Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a third-person action-adventure game developed by Kojima Productions and published by Konami for the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, PlayStation 3, and PC on September 1, 2015.
The tenth and final main installment of the Metal Gear series, Phantom Pain follows legendary mercenary Big Boss (now known by his codename “Venom Snake”) as he awakens in 1984 from a nine-year coma following the destruction of his private military company “Militaires Sans Frontières”. With help from his old business partner Kazuhira Miller and rival-turned-ally Revolver Ocelot, Snake must rebuild his mercenary army (now called “Diamond Dogs”) while plotting revenge against the shadowy organization “Cipher,” as well as its XOF paramilitary unit led by the enigmatic Skull Face.
Similar to its standalone prologue Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Phantom Pain focuses on executing mission objectives in open world environments set in both Soviet-occupied Afghanistan and the Angola-Zaire border region of central Africa, complete with dynamic weather and day-night systems. Stealth is a major component of gameplay, but often optional thanks to Snake’s arsenal of combat gear. Players can also upgrade Diamond Dogs’ new “Mother Base” in a fashion similar to Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, allowing them to develop new weapons and items. In addition to its single-player campaign, the game includes two player-vs-player multiplayer modes, as well as optional microtransactions and other paid downloadable content.
The Phantom Pain is notable as the final game in the series with involvement from series creator Hideo Kojima and his Kojima Productions team. Several months before the game’s release, Konami began a major restructuring of its games division, ultimately leading to Kojima Productions being treated more as a contractor rather than an internal studio. Unlike prior Metal Gear titles from the same team, Kojima Productions’ logo and branding is absent from promotional materials and packaging for the final game. After leaving Konami, Kojima would go on to establish a new independent studio with the same name in 2015.
The Phantom Pain was bundled together with Ground Zeroes and all DLC as Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience in late 2016 for Xbox One and PlayStation 4. Phantom Pain’s gameplay and graphics engine were later reused for the 2018 survival-focused spin-off title Metal Gear Survive.
The Phantom Pain refines several mechanics introduced in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, including the Fulton Extraction System for “recruiting” subdued enemies and transporting materiel, and a base of operations known as Mother Base used for managing resources as well as researching new equipment and upgrades. Unlike previous franchise installments, The Phantom Pain focuses on non-linear gameplay progression spread across two primary open world environments while adding a variety of tactical options to support Snake’s operations in the field. New features include marking enemies on the player’s HUD by using a pair of custom binoculars (effectively replacing the radar system of previous installments) and the Support Buddy system which allows Snake to bring along unique AI-controlled characters on field missions for additional combat or intelligence support.
The basic gameplay in The Phantom Pain follows the series’ overhauled stealth and combat mechanics established in Ground Zeroes. If the player is detected by an enemy they will activate a “reflex mode”: the game will enter slow motion and allow the alerted guard to be dealt with without sounding an alarm. If the player fails to take the guard down the game will instantly enter an alert state, with entire area converging on the player’s position. Reflex mode can be turned off in the options menu for higher difficulty. Marked enemies become visible through walls and can be tracked using the iDroid’s map function.
CQC returns with more options: players can hold up guards, stun one or more enemies in rapid succession, cover take-downs and a ledge grab maneuver. Information on ammo caches and guard locations can be found by interrogate subdued guards.
Similar to the one found in Peace Walker is the player created Mother Base in which the player is able to build, customize and research upgrades for their weapons and call in for supply drops (including suppressors) in the field.
The player’s base will be akin to a hub area where Snake can interact with main story characters and will be an important part of the multiplayer aspect of the game that focuses on attacking and stealing resources from other players’ bases as well as making sure that the player’s own is defended well enough with weapon emplacements, automated turrets and patrolling guards.
New to the series is the Support Buddy System, where players can recruit special allies (each with their own unique abilities) that can accompany them on missions. Support buddies are entirely optional and it’s possible to play through most of the game without using any of them.
By bringing a buddy along and using their abilities, Snake can improve his relationship with that buddy (with the exception of D-Walker) and improve their abilities and customization options. If a buddy is hurt enough during combat, they will instantly evacuate (through the Fulton system) and receive treatment at Mother Base (for a fee).
The Phantom Pain will have several open-world sections where the player takes control of Snake to perform a mission, but how they approach each mission is up to the player. Each section will be an open world sandbox much like Ground Zeroes only featuring larger maps, however when players accept a mission, they will be constrained to a portion of the map designated as the mission area. Leaving this area before all objectives are complete will result in the player having to re-accept and restart the scenario.
The game environment is more interactive; Snake can now rock-climb, perform a combat roll as well as lunge forward a short distance to lower his profile and avoid detection. Some areas will also have native fauna that is hostile such as wolf packs that may interfere with the players actions if not avoided or taken into account, some camouflaged making detection harder. Weather effects will also play a role in the gameplay with sandstorms and torrential rain, reducing both guard detection and player visibility.
In order to traverse large maps vehicles have been introduced such as jeeps, tanks and the support buddy D-Horse. The player can also call in a helicopter to extract him out of missions, the helicopter however can be shot down if it is called to a heavily fortified enemy location.
The Fulton Extraction System returns from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, allowing for the capture and recruitment of enemy combatants and abduct supplies caches, animals and vehicles from the open world map. These serve the function of improving and upgrading the new Mother Base. Unlike Peace Walker, the Fulton is not foolproof in this game: it can be shot down by enemy soldiers if they are alerted to its presence, and weather conditions can lessen the chance of a successful recovery. Items or enemies extracted during adverse conditions can be lost and never be recovered. The only 100% successful method of extraction is evacuating individuals by helicopter, like in Ground Zeroes, ensuring the Fulton balloon is not blown off course. However, the same risks inherent in doing so, such as the chopper being shot down and only being able to land in certain areas, are still present here.
Character stats return from Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops, enemy soldiers the player recruits will have randomized stats ranging from sneaking and deployment to intelligence gathering and recon. All of these can be evaluated by the player prior to recruitment by using the binoculars. Soldiers more apt in weapons development will increase the speed in which weapons are researched in Mother Base. Recruited soldiers can be sent on off-screen missions, their stats affecting both the chance of success and items they can procure.
Also relevant to the player base are the interpreters he will have to find throughout the game, Big Boss has lost the ability to understand all other languages he previously spoke fluently such as Russian as a result of the shrapnel lodged in his skull and in order to communicate with his soldiers and allies he will have to have interpreters recruited for his base it has yet to be revealed the extent of which this mechanic will come in to play in.
Snake can develop and equip wide variety of conventional firearms, explosives and other weapons for combat use in The Phantom Pain. Like its predecessors, the game also features several unique items which may be used to confuse and distract enemies, or even to avoid combat entirely. Some familiar support gear appears from previous Metal Gear entries with new features, and The Phantom Pain also introduces several brand-new items.
Phantom Pain includes two player-vs-player multiplayer modes: “Forward Operating Bases” mode (an extension of the Mother Base system where players can build customizable standalone facilities with their single-player resources and attempt to raid other players’ facilities) and the traditional “Metal Gear Online” mode (now in its third installment). The Metal Gear Online mode, developed separately by new studio Konami Los Angeles, was released as an update on October 2015 for consoles and January 2016 for PC. Both modes utilize optional microtransactions and feature paid downloadable content.
as Punished ‘Venom’ Snake, “A Fallen Legend”
After nine years spent comatose following the events of Ground Zeroes, Big Boss awakens inside a military hospital in Cyprus, missing an arm and with a few large pieces of shrapnel still embedded in his body. After escaping the hospital and meeting up with Ocelot and Miller, the trio lead their new mercenary company “Diamond Dogs” to rebuild what MSF lost and take revenge on Cipher.
“A Rival Living a Lie”
One of the original Patriots who sided with Big Boss against Cipher. Along with Miller and Snake, he leads Diamond Dogs and trains D-Dog while Snake is in the field. Ocelot has made a reputation for himself in recent years under the alias “Shalashaska” thanks to his highly effective interrogation techniques.
“A Visionary Robbed of His Future”
Big Boss’s closest ally during the Peace Walker incident who also served as a double agent for Cipher until he was no longer useful. After trying to rebuild MSF on his own, he was later captured by the mysterious “Skulls” unit and left to rot in Soviet captivity, losing an arm and a leg in the process. After Big Boss rescues him in Afghanistan, Miller derives new motivation from his own “phantom pain,” working tirelessly to shape their new mercenary company “Diamond Dogs” into a formidable military force.
“A Sniper Deprived of Her Words”
A scantily clad sharpshooter who rarely speaks at all. Besides her uncanny skill with a rifle, Quiet also possesses natural stealth camouflage, allowing her to become invisible at will. She can traverse battlefields with blinding speed, taking up a new sniping position before the enemy can properly react.
“A Youth Who Curses His Fate”
The leader of a group of child soldiers in Central Africa who goes by the nom de guerre “White Mamba”. There are hints he might be connected to Cipher’s abandoned “Les Enfants Terribles” project.
“A Ghost Without a Past”
The flame-scarred commander of XOF and de facto head of Cipher in Zero’s absence. He schemes to rule the world through fear by developing a “weapon to surpass Metal Gear”.
“A Technocrat Who Stands His Ground”
A genius scientist who created the various “Walker Gears” used by Soviet forces, among other robotic inventions. Emmerich is strongly suspected by other Diamond Dogs members of betraying MSF to Skull Face and Cipher, leading to the original Mother Base’s destruction. Also the father of Hal Emmerich.
“A Wise Man Denied His Homeland”
An elderly Navajo biologist with a focus on microscopic parasites native to central Africa. Skull Face stole Code Talker’s research for his own plans before imprisoning him in the basement of a mansion used by one of Cipher’s contracted PMCs as a command post.
“He Who Controls Information”
Big Boss’ former commanding officer and leader of the Patriots. Due to his extreme paranoia and compulsive need to control sensitive information, he has gone underground and primarily issues orders to his subordinates, including Skull Face, through proxy messengers.
A fellow patient at the military hospital in Cyprus who helps Snake escape before suddenly vanishing without a trace. Because his head is completely wrapped in bandages, his true identity remains a mystery.
A highly destructive supernatural entity wreathed in flames who pursues Snake relentlessly. Capable of creating fire at will, he also has the ability to absorb slugs fired at him from projectile weapons before forcefully expelling the objects from his body at lethal velocities; even high explosives like rockets seem to have little effect on him. As his name suggests, his only real weakness appears to be water.
Following the destruction of Mother Base in 1975 during the finale of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Big Boss (also known by the codename “Snake”) awakens from a nine-year coma inside a military hospital on the isle of Cyprus. The hospital staff explain how he had been injured in an “explosion” resulting in his coma, the amputation of his left hand, and a large piece of shrapnel protruding from his skull which has become lodged inside his brain, preventing its safe removal. Two weeks after Big Boss’ awakening, an unidentified military force storms the hospital, slaughtering its staff and patients in an effort to eliminate both Big Boss and any witnesses. Despite still being bedridden, Big Boss survives the attempt on his life with the assistance of a mysterious bandaged patient calling himself “Ishmael”.
After evading the soldiers and a powerful pyrokinetic entity known only as “The Man on Fire,” Big Boss and Ishmael manage to escape the hospital, but Ishmael disappears after their vehicle crashes through a roadblock. However, Big Boss is quickly met by Revolver Ocelot, his longtime rival and former ally during Big Boss’ time working with the Patriots. Ocelot explains that Big Boss must rebuild his private army to defend himself from Cipher’s forces, as they will never stop pursuing him. The pair set off from Cyprus on an old whaling vessel and arrive in Afghanistan during the Soviet Union’s occupation of the country in 1984.
After giving “Punished ‘Venom’ Snake” his bearings and equipment, Ocelot tasks Snake with rescuing his old comrade Kazuhira Miller. Miller had been taking any available mercenary work in order to keep Snake safe during his coma; however, he was recently captured while training Mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan and must be rescued before the occupying Soviet forces execute him. Snake infiltrates the Soviet base and contacts Miller, who has suffered serious injury as a prisoner including the loss of his right arm and left foot.
Although the rescue operation is successful, during their exfiltration Snake and Miller encounter Skull Face’s elite forces unit “The Skulls,” who exhibit eerie powers and erratic movements. Snake travels with Miller by helicopter to a new Mother Base hidden in the waters of the Seychelles archipelago near Africa. Along with Ocelot, the trio form a new mercenary company known as the “Diamond Dogs,” which Miller promises to grow even stronger than MSF in order to exact their revenge on Cipher and Skull Face.
Big Boss undertakes several missions in Afghanistan to help the Mujahideen rebels fight the Soviet invaders, while capturing Soviet soldiers and rescuing prisoners to convert them to his cause and continue building the Diamond Dogs. However, while retrieving a new portable SAM launcher code-named “Honey Bee,” Big Boss is confronted directly by Skull Face, leading the same supernatural Skulls unit from before.
Big Boss escapes from the area and continues undertaking missions in Afghanistan, eventually coming across a mysterious sharpshooter known only as Quiet, a young mute woman who is a crack-shot with a sniper rifle. After dealing with Quiet, Big Boss hears from Miller that Dr. Huey Emmerich has popped up again, seeking to defect from the Soviet Union to the US. Miller suggests that Big Boss take advantage of this opportunity and take Huey back to Mother Base instead, so they can find out if he sold them out to XOF back in Cuba 9 years ago.
Big Boss heads into a cave near a Soviet power plant, where Huey is having an argument with Skull Face before Skull Face kidnaps him and takes him to the Soviet military base. Big Boss follows closely behind and confronts Huey in his lab, where he black-bags him and tries to exfiltrate, only to run into Skull Face standing on a new, working Metal Gear called “Sahelanthropus” that was somehow completed without Huey’s help. Big Boss manages to escape from the area after shooting down the new Metal Gear with his chopper’s gatling gun.
Back at Mother Base, Miller and Ocelot torture Huey for answers, as Miller is convinced that Huey sold out the MSF to Cipher back in Cuba, while Huey claims innocence. Eventually, Ocelot manages to get an answer out of Huey, that Cipher was heading towards central Africa to make “a weapon to surpass Metal Gear,” so Big Boss and Miller decide to expand the Diamond Dogs operation there as well.
Snake’s first mission in Africa involves destroying an old oil refinery to stop the leak of oil into fresh water, but before he does, he notices strange bodies bubbling up from the oil at the facility. On top of that, Miller uncovers a scheme by Cipher to provide Soviet-owned Walkers and even radioactive “yellowcake” to US-backed Afrikaner mercenaries, but he is unsure of the endgame.
Later, Big Boss infiltrates a diamond mine to find child slaves working there. Instead of eliminating them for his contract, he decides to rescue them, and considers training them into soldiers for the Diamond Dogs. However, Miller vetoes the idea, instead having them study and do basic jobs on Mother Base. As Big Boss deals with rescuing more child soldiers, he encounters a bloody hospital with several prisoners covered in diseased cysts and being forced to listen to recordings in foreign languages. However, he is attacked by The Man on Fire again and barely escapes as the facility is burned to the ground.
While rescuing child soldiers, Big Boss encounters a surprisingly strong white boy named Eli, and takes him back to Mother Base, though he refuses to go peacefully. Suddenly, disease begins to break out on Mother Base, with Ocelot thinking that this parasitic bio-weapon is what Cipher sought. As multiple DD soldiers get sick and even die, Big Boss races against time to find someone who can stop the parasites. Following a string of captured intel agents, Big Boss heads for an old mansion, fighting his way past a quartet of Skulls snipers like Quiet.
In the basement of the mansion, he discovers an old Navajo parasite researcher called Code Talker, who tells him that the parasites attach to the vocal chords of those speaking a certain language and grow until they kill the host. On top of that, there is a separate strain of the same parasite that turns humans into the Skulls that Big Boss fought before, but at the cost of their voice. Skull Face stole Code Talker’s research and used it to create the “weapon to surpass Metal Gear.” Miller and Ocelot determine that the experiments at the Devil’s House were made to train the parasites to infect and kill everyone that didn’t speak English.
After escaping by chopper, Code Talker tells Big Boss that he has a microbe that can cure those with the infection, but at the risk of rendering them infertile. However, the parasites were only part of Skull Face’s plan. As Big Boss mentions the truck transporting radioactive yellowcake, the chopper is shot down over the airfield, forcing Big Boss to kill more Skulls soldiers before another chopper can be dispatched to pick them both up.
On the second chopper back, Code Talker and Ocelot put together the pieces of Skull Face’s plan: to spread Walker Gears across the globe with mini-sized nuclear material that could be acquired for relatively low cost, which could later be instantly refined using “metallic archaea” into weapons-grade nukes, completely eliminating the advantage of nation-states. On top of that, Skull Face would be able to control all the new Walker Gears, and secretly use them to spread the parasites, essentially taking over the world in one fell swoop.
Back at Mother Base, Skull Face helps the Diamond Dogs cure the quarantined soldiers who spoke in Kikongo. Soon after, Ocelot and Miller decide to torture Huey again for the location of the repaired Sahelanthropus before Skull Face reveals it to the world and kickstarts his plan. Huey reveals that the machine is located back in Afghanistan, in a place called OKB Zero, so Big Boss decides to head back there to destroy the Sahelanthropus again.
Big Boss infiltrates the military base as Miller notes that the entire place is crawling with XOF soldiers who have killed all the Soviet soldiers stationed there. Huey notes that the Sahelanthropus is missing as Big Boss makes it to a helipad where he finds Skull Face and several XOF soldiers waiting for him. Finding himself outmatched, Big Boss takes a ride with Skull Face and XOF through Kabul.
As they travel through Soviet territory, Skull Face tells Big Boss of the history between himself, Zero, and Cipher before revealing the last piece of his plan: a strain of the vocal chord parasite that will kill all English-speakers. Instead of lingua franca, the world will be united under the fear of each other’s Metal Gear. Finally, the XOF convoy arrives at the power plant where Big Boss see the finished Sahelanthropus. Skull Face sics the Man On Fire on Big Boss again, but strangely, he stops halfway as the giant robot comes to life.
On board a Diamond Dogs chopper, Huey notices Eli acting strange while the Sahelanthropus lays waste to the XOF forces. Skull Face tips his cap to the robot, noting that even though he failed to spread the parasites, the sight of the Sahelanthropus in action will reignite the nuclear arms race and spread fear across the globe, shortly before the robot crushes Skull Face under a power transformer. Big Boss and the Diamond Dogs then fire everything they can at the Sahelanthropus, managing to defeat the robot before it can escape into a more populated area.
Big Boss and Miller head back to the power plant to find the still-alive Skull Face with the canister full of vocal parasites, but notices that one of three vials of parasites is missing. Skull Face cryptically tells Big Boss that the missing vial is somewhere close to him. Big Boss then tosses the remaining two vials in a nearby fire, but one of the vials is captured by the mysterious floating boy who vanishes without anyone noticing. Big Boss and Miller proceed to shoot Skull Face multiple times with his own gun, before Huey decides to fire the last shot into his head.
Back at Mother Base, the Diamond Dogs pay tribute to their fallen brethren as several choppers transport the wrecked Sahelanthropus to the main R&D Platform. However, as the crew breaks for now, the floating boy hands his captured vial to Eli, who takes it without saying a word.
With Skull Face dead and the Sahelanthropus at Mother Base, Miller demands that all Diamond Dogs remain vigilant and keep a close eye on their comrades for anyone who might betray them to Cipher, to avoid the fate of MSF.
Miller grows increasingly paranoid of anyone on the base who might be a traitor, sending Big Boss to retrieve Huey’s AI pod from his former lab and torturing Quiet after finding evidence that she might have been the same woman who first attempted to kill Big Boss in Cyprus. Meanwhile, Ocelot directs Big Boss to a Soviet supply base in Kabul where the Man on Fire’s body is located, and suspects that this man might somehow be the late Colonel Volgin who held on to his rage and did not die. His suspicions are later confirmed as Big Boss and Ocelot grab Volgin from a Soviet base and quarantine him back at Mother Base.
With Skull Face dead, XOF reverts back to Cipher’s control, forcing Big Boss to cover up any further research into the parasites before Major Zero himself finds out about them. Meanwhile, a faulty pipe back on Mother Base ends up killing Ralph, a child soldier that Big Boss rescued. Eli uses this incident and convinces other kids to escape from Mother Base. As Big Boss goes to retrieve them, Eli warns of retaliation if he doesn’t let them go. Ocelot offers to interrogate him, but Miller vetoes the idea, instead asking Big Boss to continue rescuing the kids before they wind up dead on the battlefield.
Big Boss rescues the children and brings them back to Mother Base, where Ocelot is interrogating Eli about his threat, when the Floating Boy appears and somehow manages to activate the supposedly broken Sahelanthropus. Eli hops into the pilot’s seat of the Metal Gear, then escapes with his fellow child soldiers.
To make matters worse, the body of the Man on Fire explodes, causing a radiation leak on the Quarantine Platform. The radiation mutates the dormant parasites in the bodies of the Mother Base cleanup crew, forcing Big Boss to go in and kill them all before they can escape outside and spread the evolved parasites to the world. Despite Huey’s objections, Big Boss holds a ceremony where the ash from the cremated bodies of the infected are then turned into diamonds, that will be carried into battle by the Diamond Dogs.
In light of these recent events, Miller holds a show trial for Huey, providing evidence that Huey not only repaired the Sahelanthropus against Big Boss’s orders using the child soldiers, but even sealed the missing Dr. Strangelove in one of her AI Pods until she suffocated. While Miller and the soldiers call for blood, Big Boss decides instead to exile Huey from Mother Base in a life raft.
Some time afterwards, Quiet goes missing from the base into Soviet territory in Afghanistan. Code Talker reveals that she had been infected with the strain of English vocal chord parasites, but she had apparently taken a vow of silence so as not to endanger Big Boss or Mother Base. However, after the incident on the quarantine platform, she became afraid that her silence would not be sufficient to prevent another parasite outbreak and decided to part ways. Even so, Big Boss goes to rescue her.
Despite being clothed and almost raped by Soviet soldiers, Quiet breaks herself out of captivity just as Big Boss arrives to help. The two of them are then forced to fight off a Soviet armored column by themselves, but one last tank manages to fire a shell at their position, knocking Quiet unconscious. Big Boss drags her away from the outpost until a sandstorm descends, allowing the pair to hide from enemy reinforcements. However, a venomous snake bites Big Boss’ arm before Quiet regains consciousness. Running out of options, Quiet decides to finally speak English and call down the Pequod on their position in order to save Big Boss’ life. Afterwards she leaves behind a cassette tape apologizing to Big Boss for her actions before disappearing into the Afghan wilderness.
After fulfilling certain gameplay requirements, the Phantom Pain’s final story mission becomes available. Here it is revealed that the game’s playable character Venom Snake is not, in fact, the original Big Boss. The man now known as “Venom Snake” is shown to be the field medic onboard the extraction helicopter who removed the first bomb from Paz’s abdomen during the ending of Ground Zeroes. Although the true Big Boss also survived the helicopter crash, he and the medic both fell into comas that would last until early 1984.
During this time, Zero had arranged for Big Boss and the medic to be relocated to the British military hospital in Cyprus in order to continue their medical treatment, as well as to hide both men from Skull Face and his XOF unit. Zero also contacted Ocelot to have him serve as head of security for the hospital, explaining his plan for Ocelot to groom the comatose medic as a “phantom” body double who would pose as Big Boss once he had awoken. This would allow the genuine Big Boss to maintain a low profile and evade XOF or anyone else who wanted him dead.
Thanks to Ocelot’s hypnosis regimen, the medic was able to nearly completely assume Big Boss’ personality traits and past experiences. Combined with extensive plastic surgery, the medic totally discarded his former identity to become Big Boss both mentally and physically, truly believing himself to be the legendary mercenary. Venom’s mysterious benefactor “Ishmael” in Cyprus was the real Big Boss all along; after their ambulance had crashed through the XOF roadblock, Big Boss fled the area with Ocelot’s help, swapping identities with the medic before striking off on his own to lay the groundwork for a new independent nation of mercenaries that would eventually become Outer Heaven. Ocelot remained near the crashed ambulance until the medic regained consciousness so that he could escort the newest member of Diamond Dogs to Afghanistan as “Venom Snake”.
Years later, after countless battles fought alongside his mercenary comrades, Venom begins to remember who he was before the original Mother Base’s destruction. He receives an audio cassette sent from the real Big Boss labelled “From the Man Who Sold the World”. Playing the cassette tape, Venom hears the voice of Big Boss, who confirms Venom’s true purpose as his double. However, Big Boss also states that despite their deception, both men are now effectively “Big Boss,” having built their legend together.
Venom ejects the cassette and flips it over to view the reverse side labelled “Operation Intrude N313” before inserting it into a cassette drive attached to an MSX2 computer. Although the computer’s monitor is not shown directly, the cassette presumably contains Big Boss’ plans for his “Outer Heaven Uprising” as shown during the events of the original Metal Gear. A post-credits timeline confirms that Venom was killed by Solid Snake while acting as Big Boss’ phantom in Outer Heaven, while the true Big Boss was the one fought in Zanzibar Land at the end of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
Though it was not in the final game, footage released for the original epilogue showed Venom Snake tracking down Eli and Sahelanthropus to a remote island where he released an English strain of the vocal chord parasites. However, XOF troops also discovered the same location and went in to acquire them for Cipher. When XOF’s initial attack fails, Eli decides to declare war on the whole world, as Big Boss and the Diamond Dogs are once again forced to destroy the Sahelanthropus.
After the fight, a soldier finds that Eli has the new strain of the parasite in his own throat. The Diamond Dogs prepare to napalm the island and destroy the parasites permanently, but Big Boss offers Eli a pistol with a single bullet. After Diamond Dogs leave and Eli considers pulling the trigger, the Floating Boy reappears, psychically ripping the parasites from Eli’s throat and transporting both of them from the island before the napalm strikes hit.
It is implied that Eli somehow made it to New York, swearing vengeance upon Big Boss and his own brother.
Two variations of online multiplayer are included with the game: Metal Gear Online (MGO) and Forward Operating Base (FOB). Metal Gear Online (currently still in development by Kojima Productions Los Angeles) is the traditional multiplayer component of the game; Forward Operating Base, a separate multiplayer mode, allows players to create standalone bases called FOBs and defend them against invasions from other players.
The Phantom Pain contains a separate multiplayer mode that is being developed outside of the main Japan studio at Kojima Productions L.A. It has no effect on the single player. This gameplay mode is called Metal Gear Online, the third of its kind following its PS3 game released back in 2008 on Metal Gear Solid 4. No information on game modes is available, and it has not been confirmed if the game mode will be available alongside the single player core game.
Players will have the same movements and animations as Snake, but will be able to customize their appearance in a variety of ways. It is not clear if the Ocelot or Snake character skins will have any special features or abilities. The Marking ability makes a return as well, and functions the same way requiring a couple of seconds before an enemy player is marked and visible to the entire team. Players can use items such as sensor grenades, claymore mines, a stuffed animal for distraction and it is also possible to use vehicles such as the bipedal walking gun platform that provides full cover from the front but is naked from the back, it could also kick riot shield wearing players but was susceptible to explosive attacks, the cardboard box remains an option for stealthy players. MGO has fulton cannons that will remove players from the battlefield, but just like the fulton in single player it can be shot down before taking effect.
Players will have an option to take a version of Mother Base online, where it will be called an FOB. FOBs can generate resources that can be used in the single-player Mother Base, which cannot be invaded at all. Both players will be Snake in this mode, with one attacking an FOB and one organizing the defense.
When the FOB is put online, the defender can be invaded at any time they are active, even during a single-player mission. If the player is not available but the FOB is still online, friends can be recruited to defend the FOB for them. The player has the option to ignore calls for help, but risks the attacker making off with their resources and personnel unabated.
Anyone can take their FOB offline as well, allowing them to organize base defenses and continue their single-player campaign without worrying about an invasion. However, doing so will severely hamper the player’s ability to accrue resources.
The attacker can Fulton enemy soldiers and resources to their own base like in the main game, but has a time limit in which they must reach the enemy “Platform Core” and escape before the defenders block off the sea lanes and they get “captured.” The attacker only has one life, and fails the invasion if they get captured or killed. Also, if the attacker fails, the defender can learn the location of the attacker’s own FOB and counter-attack it later. If the attacker succeeds without being spotted once, then the defender will not be able to counter-attack their FOB.
Defenders can lay out base defenses and guard patrols prior to an invasion. This includes everything from placing fellow soldiers on platform to activating armed drones to patrol around the FOB. When the attacker first appears on-site, the defender will only have a rough estimation of their location, but if the attacking Snake is spotted by cameras or patrols, the defender will be able to pinpoint their exact location. If the defending Snake is killed or captured, the defender has the option of respawning in the body of an allied soldier if there are any available. If the defender cannot successfully eliminate or capture the attacking Snake before he escapes, then the attacker will successfully capture any resources that were Fulton-ed out during the invasion.
Big Boss wakes from a nine-year coma in a British military hospital, but doesn’t have long to get acquainted with the territory when unidentified military forces and a strange individual nicknamed “The Man on Fire” storm the building and try to kill him.
Similar to the MSF base from Peace Walker, the newly formed Diamond Dogs are able to launch missions all across the globe from this sea-based hub as Big Boss’s private army. The base’s defences and personnel can be customized as the player sees fit.
Ocelot has tracked down Kaz to a remote camp in the mountains of Afghanistan. Snake must race to rescue his captured comrade, but it will not be easy, as he must tread carefully between the Mujahideen of Afghanistan and the Russian forces occupying the country.
Cipher has spread its influence to mercenaries and rebel groups on both sides, trying to find the missing piece that will allow the latest Metal Gear to be completed.
The game was originally announced simply as “The Phantom Pain” in a teaser trailer at the Spike Video Game Awards 2012, notably without any official Konami or Metal Gear branding. The trailer presents the game as if it were being developed by a team called “Moby Dick Studio” (the final game contains many references to the Herman Melville novel of the same name), and it fueled initial speculation that the game was actually a new Metal Gear title. Several hints as to the game’s true nature were shown throughout the trailer, including:
Social media posts from Moby Dick Studio and other press coverage indicated the unknown studio was based in Sweden and led by a man named “Joakim Mogren”. In reality, both Mogren and his studio were total fabrications created by Kojima Productions; Mogren’s first name is an anagram for “Kojima,” and the last name is a reference to “Project Ogre,” Phantom Pain’s working title while still in early development.
Despite these hints of a connection between the initial trailer and the Metal Gear franchise, the details of the game and its development remained unconfirmed until the 2013 Game Developers Conference, where Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was officially announced alongside its standalone prologue, Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes.
This unusual and misleading reveal was ostensibly done to gauge public reaction to both the game and Konami’s proprietary Fox Engine graphics technology prior to an “official” release announcement.
At The Game Awards 2014, Metal Gear Online was shown with gameplay from a 8-vs-8 “Team Sneak” match in which an attacking team attempted to retrieve intel while the other defended.
The PlayStation 4 Pro upgrade for the game provides minor improvements over the PlayStation 4 version. The primary improvement is the upgraded resolution of 2560×1440. Although Konami stated that the patch would bring performance upgrades to the game, with the exception of the some cut-scenes running seeing a slight improvement to their performance very little else is different with the PlayStation 4 Pro upgrade over the regular PlayStation 4 version. This is primarily due to the core PlayStation 4 version of the game being highly optimal version of the game which mostly locks at 60 frames per second, only dropping from the target frame-rate at edge cases.