I was lucky enough to get Metal Gear Solid V (MGSV) 3 days early. This meant I had 15 hours clocked up before release day, and had the rare chance of a gaming experience untouched by ‘Lets Plays’ or spoiler filled articles all over the internet.
We decided to put together a list of starter tips and things to do – if you’re yet to get your hands on the game – that made the first few hours so good.
Play on your birthday
Hideo Kojima may not be getting a birthday card from Konami, but he popped this Easter egg into the game to make the player feel oh-so-special on their birthday. A special cutscene plays once Big Boss heads back to Mother Base if you go there on your big day. If it’s not your birthday but you feel like having a bit of a party anyway, you can always lie when you enter your age or change the console’s clock for the same cutscene.
Do a few story missions first
Okay, this may seem obvious but after the amazing opening section, I immediately went exploring. You have plenty of time and side-quests to see most of the game, so play 3 or 4 story missions. These give you a good introduction to the mechanics of the game, and quickly open up a host of new options and weapons that make the early game much easier. For example, taking the adorable puppy you find in the wilderness back to Mother Base will be a real game changer in a few hours time.
Find the interpreters
Fluent in Afrikaans? Maybe you can get by with a bit of Pashto? If, like me and probably 80% of the gamers playing MGSV, you can barely string together a sentence in English, the interpreters you can find in-game are essential. Once these side missions become available, do them. The enemy soldiers are much more useful to Big Boss/ Kiefer Sutherland and his gravel like voice when they give away key tactical information.
Being the leader of a private military company sounds awesome right? But just like us, Big Boss has to work out if the value brand is more cost effective than the posh one on the higher shelves. Money – known as GMP in game – can quickly disappear if you start buying up every type of cardboard box you see. There is a lot to buy, so find the way you want to play and invest in that for a bit.
Don’t get comfortable
When I came into the game, I planned on being a headshotting, tranquillising, camo wearing, sneaky son-of-a-bitch slowly chipping away at the bad guys. About 5 hours in, the enemies started to wear helmets. I decided to go hand-to-hand up close and personal at night, and now they have shotguns and wear night vision goggles. The enemy soldiers start to notice how you take down their mates and change their security to throw you off. It’s subtle and brilliant, and I would put money on you cracking an angry smile when you realise you brought the wrong equipment to the mission.
Listen to the tapes
For the first time in a Meal Gear game, most of the story exposition is given to the player outside of cutscenes. Maybe Kojima realised a cutscene long enough to cook a roast dinner in was a tad absurd – I’m looking at you MGS4. The fancy iDroid you are given early doors is not only a lighter for your cigar, but pretty much a best friend out in the field, giving you context to every mission and character in the game. If you have a bit of a trek to the next mission, pop a cassette in and immerse yourself in the game’s world. Of course you could always grab a shotgun and ride your horse into battle, listening to Billy Idol’s ‘Rebel Yell’ like I did. That doesn’t usually end well.
Pay attention to the Mother Base meta-game
When I first played the game, all I wanted to do was get to Afghanistan and go all Big Boss on the local militia. Normally, the troops outnumber you and will have a lot of cover/ vantage points. To even the odds a bit, use your staff back at Mother Base to research new weapons, costumes and gadgets that help you in the field. Avoid the ‘auto-assign’ option for your soldiers in the menu and assign the troops to the specific department you want to utilise, don’t worry about their ratings too much. Want a silenced sniper early on? See what requirements are needed and adjust how you play to get them quicker.
Interrogation is your friend
Probably the best tip I can give – once you have the right interpreter of course – is to interrogate the enemy troops. Getting in close and grabbing an enemy is risky, but by holding L1 and choosing the right options, you’ll often reveal hidden materials, diamonds and blueprints nearby. They also spill the beans on where prisoners are located, which makes missions infinitely easier.
Avoid the credits!
Imagine you’ve waited years to play a game, only to have the appearance of some characters ruined in literally the first minute of gameplay. Allow me to introduce you to The Phantom Pain. In true Kojima style, he went the extra mile for that cinematic feeling. The problem is, you know in advance who’s going to show up on each mission. Look at your phone for a bit or nip to the loo, you’ll only miss a short bit of dialogue and the helicopter flight in.