MGSV: The Phantom Pain Is Making It Too Easy For Me

I expected MGSV: The Phantom Pain [official site] to be punishing – the kind of stealth game that stuck you with insurmountable challenges the second you stepped out of the shadows or were spotted. These expectations were born of what I assumed previous Metal Gear Solid games were, based on struggling through the first on PSone as a teenager, and based on the slavish praise they received from what I assumed were more skillful players than me.

I was initially relieved, then, when The Phantom Pain turned out to be accommodating. But after twenty hours of play, I’m much more surprised to find myself feeling so far towards the other direction. The Phantom Pain is too easy.

It started with D-Dog. Initially, my efforts to scout and infiltrate bases would be occasionally sent awry when I’d round a corner and be caught by a previously unseen guard. This would trigger reflex mode, still giving me enough time to rectify the situation, but it would also often cause a domino effect of alerted guards and clumsy clean-up. This was part of the excitement.

Now this never happens because D-Dog is there to detect anyone nearby, even when they’re around corners or inside buildings. With him by my side, I can often pick routes from one side of a base to the other and then sprint, full-pelt, among buildings and watchtowers to get where I’m going.

It got worse when I unlocked Quiet. I like the idea of being covered by a sniper, who I can order to shoot in order to get me out of jams, but Quiet’s ability to spot enemies and her perfect aim mean that it often feels like I’m not needed at all. At least D-Dog would sometimes be overwhelmed by enemies and need to balloon out; Quiet’s position on a nearby clifftop seems to put her out of reach of the enemy AI in most instances. And if they do manage to shoot her, she can teleport to a new location without me needing to ask.

I know there are harder missions to come which will limit your options in certain ways, but I’ve been playing large swathes of the game without breaking a sweat so far. It’s making the experience feel emptier than I would like.

Of course, the real problem here might be me: faced with an easier path, I’m unable to avoid taking it. The Phantom Pain gives you umpteen ways to make the game harder for yourself but I lack the willpower to take any of them. I could decide, for example, to never settle for anything less than S-Ranks; I could resolve to play non-lethally; I could leave the buddies back at base entirely. I could even play as characters with less resilience or speed than Big Boss, turn off Reflex mode in options, and bring with me only unsilenced or slow or inaccurate or weak weapons on sorties.

But I’m finding I’m not particularly good at setting these boundaries for myself. I recently completed a mission which (no spoilers) required me to tail one man to another, then eliminate both of them. I decided to add spice to the challenge by extracting rather than killing them, which required finding a way to get close to them before they escaped and under the noses of the many guards which surrounded them. I tried to do this again and again by sneaking, by tranquilising, by approaching from different sides, before deciding that I should probably make use of the full set of tools at my disposal.

Here’s me doing it with a cardboard box – this video is brief, so again shouldn’t be a spoiler:

I was forced to come up with a new tactic because this wasn’t in a base, and so Quiet couldn’t be asked to snipe from nearby, but I still managed to take out around 12 enemies by standing still inside a box and a poster attached to it. It was funny, but I still feel a sense of dissatisfaction because I essentially fell back on using magic in order to solve a challenge that could have been overcome without it. Yet I lack the conviction to ignore the magic entirely and commit myself to an honest day’s work until I accomplish what I want.

I should stress: I’m not sure I’d change the game substantially to correct this. I suspect that if Metal Gear Solid was the hardcore game I assumed it would be, then I wouldn’t be enjoying it nearly as much. I suspect if the difficulty was ramping up – via more mechs or more enemies and less player progression – then I might eventually find it tedious rather than satisfying. I think, at most, I’d like there to be more menu options for outright ripping certain parts of the game out so I can’t lazily fall back upon them, or a harder difficulty mode that does the same.

(P.S. Probably what I want is this Hardcore mod, which Alice wrote about after this article was originally published).

This article was originally exclusive to the RPS Supporter Program. Thanks for your funding!


  1. ablindpoet says:

    Just don’t play with reflex mode, Quiet, or D-Dog.

    • ablindpoet says:

      Oh yeah, and there’s also a mod to ramp up the difficulty.

    • candeljack42 says:

      Alternatively set reflex to whatever you want and disable marking: enjoy D-Dog no longer being totally OP, just a cool buddy you can send in to knock out, wound, fulton dudes for ya

    • thinkforaminute says:

      It’s never the player’s fault that they’re playing the game optimally.

      • Hyomoto says:

        You are simply mistaking the issue. EV training could be argued as the ‘optimal’ way to play Poke’mon and yet most people will gladly walk on by because they don’t find it fun. I played the way Graham did for about twenty hours, enjoyed it too, but here’s the difference: it’s Graham’s job.

        It could be said his job demands he find optimal ways to play and maximize his time so he can also write articles such as these, whereas I can truly do whatever I want, whenever I please because I play the game for nothing more than entertainment. It’s important to take any opinion with a grain of salt, at the end of the day you and Graham have a distinctly different experience when it comes to gaming.

      • draglikepull says:

        The optimal way to play a game is the one that the player finds most fun, not the one that’s most efficient (unless efficiency is what the player most enjoys).

  2. eggy toast says:

    People always say video game reviewers are terrible at playing video games, and now even a video game reviewer himself is saying it.

    • hungrycookpot says:

      RPS tends to double down on this particular trope.

      • noodlecake says:

        But they make up for it by having good taste and being able to appreciate creativity, originality and video games’ artistic merit, which is something that is missing from a lot of video game sites where reviews are very dry and seemingly written by people who wouldn’t know creativity if it beat them around the head.

  3. Ootmians says:

    Eh. I like that the game gives you so many options for completing each mission and task. A nice change after so many ultra-linear games. Just because there’s an easy route doesn’t mean you need to take it, if you’re not so inclined.

  4. koeklimas says:

    Not only is it too easy, it’s also repetitive, the story is bland and unfinished, ocelot acts more like a body double, who knows what he has been smoking. Seriously, if it turned out that while on mother base he acquired a cannabis addiction, I’d sure buy it. He is too relaxed or whatever.

    Reviewers wrote this was not the best metal gear where they should have written this is actually the worst metal gear.

    • jhk655 says:

      A cannabis addiction? What the fuck are you talking about?

      • koeklimas says:

        Well he is just off. He is nothing like young or old ocelot. And young and old ocelot had many things in common. They were both sadists with a passion for guns and big boss and they were total cunts to characters they didnt like or trust. Now there is all the reason to mistrust Quiet and Miller. Heck! They even talk about it! In MGSV ocelot is just a nice guy. If Ocelot is one thing he is never a nice guy. He is too relaxed in this game.

        Basically this game feels like unfinished fan fiction.

    • noodlecake says:

      I can see how you might think that if you’re a staunch Metal Gear Solid fan and love the plot, but as an actual game, with it’s mechanics and freedom to approach things exactly how you want it’s an excellent stand alone video game. You could play it through from start to finish so many times and have a completely different approach each time.

      I imagine a lot of people find the frequency and length of the cutscenes in older Metal Gear Solid games obtrusive and obnoxious, particularly when the voice actng is so cheesy and the whole thing has this kitschiness to it.

      I didn’t! I loved the first three MGS games, which I had on the PSX/2. I fell in love with the world, and the plot and the characters despite the bad acting and it being a cheesefest. I cried at the end of MGS 3.

      I also love MGS:PP, although the plot and the characters don’t interest me in the slightest. It does have a lot of moments that had my heart pumping, like when you meet the big giant mech thing for the first time, and even the bits with the stupid fire guy on the horse and the ridiculous jedi dude with the gas mask.

      I mainly love it for it’s gameplay mechanics. I love how it’s just a big sandbox. I love it’s sense of humour. I just don’t really see it as a real sequel to those older games. I missed MGS4 as I stopped owning consoles, so maybe that bridges the gap in styles somehow.

      • koeklimas says:

        To be fair, the game was marketed as the game that was finally going to explain why big boss turned evil but in fact had a very inconsistent story with very inconsistent characters. I loved the story in older games. I loved figuring out what was going on. There is nothing of what makes mgs’s story great in mgsv.

        Now for the gameplay, the open world is holding the game back. The maps are completely empty filled with unscalable mountains, that have you walk around them for minutes on end. This means that for every minute you have gameplay you are spending 1 minute getting there. It seriously bores the hell out of me. There is no means of fast travel; the chopper takes ages and the box has you collect barcodes all over the map.

        The missions are incredibly repetitive, there are no interesting buildings to infiltrate as all the bases are just single level industrial areas.

        Overall, it’s just way worse designed.

        Mgs3 had tons of variety!

        • noodlecake says:

          Well I heartily disagree! It’s the most fun I’ve had with a video game in terms of pure gameplay in a long long time. It just didn’t click with you, obviously, and you’re contriving reasons to assert your minority opinion as objective fact.

        • noodlecake says:

          Also there are a couple of means of fast travel. Cardboard box delivery thingies and the helicopter.

          You can also get to places pretty fast using D-Horse.

  5. sansenoy says:

    You can set quiet into an ATTACK position, they are everywhere, not just in outposts, she won’t open fire unless ordered…

  6. David Bliff says:

    Actually I suspect you may be getting close to the point where the game does start getting harder, and not just by limiting your options. Guards get night vision goggles, more comrades per outpost, and heavy armor around mid-game, and many will begin resisting hold-ups too. That was a nasty surprise.

  7. JCJensen says:

    Heh, you play with markers and reflex mode, and complain that it’s too easy. Without those noob features, it’s a whole new ball game, where you have to carefully plan your every move. Seriously, turn off markers & reflex if you want the best stealth experience..

  8. Synesthesia says:

    Yes, it is too easy. I think that’s part of why it’s so much fun. Tom francis has a great little write up on that:

    link to

    • draglikepull says:

      Yeah, I really like that piece by Francis. One of the topics that’s really interesting to me is failure states. In a lot of games there’s only one failure state: you die and go back to a checkpoint. But in MGS5 there’s a spectrum of failure states.

      A lot of people like me try to play the MGS games in perfect stealth. Getting discovered is a failure to me. I also try to play without any kills (although I stuck less to that in MGS5 than the previous ones); that’s another failure state. And so on.

      On D-Dog in particular, I think the way he marks enemies is actually cool. The game in general starts off by giving you things that are really time-consuming (collecting small quantities of minerals, marking enemies, etc.) and then as the game goes on, it gives you tools to minimise the busy-work. Very smart design, IMO. Much better than games like Dragon Age: Inquisition where even after you start running a small kingdom, you still have to do all the grunt work yourself.

      As Francis says, instead of having a “difficulty” option when you start the game, there’s a range of difficulties built right into the experience. To me that’s really clever game design.

      • noodlecake says:

        I agree!

        And you can kind of change your difficulty on the fly! I’ll start out a mission trying to be stealthy and non-lethal and then sometimes I’ll just think “fuck it!” and get out a sniper rifle and execute 15 people from a guard tower 1km away. Sometimes I’ll be playing stealthy and I’ll get spotted by a passing vehicle and the OCD me wants to restart the mission, but I know I’ll have just as much fun throwing that out. You can set your own goals and rules.

        I’m sure I’ll go back and redo lots of missions in all kinds of different ways.

        • OmNomNom says:

          You can make Doom harder by not using any guns too

          • noodlecake says:

            You can! But it’s obvious that MGS: Phantom Pain was designed with this in mind, and that Doom was not. Now you’re just being difficult.

      • TheAngriestHobo says:

        “On D-Dog in particular, I think the way he marks enemies is actually cool.”

        Thank you for not elaborating further. I haven’t played the game, and I’m pretty sure what I’m imagining is funnier than the truth.

  9. Bull0 says:

    I mean, Big Boss is meant to be a legendary soldier – not an average guy who stumbles his way through life. As others have said, if you want a tougher time you can turn off reflex mode and leave DD on the chopper (I find him to be miles more useful than Quiet).

    • koeklimas says:

      Yeah a legendary soldier shouldnt have to depend on a dog or a naked sniper…
      And by making the game too easy you risk that the player won’t take big boss serious anymore as a legendary soldier. If the game is hard and you make your way through the challenges you feel like a big boss but when it’s easy…

    • Javier says:

      A legendary soldier who lost twice to a rookie armed with a hairspray can and a lighter.

      • koeklimas says:

        You mean solid snake? His bioengineered indoctrinated clone?

  10. cairbre says:

    Now graham it’s sounds like you are complaining for the sake of it. I think you know that thou. You admit you can can make the game harder if you want but don’t want to. Let them eat cake I say.

  11. saturnine says:

    Just did the exact same mission, albeit creeping up to them with Quiet nearby, and the “Cover Me” option on. Tranq sniper from a distance, and tranq pistol close up took care of the main group. For some reason the two reinforcements locked on to Quiet, who was at a handy position nearby.

  12. Strabo says:

    Towards the end of chapter 1 that mode of playing (which I used too) gets pretty hard, because soldiers start to run around in full riot gear with shotguns and rocket launchers, meaning your tranq play is pretty much countered. You need to adapt, and the only way for Quiet is using the Anti-Materiel Rifle for that. Still not a hard game later on, but it’s not like it stays the same all the way through.

    • koeklimas says:

      The difficulty that is achieved this way doesn’t come from the ‘game’ but from the inability to your tranq rounds. It’s basically a fake way of making the game harder. Difficulty should have been increased by better AI. They should put in some effort to find you, which they don’t. Why are there no search teams? Why don’t they see me when I lie in front of them? Maybe more enemies, or give them more tools to find the player. If anything, this game doesn’t feel current gen. The AI doesn’t represent the current state of technology…

      (I realize I am starting to dominate this thread, but I am really disappointed with this game so I feel that I should :P)

      • candeljack42 says:

        I don’t really see the guards wearing more advanced gear as “fake difficulty.” Riot gear really only makes two things unusable: the tranq pistol and the tranq sniper. So just use the other tools the game gives you. It just forces you to shake up the routine a bit. You can’t headshot the guy and drop him instantly nonlethally like you can most other guards, but there are SO many other ways to take him out calling it “fake difficulty” is laughable.

        Riot gear offers NO protection AT ALL against:
        CQC, the rocket fist, the stun fist, sleep grenades, stun grenades, smoke grenades, electrified decoy trap, stunsuit D-Dog, being tackled (in or out of cardboard box), being held up (including the CQC disarm move),

        These are just the options I could think up off the top of my head, and even then only the nonlethal ones.

        • koeklimas says:

          Ok fair point. BUt for some reason I do feel the AI is toned down. I remember being in trouble all the time in MGS3 as search teams would look for me everywhere. This is not the case in MGSV

          • candeljack42 says:

            I agree and disagree with you. I’d say that the soldiers in V search for you as aggressively, and over as large (or larger) an area, as those in Snake Eater.

            Thing is, V’s open world nature means it’s quite easy to just leave this radius and go somewhere else, whereas that was impossible in 3. Though I do enjoy that nearby bases get alerted, you are right: if you are willing to leave a base entirely, alert phases aren’t too scary. It is sometimes fun to roll with them and just go guns blazing in response to an alert, though (even if those guns are blazing with rubber).

            It should also be noted that as your heroism levels go up, guards react faster, search more efficiently, communicate better, and are generally more wary, and that this increase does not cap until your Heroism hits around level 120,000-150,000, which could take some time (for reference mine is around 130,000: I have spent 130 hours in the game, beaten every main mission including the sekrit ones, and done most side-ops)

          • SHADOWLEXX says:

            How did you accumulate 130k Heroism in 130h?
            Im not finisched with the story or side missions and i have 270k Heroism. And im losing thousands of Heroism Points every day thanks to killing sprees in FOBs.

            You certainly did something wrong.

      • candeljack42 says:

        (also just as a side note, I feel it’s safe to assume you’re playing on PC due to the website we’re speaking on: I definitely agree with one of your points: it is dumb how close you have to be for an enemy to see you while prone. I recommend the Hardcore mod, the item and damage changes are optional, if you want there is a version the nexus that just increases guard vision ranges by 50-100%)

        • koeklimas says:

          I didn’t know heroism made the game harder. I didn’t notice it yet… I’ll have a look at my heroism.

          For the same reason it would explain why I found ground zeroes better than TPP. The AI fitted better in the confined space that GZ had.

          (Actually, I am playing on ps3. Upgrading to ps4 would have been a mistake and my laptop can only handle most 2d Indies. I am here because this site is pretty cool. The reviewers seem honest and people actually discuss here instead of flaming.)

  13. candeljack42 says:

    It really is this simple: disable marking and reflex. There are people out there who will accuse we who have disabled these options of being “masochistic” or whatever, or cry out that the game was balanced around these two settings and would be annoyingly difficult without it. This is not the case.

    I can’t make a direct comparison as I never played with marking and reflex on. I disabled both before I started my game and never enabled them. So I never got used to them, or came to rely on them, and I found a challenging stealth game. Still not the hardest game I’ve ever played or anything like that, but the thought of playing with marking on kind of grosses me out. Not being able to see enemies through walls makes the game far more satisfying and will probably really help you resolve your worry that the game is too easy.

    • candeljack42 says:

      Just throwing this out there and saying its worth a try. This is my first comment on this site and everywhere else I’ve recommended this people tend to accuse me of either “bragging” about playing with these settings off or just being addicted to failure. The game is entirely playable with these off.

      If you need to choose one to disable: disable marking. Marking is more broken than reflex mode and totally changes the tone of the game. Reflex is a bit of a crutch, but that’s all it is: a second chance when you get caught. Marking on the other hand completely changes the way the game plays and feels, for the worse.

      • koeklimas says:

        Hmm I’ll try turning marking off. I didnt know you could. I wish reflex could deplete though. I mean I can literally take out a whole squad with it by letting them see me one at a time. Reflex creates a situation in which being seen actually makes the game easier than trying to sneak by as you have 5 seconds to line up the shot.

        • candeljack42 says:

          I play with reflex and marking off, always have (marking is an option under display settings, so a lot of people miss it). Expect the game to be frustrating for some time after you turn off marking, but then you’ll get used to it and realize how much more satisfying and real everything feels with it off.

          Yeah, reflex is lame like that. If this helps with your decision to turn it off: that lag in between getting detected and the soldier setting off an alarm is STILL there with reflex off: it just isn’t in slow motion. If a soldier near you spots you, even with reflex off, you often have time to dive into him, tackling him to the ground and stopping him from setting off an alarm. If he’s farther away, you can still quickly headshot him, or (with lethal rounds or rubber bullets) put one in his gut, staggering him and giving you enough time to close the distance and CQC.

          You have a little over a full second or two from the !!! noise to an actual alert being triggered. You can use it well, even with reflex off.

    • candeljack42 says:

      An important note! Most people who have never tried turning marking off would not know this, and knowing it might help people decide to turn it off.

      With marking disabled, you no longer see people walking around in the game space, thru walls, etc. But you still “mark” people, and they DO still appear on your idroid, which you can shrink down to a little minimap style thing in the right hand corner, which you can check while navigating bases. So it’s not like turning off marking makes you blind to enemies in your area: you can still see each one and even the direction they are facing in your idroid. it just turns off your wallhax

      • zarthrag says:

        So, bascially – iDroid = Soiliton Radar from the MG games before and after. I like that! I may have to try this for my 2nd playthrough – along w/enhanced visibility.

    • noodlecake says:

      Would people cry that out at you? And if they did, why would you care? I might call you a masochist for doing that, because I would personally find that too tense to enjoy, but everybody is different and there is no right way to play a game except the one that is satisfying and enjoyable to that individual!

  14. John Easy says:

    Well I have to admit that I relate to that article. I as well can’t ignore all the possibilities offered by a game and it actually disappoints me whenever I decide to go-full stealth and see thousands of easier options along the way. And this not only for MGSV: games like Far Cry 4, Dishonored or Watchdogs can be blazed through without breaking a sweat. I don’t know… I don’t feel smart making things harder on purpose. What could be best is a game with different gameplay possibilities at a somewhat equal difficulty.

    Also most of the time when I unlock an item in MGSV I feel like it makes the game easier instead of introducing a new mechanism that will transform the game and require the player to think more carefully when facing new encounters. Now, I disabled the reflex option (I’m quite ok with that) but I hesitate to install the hardcore mod as I’m afraid it would screw up the global experience the devs expected the player to have. I’m just 20% into the game so I don’t know what’s coming. Harder missions or more powerful items?

    • candeljack42 says:

      Disable marking for sure. Disable reflex if you care too. Use all the items you like. The difficulty will smoothly ramp up: as your heroism score increases guards will see farther, become more paranoid, and react faster, while also increasing their numbers and loading up on sexy new gear like full body riot suits and LMGs. Just get used to marking off early on so you don’t struggle too much when you inevitably decide to turn it off like 50 hours in.

  15. Crimsoneer says:

    Relevant question – does anybody EVER use a weapon other than a silenced assault rifle and the tranq pistol?

    • candeljack42 says:

      I used exclusively that for the first 50 hours probably. But riot gear guys (and boredom) eventually may cause you to change your tactics.

      Recently I’ve been rolling with a silenced non-lethal shotgun and the tranq sniper as primaries, and a lethal pistol with AP rounds as my secondary.

      In love with the rocket fist but trying to get good with the hand of jehuty.

      • koeklimas says:

        I use c4 a lot to create diversions, works like a charm. When you’re cornered just blow up the c4 you out in a random place of the map and they forget they saw you instantly.

  16. Anguy says:

    I’m basically the opposite when playing stealth games. I have to admit that it’s sometimes hard to uphold the discipline to not kill anyone or whatever it is you are adding on top of the games difficulty, but it’s for once more rewarding and you also get more appreciation for the level design and overall game design.

    It starts way back with Thief 2, which I’m playing to this day with it’s excellent fanmissions, where there is a whole array of Ghosting rules (like Supreme Ghost where not even comments like “What was that?” are allowed). In no mission is it ever forbidden to not knock anyone out but it since it’s possible 90% of the time to progress without any knockouts it’s been a refreshing new style of play since I initially discovered those rules.

    Deus Ex HR and Dishonored are two more games from more recent times that did a great job to enable you to play in a nonlethal way (remarkable if you remember that Dishonored is an assassin simulator and you can finish the game without doing your job properly) and even to be able to truly ghost areas (albeit not the whole game).

    It needs some getting used to and it might even be sad that I’ve never used the rocket launcher in DXHR to blow something up or got to see all the horrific finishers in Dishonored but none of the games ever became particularly boring and thus rank pretty high on my “Games that are pretty good” list (Thief 2 might be in the top 3 though, still the best stealth game).

    I strongly urge everyone who struggles with a too easy stealth game to set limitations for yourself to get the fun up again. It doesn’t need to be something drastic just little notches that keep you on your toes instead of on autopilot.

  17. lupinewolf says:

    And that’s why I deactivated reflex mode. It was just enough to make the game challenging again. Also I can hear the classic MGS sound now!

  18. edna says:

    I haven’t played MGSV, but always turn off (or don’t use) the equivalent of marking. It always feels so completely artificial, whereby peeking around corners and understanding walk patterns becomes pointless. It just seems to remove the whole point of stealth.That is speaking as someone who is quite inclined to play games on less-than-hardest difficulty so that I can get through without too much frustration and repetition. It’s weird enough that one can always (except in Arma) sit in plain sight watching guards without them seeing you as long as you are slightly away from them or at a different level.

  19. Heliocentric says:

    I completed the NG+ of Ronin and realised that every tool the game laid out in front of me was essential to success, we are probably a console generation or two away from an realistic open world stealth game really being able to bring the brains required to challenge the player without ‘cheating’, but there are many brilliant less realistic stealth games which are thoughtfully made and don’t require you to cut yourself off at the kneecaps to get a satisfying stealth encounter.

    Not the Robots, Invisible Inc, Monaco and the above mentioned Ronin, if you are not especially needing a stealth game there are tens of dozens of games I could mention that offer meaningful challenge without you needing to “go find it” by hobbling yourself.

  20. Hitchslapped says:

    The thing is that even without reflex mode it rarely gets dangerous. Sure you get spotted more often without being able to resolve the situation through your magic time slowing device but then you start to let your guns do the talking and clear everything in a mile radius within a minute.

  21. Thulsa Hex says:

    I think part of the problem is also you’re rarely caught with your pants down. Like, if you start a mission with low-damage, non-lethal weapons, but then are faced with an attack chopper, there’s no, “oh crap, I gotta be careful now!” when you can simply go on Amazon Prime and order a rocket launcher at any point, with negligible cost to your resources or time.

    But, still! It’s a really cool feature, and totally in line with the Super Soldier Big Boss and His Unprecedented High-Tech Private Army side of the narrative. Like, you play MGS1 and are told he was a legend, and Outer Heaven was a military utopia. It’s entirely mythologised throughout the series, and MGSV is our chance to live that mythology. And yet. I go back and forth.

    I love the game, despite thinking it is indeed too easy by default. I also wouldn’t take any of the heavily-discussed features out, but do find myself wishing it was more balanced at times — again, by default. I’m over 100 hours in, as it stands, and not really inclined to fine tune my own experience at this point, since I’m nearly done. I trusted the game to have a difficulty curve that matched my acquisition of skills, but it kind of went in the opposite direction. This is definitely by design, which I respect, but isn’t in line with my personal preferences. And yet, I’m having a blast.

  22. wombat191 says:

    I gave up playing a bit in to chapter 2 for that exact reason, send quiet to the base or outpost you are going to. fulton everyone who is unconscious when you arrive thanks to her doing all the work.

    got to the point i was purposely landing in hot LZ’s just to have fun

    i do wonder how the game would go if the player tried to abide by the geneva convention
    – no hostage taking
    – no kidnapping
    – no tranq gear
    – no gas

    stuck with your default gear because you arent allowed to fulton anyone

    • noodlecake says:

      Just because you can, it doesn’t mean that you have to. You can play it as an all out action game if you want, or an all out stealth game. I’ve definitely had moments that make my bum clench when trying to be stealthy. Plus there’s the mod that makes it much more punishing.

    • noodlecake says:

      Ooops! That was meant to be a reply to a different comment, but I guess the point still stands. I’m never even going to try using Quiet if that’s what Quiet does.

  23. KenTWOu says:

    I expected MGSV: The Phantom Pain to be punishing – the kind of stealth game that stuck you with insurmountable challenges the second you stepped out of the shadows or were spotted… The Phantom Pain is too easy.

    I still don’t understand why people treat this game as a proper stealth game. It’s a stealth action where you can use a rocket launcher or drive a tank. It’s a little bit deeper than Far Cries and other open world games in terms of stealth, but it still has lots of compromises in AI department (especially in detectable sound events) to make the game accessible for a wider action audience. Here is Eurogamer’s interview with one of the MGSV designers where they discussed the difference between a stealth and a stealth action game.

    • noodlecake says:

      Just because you can, it doesn’t mean that you have to. You can play it as an all out action game if you want, or an all out stealth game. I’ve definitely had moments that make my bum clench when trying to be stealthy. Plus there’s the mod that makes it much more punishing.

  24. registering says:

    i think the thing you (and an absurd amount of ‘fans’) are forgetting is: the game is meant to be fun.

    playing this game has brought me back to childhood; playing through the first Metal Gear on NES, while at the same time evoking the feeling of discovering a badass [Konami] arcade game that wouldn’t be available to play yet at home. the mix of larger than life goofiness alongside serious issues. how enjoyable would realism play into crawling around in a cardboard box and along the ground a few feet from trained soldiers?

    the amount of demanding/whining/bratty behavior i’ve witnessed online in the past month or so after the release and towards the release of MGO is really disturbing. we’re all a bunch of babies and nothing is good enough. it’s really embarrassing, especially since i get the idea the Japanese MGS audience is the complete opposite.

    for some reason this article is featured on Steam, and it shouldn’t be.

  25. ShineDog says:

    I dont think saying “just turn off X/y” is really a valid criticism, for one, the game appears balanced around the system as is, theres none of the old games alternative ways to seeing targets, like 4s wobbly line detection thing or 3 and it’s variety of fun to use spotting gadgets. Here you’ve got a see through walls cudgel or nothing at all. “Don’t take DD or Quiet”… well, sure, I could do that, but it’s fun to work with a cool dog and an ultrasniper, it’s just that the balance of these items is wildly off. (Particularly weird, calling in any strike limits you to an A, Quiet is far more powerful, doesn’t.)

    I don’t think it helps that the AI is actually pretty terrible, which isn’t something effected by reflex or marking. I can take a hostage, get spotted, and then have the spotter walk 30 meters over to within 3 meters and setting himself up for a face shot before calling in the alert.

    This all leads up to this – there’s almost none of the escalating tension and disaster of the older MGS games, (at least for a player like me who isn’t super great and isn’t going for the S rank and worried about being spotted once) In an older game I’m going to see a guard in the way and wonder about taking him down without getting spotted. Then I’ve got to worry about the body being hidden. If they do spot me or the body you’ve got to contend with the fact that the bads can and will search the map for you effectively, and once they find you combat felt appropriately dangerous. Mistakes led to a really satisfying and exciting escalation.

    Here I find I can just bumble around like an idiot and if the guards spot you, fuck it, they are getting killed.
    If I actually take stealth seriously I can mostly just work from the edges of the map ballooning people away.
    I can rely on the AI doing really stupid stuff (even by myopic MGS ai standards) like walking over to say hello when they see me instead of actually calling in an alert.
    The “check in” system from older games seems largely gone – if you take a guard out it’s pretty rare for anyone to spot someone missing.
    The (conceptually cool) reinforcement mechanics mean that if it goes wrong there’s no one coming because I broke the next base overs radio. The open world means I can almost always get away if things go wrong. If you get hurt in combat just start sprinting between cover, the AI won’t be able to hit you most of the time and if they do the serious injury system actually hands you an instant heal, and then the buddies come along to make you very aware of what the AI is doing at any moment and shatter the early game illusion that the AI was any good.

    I dunno, it just always feels like the game is on my side, and while it’s definitely fun to toy with the AI it never gets beyond that.

  26. Monkeh says:

    You find the game too easy, yet are playing with reflex-mode on… how silly can you get?

  27. Iajawl says:

    Console game
    Challenge found wanting
    Life as usual

  28. cloudsora says:

    SO My first playthrough is a silent no kills completionist playthrough. SURE on occasions I do kill via accident or the occasion blowing off steam as well as I have to do it or they are troublemakers and deserve it.

    BUT! On my second playthrough I already have a list of things to forbid myself from using one amazing example is the strangely slow but amazingly powerful rocket arm that’s completely silent and just broken good at times. Any of the fulton upgrades after 2. Most of the rank 2+ arms. Reflex Mode. Sneaking Suit. Among quite a few others but honestly I think I might even try to play every mission as NOT Venom Snake to further the feeling of being realistic and challenging.

  29. Vickers says:

    I’ve only just captured Quiet, but as others have pointed out MGS has more or less been about making your own “win states” without forcing hard-mode pacifist takedowns. I like how the game balances the power controlling a paramilitary organization like Diamond Dogs by attaching a price to literally everything. Sure I can call in an airstrike and obliterate half a base, but do I want to spend 9000 GDPs? It also makes me selective in what gear/weapons I run with. And the sheer amount of tactical options at your disposal makes sense since you’re Big Boss at his prime whereas for instance it wouldn’t realistically have made sense for Raiden to go around machine-gunning everyone on Big Shell in MGS2.

  30. Charlatan says:

    The Author should try play with all helpful UI (especially crosshair, markers and grenade angles) turned off and never send soldiers on “storage shed destruction” missions – then try to write an article of this game’s difficulty again.

    It is quite a different experience when your enemies don’t have crappy weapons, and a single sniper shot, shotgun shot or small assault rifle burst at moderate distance tear you down to roughly 1-20% health, and mortars/helicopter missiles oneshot you.

    For a proper comparison, the old games frequently had Snake take merely average amounts of damage from heavy explosions and in one case even >>direct tank shell hits<<.