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MGSV: Horrible Boss

An MGS Virgin's Phantom Pain Diary, Day 7

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Continuing a diary series in which an MGS virgin plays the Phantom Pain.

The real trouble with Quiet is that she’s lazy. Or so I incorrectly thought for the longest time.

I really didn’t want to end up picking under-dressed, mostly mute ultro-sniper Quiet as my buddy. Her outfit is both distracting and makes me worried someone’s going to walk in while I’m playing, but equally importantly my one-eyed canine companion D-Dog is adorable and it’s sad to go in to missions without him.

He’s bloody useful too, able to sniff out threats and pick-ups with his super-nose, which saves me a ton of searching and scanning time. Sadly, he’s not much help apart from that, particularly as I haven’t been able to find and extract the soldier with the special skill which will let me develop a stun gun for him.

Quiet, though: Quiet helps. Quiet is quietly efficient, toning down the busywork of finding and tranquilising everyone in an outpost, which I can’t pretend hasn’t become repetitive after a couple of dozen hours. Missions are faster with her there, covering my back, cleaning up my mess, saving me time. Given I’ve been resolutely determined not to kill anyone, I had to grit my teeth through a few missions in which she murdered everyone in order to unlock her tranquiliser rifle, but now she’s joined me on my non-lethal journey of infinite abductions.

But she’s lazy, I decided. Despite having magic teleportation skills, she will very rarely move into range of a base, let alone be open to orders to start firing, until my attempted incursion has gone horribly wrong.

Once I’m in trouble, she’ll finally move over from whatever miles-distant rock she was waiting on and start slowly picking off all those angry men who are chasing me. Then I can take it easy. Does hiding behind a rock while bullets ping past my ears count as easy? Well, it’s easier than ritually tagging then tranquilising or throttling everyone all by myself, I know that much.

Why is Quiet so recalcitrant? Well, she is an enemy agent who’s now working for me because, er, I repeatedly shot her in the face, so I guess she might not always be in a co-operative mood. (Though my bond with her is now at 100%, which as far as I can tell just means I can make her wear gold paint. Trophy wife indeed.)

I’m also perhaps unfairly presuming that she’s happy to join me on my regular two kilometer sprints across the Afghan or Angolian landscape, because I’m too tight to order in a jeep. In that heat, it’s perhaps understandable that she sometimes decides to just stay the hell where she started, but again: magic teleportation skill. I’m the one doing the legwork here.

Another reason is that, well, if she was always there, always on call, always in a spot she can headshot anyone from, I’d have nothing to do. I feel as though Other Forces have intervened to ensure she isn’t my pet janitor. She doesn’t intervene unless it appears I need her to intervene – but it annoys me that I can’t even ask her to intervene when I feel like it. Some buddy you are, buddy.

The good news is that Quiet’s laziness has encouraged me to do things differently, and that means I’m keeping boredom at bay. No more stealthing around doing invisible strangles. I need to raise a little hell instead, attract Quiet’s attention by attracting my enemy’s attention. Sometimes Decoys work, sometimes blowing up communications systems does. Sometimes simply making the enemy suspicious is enough. But other times, they have to see me.

I have to walk right in there, like a Sheriff come to clean up this one-horse town. There are gasps. There are frantic radio messages. There are 10 gunsights pointed right at me. Reflex time gives me the chance to tranq-headshot a couple of guys, and then I need to run and hide. After a few beats, Quiet arrives at a nearby location, and finally, finally will respond to orders.

This far down the line with her, I don’t need to manually request every shot either. I can simply hit ‘Cover Me’ and she’ll keep going until everyone’s down. I might lob a few stun grenades over the rock I’ve hunched behind, or even let off a couple of cheeky headshots, but mostly it’s all Quiet until it’s all quiet. Often the enemy becomes so terrified of her that they stop chasing me and start uselessly lobbing flares and mortars in her direction, which gives me time to saunter around ballooning all their fallen comrades into the sky.

So each outpost assault is different now. I have to roll the dice: how loud is too loud? What if Quiet doesn’t turn up and I have to take on everyone in the base at once without breaking my vow of non-lethality? What if a tank turns up? Thank you, Quiet. By being so phenomenally unhelpful, you’re keeping me on my toes.

There is a coda to this, which you might miss if you’re already down in comments screaming ‘MEER YOU’RE A BLOODY IDIOT.’ The coda is that, yes, I am a bloody idiot. As I discovered when I shared this piece with the rest of the team before publication, prompting Alice to point out that, actually, there is a way of sending Quiet wherever you want whenever you want, and optionally scouting it out for you or opening fire on everyone there before you’re even on the scene. Ah. So, from Quiet’s point of view, I was the lazy one: not bothering to give her any orders, then getting myself into a whole heap of trouble, at which point she has to use her own initiative to save her damn-fool commander’s skin. Soz, Quiet.

In my defence – the interface with which this is done is incredibly obtuse, and while I saw it mentioned the first time she joined me on a mission, I wasn’t given any explanation as to how it works, and nor could I find it. Turns out it happens via the main map, and you have to hit up or down on the D-pad to change how you interact with said map. Pick the right one and you can send Quiet to either scout out or attack anywhere in the area. It’s the same system you can use to call in various chopper support, in fact, but Quiet isn’t a helicopter, is she? Grumble moan.

However: this is what MGSV does best, isn’t it? It almost never tells you everything, and instead leaves you to find things out for yourself, often with delightful consequences. Whether it’s creating phallic emblems for your base, redesigning your weapons or playing as a completely different character (including the option to be a woman), there’s a whole bunch of things in here which are either hidden or so poorly explained that they might as well be hidden. This means one can suddenly find a brand new toy in a game we thought we knew inside out: glorious.

So, all change. Now my problem is that Quiet is terrifyingly efficient, and if I so wish she can leave me with almost nothing to do other than wander into a base full of sleeping men and fulton away anyone who looks interesting. It’s half amazing and half tedious. I do feel like a bit of a baddass, but it’s entirely unwarranted because Quiet’s the hero here.

Thing is, this too is changing the way I play – with man-shooting no longer much of a challenge, my attention is turning to all those tank, walker and helicopter missions and side ops I’d been steadily avoiding until now. Even Quiet can’t tranquillise a tank. So I’m in there with my EMP mines and my smoke grenades, having to get into the heart of incredibly dangerous battle while she hangs back and picks off any non-vehicular stragglers. I’m ballooning tanks into the sky while she tranquilises anyone who might try to shoot down its fulton. What a team.

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Alec Meer

Senior Editor

Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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