Buy it. That is all you need to know, if you are genuinely interested or curious about this game. There is so much to The Phantom Pain (TPP) it is akin to three Skyrim’s and will have its online component Metal Gear Online, released soon (more on that later).
If you honestly need to know more, this is so far from any previous game in the franchise that the only things connecting them are its history, gameplay and storyline. The original focus on stealth or guns ablaze styles have been developed and mastered under the guidance of Hideo Kojima’s team, that there is no single way to complete the missions or stages. I myself am the kill no one, hope I never get caught type. While I have friends who have been playing alongside me, and one is rampaging through killing every enemy in his way like a stealth grim reaper. While the other one, has developed his helicopter and skill with D-D a wolf hybrid rescue pup, that noticing the moving cardboard box seems negligible to not notice the dog chomping on your arm while a Blackfoot helicopter chain guns you down. No way is the right way, but there are many ways.
I will not mention the prologue besides the fact there is one, to which you can draw your own conclusions when you buy it and play it. (You are buying this right) I haven’t been able to recommend a game this worthy of your money since Red Dead Redemption or Shadow of the Colossus before that.
Your main area of operation is Afghanistan, here is where you will soon learn to adjust to your new best friend D-Horse (The D stands for diamond. practically everything Big Boss does revolves around diamonds in this game) who will transport you much faster than you could on foot and provides a number of options to sneak past enemies, scout guard posts, or massive bases. Your first real objective is to rescue your old friend ‘Kaz’ who will help boss build up diamond dogs the new militia unit you will build from the ground up.
When you are successful you are transported to the second playground. Motherbase, where you will see just a solitary oil rig platform in the middle of the ocean. Yet the more you progress through the games missions the bigger Mother base will get to the point you will see a myriad of platforms as far as the eye can see. The best part is how reactive this entire base is to you as a player. If you want to develop weapon technologies you need to build and upgrade these platforms over time. The more you upgrade the better your base will get, and the more Fulton balloon recoveries of stunned or sleeping enemy guards, weapon emplacements, vehicles and more the better you base becomes, and you can customise it too with your own unique logo and even change the colour palette. And you might think, this is just a HUB you can interact with, and yes it is. but you can spend multiple hours here alone as you could outside in Afghanistan.
Once you’ve played enough, to see just how big the game is, you then start to notice the side ops come in, and if you are a completionist like myself, you might be shocked when you see that there are over 150 side ops. Which is on top of the lengthy main missions which compared to Ground Zeroes’ seven missions genuinely does give you a sense that GZ was really just a taster after all. Which alone has days upon days of replayability TPP is no different. The pacing of gameplay alone is magnificent. It understands that at certain points you have gotten to grips with the basic concepts, and items available to you, and introduces more and more into your repertoire as you progress without you feeling overwhelmed.
Even after you’ve done all this, TPP is still not done with you. and introduces new companions or ‘buddies’ that will accompany you on your operations. Who are purely optional by the way, and you can kit yourself out with all manner of weapons, or vehicles if you so choose eventually. Hideo’s team simply threw options at every scenario until it had no more options left which didn’t break the gameplay.
You might feel Afghanistan is a bit too bland in terms of sand and rocks with a limited colour palette, expansive as it is. So Hideo changes it up with a lush African savannah giving you yet another giant sandbox to play in. TPP is literally bigger than every previous Metal Gear game combined. to which if you are generous could fit on two of the big maps given here if not just the one.
If you committed to doing something like playing one mission a day, you’d be occupied for about 200 days. Assuming that is you don’t miss a day. The size and scope of TPP makes the insane six year wait for this title to come out obvious. To not only check all these areas and get it bug free as can be, on top of pacing the games currency GMP (Gross Military Product) which is what you use to research and upgrade items and bases. it’s littered with easter eggs and side quests which aren’t even covered under the side ops menu. they are just extra things you can do.
There is nothing you have control over that you cannot customise in some fashion or other, there is no mission with one single approach. To say ‘this game isn’t your sort of thing’, is akin to admitting games aren’t your thing. The only people excused here are people who play columns or tetris style puzzle games. But even they would find something to enjoy about this game, because this honestly earns your hard earned money. It will even hopefully reinvigorate you to the point you have a standard of quality for content you get for your money in future.
You will experience and go through so many emotions playing this game that you’ll mimic Master Miller and scream Hideo played you like a damn fiddle! by its end. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn people are queuing up the games licensed soundtrack either as it’s like every track is personally selected by Hideo Kojima himself.
The only bad thing about TPP right now is Metal Gear Online isn’t available, to the point it will be a free download to anyone who has the game at a later date, leaving you with only one online aspect revolving around Motherbase, which only becomes available after the campaign as F.O.B.( Forward Operating Base) in which you go toe-to-toe with other a single solitary player. But just like GTA V the servers are under massive stress, with strict frequent downtime to fix and maintain things it’s hard difficult to find other players who’ve reached this point in the game, as it’s likely they are enjoying the campaign or deeply embedded in the 150 side-ops I mentioned earlier. This will likely change soon enough, and by the end you will know when you see ‘A Hideo Kojima Game’ it’s not some arrogant statement, but a seal of quality.