Despite the inherent awkwardness that arises from trying to do a presentation and Q&A session with the requirement for an interpreter, Konami’s gamescom preview event for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was successful in conveying the main message of the night – specifically, MGSV is an open-world stealth action game that you can tackle in whatever way you choose.
Host Geoff Keighley opened the event by introducing Hideo Kojima, who, with the help of an interpreter, explained that the start of the presentation would involve a 15 minute demo of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The demo covered the same Afghanistan game-play demo from this year’s E3 show. The objective was to show off that while you may have the same goals in MGSV missions, you could incorporate different strategies.
Firstly we were treated to the same opening cinematic as the previous demo, with Ocelot bringing Big Boss up to speed on the situation. His former partner in Militaires Sans Frontières, Kaz Miller, has been captured and Big Boss has to do some recon before a rescue attempt can be made. Once again, the lack of any response from Big Boss to Ocelot’s one-sided conversation has me worried that the move to hire Kiefer Sutherland as the lead voice actor has meant that his lines have been reduced to cut costs. I hope I’m wrong however.
Like any Metal Gear game, humour plays a significant part in the charm of the title. One of the first moments of levity involves using horse manure to cause a jeep to spin uncontrollably, before the player uses a Fulton Recovery balloon to send it and its dazed passengers back to Mother Base. In the space of a minute, we then encountered a stray ram which is unceremoniously tranquilised before also being Fulton-ed.
While the mission took place on the same map used in the E3 demo, we were given a glimpse of the scale of these areas when the presenter used his binoculars to point out a sign Kojima Productions had introduced to the scenario. Just to illustrate where the vantage point from E3 demo was in comparison to the current play-through. He showed how he was now infiltrating the base from the other side of valley.
Differences in the approach were also shown off when he revealed that this was the second time he was playing through this particular mission. This meant that there were now more guards on patrol during the day. Even using the Phantom cigar to speed up time, just like the original demo, showed that while the overall presence of the soldiers was reduced, they still congregated around the building that held the objective.
This “adaptive AI” was showed once again when the presenter went to tranquilise his first enemy with a headshot – only to find that guards had obviously been warned about his tactics from the previous mission and had been advised to wear helmets. However, he also demonstrated the increased variety of tools Big Boss has at his disposal in MGSV. The cardboard box, reintroduced at E3, now has more abilities. The picture of a scantily-clad woman can be used to distract guards – disappointingly showing the MGS series continued sexist tendencies.
Regardless, the strategy implied during this demo was to interrogate a soldier, gain the location of the base’s power grid and shut down its lights. While everything went to plan, a helicopter was called in and it started to patrol the area with a spotlight. In a moment of genius however, after the objective was taken and Big Boss was escaping, he was able to destroy the helicopter by taking it out with a Fulton-ed jeep from underneath. That is the type of fun game-play mechanic that MGS fans like myself live for.
Once the game-play presentation ended, Kojima talked about an additional demo available to gamescom attendees, which would show off one of the online aspects of MGSV. Specifically, players would be able to infiltrate other player’s Mother Bases and steal their equipment and soldiers. Unfortunately, none of this was showed during the show but it sounds like it was inspired by Dark Souls.
The game-play demo showing off the cardboard box uses that was first played during Sony’s press conference was replayed. It seemed like an odd choice for a new presentation but it was used to line up probably the biggest reveal of the night – Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain are coming to PC via Steam. The news actually broke about an hour before the show started, via an early posting on the Konami UK website, but it was still exciting news.
Kiefer Sutherland showed up via a video message to announce that there was a special pre-order offer available to gamescom attendees. Unfortunately, the fans looking on from home were out of luck. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the end of the disappointment as despite a direct question from Keighley, Kojima remained coy on Metal Gear Solid V’s release date.
Once the presentation ended, Keighley chaired a Q&A session with Kojima, covering questions sent in earlier from fans. The main points raised were:
- If he was to remake one of his own titles in the FOX engine, it would be the original MGS – but he would only act as a producer and allow his team to take charge of it. He brought up the recent Planet of the Apes movies as as example of how to keep elements of the original but retell it in a modern style.
- On Skullface, he mentioned how he has been stripped of his face, language and home. There were hints that he was a misunderstood character and used the key art released at E3, involving X-rays of Big Boss to show that in that form, they look the same.
- Boktai was discussed as one of his most memorable games.
- If he could be any movie character, he would see himself as a quiet type, something like Mad Max. He mentioned how Snake is also a character who doesn’t talk much – further exacerbating my aforementioned fears.
- He talked about his love of movies and revealed that he would normally watch a movie a day. His work-life balance also appears to be a little messed up – he gets just 4 hours of sleep.
- Finally, he discussed how lonely game development can be, as he cannot share his feelings and experiences with many people but enjoyed shows like gamescom as he got to meet other developers and creators.
Before wrapping up the show, Keighley brought up the recently revealed P.T., or Silent Hills for anyone who has cleared the brief demo. Working with Guillermo Del Toro and Norman Reedus, Kojima was adamant that he wanted the game to be truly scary (and early reactions from the demo seem to confirm this). Apparently, P.T. stands for Playable Teaser – so if any Kojimaphiles were trying to garner meaning from the letters, don’t bother. The teaser was also intentionally difficult. He hoped it would take a week or so before people would solve it. He did like that it was solved co-operatively in the end.
After the show had ended, I was disappointed by the lack of confirmation of Metal Gear Online or a release date. The show itself was well presented and concise but felt fairly empty on reflection. I think any follow-up events should take the form of the edited shows Nintendo use. Regardless, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain looks superb, as does Silent Hills, so DD/MM/YYYY* can’t come soon enough.