Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom PC Review Code And News Of Microtransactions

If you pay any attention to the internet, you may have noticed some rather glowing write-ups of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain [official site]. You may also have noticed some quibbling and equivocating about the appearance of microtransactions in the Forward Operating Base competitive multiplayer mode. Yes, that’s a PvP mode called F.O.B. that may be fobbing people off with in-game purchases to speed things along. Below, I’ve gathered what information I can about those pesky microtransactions and explained why we haven’t been able to pass judgement on the game yet.

Let’s deal with the premium currency first. Many (if not all) of the reviews that are already online were written by journalists who were forced to play MGS V for eight hours every day, in regimented timeslots, while under instructions to share only the information that was deemed necessary by Konami higher-ups. Far from being a work experience course, this was a four-day review event, in which writers attempted to complete a sprawling open-world stealth game within a strict time limit. Or chose to do a review-in-progress instead, savouring the experience.

However they decided to play, none of them had access to the game’s online features, so the cost of “MB Coins” and their precise utility isn’t known. GameSpot spotted something in the water though – parcels of space to expand the base into that the player can purchase with the MB Coins. Back in June, Konami confirmed that the game would include microtransactions to speed the process of unlocking certain items and features, but that everything would be available to players who didn’t spend a single MotherBaseBuck. Senior producer Kenichiro Imaizumi seemed to confirm this a couple of weeks ago. At best, that means you’ll be able to ignore the in-game currency. At worst, it makes me queasily think I might have to press my face to the grindstone in order to compete or make progress.

It’s worth keeping in mind that all of this relates to the competitive element of the base-building rather than the actual Metal Gear Online experience, which won’t be available until October on console and January on PC. The simple fact is that we can’t say anything for sure until we can play the game with online features enabled and right now, we haven’t been able to play the game at all.

We’re told that PC code will be with us as soon as it’s available but no date has been given by Konami. As soon as we receive it, we’ll have somebody playing in what we refer to as the Ludovico Chamber and we’ll have extensive thoughts on every aspect of the game as soon as possible.

My early impressions based on what I’m reading? It sounds like emergent systems-driven events have almost entirely replaced cutscenes, and that’s as exciting as it is unexpected. What I’d read about Ground Zeroes had prepared me for interesting times but I thought the main game might hide its more appealing qualities under a crate. Or a bushel of cutscenes.

49 Comments

  1. gbrading says:

    The positive reviews sound very promising, and these microtransactions don’t sound too egregious. I don’t feel any compulsion to play MGSV yet because I’ve never been invested in the series, but I look forward to playing it some time next year when it goes on a sale price.

  2. Rinox says:

    I never played any of the MGS games, and always was under the impression that it was very much a console phenomenon, so I’m a little surprised (not negatively) at how much attention this title has been getting on RPS lately.

    Can a kind someone please give me an idea of what the MGS series is about, and what makes it so special? Because I really have no idea what kind of games they are or what the narrative/setting is.

    • Jockie says:

      Hrm, that’s a tough question to answer succinctly. It’s a stealth action series that’s always had a heavy focus on story, born from the mind of video-games only true autuer (Kojima’s presence usually seeps into every frame of the games). The story of the series is incredibly convoluted, but it combines tropes from 80’s/90’s action films (the protagonist Snake is visually inspired by Escape From New York’s Snake Plissken) with traditional video game over-the-top stylization, a healthy dose of illuminati conspiracy theories and cold-war spy drama.

      What sets this title apart is apparently less of a reliance on cut-scenes MGS4 had an infamous 70 minute cutscene in the middle of the game.

      There are probably essays on this sort of thing, and I’m sure someone will chip in with further discussion on the systems.

      • Jockie says:

        The protagonist Big Boss rather (codenamed previously Naked Snake) the series modern game protagonist Snake is a clone of Big Boss. Yeah… it’s complicated.

    • Enso says:

      The narrative is absolutely bonkers. For a 12 minute recap of the entire story so far see this video http://www.gametrailers.com/videos/ftdfka/metal-gear-solid-v–the-phantom-pain-metal-gear-explained-in-12-minutes

      The basic premise is private milatry corporations, mercenaries and over-arching government conspiracies.

      The gameplay has evolved from a top down stealth game to a lower 3rs person perspective sandbox. The feel is very much more Japanese or I guess you could say arcade like than something like splinter cell. There is a lot of oddness and humour like hiding in boxes, distracting guards with nudey magazines but this isn’t a central focus. You can go the whole game without seeing something like that. It’s definitely a game to not take too seriously, like a b-movie.

    • Enso says:

      It usually features a few great, innovative or fun mechanics. It’s definitely a very playful series

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      Graham Smith says:

      The MGS series skipped PC for a long time, but Ground Zeroes was great. It’s led to a few of us on team being excited about The Phantom Pain.

      I hadn’t played an MGS game since MGS1 when I played Ground Zeroes, so I understand little of the plot, but the stealth and AI are really fun to play with.

      Alec wrote a good feature here:
      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      And Stanton a good review here:
      link to rockpapershotgun.com

      • suibhne says:

        MGS2 was actually on PC, which was a bit of a surprise move, but MGS3/4 skipped us.

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      Oakreef says:

      MGS1 and 2 are on Windows. As is the bite sized Ground Zeroes. They’re special for two reasons: The rubbish story and awful storytelling that a lot of people seem to really like for some reason and really detailed interactive gameplay. There’s just a lot of cool things you can do and details in things like how you can interact with the enemy guards rather than it just being they run at you guns blazing till their hitpoints reach zero. It’s a really fun series if you can bear sitting through the hours of bad dialogue.

    • Jediben says:

      Hide n seek simulator

    • ffordesoon says:

      Metal Gear is a series of absurdist metafictional artgames about whatever obsessions eccentric series creator Hideo Kojima has rattling around in his head at any given time disguised as a series of impeccably polished third-person stealth games disguised as a series of big-budget cinematic blockbuster military action videogames, and it doesn’t so much break the fourth wall as refuse to admit the fourth wall is a thing. It is a divisive series, and willfully so. Every piece of writing on the internet claiming Metal Gear is a work of subversive genius will inevitably be inundated with rebuttals calling it self-indulgent nonsense. Folks on both sides will tell you the “game” parts of the games are awesome; the disagreement is mainly over whether the story’s any good.

      Since the release of Metal Gear Solid 1, the series has been famous for:

      * Overlong cutscenes in which ham-fisted speeches about the vagaries of global geopolitics rub elbows with bizarre digressions about movies and history and whatever else Kojima was interested in writing about that day.

      * An attention to detail which borders on insanity.

      * Stilted, quirky dialogue that does not sound like anything anyone outside of a Japanese videogame would ever say, but somehow feels entirely appropriate in context.

      * Metafictive mindfuckery often used to critique or undercut the normal tropes of action games, especially those which portray violence and war as positive things.

      * Plot twists a soap opera writer would find too jarring.

      * Characters with ridiculous codenames.

      * Puerile humor that’s usually scatological or sexual in nature.

      * Surprisingly well-rounded and numerous female characters at whom the player is encouraged to leer, because Kojima.

      * Tight male asses, men grabbing each other’s crotches, and shirtless dudes all over the shop, because Kojima.

      * A vast suite of tools for the player to use in every way they can think of.

      * Utterly ridiculous story elements played just as straight as the serious ones. You’ll be having a serious discussion of the pros and cons of nuclear deterrence one minute, and fighting a man made of bees the next.

      * The best boss fights in gaming.

      * Idiosyncratic and somewhat fiddly control schemes which become second nature after a little while.

      I’d wholeheartedly recommend playing through all the MGS games – there’s nothing else like them in videogames.

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        Harlander says:

        I’d also submit that Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is also great. Even though it’s not a stealth action thing like the Solid series, it ticks a lot of those boxes you’ve listed.

        • colw00t says:

          It’s worth noting that Metal Gear Rising: Revengance was made by Platinum Games with Hideo Kojima’s input, not Konami. Platinum are purveyors of their own very distinctive and utterly insane style of action games, and they meshed perfectly for a po-faced game about a former child soldier turned robotic ninja who fights a man with a sword sheath that has a gun built into it so he can draw his sword faster.

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            DelrueOfDetroit says:

            Platinum Studios’s big names are a lot of former Capcom employees, a lot of Clover Studios and the guy who made Devil May Cry 2-4 and Dragon’s Dogma are among them.

        • ffordesoon says:

          Rising is a delight as well, yes. It’s a vastly different game from those in the mainline MGS series, but I’d happily recommend it. Also Peace Walker, which is basically a mainline Metal Gear and is the prototype for MGSV proper’s structure. The boss fights in Peace Walker lack the character of those in earlier games, some of the design decisions seem weird if you don’t know it was originally released for PSP, and there is a man named Hot Coldman in it, but PW is still totally worth playing.

      • Fry says:

        Reviewers are reporting that there aren’t many cut scenes in MGS5, which is a bit disappointing. I hopped into MGS4 having never played a Metal Gear game before, and was predictably baffled, but quickly grew to appreciate the utter insanity of it all.

        What’s Metal Gear without silly characters spouting loads of nonsense?

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          DelrueOfDetroit says:

          That’s strange. I remember reading somewhere that there would be entire sections of the game that weren’t open world and assumed that that is where most of the classic MGS style gameplay and cutscenes would be found.

        • ffordesoon says:

          You needn’t worry. If TPP is anything like Ground Zeroes or Peace Walker (and all evidence points to that being the case), you can get your bonkers lore fix by listenting to cassette tapes and Codec conversations in the field while you’re doing other stuff. And it is worth remembering that the qualifier attached to “surprisingly few cutscenes” in most of the reviews is “for a Metal Gear game.” That could easily mean there are still plenty of cutscenes to go around, considering that most of them have an absurd amount of cutscenes.

      • Hanban says:

        As someone who is slavishly obsessed with MGS, I would have to say that all of the above is true. The series is truly bonkers, but goddamnit if I don’t love it anyway.

      • Just Endless says:

        I had to log in to give you props for this; best quick explanation of MGS I’ve seen of late.

    • Rinox says:

      Thank you all for your replies! I think I understand a little better now why the series is so popular. It does sound…different. I may give it a shot some time. Generally not a big fan of the Japanese style, but this sounds like something different altogether within its genre. And I do love some weird 80s b-movies!

    • Farsearcher says:

      I figured I’ll throw in my two cents as well

      (TLDR at the bottom)

      Metal Gear is set in a world that is largely the same as our own sharing most of the same historical and political events. One of the key differences is that in a few specific areas technology advanced much faster. The plot is complex and hard to recount as others have already noted but centres on the adventures of Naked Snake (who becomes big boss, star of MGS 3, Peacewalker and MGS 5) and Solid Snake (MG 1, MG2, MGS 1, part of MGS 2, and MGS 4)

      Chronologically the games are MGS 3, Peacewalker, MGS 5 Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2, Metal Gear Solid, MGS 2, ending with MGS 4.

      The first two instalments were top down games in the early 90s changing to third person for Metal Gear Solid 1 which brought the series its fame. From then on the series builds on the foundations of this adding new mechanics with each instalment.

      Mechanically much of the series appeal comes from the number of options you’re given. Let’s say you’re in cover and you can see a guard with his back turned. You have a vast number of options as to how you deal with the situation. Shoot him in the head, tranquilise him, sneak up behind him and choke him out, interrogate him, hold him at gunpoint and make him give you items, lure him to your position, use various gadgets to check to see if there’s other guards you haven’t spotted, hide in a box and wait for him to walk past and many more. Metal Gear 5 is taking this a step further. The tactical freedom remains but now you have operational freedom as well. In the past you’d choose your route through an area and deal with the guards as you saw fit. In MGS 5 you’ll be choosing which area to hit, what time of day, whether to attack nearby bases to cause a distraction or prevent reinforcements from attending your primary objective.

      The writing is divisive and it’s easy to understand why. I don’t think it’s bad so much as wildly uneven. Kojima careens drunkenly from heavy handed moralising to slapstick comedy detouring to puerile humour and then suddenly he’ll hit you with subtle character development or genuinely
      profound themes about the nature of men and war. I have cringed at Metal Gears dialogue, I have laughed at it and I’ve also found it truly touching.

      Metal Gear Solid 3 is widely considered the best of the series for its more even tone and tighter plotting.

      It’s a series that’s had a profound impact on the industry. I think of it as one of the triumvirate that brought a cinematic approach into gaming (the other two being Half Life and Call of Duty 4) for good or for ill. Kojima is a movie nut and it shows as some of the other commenters have pointed out but other than some overlong cut scenes I think it’s generally to the series benefit rather than its detriment.

      Whatever Metal Gear is it isn’t bland. There’s nothing quite like it out there and I’d recommend anyone try the series.
      TLDR version: MGS is a stealth series with a complex plot and an emphasis on tactical freedom. MGS 5 continues this but in an open world granting you strategic freedom in addition to tactical.

      Even if you don’t care about the story it’ll probably be worth playing for the mechanics.

      P.S. Best Cardboard Boxes in any game.

    • Perry Noid says:

      Calling it a console experience is not incorrect but in my opinion it is the best possible console game out there. This newest iteration does seem to have more of the micromanagement a la XCOM strategy layer to it that may appeal to PC players as it does for me. I can’t not be biased because this has been my favorite series of games since playing Meal Gear Solid on the original Playstation. Back then I played both console and PC games whereas now I’ve streamlined my gaming to strictly PC thanks to the fact that a lot of the games I enjoy from the consoles do end up making their way to PC now.

      If you’re concerned that Phantom Pain will be worse on PC compared to the consoles you can take comfort in the fact that the port of Ground Zeroes is superior on PC. Plus the respective PS4 and Xbox exclusive missions are both available on PC. One of the community managers (or whatever his role is) for the PC port asked Steam users directly for input on what we would like to see in the port and have since provided updates on most of the features everyone was asking for, so they are indeed spending some time on optimization for PC unlike a lot of other AAA studios.

      If you’re interested in the story then well, ask anyone and they’ll tel you it’s convoluted and it goes everywhere. If you’re a fan of Gravity’s Rainbow, what I often tell people is that it is the closest thing to the video game version of the book currently out there. It’s the most succinct way to describe it without having an afternoon over coffee to chat about it afaik. It is my most anticipated game since it was revealed and as far as I’m concerned it will be great no matter the platform you choose. I played ground zeroes with both controller and kb&m and the controls are solid and natural either way so I reckon controls won’t be an issue in phantom pain no matter wehat you choose to play with.

      tl;dr It will be great on console and PC but PC will probably be better in the end.

      • Rinox says:

        That’s the first time I’ve heard anyone compare a game to Gravity’s Rainbow…which means that I now definitely need to play these games. ;-)

        • Raoul Duke says:

          As a counterpoint, Gravity’s Rainbow is my favourite book and I found the last Metal Gear (4) to be largely incomprehensible drivel in plot terms. I’d liken it more to a very, very long, not very good manga / anime, with all of the awful dialogue and emotionally stunted characters that implies. Thematically it’s like an even more convoluted Ghost in the Shell Stand Alone Complex, if that means anything to you.

          Fortunately the excellent gameplay and atmosphere more than compensate for the idiotic writing, and having played Ground Zeroes the writing seemed marginally better too.

          • Perry Noid says:

            I agree with you on MGS4; it’s my least favorite in the series. And I guess the comparison of the series to GR is a bit misleading. The book is a masterpiece and a classic but so are the first three games as far as I’m concerned. The problem with the comparison is that GR is a book and is rated against the literary canon whereas MGS is a game among other games.

            You’re probably going to hate me for saying this because most Pynchon fans consider it blasphemy but my favorite is Against the Day. Happy to see another Pynchonite on the site though :)

  3. Strabo says:

    It’s a third person infiltration/stealth game with action shooter mechanics and a batshit crazy story, that on the one hand features very heavy and dark themes and on the other hand completely over-the-top mechanics and ideas. It’s basically a playable anime show. It’s especially renowned for the cinematic use of camera angles, cut scenes and music.

    The early games (up until 3) had a really clunky control scheme and UI, but especially Ground Zeros (and 5 in turn) control like a dream. And the Fox-Gameengine is probably the only Japanese engine that doesn’t behave like shit on a PC.

    • Strabo says:

      Uh, that was supposed to go under Rinox’s post obviously.

    • Mokinokaro says:

      The Fox engine is powered by witchcraft as it apparently runs at a solid 60 fps and 1080p even on a playstation 4.

      As for the series, it’s kind of an anime take on Tom Clancy. While a lot of the tech has a real world basis (most of the guns for instance are based on real models and some of the sillier tech is functioning versions of real prototypes) there’s also plain scifi concepts like bipedal tanks (that can usually fire nukes,) AIs, cloning, etc.

      It’s actually the weird juxtipation with Kojima’s quirky writing and mad attention to details that gives the series appeal to me.

      That being said look for a decent LP of part 3 and Peacewalker as they’re the two that are direct prequels to this one if you want to play it.

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        DelrueOfDetroit says:

        “anime take”

        Not everything that comes from Japan is “anime.” People need to stop using this term to mean weird and Japanese.

  4. Sarfrin says:

    Is that a picture of a man on a hopping gun robot thingy up there???

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    Oakreef says:

    I don’t really care about the online but if they try to have microtransactions ore premium currency in the main game I’m breaking out Cheat Engine.

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      Mungrul says:

      Yeah, if “MB” are earnable in the Single Player part of the game, I’ll be interested to see how Konami aim to stop people using Cheat Engine. Personally, I don’t think they’ll have the necessary MMO-style account structures in place to prevent people cheating cash. At least I hope not; while I was initially annoyed by people cheating cash in GTA Online, I now love the fact that people do it; it completely undermines the heinous practice of micro-transactions.

  6. 2late2die says:

    Don’t really care about online, so if the microtransactions are limited to that mode only I’m good. I’ll just be enjoying the apparently big and sprawling open world with tons of dynamic elements and all the emergent gameplay that comes out of that. :D

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    Aerothorn says:

    Why don’t all the reputable publications just refuse to review under those stringent conditions (four days is silly) and ask for normal review copies? Can’t they collude with eachother and form some sort of force that says “this must stop?”

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      Aerothorn says:

      DID THEY LEARN NOTHING FROM SIMCITY?

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      Oakreef says:

      Because not having a review of the current Big Game up when their peers do is going to cause them to lose a load of traffic and thus revenue. And most people reading game sites care more about affirming their purchasing decision than good or ethical writing so refusing to go along with that rubbish will piss off the readerbase too.

  8. Perry Noid says:

    Glad this is getting so many good reviews but wishing they had chosen me instead to kidnap and lock in a room to play the game for 4 days straight.

  9. jontaro says:

    Is that some sort of new infiltration method? “Don’t mind me i’m only a robots backpack”.

  10. Slinkusss says:

    A little disconcerting to see everyone talking about MGS franchise as absurd and lighthearted. At times it is all of these however, having played all the games over the years I would like to point out a few other things that make MGS special. Having played all the games with numerous playthroughs I still have no idea what is going on in the story, convoluted doesn’t even begin to describe it. But who cares? lol Gameplay wise it is always one of the most inovative games out there. Kojima regularly breaks the fourth wall in amazing ways that at once make you laugh and feel like you ARE snake, playing for high stakes. Few other games have left me feeling so exhilarated after certain sequences. After finishing GTA V, I found myself talking about what the game didn’t do right or didn’t have. The same for Skyrim (unmodded), fallout 3 and new vegas, the witcher 1+2+3, mass effects, far cries, basically all my favorite games. No other series leaves me feeling so thoroughly satisfied. I always wait for Kojima to make a mistake or a dud, but each game gets better and tighter and is more original than the last.

    Yes I sound like a fan boy and perhaps I am, but it’s a real feeling for me: Metal gear is like almost the perfect game, I never finish it an say, “It would have been REALLY amazing if…” No, it just was really amazing.

    This from a spoiled-I-play-everything-and-so-am-hard-to-please-cynical-critical-gamer.

    So make of that what you will.

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      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      Ditto for everything said here.

      This game has been one of the only things to get me excited in a long time. At this point I am anticipating that the only potential disappointment is if there actually isn’t David Hayter/Solid Snake in the game.

    • ffordesoon says:

      To be clear, I used “absurdist” in the sense of absurdist fiction or absurdist theater.

      From the Wikipedia entry for “Theatre of the Absurd”:

      “The Absurd in these plays takes the form of man’s reaction to a world apparently without meaning, and/or man as a puppet controlled or menaced by invisible outside forces. Though the term is applied to a wide range of plays, some characteristics coincide in many of the plays: broad comedy, often similar to Vaudeville, mixed with horrific or tragic images; characters caught in hopeless situations forced to do repetitive or meaningless actions; dialogue full of clichés, wordplay, and nonsense; plots that are cyclical or absurdly expansive; either a parody or dismissal of realism and the concept of the ‘well-made play’.”

      From the Wikipedia article on absurdist fiction:

      “Absurdist fiction is a genre of narrative (traditionally, literature), most often employed in novels, plays, poems, and films, that focuses on the experiences of characters in a situation where they cannot find any inherent purpose in life, most often represented by ultimately meaningless actions and events that call into question the certainty of existential concepts such as truth or value.[1] Common elements in absurdist fiction include satire, dark humour, incongruity, the abasement of reason, and controversy regarding the philosophical condition of being “nothing.”[2] Works of absurdist fiction often explore agnostic or nihilistic topics.

      While a great deal of absurdist fiction may be humorous or irrational in nature, the hallmark of the genre is neither comedy nor nonsense, but rather, the study of human behavior under circumstances (whether realistic or fantastical) that appear to be purposeless and philosophically absurd. Absurdist fiction posits little judgment about characters or their actions; that task is left to the reader. Also, the “moral” of the story is generally not explicit, and the themes or characters’ realizations—if any —are often ambiguous in nature. Additionally, unlike many other forms of fiction, absurdist works will not necessarily have a traditional plot structure (i.e., rising action, climax, falling action, etc.).”

      MGS makes a lot more sense from a narrative standpoint when considered as an absurdist response to traditional videogames, and especially traditional Japanese videogames. It has all the trappings of them (hence all the overtly videogame-y tropes like themed bosses with silly codenames and giant robots), but denies the player the usual satisfaction of feeling as if they have “done the right thing” by constantly undercutting any cathartic moment with a plot twist that renders the player’s effort irrelevant (e.g. the hostages you’re supposed to extract in MGS1 die of a heart attack as soon as you get to them) and/or additional information that makes the player’s triumph seem bittersweet or outright tragic (e.g. the uniformly depressing backstories of the FOXHOUND members in MGS1 you only hear after you fatally wound them, the reveal of the real circumstances behind the Boss’ defection in MGS3).

  11. welverin says:

    Things are not hidden under crates in Metal Gear games, they are hidden under cardboard boxes thank you very much!

  12. Monggerel says:

    Well, I have this friend called Cheat Engine and lemme just say this, they’re real miffed Konami forgot about them. How rude!
    How rude.
    How rude.
    How rude.