Why Hideo Kojima's latest is gearing up to be an emotional roller coaster.
We all know that Metal Gear's creator Hideo Kojima is capable of heart-stopping action and gut-wrenching emotion – but he's also pretty good at making you chuckle, too. That was one of the many things apparent in an impressive 20 minute demo of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain at E3 2014, where humour could be found sneaking up on you like a spy in a cardboard box.
1. The devil is in the detail
When you see Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain running in all its 1080p, 60 frames per second PlayStation 4 glory, you can't fail to be impressed. Cloth fibres, dirt, blood, dust... all of these little visual details are clear and add to a fantastic graphical stage for Big Boss' massive quest, which is 200 times bigger than Ground Zeroes.
Incredible cut scenes seamlessly transition into real time gameplay, meaning the demo's opening of Big Boss riding a horse across a dusky Afghan mountain landscape is utterly breath-taking. And just like a sneaky Wild West gunslinger, Big Boss can even hang off the side of his steed's saddle to avoid being seen.
With Big Boss mapping out his assault on an enemy scouting post, his horse unexpectedly takes a moment to defecate before the action starts. "Yes, that is in the game as well," laughs Sean Eyestone, co-producer at Kojima Productions.
"There are also many different types of wildlife," explains Sean, as a goat herd wanders into the path of Big Boss' horse bound assault. And as expected, you can interact with these animals, too. But more on that in a moment...
2. Balloon fun with Snake
Taking down enemies has a new angle in The Phantom Pain. Much like the Fulton Recovery System from Metal Gear Solid Peace Walker, Big Boss can attach these remote balloons to stunned enemies. There's a slight moment as it deploys and then a panicked scream can be heard as his target is swooped away into the sky. Whether they're fully conscious or not is up to you, but everything from humans, vehicles and even startled animals can be captured as long as there's enough space for the balloons to fly and the dynamic weather isn't too disruptive.
"Everything you get with the Fulton System ends up at your Mother Base as part of your Diamond Dog army – even the animals," explains Sean. "You can even stay on larger items going to Mother Base to escape bad situations."
3. Smoking is bad for you – but handy
Big Boss is still partial to lighting up, but this time he's a little more health conscious (for a death dealing spy, anyway), sporting a more fashionable e-cigarette. It also has a far more beneficial effect. "The Phantom Cigar lets you pass the time," says Sean. "It leaves no ashes and has no real smoke." Pretty handy for stealth – but it also lets you see the fun time shift effects as clouds drift, guards change shifts and life passes Snake by as he relaxes.
4. The box is back
One of the most iconic items of the series has made a triumphant return – you can call in a cardboard box for Snake to hide in. "Fans will be familiar with the box, but we've got some new features," explains Sean. "You can pop out of it to take out enemies, then pop back in. And you can fire yourself out of it and leave the box as a distraction."
5. Look! Up in the sky!
The cardboard box isn't the only deadly box in your arsenal. "You can call in supply drops from your Base – place it strategically on an enemy location and you can drop the box right on an enemy to knock him out." And then make him fly. Balloons!
6. Home is where the heart is
Mother Base is the place where all your hard earned captured soldiers, items and goats (if you prefer) end up, ready to serve you. It's full of shooting ranges, places you can spar and train with your men, security droids and more. Even your animals will greet you with a friendly bray. "Your own Mother Base will be unique, and it can be attacked..." smiles Sean as he tantalisingly brings the demo to a close...