Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, Open-world MGS and a dog wearing an eye patch

Had you told us a few years ago that Metal Gear Solid V would be coming to an Xbox platform, we’d have hidden in a cardboard box, tied a goat to a balloon and then eaten a live snake right in front of you. Which is to say, we wouldn’t have believed you, but we’re beyond glad you were right all along. MGS V is making up for the sins of the bloated fourth game and then some, ditching its cutscene heavy focus and dialling down the series’ labyrinthine backstory for the biggest outing yet.

An open world Afghanistan desert is your sandpit here, along with a similarly sprawling section of Africa. You’ll have a vague idea of how the game plays if you’ve run through Ground Zeroes, but The Phantom Pain builds on that to a huge extent. Along with a wider space to play around in, you’ll have access to new creatures and tools, including the Fulton Recovery System that can extract guards, vehicles, prisoners and wildlife it’s as simple as tying them to a sort of high-tech balloon.

Why would you want to do that? Well, you’ll need guards, trucks, staff and food for your base of operations, Mother Base. If you’ve played MGS: Peace Walker, this stronghold will be somewhat familiar, as it acts as an expanded version of that game’s Outer heaven system. ‘Recruited’ guards can be put to work here, researching new technology, being sent out on missions, or even helping out in the kitchen. Mother Base will look after itself while Snake is out in the wild, but he’ll need to return every so often to fend off invaders or have a bit of a chinwag with kaz.

Your right-hand man is joined this time by a few new faces, including bikini-clad sniper Quiet and an adorable wolf/dog named dd. dd, by the way, is a canine wearing an eyepatch the internet’s going to be all over that this year. These companions need to be discovered before they’ll join your cause in the case of dd, that means rescuing the abandoned cub from somewhere in the jungle.

It’s almost hard to believe that The Phantom Pain looks this impressive, after the overblown MGS4 soured the series back in 2008. Via the excellent Peace Walker, kojima and co are taking Snake back to his roots, while pushing the stealth genre forward in bold new ways. If you aren’t excited yet, you should be.

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