Kojima has stated many times that The Phantom Pain is way bigger than Ground Zeroes. After playing Ground Zeroes, I could see what he means and expected a few more levels with similar play style. Sneak around and do things the way you wanted in each level. Well at E3 we got to see The Phantom Pain in action and the game is so much more massive and better than even my high expectations had set it at. It truly does make Ground Zeroes feel like nothing more than a demo, and I mean that in a good way.
The demo opens up with a short cutscene that is somewhat midway in the game, then jumps right to the gameplay. The transition is almost unnoticeable as the gameplay functions and looks exactly like the cutscene itself. The only downside was that a few textures here and there were more 2D and not up to par with the rest of the game. The sand for example was flat and hardly had texture, but bricks on walls and surrounding environment was at a different level of detail. This was a rather early build of the game, so things like this were to be expected. So to be this far in with detail was astonishing to me.
Then the game get’s going, Snake is on a horse and he is told to infiltrate a base. Yet we didn’t storm off into the mission right away. Instead we looked at a massive map and set a few waypoints. One where the mission is, and one up on a mountain to gain a vantage point. All this happening within one mission, yet it was so far apart. Then we were off to the mountain area, and along the way we came across different heated points in the map. The first being a guard station with a few guards roaming about. We learned a few new techniques like hiding on a horse, making sounds, and sending the troops off to mother base.
The goofy nature of Kojima already started to kick in as we sent off soldiers screaming and even an animal went flying home. Then shortly after having a bit of fun, the map changed dynamically as a dust storm swept the area. Vision was tough, yet we took down an enemy point blank as he came out of nowhere to spot us. When the storm cleared we got to the top of our mountain to scout the enemy base.
Here was several interesting concepts. The first being the scouting, which was similar to that of Ground Zeroes. We could spot enemies and put them on the map, but it took it a step further. The game would also let you learn common routes, high stress points, and key locations. By pulling out a “Phantom Cigar” we could bypass time which allowed us to learn when troops went to sleep and when less soldiers were out and about. They noted that there were specific times, especially during night time, that sneaking in would benefit us, but in respect to showcasing the game fully they chose to go in at the complete opposite time.
The interesting thing about the demo was that a lot of the core features known to be in Metal Gear were still there, just tweaked and updated. For example you can knock to draw enemies to you, but instead of tapping on walls you would “click” your new hand. We also get to return to the infamous Metal Gear box where you can equip it to hide in and roam about the land. The box is flown in from mother base and has some new perks. You can now jump out the top to take out enemies, and even better you can dive out the side unnoticed by enemies. Diving out allows you to get away while an enemy comes up to see what is inside. A lot of key features from Ground Zeroes was also included and had a little more depth.
The interesting part of the first part of the demo was that it was massive. You could literally approach this level in so many ways and have a whole new experience in so many different ways. You have alternate routes, you could get lost in the massive map, you could call in things from mother base, and you could make life easier down the road by sending stuff home. Everything felt so dynamic and massive which felt like Kojima stating “this game is so much bigger” wasn’t saying enough!
Then things got even more epic! The whole idea of building mother base is expanded upon with The Phantom Pain. You can still recruit soldiers and assign them to different positions, but it doesn’t stop there. Certain soldiers will be good in “intel” based roles, which will auto mark enemies on maps or give easier routes to objectives. Then they can also fill in other roles elsewhere. You can also recruit almost everything you come across, including animals. You can send vehicles, weapons, gadgets, almost anything back to mother base.
This comes in handy because Mother Base is a living breathing machine. It is basically an island that you will create entirely out of your own imagination. You can add stairs, buildings, expansion island’s, and the weapons you took from missions. Soldiers you recruit can be assigned to different areas, and defense systems will be built to your liking. You can make so only you know how to navigate around the base and get anywhere easily.
This of course comes in handy because Mother Base can and will be attacked both when you are there and when on missions. How you set up defense systems and how many soldiers you have will determine how well guarded it is in these instances. They noted that attacks will be set off by both in-game AI and by online players!
So not only was The Phantom Pain large in-part by large scale maps and missions, but it has a whole new level of depth thanks to the building of Mother Base. The game has tons, and I mean tons, of depth to it in in every single area. Every idea is expanded on and everything is brought to life in some way.
Overall The Phantom Pan was by far the most glorious title I saw at E3. I was excited to see it last year, and even had massive high expectations as to what I will see, and I was still blown away! The game is just remarkable and fans of the series are seriously in for a treat!