Last Metal Gear article, I promise
The ending(s) of MGS5 were a huge disappointment in my opinion, that being said, this is the first Metal Gear I’ve played, maybe the ending had more weight for longtime fans (let me know in the comments). For me the highlight of the game came around 70 hours in, after I had completed all “main objectives.”
I’ve said this before but my “go to” buddy throughout most of MGS5 was D-Dog, because of this I maxed out our bond level almost immediately. I used the other buddies when needed but I had my problems with each. D-Walker is best utilized for a gun blazing approach, D-Horse is useless in combat, and Quiet really only had appeal once you give her a tranquilizer sniper rifle (even then her humming could get annoying). About 60 hours in I had neared my maximum bonding level with Quiet (a feat I have yet to do with D-Horse) but it wasn’t until I was told that something special happens when you max out her bonding level that I took her out on a few more side ops.
Quiet was always sort of an oddity to me in the main campaign. She starts off as a total badass sniper with superhuman capabilities and in standard Metal Gear fashion is over sexualized to the point of nausea. She becomes a bit more interesting when the vocal parasite (the biological weapon the game is centered around that spreads through use of a particular language) is introduced and we find that Quiet is only quiet because she has been infected with the English strain of the parasite and if she were to speak one word of English she would risk killing Snake and every soldier on Mother Base. She sacrifices her voice to save thousands of lives.
Once Snake and Quiet become besties you get a message from Ocelot saying that Quiet has been captured and is no longer on Mother Base, this triggers Side Op #150 where you are meant to either retrieve Quiet or kill her so that she can’t spread her parasite. Once you arrive on the scene you are greeted to what is, by far, the coolest cutscene in the game. Bound with her hands tied behind her back, half drowned in a dumpster, and on the verge of being raped Quiet pulls of some seriously awesome moves and kills every guard at the outpost AND saves Snake’s life all while her hands are still tied behind her back.
Following this display of badassery, Snake and Quiet are barely given a moment to rest before they learn than an enemy Tank unit is moving in on them, they must take defensive positions, Snake mans the rocket launcher and Quiet (as expected) takes the high ground and the sniper rifle. Once the player and Quiet have successfully destroyed the enemy unit another cutscene plays where Quiet, once again, saves Snakes life and is knocked unconscious in the process. Snake must then pick up her body and carry her to the LZ before another enemy unit can close in on them. Snake calls in the helicopter but before he can provide their location shit hits the fan. A sandstorm hits the area, soldiers are closing in, and Snake (quite ironically) is bitten by a poisonous snake. The scene fades to black before fading back and showing that Snake is now the unconscious one while Quiet has recovered. Your helicopter is searching for you but cannot find you in the sandstorm. Quiet picks up your radio and tries to communicate with your chopper in Navajo (the only language the parasite doesn’t infect) but the pilot doesn’t speak it. Quiet is then put in the ultimate Catch-22. The pilot is seconds away from abandoning the pick up because of weather conditions, meanwhile Snake is inches from death. The only way Quiet can save him is to communicate their location in English, an act which would condemn her to death. Sacrificing herself for Snake, Quiet calls in the chopper.
Hearing her voice in English for the first time was far and away the most emotional moment in MGS5 for me. There is equal measure beauty and desperation in her voice. You know what she’s going to do before she does it but that doesn’t make the moment any less powerful.
Snake is awoken having been given an anti-venom and immediately sets off to find Quiet who has vanished into the Afghan desert. You eventually come across a cassette tape that Quiet has left for you and hear her voice once again, this time in a much more peaceful manner. It is clear that she has accepted her fate. She tells you that she never chose to be “Quiet,” that she wanted to express her feelings to you but that her circumstance made it impossible. Instead she will move on and for the final time will become “Quiet.”
There are a couple reasons I think this is the most successful part of MGS5. First, if this mission didn’t get you right in the feels than you have no soul. Second, MGS5 is a game set in the chronological middle of a long running franchise. A lot happened before MGS5 and a lot will happen after MGS5 sitting right in the middle lessens much of the emotional impact of the story (especially for someone who hasn’t played the rest of the series). Quiet on the other hand is a self contained character with a self contained story. She is introduced in this game and her story is resolved in this game. Quiet is the only character in MGS5 that has a complete character arc.
Like I said I put in over 70 hours into this game and each of the “real” endings left me feeling disappointed for one reason or another. The Quiet mission (which I only completed after both endings) was the true finale to MGS5 for me. I finished the mission, set my controller down, and felt satisfied.