Big Boss vs Best Boss

I quailed at even the idea of bosses in MGSV [official site]. It’s my desert, leave me alone to do my thing, and that thing most certainly does not involve filling something big with as much heavy ordinance as is possible. A couple of encounters with the teleporting zombie super-soldiers known as The Skulls had already left a bad taste in my mouth. While stealth, or at least avoidance was possible to some degree, they were exactly the sort of bullet-sponge nightmare I was afraid of. Would this be pre-Director’s Cut Deus Ex: Human Revolution’s bosses all over again? I would be abandoning this game halfway through, of that I was increasingly sure.

Then I met Quiet. Spoilers for an early boss fight follow.

To get the inevitable out of the way: I absolutely agree with Adam about how skeezy the character’s presentation is (both narratively and visually). With crushing inevitability, my partner entered the room during one of the merely lascivious early Quiet cutscenes, and this confirmed her every suspicion about videogames and their audience. I miserably tried to show her sheep-ballooning and A-Ha, but it was too late: the damage was done. At least we shared contemptuous laughter when I told her about the plot’s ridiculous, cynical attempt to justify the outfit. It’s such a damned shame. And, as we went into this problem in depth yesterday, that’s all I’m going to say about it for now.

What I am going to talk about is how brilliant the boss fight in which you first (well, not quite first – that’s her as the hospital assassin in the introductory cutscene, right?) encounter your mute buddy-to-be is. There’s so much about it which is so much about what MGSV does best.

For a start, it’s something you stumble into rather than are simply pointed at. While exploring the Northerly area of the map, you might receive radio messages from Ocelot or Miller – I keep forgetting which voice is which – about a mystery sniper who’s been making everyone’s lives hell. All we know is the Russians are afraid of her, and that she’s… somewhere. Out there.

Which isn’t enough to prepare me for my ride across the desert suddenly being interrupted by a shot, a cutscene, and a declaration that I’ve just begun Mission 11, complete with those self-mythologising HIDEO KOJIMA CREATED THE WORLD IN SEVEN DAYS opening credits. Mission 11 wasn’t even listed as an option until now. It’s just fallen from the sky. And now a super-sniper wants to put a bullet in my skull.

The location is perfect. Towering ruins, the former site of something spectacular now turned into a nightmare of camping spots and open spaces, this huge football pitch of distance between me and her. I have to cross it, or at least some of it, for any of my weapons to be of much use. I do have a sniper rifle, almost never used due to my dedication to non-lethality, but it’s an entry-level one which just doesn’t have the range necessary to pick Quiet off from opposing sides of this shattered temple-land. I have to find a way forwards.

And that involves learning, without any real instruction. MGSV is at its best when it doesn’t tell you what to do, when you observe, experiment and practice until you find a rythym of your own, and this mental map of possible strategies. Quiet will score a near-lethal headshot if you raise your head above cover for more than a couple of seconds. But you have to do that, because she’s so far away that the only way to keep track of her is to ‘mark’ her with your binoculars, making her health bar visible.

So you figure it out. The glint of her scope tells you roughly where she is. You remember the patch of rock or crumbling pillar. You hold your head up for just long enough that she fires, but not for long enough that it hits you. Then you find that rocky spot again, you zoom in, you wait an agonising second and –ping- you’ve got her marked.

Now do it again, only with a bullet instaed of binoculars. But you can’t, because your rifle doesn’t have the range. So coax her into firing, dash forwards, do it again, and then, and then maybe you can score a shot. And then she turns invisible and scurries away, and you have to do it all over again. Second time she does this, you notice the cloud of dust. And you track that dust, and you don’t lose her, and you get another shot in. Learning, practicing, improving. A half-hour marathon of endurance and patience, of timing and precision.

You can, I’m told, win the fight very quickly by ordering supply drops onto Quiet’s location, cracking her skull and removing the need for all that forward movement and precision shooting. Never mind that this didn’t actually work for me – she dove out the way seconds before the drop landed, because she is the only other smart human in the game so far – I know I’d have missed a memorably tense fight if I had. A redemptive boss fight.

An extremely personal one, too. Where most boss fights just feel like a war of hit point attrition against some mechanical monster, this felt like two people trying to outwit each other. Grand masters locked in final competition. She targets, I duck. I shoot, she runs. Each second-guessing the other. She doesn’t talk, but if she did I’m sure she’d tut rather than scream whenever I hit her. She’d tut if I died, too: this is as much a game to her as it is me. She doesn’t want to kill me, she wants to play with me.

When I finally met Quiet, having defeated her (my first S rank too!) I felt I already knew her, from our time spent in this nerve-wracking stand-off. How could I kill her, when Miller ordered me to? She was my dark mirror. She was the only one who understood. That couldn’t end so soon.

Going into MGSV, everything I’d seen of Quiet in marketing and social wittering had me convinced that there was no way I could possibly have her on my team, that it would be too embarrassing and distracting and I did not want my game to be that. Now, I feel like I have to have her as my buddy. She’s my only equal, after all.

The other boss fights aren’t going to be like this, are they?

53 Comments

  1. SMGreer says:

    No they will not, sadly and this amazing fight comes so relatively early in the game. Most of the other bosses are rubbish. As is the majority of anything story related in the game.

    I mean, has anyone experienced the ending? Good grief, I feel dumber for just having experienced it.

    • BannerThief says:

      I feel ya, man. I’m a pretty big fan of MGS, and MGS V is one of the best open-world games I’ve ever played, but its story is woefully lacking in comparison to previous entries. (SLIGHT SPOILERS) I think the ‘twist’ {specifically referring to the nature of the main character} makes laughably little sense, and makes everything I’ve done in the game meaningless from a wider MGS lore perspective. The story itself is start-stop (partially due to the structure) and peters out in a very lame fashion. Quiet, despite her silly outfit, is an interesting character that gets an awful sendoff at the end of her arc. Everything interesting that happens in the game is either thrown out by the shitty twist, or feels incomplete. What a bummer.

      Game’s still great though.

      • SMGreer says:

        Couldn;t agree more.

        It’s great to play the majority of its time, just a shame the overall story/experience doesn’t build into something special.

    • FullMetalMonkey says:

      I didn’t think this boss fight was anything spectacular. I came across her on my way to another mission (not knowing she’d appear) and hadn’t unlocked a sniper rifle or long range weapon.

      She killed me a couple of times and so I decided to ‘sod her’ and carry on with my other mission.

      I decided to go back to her after getting my tranq sniper and wasn’t having much luck hitting her and didn’t want to kill her as I wanted her as a buddy. Then I had a thought.

      Id learned the hard way that Supply Boxes when dropped on your head hurt. Figured it would do the same to her. Job done.

  2. ThomasHL says:

    Lots of Metal Gear boss fights are this good, that’s why the franchise is known for the best of them. I wouldn’t even put this top 5 (although it was very good). The sniper boss fight against The End in MGS3 was even better, and I personally love the one at the end of MGS4, although I always have a love for the trick boss fights too (like Laughing Octopus)

    • ThomasHL says:

      My top 5 in no particular order:

      The End (MGS3)
      Fatman (MGS2)
      The Boss (MGS3)
      Liquid Ocelot (MGS4)
      Laughing Octopus (MGS4)

      I probably have a slight MGS1 anti-bias. I don’t know whether Mantis should have been included. Peace Walker had crud boss fights

      • lordcooper says:

        I absolutely adored how when the MGS series come to it’s final* dramatic conclusion the mechs et put aside and it’s basically just two tired old men trying to thump each other to death.

    • Nemesis_Protocol says:

      MGS has been known for some of the best boss fights in the industry for over a decade now.

      The End, Psycho Mantis, Laughing Octopus, The Boss, Fat Man, Vamp, Sniper Wolf… The issue shouldn’t be “dear God – no boss fights in an open world game…oh hey, Quiet was pretty fun”, but rather, “why didn’t MGS V keep with the series’ high water mark of boss battles”?

      I’ll never forget learning I could set the internal clock on my console forward a couple years and The End would die of old age in the game when you turned it on again…

  3. brat-sampson says:

    If you liked this, you should go back and push through MGS3 to the fight with The End, another near-mythical sniper, fought across three map areas and letting you use techniques ranging from looking for the glint on his scope, using night-vision to trace his footprints or simply setting the clock on your console forward a few days, such that he dies of old age. I really enjoyed the way the Quiet fight sprung from nowhere, but to be honest preferred The End for a sniper duel. No marking and a much wider range of places he can choose to take his shot from. I stayed on the bridge the whole time, and was surprised when after taking up three locations getting progressively closer to my flank, she just returned to her original spot and repeated them…

    • brat-sampson says:

      To specify (no edits) I stayed on the bridge for the duration of the Quiet fight…

    • ThomasHL says:

      Also you can kill the parrot The End uses to spot with and then eat it.

      • BlackMageSK says:

        Better yet you can capture the parrot alive, and I like to assume Snake then eats it while it is still alive.

        I was the same with Quiet, found the fight itself quite boring, just stayed where I started and sniped back on both the initial and extreme revisit fights. Something you definitely could not pull off with The End.

        • ThomasHL says:

          I was trying to take her out with just the tranquiliser gun which I think made it much more tense and fun. It sounds like a fight you can be overequipped for.

    • Wowbagger says:

      Also have to add that you can kill him before the boss fight if you look out for him earlier in the game. That is just so clever, it is my favourite boss fight in all of the games.

  4. soulis6 says:

    My only problem with this fight is that I can’t help but compare it to the fight from MGS 3 against The End, and it is not a favorable comparison.

    That fight was a 30-90 min tense sniper duel in which you had to use everything you had learned so far and a variety of devices in order track him down, all the while being afraid of that sudden gunshot that could mean death.

    You even get an awesome little bonus camouflage if you can manage to sneak up on him and hold him up, which was no easy task at all.

    • soulis6 says:

      And by comparisson, I basically stayed in the same spot all throughout the Quiet fight, and just watched her relocate a few times in between shots.

      It was still fun and I really enjoyed stumbling upon it (I wish there was more weird encounters you could find), but I don’t think it holds up in any way to the fight with The End.

      • BannerThief says:

        I like Quiet as a character (basically in spite of her dumb outfit), but her boss-fight really wasn’t all that. Maybe it’s because I’ve never had a hang-up about killing people in stealth games, but I had a pretty decent sniper rifle on me when I encountered her, and the fight took maybe 3 minutes total (doesn’t hurt that the shooting is massively improved over the previous games either). Compared to the End fight from MGS 3, which took me 30 minutes the first time, Quiet was a huge pushover.

        • Jediben says:

          I had unlocked a tranquiliser rifle by the time I met her. First shot I hit her with while under the glare if her red dot sight. Two more darts and she was out for the count, without landing a shit of her own.

          • BannerThief says:

            ‘Landing a shit of her own’ man, you played a different, more interesting/gross fight then I did. (I kid. Curse RPS’ lack of edit features.)

    • Bull0 says:

      It’s a lot more straightforward because you don’t have to fight against the control scheme in the same way as MGS3 required. Other than that it’s broadly pretty similar stuff.

      • soulis6 says:

        I definitely agree that the control scheme of the old games hasn’t aged well at all, but I don’t think it has much to do with the actual feel or tactics required for the fight.

        It’s only similar in the way that a hot pocket and fresh quality pizza are similar.

        • Bull0 says:

          We disagree, and I don’t care for the piss-taking analogy much.

          • soulis6 says:

            Ok, except it wasn’t piss-taking. Hot pockets and pizza have some of the same ingredients, but no one is going to confuse eating the two.

            The same with the boss fights of The End and Quiet in my opinion.

            With The End, you have to track him through 3 different areas, looking for footprints, taking advantage of camouflage and concealment, using your directional mic to hear movement, etc, all to get a shot on him. It’s tense, and deadly, because if he spots you it’s very possible for him to kill you before you’ve realized you’ve been seen.

            With Quiet, you can sit in the same structure and just shoot her until she is dead, and it takes no more than a few minutes.

          • ThomasHL says:

            @soulis6, that’s where he’s saying the control scheme comes in. In MGS3 it’s impossible to aim anything quickly so sniping The End back wasn’t really an option. If you go into the Quiet fight without a decent long range gun, you’re forced into the same 30 min duel scrambling through the arena, ducking and diving behind rocks and pillars as you try to track down your target before you shoots you.

            Running after Quiet is much more fun than running after The End, The End either gets hit or throws down his flashbang, Quiet runs away from you and then will dive into the grass and try to shoot you as your running after her, you have to dodge her shot and then get up and leg it at her before she can reload and do it again. (And then when you catch up with her the flashbang comes out)

          • Bull0 says:

            Exactly, MGS3 necessitated a protracted sneaky fight because of its unforgivable camera and very awkward shooting controls. Besides, 30 minutes is a bit unlikely. I did it in 5-10. Follow the animals. Equally, set the PS2’s clock ahead a day and he dies instantly. That’s even faster than a double supply drop kill on Quiet.

    • Dicehuge says:

      I agree, that fight in MGS3 is probably my favourite boss battle in any game. Quiet’s fight is pretty good, but since she doesn’t really move much it doesn’t have that same tension that The End carried, when he would sneak up on you if you remained in one place too long. He was a helluva lot harder to spot in the forest too.

  5. Jericho says:

    I ran into Quiet when I was exploring the world map in free roam mode and I didn’t have a long range weapon equipped (Battle rifle with rubber bullets and tranq pistol). I tried getting close enough to pelt her with rubber bullets and that worked to a certain degree, but it was rough going so I opened the iDroid to air-drop in a better set of equipment. But when I went to pick the drop point in the iDroid menu I realized I could target her location since I had her marked. I did so and kept her busy by diving back and forth between some rocks until the crate arrived. When it popped her on the noggin and knocked her out I just about fell out of my chair! Diamond Dogs support staff: 1; superhuman sniper: 0!

    It tickled me even further that Ocelot called me out on the radio for the non-standard, non-lethal take-down and the game even had a special task completion set aside for it. Not that I needed the attaboys, but it still felt good nonetheless.

    Well done, Kojima. Well done!

  6. 2000_man says:

    Yeah, the boss fights since haven’t been as good, still I’m only about twenty missions in.

    This fight was great though. There was one moment when I caught Quiet in my sights the very same moment she spotted me, but having the more advanced sniper rifle, her laser scope blinded me and I had to duck back down.

  7. Bull0 says:

    You have to keep her distracted for that to work. They made a lot of how you could call supply drops on top of people to knock them out in the live demos, so I find it weird that people are all excited about it.

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      Thulsa Hex says:

      I think that in the middle of this big ol’ tense sniper battle, it’s easy to forget that you’re not necessarily locked into particular strategies. Most games with boss fights have you defeat them in very specific ways — often forcing very different methods of approach than regular enemies — and I think people who play games a lot are conditioned to expect this. While I knew that I could drop crates on regular soldiers, until someone pointed it out to me I never would have considered it as an option for this particular duel.

      I think what people are excited about is that allowing this kind of clever/cheap (delete as appropriate) tactic subverts the boss fight tropes we’ve grown used to.

      • Bull0 says:

        I don’t disagree that it’s subversive, it’s just subversive in exactly the way one would expect from a MGS game. You’ve been able to tranq out the bosses since 2. Yet there’s always someone to say Omg, I realised you can kill Quiet with supply drops, so amazing

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          Thulsa Hex says:

          I don’t see the harm, frankly.

        • noodlecake says:

          It’s still pretty out there compared to possibly every single other game’s way of dealing with boss fights. I think MGS:PP deserves a lot more credit than people in these comments are giving it.

  8. Love Albatross says:

    Try as I might I just cannot get into this game. I know it’s really good and it’s the sort of thing I should enjoy, but it’s just not clicking. I also couldn’t get interested in Witcher 3 or Arkham Knight.

    Oh well, there’s still Fallout 4.

  9. Premium User Badge

    Thulsa Hex says:

    I stumbled into this sniper duel after a relatively tense escape from the supply base (same extraction mission as the Take On Me diary). I’d passed through these ruins a couple of times before and they had always been vacant, so I strolled in there without a care in the world, expecting some kind of leisurely respite. But then the “!” sound out of nowhere and suddenly I’m in reflex mode, diving out of the path of that first bullet. My heart was pounding. It took a second but then I understood: “Mission 11: Cloaked in Silence.”

    What a brilliant and dramatic way to have this mission appear! Of course, afterward I was kicking myself as the ruins were such an obvious arena for this kind of thing, but I’m glad I went into it oblivious and carefree.

    I took me two attempts to capture her. When I’d entered the mission, the only non-lethal weapon in my possession was an upgraded tranq. pistol. I was determined to make it work, so I tried sneaking up on her to see if doing a hold-up would work, a la MGS3, but she switched positions too rapidly for that to work. I did get a couple of shots in but they barely made a dent on her blue health bar and I eventually stuck my dumb head out for too long and suffered the consequences.

    The second time, however, I got down on my belly and opened the iDroid to make some drastic temporary staff transfers. I found that If I put just about every soldier with at least a “D” rank in Meds and R&D into those respective categories, I had just enough man-power to develop my first tranq. sniper rifle. Thankfully it was one of the insta-complete research options and I was able to air-drop it into the arena and from there it took me a mere two shots to pacify her (the second shot was a head-shot, but I’m not sure about the first). The fact that this was possible made me pretty happy. The openness of approach is the best thing about the game, for sure.

    Much later on in the game I went back to test out the supply-drop-on-head theory and found that it worked if you poked your head out a second or two before it lands. She’ll take the shot, giving just enough time for the crate to make contact. Took two crates for me.

  10. Premium User Badge

    Thulsa Hex says:

    Also, Alec! Maybe you knew this (it’s not clear from your words) but you can simply run away from the Skull dudes and complete the mission without firing a single bullet into their spongy hides. I legged it for the chopper at the end of the mission I think you’re referencing, not knowing if I’d get away with it, but I did. Thought that was cool.

    • Qazi says:

      It is also stealthable. There is even a mission task devoted to completing the mission without alerting the Skulls.

  11. Static says:

    A bit off topic, (and potentially mild spoiler so be aware):

    I find it quite annoying that there is a uniform for quiet that is actually quite reasonable (the XOF uniform) but you have to wait until much later in the game to be able to unlock it. I’m hoping that either myself or some other person on the interwebs will find a way to mod the game to allow this uniform to be unlocked from the start.

  12. mullatof says:

    I haven’t experienced this fight without a sniper or on harder difficulty which probably made my experience worse and with the first sniper I could stay in the original spot and just snipe her easily. However I did get a sense of nostalgia from my fight with The End, I had a premonition she would appear on the ledge close to me eventually so I had my rifle ready.
    I suppose the fight deserves merit for allowing me reminisce about one of my favorite fights of all time. My PTSD from fighting The End was kicking in at the start.

  13. Universal Quitter says:

    So, it seems to me like the biggest obstacle to enjoying this game is if you liked the “story” in previous MGS games.

    I should have recognized this sooner, from my time with the Final Fantasy series and its long-ago transition to 3D.

  14. Monggerel says:

    I realize there might be people whose idea of “stealth” does not in any way involve the Nosorog Main Battle Tank, but those people have already been discounted as foolish – and crunchy.

  15. Premium User Badge

    Mungrul says:

    Did anyone else locate her by the tune she was humming?
    That’s what I though was really cool about fighting a boss called “Quiet”. She isn’t :D

    Also, I twigged almost immediately that her going invisible was the cue for me to switch my night vision goggles on. Those and the tranq rifle made the fight trivial, but it was still a great boss fight, as it made me feel clever :)

  16. Sin Vega says:

    Possibly a stupid question, but: can you leave? Because I know what I’m like. The instant I get locked into some unwanted section, the first thing I’d do is just walk away.

    • horsemedic says:

      You can leave. Actually the first time I found her I thought she was unkillable and I was just supposed to make it out of the area alive.

  17. horsemedic says:

    Like others here, I fought her with a sniper rifle and wish I hadn’t, because it wasn’t nearly as fun as Alec’s encounter. Basically: crazy dance in the open until you spot her scope glint, dodge her bullet, shoot her, rinse and repeat five times or so.

    It was so rote and over so quickly that the victory cut scene felt out of place. Yeah, I’m bringing back an easily predictable AI prisoner back to the base after a 10-minute fight. Why is everyone so freaked out?

    SPOILER for next mission follows

    My next boss “fight”—against the giant mech walker at the Afghanistan base—was much more tense. Having to basically sneak under that thing’s legs and leap into the chopper seconds before it turned felt proper scary.

    I stil appreciate the Quiet fight for being different. And it seems to pay off if you go at her with close quarter weapons. Maybe a patch could let her shoot any sniper gun off your back when you first encounter her.

    • Sin Vega says:

      For all its many, many flaws, and despite its being interrupted with that godawful fourth wall shite, I’ll always fondly remember the big fight in the lift in MGS2. You and dozens of mooks have a big shootout…except that if you put your guns away, they do too. They are totally up for a punch up instead, it’s brilliant.

    • neckro23 says:

      The mech “fight” at the end of Chapter 12 cemented my opinion of the game more than Quiet did. Unbelievably tense.

      After going through all the trouble of tranking Quiet I found out that it doesn’t actually matter if you use lethal weaponry against her. I originally thought the game was being incredibly daring for letting you kill a main character, but nope…

  18. David Bliff says:

    If you could have stuck her up like you could do with The End it would’ve been a lot more satisfying.

  19. ftsstem says:

    Not sure what this guy is on about? it’s the first real boss fight in the game and it’s not even slightly difficult.

  20. Premium User Badge

    naam says:

    I can’t be the only one that discovered you can interrupt her “invisible” dashes by a single shot in her general direction. If you do, she squats, pauses for a moment, then shoots at you, and if you manage to make her do this while she’s pretty close (sometimes her invisible dashes cross right across your path), it’s a great way to get in an extra shot.

    Finished it like this with only the tiny tranq gun. Took quite a few tries though, but I’m glad I didn’t do it in another way.

    Also a great way to learn how to get headshots with the tranq from very far away (which is quite possible).

  21. Cimeries says:

    I didn’t want to kill her but the only non-lethal weaponry I had on me was stun grenades and the rubber bullet SMG. Cue me having to creep up to within 20 metres of Quiet to lob grenades at her, and then when they ran out doing exactly the same with the SMG. Took ages as each hit took around 5% off her health, but it was quite satisfying.

  22. Timbrelaine says:

    I’d just like to echo what others are saying: if you liked this fight, and you ever get the chance, play MGS3. The fight with the End is a much more ambitious take on the sniper duel, and it’s probably the highlight of the series.

    MGS3 is also dramatically less ridiculous than the other games, if it helps.

  23. Ahtaps says:

    I just did this fight last night and it didn’t really seem that epic. My fight just consisted of running around waiting to be targeted then closing in from cover to cover. DD would mark her and then I’d shoot her with the tranq pistol. Wash, rinse, repeat. It just felt like one of your typical whack-a-mole bosses. The fact you couldn’t CQC her was annoying too because I felt really proud of having gotten that close.