After completing a certain side ops (3 times) in MGS5 you gain the ability to customize your weapons. This seemingly small accomplishment completely changed the way I played the game. The first thing I immediately built was a silenced tranquilizer sniper rifle that meant I would no longer have stalking my way through enemy outposts getting close shots off with my silenced tranquilizer pistol and constantly risk alerting the enemy. I could slowly and systematically pick off enemies from 90 meters away now and move into a base filled with sleeping enemies (or at least a base that was significantly weakened). From that point on my neon pink silenced tranquilizer sniper rifle was always at my side.
4. Things (Generally) Make Sense
Like I said before, any Metal Gear game requires some suspension of disbelief (a poster of a commanding office on a cardboard box will cause an enemy to salute said poster). But for the most part things make sense, want to understand what Soviet soldiers are saying? Extract a translator. Want to customize your guns? Fulton a legendary weapons specialist. Nearly every hurdle in game can be overcome in a manner that makes sense.
Many games force players to collect things for the sake of collecting (which I hate, looking at you every Lego game ever), Metal Gear Solid 5 makes collecting essential to progress in the game in a way that is completely logical. You need to extract soldiers to build your private army, you need to extract mortars and turrets to defend your base. Want to deploy into the field with a vehicle? You need to extract that vehicle. Accumulating soldiers and developing your R&D, Intel, Support, and Medical team yields real in game benefits. Want to have larger teams? Build more platforms on Mother Base. MGS5 never asks you to do something simply for the sake of doing it.
5. Musical Cassette Tapes
MGS5 takes place in 1984 and in case you ever forget you can always be reminded by the awesome licensed music tracks included in the game. In one instance I snuck into an enemy outpost and overheard one of my favorite songs of all time, Billy Idol’s Rebel Yell, I immediately forgot what my main objective was and made it my priority to steal that cassette tape. Once you acquire the tape you’re free to play it whenever you want and after upgrading your helicopter with a speaker, you’re free to blast it whenever the chopper picks you up and drops you off.
Billy Idol isn’t the only awesome 80s artist included either, Konami has given players the chance to rock out to Europe’s “Final Countdown”, Kim Wilde’s “Kids of America”, Pat Benatar’s “Love is a Battlefield”, and so many more. I stuck with the “Rebel Yell” for a while before switching over to “Final Countdown” and then The Cure’s “Friday I’m in Love.” (Don’t judge)
6. Blowing Shit Up Is Fun
Metal Gear has always been a stealth game, you are encouraged and rewarded for going in quietly and leaving without alerting a soul. But…every once in a while you need to get a little messy. Early on there is a mission that requires you to eliminate as many enemy vehicles as possible in 15 minutes. This is a mission specifically meant to let you blow shit up and it is a lot of fun.
In true MGS5 fashion you are free to do this in a variety of ways. You can strap a rocket launcher onto your back and run and gun, you can sneakily place C4 on the predicted route of the vehicles and blow them up while watching from the mountain side, you can hijack a vehicle and use it to blow the others up.
In a game where stealth is often mandatory it feels good every once in a while to blow some shit up.
7. The Gameplay
I’ve put in a few hours into Metal Gear 2, 3, and 4 but for some reason I could never quite get into them. The controls felt clunky, I didn’t care for hiding in a locker for 5 minutes every time an enemy saw me, and don’t get me started on the shit show that is the story. It made no sense for me to buy MGS5 based on my feelings towards the previous games but all I had heard was how much the gameplay had improved, and it absolutely has. Moving around isn’t painfully awkward, shooting in both third and first person is easy and intuitive.
I realized that I was missing something very crucial in the previous Metal Gear games, fun, for me they simply weren’t fun. MGS5 is an absolute blast. The mission structure and side ops allow you to quickly drop in and out of objective based gameplay to satisfy a quick fix for fun.