Metal Gear Solid V: Fobbed Off

Oh God suddenly my private desert adventure is a PvP game in which other players can invade my base and steal my stuff and my men at any time. THIS WASN’T WHAT I SIGNED UP FOR HELP HELP

I refer, of course, to Forward Operating Bases, a system introduced around halfway into MGSV [official site] which on the one hand enables you to massively expand your base and staff roster – vital to researching the higher-grade weapons and tools – but on the other flings open the doors to unwelcome visitations from other players. It’s a faintly traumatic switcheroo after, in my case, dozens of hours of playing within my own little (well, pretty bloody big) walled garden, but it also suddenly introduces a great many new things to do and manage. There are alternative (and important) uses for items you might otherwise have broadly ignored, it turns the somewhat sterile base into something with more purpose, and it introduces a sense of consequence and loss that is missing from the ‘oh well, try again’ main missions.

At least, that’s the case for my early forays into FOB invasions. I am a little concerned it might turn into a desperate grind before too long, and that if I don’t put enough effort, pretend money and soldiers into it I’m going to be stuck on a back foot, because now my game has enabled FOBs, I’m going to get repeatedly invaded whether I’m online or not.

It’s been stressful already. Initially, building my first FOB – which is free, thank God – meant the 200-odd soldiers who’d been hanging around my main base’s Waiting Room for weeks cleared out and set up a level 20 Security Force over in my new sub-domain. Great, I might not be immediatley screwed after all. Then I did the whole ‘Reassign Staff’ thing, which automatically moves everyone in your employ into the roles which best suit them, at which point the game decided almost everyone in said Security Force would be more useful in the FOB’s R&D, Support, Intel and Medical Platforms. This meant a whole lot of new research projects unlocked at once, which was excellent news, but also left me with just two men in my Security team.

A visitation to my own FOB confirmed that, yes, for now anyone who arrived there could just walk straight into the magic room at its centre and make off with whoever and whatever. Though, hopefully, the fact that I have almost no whoever at my FOB means there’s no-one to nab. Swings, roundabouts.

So, my first priority is to abduct yet another small army’s worth of men to fill up the FOB, which in turn will level up the security force enough for me to research various anti-theft gizmos. I am, by now, extremely accomplished at abducting men (and, very occasionally, women – be it Afghanistan or Angola, almost the entire military populace is, unfortunately, male. So, in turn, is my own base. And don’t give me that ‘just reflecting 1980s reality’ nonsense about a game with giant robot dinosaur things, teleporting zombie mist-soldiers and attaching tanks to balloons, eh?), so in theory that’s no problem whatsoever. A few side ops and my waiting room will once again runneth over. But, seeing as we’re here, let’s do the whole eye for an eye thing. Time to invade someone else’s base and see what I can steal.

The first time I did this, I felt horribly guilty throughout, and like an absolute monster when the victory screen revealed that I’d successfully made off with 17 of the unseen, unknown player’s staff, plus assorted resources and a couple of mounted guns. I imagined myself dropping back into the game after a day or two off and being presented with a message like that. I can’t pretend I know all but a couple of my staff by name or even by face, let alone exactly what their skills are, but the idea that they could be stolen in the night, to work loyally for some other guy with a horn in his forehead, feels like a strange sort of meaningless violation. The forwarding operating base isn’t my base-base, but it is a close replica of it, and everyone who works on it is there because I battled them and then evacuated them. It’s my hard work being kicked over by someone else. It’s someone else’s hard work I’m kicking over. What an ingeniously evil system this is.

My own FOB hasn’t been invaded yet, but now I’ve done five successful FOB invasions and my anonymous targets have been informed about it, and who did it. Now I have rivals. Now people will be coming for me, wanting revenge, wanting to take men to restaff their emptied FOBs. Payback is coming. But I can’t stop. Suddenly, there is a limitless new supply of soldiers out there, and which I don’t need to cross deserts and plains to reach. The temptation is too great. My hand’s going straight back into that cookie jar full of stubbly men.

What price will I pay for it? Already, I have lost several FOB missions in a row when I got cocky, which cost me a small fortune in GMP, and failed to obtain me the men I required. My money will run out if I keep doing this unsuccessfully. I could have achieved so much more by simply coasting around the desert; the consequences of failure are so much less. But so is the quality of the staff. Risk/reward. The tension of a FOB invasion handily beats the missions now.

The invasions entertain me, and demand that I do better, that I lose some of the bad habits I picked up in the desert, when I had Quiet to clean up my mistakes. A slew of new numbers denoting various online ranks I’m achieving (or losing) as a result of my actions and inaction, on the other hand, worries me deeply. I’ve praised MGSV before because it does so much better a job than most sandbox action games at providing these flexible, often chaotic combat vignettes instead of becoming about box-ticking and number-watching, but that has shifted.

I was already in a min-maxing loop when it came to the procurment of men, determined to push R&D level as high as it would go, and now the game is throwing all these new numbers and meters at me – MB Coins, Espionage Points, PF grades, more FOBs, more upgrades to FOBs, more tools and weapons with which to defend them. Everything to chase, so many that it all starts to become meaningless; the world of the game drips away as the thin, all-too-familiar pursuit of escalated digits takes over. I appreciate the heightened danger, and the cheekiness, of FOB invasions, but I hope they won’t be essential to completing the game – whatever completing it even means, given it is reportedly unfinished to some degree – because they might rob it of its spirit.

Metal Gear Solid V, are you still mine? Or are you about to become a hamster wheel?

50 Comments

  1. Morte66 says:

    Can you just turn the multiplayer off and ignore it?

    • KDR_11k says:

      Yes but the FOB grants a significant advantage (e.g. higher resource incomes, bigger teams) which you lose completely.

      • draglikepull says:

        Unless there’s been a patch since I finished the game that changed this, I don’t think that’s true. I built the free tutorial FOB, then just never logged in to the online portion of the game, and my staff size remained increased.

        • Minglefingler says:

          You will keep your higher staff limits if you disconnect but if you want to upgrade your FOB (which works just like expanding Mother Base) then you need to be online. Also there are dispatch missions that work in real time that you can’t access whilst offline.

          • Mokinokaro says:

            To be fair, the online dispatch missions aren’t worth bothering with. They’re 10x the length with a fifth of the reward of the offline ones, usually.

          • thebigJ_A says:

            They’re not ten times the length. If you aren’t playing, they’re infinitely faster. They go whether the game’s on or not. You can be at work or on vacation away from gaming and they’re ticking away, while that two hour standard op is two hours of actual unpaused playtime.

  2. McDan says:

    As someone who couldn’t afford the game and was looking into getting it at some point next year, it’s this multiplayer invader component that would seem like it might put people off? The idea of starting to go through the main game, and then having much higher level people invade my FOB when I have pretty much no idea what’s going on is a bit off-putting. Unless there is a way as, as asked above, to turn it off?

    • Ringwraith says:

      Yeah, you can force it offline, or presumably just not bother with putting anything on it.

    • David Bliff says:

      You’ll also probably be several dozen hours into the game by the time you unlock FOBs so it won’t feel like you’re getting stomped on out the gate

    • arcijs26 says:

      There won’t be any higher level enemies attacking your FOB because there are FOB ranks. You start your FOB with lowest rank and can be attacked by the same rank players

    • Premium User Badge

      Qazinsky says:

      Every time you start the game, you get the standard “Do you accept these terms and conditions?” Accept/Decline screen. If you decline that, it will ask if you want to start in Offline mode or quit, it’s pretty much just one more click to start the game in offline.

    • Bforceny says:

      There has to be some sort of matchmaking, even something basic like matching playtime length between accounts would do the trick…

  3. Xantonze says:

    Could’nt be bothered with the pvp, so I didn’t invade anyone. As a result, nobody invaded me.

    So I wouldn’t be too worried about this part of the game: you can just ignore it if you want, and you won’t get screwed.
    (if you’re afraid, you can spend some GMP to raise the protection level of your FOB and make it even harder for people to invade.)

    Also, your FOB brings you some materials et al. More than you can lose with the invasions, if I’m not mistaken.

  4. Sascha23 says:

    FYI: I played through the campaign and loads of side-ops (70+ hours) and finished without being forced to have my base invaded, aside from the mandatory tutorial one. As long as you focus on Mother Base and not build your FOBs, the game leaves you be. ;)

  5. Sui42 says:

    Among people with FOBs, I think the vast majority of players simply don’t invade anyone, and just use the system in a passive way. So there’s a skewed ratio, meaning that you don’t really get invaded that often.

    I’ve got around 20 successful infiltrations, and roughly the same amount of botched attempts, but I’ve only been invaded 4 times and not one of those has been successful.

    Loving the FOB system though. It kind of makes up for the unfinished story and crappy Mother Base building. I don’t really enjoy it for the stat-building (although, if you invade someone’s “base development” deck you can steal a SHITLOAD of resources, way more than you could get in any singleplayer base) – but rather, I just enjoy it because you get to interact with another player by invading and exploring their digital world. For that alone, it’s fantastic, and makes MGSV into a sort of semi-MMO. I just wish you could actually customise the bases a bit more, and lay traps yourself, rather than having them auto-placed.

    • Leonick says:

      This is in line with what I’ve seen. I haven’t bothered to infiltrate anyone (the times I considered it something was up with the matchmaking, gave me very high level FOBs) and I’ve never been invaded.

      • Minglefingler says:

        Nor me but I logged in tonight and read that there will be rewards for successful invasions as part of an event starting soon so the number of invasions my increase. I also noticed that you can pay real money to speed up online dispatch missions, I had been wondering why the offline variants had been consistently lowering the percentage likelihood of success.

        • Cederic says:

          Sigh. I was looking forward to buying and playing this game. If it’s constructed to require RL cash to progress at a sensible pace then I’ll skip it – there are plenty of other games out there.

          • Premium User Badge

            FrostByghte says:

            “Sigh. I was looking forward to buying and playing this game. If it’s constructed to require RL cash to progress at a sensible pace then I’ll skip it – there are plenty of other games out there.”

            I have at least 40 hours into this thing and I haven’t even seen a forward operating base yet nor have I paid one DIME of additional money. You can focus on side missions, run around and randomly explore or push the game with primary missions. Not any of these things requires additional money.

            This is one of the best open world type games I have ever played and I am really enjoying it. I’d rank it up with Shadow of Mordor and I think the crazy story makes the game even more enjoyable.

          • xyzg says:

            Yes, don’t buy it. There’s plenty of other games you can buy and play instead.

  6. FecesOfDeath says:

    So, it’s basically a stealth-based Clash of Clans.

  7. Robert Post's Child says:

    Having observed plenty of FOB raiding over the shoulder of roommate-who-actually-owns-the-game, my impression was that it was something you could mess around with but once you got bored wouldn’t require constant attention. Basically, build up enough stuff that you have a buffer to sustain losses if you feel it’s necessary, but it’s never going to limit playing the rest of the game.

  8. OmNomNom says:

    It always was a hamster wheel

    • thebigJ_A says:

      That’s fine, because I’ve got these 6,000 gerbils with nothing to do.

  9. wormroom says:

    It’s one of the few situations in a stealth game where the person who designed the level doesn’t want you to figure out the smart route. There isn’t a convenient vent that will take you right to your intel, and every side path means having to expose yourself or trick the guards into looking the other way.

    But then that 3rd UAV that you didn’t see shows up and starts an alert and it all goes to heck. But holy moly let me tell you – after hours of failure I’m starting to pull off perfect nuke heists and boy do they feel good.

    • Plake says:

      This method doesn’t work anymore since at least 1 week. The option to “go offline” is only available when in the ACC…

      • Joga says:

        Hmm, the option is still there for me (just taken a moment ago):
        link to i.imgur.com

        I can switch between online and offline mode freely at any time, whether in the ACC or on the ground.

        In order for the FOB trick to work, you just have to avoid using the iDroid while in the ACC in online mode. When you continue the game, just pause first and disconnect before selecting a mission.

  10. ThomasHL says:

    Considering they created female character models, and recorded a lot of female voiced barks for them _just_ so that the prisoners can be male or female, I think “1980’s military” is a legitimate excuse for the lack of female soldiers.

    What keeps Metal Gear Solid from just being a load of random youtube rubbish is the insane commitment to reality and detail in _some_ parts of a game with mistwalking zombies and ballooning men. If the sheep were all polkadot and floated on rainbows, ballooning them away wouldn’t be as fun.

    It’s like the previous games were fine with having a literal vampire (called Vamp), but then would spend ages explaining exactly how the slide on Snake’s gun worked and devote stretches of cutscene to making sure he held it in a proper military fashion.

    • ThomasHL says:

      *So that prisoners can be male and female and be recruited to work in your base as soliders.

    • heliotropecrowe says:

      This is my taste in games too. I find diversity is great in contexts where it makes sense but too often it seems somewhat shoe-horned in. As the article pointed out the game already asks you to suspend quite a lot of disbelieve, while still trying to remain grounded.

      This actually contributed to why I loved Mass Effect and really didn’t care for Dragon Age. The diversity and inclusiveness on show in the Mass Effect games made perfect sense in the setting while in Dragon Age efforts to include it stretched the setting to breaking point at times, especially when it tried to also play with tropes dealing with sexism.

      I always felt Mount and Blade took the right approach to female player characters in a setting where they are treated far less than equally. Other lords react in shock to even see a female adventurer and treat the player disrespectfully, as might be expected given their pre-existing prejudices. However, a female character will find it much easier to make a name for herself. After all, men leading warbands around hitting bandits with swords are ten a penny but a women doing it. That’s going to make a splash in medieval Calradia.

      • Cederic says:

        I installed a mod that removed the anti-female sexism.

        It had an accidental side effect; I ended up in a lesbian marriage.

        • heliotropecrowe says:

          Did you reply to the wrong comment or something? I mean I wish yourself and your wife all the best but I can’t see the connection to what I wrote.

    • turth says:

      /Compares the unrealistic nature of female soldiers in the 1980s to polka dot sheep. LMAO

      This is a game with giant mecha robots that can make stalagmites burst out of the ground but having female soldiers would be too unrealisitic for the 1980s setting? lol

  11. racccoon says:

    This is really weird, I watched so many vids & read lot here about it and love it, + I am a fan of days gone by, but, I’m still going wait a bit longer..lol

  12. Sin Vega says:

    How do they explain these missions in-game, then? I get that you kidnap guards from the desert bases and brainwash them into worshipping Big Boss, so what’s the deal here? Are the poor bastards suddenly exposed to dozens of False Boss characters, helplessly caught up in a cycle of kidnapping, indoctrination and worship until they finally spot the one true Big Boss, but because they’ve seen him, he has to shoot them?

    Also, my first thought (well, after the initial “aaaargh no no no no no GET THESE FILTHY HUMANS OUT OF MY GAME”): can you do something nice? Is it possible to invade someone else’s base, sneak all the way to their inner sanctum, then deposit a selection of milk chocolates and leave again? Because it really, really should be.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Molydeux? Is that you?

    • Y2Kafka says:

      So… take their stuff and leave cookies? Like a reverse Santa Cause?

    • Kodaemon says:

      The explanation given is that the other guy is a leader of a similar, rival private military. Apparently, more of those sprung up after the fall of the original Mother Base, NOT led by Big Boss.

    • Kodaemon says:

      Also, I haven’t tried it, but apparently you *can* have allies, share resources etc.

  13. Toadsmash says:

    Having 50 hours logged in this game without having even unlocked FOBs yet scares me.

    MGS has some hamster wheel mechanics in it, but the sandbox is so beautifully flexible that there are a million ways to play the game without beginning to touch the more abusive aspects of the “gotta catch em all” type gameplay.

    • saturnine says:

      I get this—I’m 64 hours in, only on mission 20 right now, and the completion percentage is at 30%. There’s something so satisfying about going on a string of side ops and the numerous ways in which it’s possible to accomplish one. That, and chasing the S-ranks/side objectives after the mission reward’s back to white.

  14. Van.Demogogh says:

    The ideal way of implementing this could be that the FOB part was a mobile game without the invasion with the benefits going off to the main game. On a side point I hated when this part of the came along, felt as if my privacy was breached.

  15. GiantPotato says:

    Hm, is there a good reason for that? Or is it just another instance of a game wanting its players to be online because Social Games Are Fun?

  16. Enso says:

    Another online feature is the fantasy league tables. Each week your base is pitched against a group of others in simulated invasions. At the end of the week your position in the table is converted into point which you can then redeem for resources and A+++ soldiers. Theres absolutely no risk of losing a thing.

  17. jhk655 says:

    Its not that big of a deal dude.

    1: you can keep your game in offline mode forever, essentially breaking the FOB part of the game.

    2:Invasions aren’t all that common, and they are even less common if you refrain from invading others.

    3:If you support a lot of fellow players, chances are they will support you back, increasing the number of players available to defend your base when you’re offline

    4:You can lock your best guys to keep them from being stolen.

    Stop crying and either play the game that was designed for you, or play something else.

  18. Razumen says:

    This actually is pretty interesting to me, especially since it’s optional and doesn’t take away from the main game. I have one question though, is it possible for you to witness an invasion? I assume you would only be alerted if they set off an alarm, but what if you’re in your FOB at the time?

    • Toadsmash says:

      This can happen, but in practice is EXTREMELY rare. Even if you spend a lot of time invading other people’s bases, being on the receiving end is quite rare, and if you don’t go on the offensive very often, those attacks become exponentially moreso because one of the main mechanisms for getting smacked around is showing up on someone’s list for “revenge” attacks after you invade them. Don’t attack other people and you won’t make any rivals. And as others have stated, if you don’t want to deal with other players at all, just go to offline mode. Your FOB can still get attacked (that is expressly by design given the whole point of FOBs from a mechanical standpoint is to give you cheap base expansion and increased profits while having to stick your neck out to hold onto them), but you’re never mandated to participate in its defense.

  19. mgsv player says:

    I have (as of last night) made about 102 successful FOB invasions – and have been attacked 10-12 times.

    I think the thing that no one has caught on to yet is…..

    Play the game with online disconnected – back up your saved data before you go online – if you have been attacked whilst away and had all your people/resources stolen all you need to do is quit game, transfer your save data from usb or online back to your console and fire the game up again – you get notified of the succesful/failed attack but any staff or resources originally stolen will be back on your FOB – sure beats paying MB for insurance.