Fans can release their held breath; as of today, September 1, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain has been released, and you can pick it up immediately. You might not be able to get your hands on the cover above, because the day one edition will fly off the shelves faster than you could imagine. Only fitting, for the end of such a storied franchise.
Few other games achieve the reverant status afforded to the Metal Gear series. They simply don't make fans like the fans of Metal Gear. The series has spanned almost 20 different games, across over a half dozen different platforms. Now, with this game, the series has reached even newer heights, and the fans are clamoring.
So what do we know about MGSV already? Well, kind of a lot. Nowhere near all of it yet, but certainly a lot.
We know that it's set in Afghanistan in 1984 - nine years after MGSV: Ground Zeroes, and 11 years or so before the first Metal Gear, which was set in 1995. We know that in this game, Snake's code name is Punished "Venom" Snake. We know that he loses an arm and has it replaced by a robotic transplant - hence the subtitle.
We also know that there is a man (who may or may not be a figment of Snake's disturbed psyche, going by trailers) called Skull Face. Why is that? It's because his face was heavily damaged in a bombing of his home as a child.
From a gameplay perspective, we also know that this game emphasizes the actual gaming far more than any other installation has. With the exception of the prologue, the cutscenes are much shorter than one might expect from a Metal Gear game, and there is a much larger emphasis placed on the player's decision making and game playing.
Phantom Pain features a free, open world for the player to conduct their mercenary business in. The player is dropped into missions with only an objective; the manner in which you accomplish this objective is entirely up to you. Taking away a little from their stealth game roots, players have the ability to go balls-to-the-wall with it, loading out with heavy weapons and giving the possibility for airstrikes and the like.
However, you can of course go about things in a stealthy way, accomplishing the objective without raising any alarms and with barely a guard's hair rustled. You are rewarded for either approach, though series fans will likely stick to the stealth side of things. Don't fix what ain't broke, right?
Also new in this game is the things you can do with Mother Base, Snake's center of operations floating near the Seychelles of the eastern coast of Africa.
In Phantom Pain, you have the ability to recruit and hold mercenary troops whom you can use then to send out on different side missions that can earn you rewards. These rewards can be things like money or metal goods, which can in turn be used to upgrade your gear or the base itself.
It's kind of a game within a game, and it carries its own risks. Your troops are given ranks, and if they wake on a mission that's above their ability, all you will get out of it is dead units. So you have to spend some time training your people to be the best they can be, all so you can make your equipment and base the best that it could be.
All in all, everything that has gone into this game is the finest work of videogame's favorite crazy person, Hideo Kojima. He has said in interviews before that this game is the game he's been ideally trying to make since the very beginning. It's only now that the technology is where it needs to be for it to have been a possibility.
With The Phantom Pain, we close the book on the legacy of Metal Gear Solid, and it is a decisive, astounding finale.