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Metal Gear 101: What New Players Should Know Before Playing The Phantom Pain

The Metal Gear series has been around since 1987, and it’s been telling one long story the whole time. That’s great for longtime fans who got in on the ground floor, but someone who has never played Metal Gear might get overwhelmed by the saga’s complex history. If you want to play The Phantom Pain, but don’t know much about Metal Gear lore, this (relatively) compact and digestible guide will teach you the basics.

The goal here isn’t to be complete. In the entries below, I won’t touch on every significant character and event; I just want to give new players an easy-to-read reference to make The Phantom Pain less confusing. You won’t get all of the context or impact, but when you play The Phantom Pain (which you should do, because it is excellent), things should be more accessible.

Big Boss (a.k.a. Jack, John, Naked Snake, Snake)
A legendary mercenary who used to be part of the American covert operations unit FOX. His mentor, The Boss, allowed herself to be killed by him in 1964 in order to avoid nuclear war. The U.S. government was complicit in her death, which made Big Boss question his purpose and his loyalty. This single event is what started him down his path as a soldier-for-hire, not beholden to any country or ideology. At the beginning of The Phantom Pain, he is waking up from a nine-year coma.

Kazuhira Miller
Kaz is Big Boss’ right-hand man, and a formidable soldier. They were the leaders of their own mercenary group, Militaires Sans Frontières (MSF). Together, Miller and Big Boss pioneered the idea of turning a private military into a lucrative operation – though Kaz was the one handling the business side of things. Kaz and Big Boss were both in a helicopter crash as MSF’s headquarters was being attacked, which caused him to lose an arm and a leg (and sent Big Boss into a coma).

Mother Base
In the past, Mother Base served as MSF’s base of operations. It was destroyed nine years prior to The Phantom Pain (during the same attack that destroys the helicopter carrying Miller and Big Boss). Another structure called Mother Base is a focal point of The Phantom Pain, but it’s not the same. It’s in a different location, and serves as the HQ for Diamond Dogs, the new mercenary company led by Miller and Big Boss.

Cipher
In The Phantom Pain, “Cipher” usually refers to a shadowy organization aiming to control the fate of humanity and unify the world. It is also known as The Patriots, and the group was founded by Big Boss and other members of the team that carried out the mission to kill The Boss in 1964. Big Boss cut ties prior to building MSF, but Cipher still remains a powerful entity. It even has its own military strike force, called XOF.

Zero
“Cipher” can also refer to a single individual – a man named Zero. He was Big Boss’ commanding officer during the 1964 mission that killed The Boss, though he and Big Boss later developed different ideas on how best to pay tribute to The Boss and carry on her legacy. These differences led to Big Boss going off on his own. Zero continued to lead Cipher, but his whereabouts at the beginning of The Phantom Pain are unknown.

Revolver Ocelot
Another founding member of The Patriots. In The Phantom Pain, he’s a member of Diamond Dogs, and Big Boss trusts him thanks to their shared 20-year history together. After this installment, he continues to work for various agencies, governments, and organizations, always keeping his true motives and loyalties secret.

Next: More of the characters and concepts at the heart of Metal Gear.


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Kojima’s Final Metal Gear Trailer

Kojima's final trailer for the series gives a look back and forwards to some of the metal gears and moments from the franchise.

By all accounts, MGS V will be Kojima's last with Konami, and the trailer not only piques interest about the title, but serves as a fitting look back.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain comes out on September 1 for PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, and PC.

For more on the game, be sure to check out Joe's spoiler-free review.

WARNING: This trailer contains spoilers.

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Reader Discussion: Metal Gear Solid V Or Mad Max?

We're only about a month away from two of this Fall's big open world titles. On September 1 both Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Mad Mad go on sale. Which one will you be buying first?

The editorial staff at GI has been talking a lot about September 1, because that's the release date for both Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain and Mad Mad. Both games seem like they'll be large open worlds that will deliver some epic content. That's a lot of gaming to take in all in one day. What are you more interested in? Sending soldiers and jeeps into the sky with Metal Gear's Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, or trolling around Mad Max dystopian wasteland in a souped up muscle car?

Or are you going to buy both on day one?

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Editor Discussion – Why You Should Play Peace Walker Before Metal Gear Solid V

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is only about a month away, and it seems to be exploring new territory for Konami’s tactical stealth series. However, some fans may not realize that a lot of the mechanics in MGS V are iterations of concepts tested in Peace Walker.

Originally released as a PSP title (review), Peace Walker didn’t have the wider reach of previous entries, but the availability of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection (review) makes it more accessible today. So, why should you worry about going back and playing an old Metal Gear game when a new one is on the horizon? Game Informer’s Joe Juba and Mike Futter discuss how the lessons learned from Peace Walker could be useful going into the The Phantom Pain.

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Joe: So, let’s get the first and most obvious thing out of the way: The story from Peace Walker will undoubtedly be important in The Phantom Pain. We’ll avoid spoilers, but we’ve already seen examples of this in Ground Zeroes.

Mike: Absolutely, and while no one explicitly told me to play Peace Walker beforehand (this is someone telling YOU to play Peace Walker beforehand, dear readers), I’m glad I did. There are crucial plot developments that happen in that game. While you can get a quick primer in Ground Zeroes via cassette tapes, there is certainly value for experiencing things as they roll out. Additionally, it’s worth experiencing Peace Walker for the brilliant Mother Base metagame.

Joe: Yeah, building up Mother Base was one of the highlights of Peace Walker for me. There’s something incredibly satisfying about the slow and steady progression, watching your base grow from tiny to sprawling. It seems like Kojima Productions recognized that players connected with it, because the concept is returning in MGS V. As Kato mentioned after his hands-on time, the base-construction aspects of the game seem even deeper and more impactful in the new game, but getting familiar with Peace Walker’s version should give you more familiarity with how the system works.

Mike: One of the things I Ioved about it was getting pickier about which enemies I abducted using the ever-amusing Fulton recovery system. In the beginning, it was enough just to stock Mother Base with bodies. Later on, there was a satisfying amount of min-maxing that kept me entertained. Unfortunately, not all of Peace Walker’s trappings are quite as fulfilling. If you’re planning on playing and are only interested in the story, you’ll be able to skip them, though. I understand why the more difficult versions of boss battles exist in the “side ops” roster, but they simply aren’t fun.

Joe: Agreed. To your first point, I love the fact that MGS V is just going all-in on the Fulton. Instead of just recruiting soldiers, you can now nab animals, weapons, and vehicles with those hilarious air balloons. I’m looking forward to that. To your second point, yeah, players should feel free to skip any side missions they aren’t enjoying, especially those enhanced bosses. In fact, boss fights in general are a major let-down in Peace Walker, and something that I hope the team at Kojima Productions learned from when designing MGS V. The series is usually so good at providing clever encounters against memorable characters. As a warning, in Peace Walker, boss fights are just against machines without much personality. Was that an issue for you, or was it just me?

Mike: They were. In the same way boss fights felt off in Deus Ex: Human Revolution, in fact. While you can complete the mechanized boss fights that include humans in non-lethal ways, it’s simply all out combat against the AI opponents. I spent over an hour using smoke grenades and “hobby” magazines (and a single tranq dart) to take down a helicopter. It was frustrating, but decidedly “Metal Gear.” The rocket launcher-heavy fights against the AI just weren’t satisfying in the same way, but are crucial from a narrative perspective. Thankfully, most of the game falls back on bite-sized chunks of what most people love about Metal Gear.

Joe: Yeah, I suppose I should focus on the positive. After all, Peace Walker is ultimately fun and people should play it. When you aren’t fighting bosses, the experience is unmistakably Metal Gear. Methodically taking down guards, hiding in cardboard boxes, following patrol routes – it’s all familiar. However, it also feels fresh, since the mission-based approach means that you have a fun series of objectives in smaller zones, compared to the longer term approach to goals in the console installments. Judging from what I’ve see of the mission structure in MGS V, it seems like splitting the action into more digestible chunks is another lesson the team is bringing to the new game.

Mike: That’s a good move for an open world game. Giving players defined objectives not only helps keep players on track, but also reminds them that they’re actually accomplishing stuff and not just yanking guys into the sky with balloons. Even with the smart gameplay that was a byproduct of being on a portable device, I keep coming back to the story as a primary motivation for playing Peace Walker. Metal Gear Solid 3 is heralded by many as the best in the series, which makes Peace Walker that much more valuable. Without giving too much away, Big Boss is plagued by the events of that game and finds some measure of closure through the events that unfold in Costa Rica.

Joe: Yeah, though as a longtime Metal Gear fan, I don’t think Peace Walker’s story stands great on its own. However, it introduces characters that clearly play significant roles in Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain, so it’s definitely valuable from that perspective.

Mike: It’s an important bridge. It’s not just Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain it informs, but also Snake’s relationships with Zero, Kaz Miller, and The Boss. But I don’t disagree with you. As a standalone story, I’d never recommend it. It’s not a good starting point, because it relies on so much that happened before (and, as we found out, derives much of its value from future entries). I hate to use the tired gaming cliche, but this is a must-play for fans of the series. I’m kicking myself that it took me so long to get to it, but at least this way, events are fresh in my mind for The Phantom Pain.

Joe: Fans may be surprised how different it is, but that’s part of what makes it such a good primer for MGS V. While the basic stealth and gameplay are familiar, the new stuff – like the Fulton extraction, the mission structure, and the base-building elements – serves as a nice introduction to the changes that The Phantom Pain is bringing to the formula. Also, these are things that weren’t in Ground Zeroes – which only gives a preview of the basic gameplay and open-world aspects. In a lot of ways, I think Peace Walker is probably a better taste of what to expect from The Phantom Pain than its official prologue.

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Will Be Playable At Gamescom

We’ve seen the videos and you’ve heard us talk about our time with Big Boss’ next adventure. But if you’ll be in Cologne, Germany for Gamescom in August, you’ll finally get to play it yourself.

Konami has announced that for the first time, the public will be able to get hands-on time with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Also at Gamescom, futbol fans will be able to take the pitch in PES 2016.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain will be out on September 1 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 3. The PC version will arrive on September 15.

PES 2016 will also be out on September 15 for Xbox One, Xbox 360, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 3, and PC. For more, check out our previous coverage.

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Adorable Naked Raiden From Metal Gear Solid 2 Figure Available For Pre-Order

Do you like Raiden more than Solid Snake? If so, now's your chance to prove your loyalty: for 5000 yen (approximately $ 40), dedicated Raiden fans can pre-order a four-inch figure of the Metal Gear Solid 2 star before he arrives in stores this November. 

Raiden ships with a sword, gun, and cardboard box. He also ships with a naked version of himself, presumably so owners can recreate his famous, bizarre nude escape from Arsenal Gear in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. The split image below showcases two of the figure's accessories.

Next up is the version of Raiden without any weapons, or clothes for that matter.

Raiden without clothing: an odd and somehow adorable sight. If you're interested in buying better dressed figures, check out these cute Fallout toys or this epic Godzilla action figure. For those confused about Metal Gear Solid history, read the five lingering questions Metal Gear Solid V should address

[Source: Good Smile Company]

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Report: Japanese Metal Gear Voice Actor Provides More Evidence Of Kojima Productions Turmoil

The longtime Japanese voice actor for Solid Snake and Big Boss, Akio Otsuka, reportedly revealed in a tweet (translated by Gematsu) that Kojima Productions was "forced to disband".

“Kojima Productions was forced to disband, but it appears that the work that the team has been putting their utmost effort into is nearly complete,” Otsuka said, according to Gematsu's translation. “I’m not exaggerating when I say that I expect it will become their greatest masterpiece. I couldn’t help it. I just wanted to say ‘Kept you waiting, huh?’ (Laughs). But even if this is the end, Metal Gear Solid is immortal!”

We've reached out to Konami for official confirmation on Otsuka's tweets according to these translations.

[Source: Twitter via GematsuNeoGAF]

Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima's ongoing falling out has been in the news since his name was removed from the MGS V: The Phantom Pain box art back in March. Kojima Productions has since then been rebranded as Konami Digital Entertainment.

Our Take
Konami has been quiet about publicly revealing details regarding Kojima's transition from the company, but the full story will be revealed one way or another. Otsuka's wording, if translated accurately, makes it appear that Kojima Productions was interested in continuing to work under Konami but didn't have a choice but to disband.

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Metal Gear Solid V’s Fist Of Death In Action (Updated With English Video)

Update: Konami has made available an English version of the walkthrough. You can check it out below.

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Original Story:

Stealth is often at the heart of the Metal Gear experience, but there have always been many ways to get the job done. This new gameplay video for MGS V: The Phantom Pain shows various ways to complete one of the title's early missions.

This new video shows off multiple ways to take out the game's third mission: A Hero's Way, which tasks you with taking out a Spetsnaz commander. Snake can do this on his own, use different buddies, or even go in hot and heavy with helicopter-guns blazing. Of course, there's also the remote-controlled fist. You've got to see this to believe it. The last method is also particularly funny, and not because the cardboard box is involved.

It's worth noting that players can replay missions at any time, and these different methods may depend on what kinds of buddies or equipment you've accumulated up into this point. Also, the video speeds up at various points only for convenience.

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for the PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PS3, and Xbox 360 comes out on September 1. It's out for PC on September 15.

For more on the game, check out some of these reader questions I've answered based on my time with the game. Also take a look at Tim's five tips for survival, and Joe's five questions the game should address.

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Five Lingering Metal Gear Questions The Phantom Pain Should Address

To say that the Metal Gear series’ story is “complicated” would be charitable. Each installment raises new questions, and occasionally backpedals on answers you thought you knew. However, with Metal Gear Solid V on the horizon, the franchise has the opportunity to clear up any remaining confusion. While fans undoubtedly have theories about where the story of Big Boss will go – and how it connects to Solid Snake’s – these are the five big questions we’d like to see answered in The Phantom Pain.

Where is Roy Campbell?
Roy Campbell is a major part of Solid Snake’s chapters in the saga, but his role in the early parts of the timeline seems to be strangely abandoned. This is especially strange given the series’ tendency to constantly loop familiar and established characters into the events. Campbell’s absence may be tied to the ambiguous status of Portable Ops as a canon entry, but in that game, he was Naked Snake’s second-in-command. They even formed the Foxhound unit together. However, Campbell was replaced by Miller as Big Boss’ lieutenant, and we haven’t seen what he’s been up to since.

What’s up with the Les Enfants Terrible clones?
With each passing Metal Gear installment, this question gets harder to answer. Different titles and versions have provided conflicting information about when the cloning occurred, Big Boss’ age when the project was underway, and whether or not he was in a coma at the time. It might require a retcon (which the series has done before), but hopefully The Phantom Pain can provide a definitive timeline for when Solid, Liquid, and Solidus were created – and why Solidus was engineered to age faster. Signs point to these questions at least being addressed; when we asked Hideo Kojima about Big Boss’ coma(s) in an interview, he responded: “There’s only once he’s in a coma, and to explain that you need to play towards the end of The Phantom Pain. There it will come together. You’ll be like ‘Oh, that’s what happened!’”

Why does Big Boss return to Foxhound?
Big Boss has a long history with specialized military groups. He was an operative with the Fox unit. He created Foxhound, Militaires Sans Frontières, and (apparently) Diamond Dogs. At some point after the events of Metal Gear Solid V, Big Boss returns to command Foxhound – a tenure that ends when he guides Solid Snake through Outer Heaven in the original Metal Gear. What’s his motive for returning to his old unit after The Phantom Pain, and how does Solid Snake fit in? Even if we don’t see the moments play out directly, we need some sense of his trajectory between MGS V and Metal Gear.

How do Gray Fox and Big Boss reconnect?
If you assume the events of Portable Ops are generally correct, Gray Fox and Big Boss have already met. However, later games in the series reference the two soldiers (and Naomi Hunter) connecting in the African country of Mozambique in the ‘80s. The Phantom Pain is set in 1984, and we know that Africa is one of the areas Big Boss visits in the game – so we might get to see this scene play out. If nothing else, Gray Fox is definitely a fan-favorite character, and it seems unlikely that Hideo Kojima would pass up a golden opportunity to work him into the story.

How do the Patriots become so corrupt?
The founding member of the Patriots were all involved in Operation Snake Eater, but they didn’t seem like bad people at the time. Para-Medic liked to chat about movies. Sigint had weird dreams with poop tanks. Zero loved James Bond. They seemed like nice (but strange) people. However, later entries in the game tell us that the members of the Patriots became evil and power-hungry. We know how Sigint, Para-Medic, and Zero eventually die, but we don’t know much about their fall from grace. How did this likeable codec-support crew turn into the series’ supervillains?

Hopefully, The Phantom Pain is able to shed some light on these issues and give fans some extra clarity. What unresolved questions are you hoping to see answered in the next installment? Share them in the comments below.

Get ready for the release of The Phantom Pain with our hub of exclusive Metal Gear Solid V stories and videos.

You can also follow our Metal Gear Solid V updates and other stories by following Game Informer on Twitter, Google+, and Facebook.

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[Update] The Real Intel On Metal Gear V’s Forward Operating Bases

Update: I talked to Konami today about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain's forward operating bases, how they tie into your single-player Mother Base, and what I got wrong about the FOBs in relation to Metal Gear Online. The new intel is inside!

First off, I want to apologize that I got FOBs wrong. I'm sorry. Here's the (real) deal: FOBs are indeed extensions of you Mother Base, but they are solely related to the single-player title, not Metal Gear Online. You can attack friend's FOBs, and if they're playing and online at the time, you can fight them on an FOB. If they're not online then you'll just battle against the A.I. staff at the FOB. You cannot attack a friend's FOB if they aren't online.

Konami's not talking about what you can specifically extract from an FOB, but a representative I talked did say you could steal staff and weapons from an FOB.

Hopefully we'll learn more about the actual Metal Gear Online soon.

 

Original Story: Metal Gears fans anxiously await the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain on September 1, and apart from being able to continue the story from Ground Zeroes, players will also get to play the latest iteration of Metal Gear Online. Konami hasn't talked a lot about this aspect of MGS V, but here are a few new details.

A key component to MGO are forward operating bases or FOBs. These are related to the Mother Base of your single-player campaign, but are separate installations that serve as the battlegrounds of MGO. In the multiplayer component of MGS V you'll attack and defend FOBs for resources and other spoils in 8v8 battles (or 6v6 on the older systems). Your single-player Mother Base does have an optional online component whereby you can infiltrate friends' bases, but this is separate from Metal Gear Online.

The single-player component of MGS V, however, is related to MGO in that you will be able to carry over some cosmetic extras from MGS V to MGO.

Konami has confirmed that Team Sneak and other modes from previous iterations of Metal Gear Online are returning, and that MGO in MGS V not only features its own dedicated maps, but also those inspired by the game's single-player portion.

Gamers can play as Snake or Revolver Ocelot, with more characters to be announced, and MGO developer Kojima Productions Los Angeles has confirmed in the past that there is a player progression system.The game contains multiple classes at launch, thus leading to the insinuation that others will follow after the game comes out. Microtransactions for MGO have been rumored, but we do not have confirmation of that as of the time of this writing.

For more on Metal Gear Online, check out this previous trailer. For more on the single-player and gameplay in general, here are my answers to a host of reader questions.

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