As you would expect out of an MGS game, you can either go in guns blazing, quiet and sneaky, or a mixture of the two. The team member running the demo opted for stealth, carefully weaving his way behind cover and out of sight before dropping the guards one at a time. Some he questioned for information, earning important intel about the area he was discovering. Most, though, he lifted out of the area with the fulton system, growing his own army with each hilarious yoink into the air. Just like in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, these new recruits can offer even more intel on various aspects of the game, as well as be assigned to various stations to improve your Mother Base stats. As your army and resources grow, you’ll actually be able to peg various new limbs onto the Mother Base however you see fit, so your home turf will likely look completely different from your friends’. Oh, and you can also air-lift vehicles and artillery, which will help strengthen your base against enemy attacks.

Similar to Red Dead Redemption, Snake has the ability to call on his horse at just about any point in the level, allowing him to get from Point A to Point B more quickly. He can also smoke a “Phantom Cigar,” a device that lets the player pass the time more quickly while watching the landscape. This can be useful for quickly memorizing patrol routes or getting to a nighttime infiltration without needing to sit around and wait for the moon to rise.

Another big return for the MGS series is the cardboard box, which our guide through Phantom Pain called in via air drop. You can set the air drop to land wherever you want, actually, which might be handy for, say, taking out an unsuspecting guard. New box-related abilities allow Snake to pop out and into the box without needing to constantly re-equip it, and he can even ditch the box and break for cover if he gets spotted by a guard.

Infiltration, as always, is full of options for the player to mix and match. You can keep low and crawl through a trench or stick to the shadows and sneak in through a back door. You could hide in a dumpster while a guard passes or use some new environmental CQC moves to slam his face into the wall. It’s your call.

The main demonstration ended with Snake freeing a hostage and being spotted by a guard. While shooting his way out of a tight spot, Snake took a moment to call in an air strike on the area, giving him only a handful of moments to hit the road. And that’s exactly what he did, snagging a nearby jeep and speeding away while hell rained down behind him.

There’s no telling when we’ll finally be able to actually get our hands on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but at least we now know that the game is shaping up quite nicely. Look for it on the PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360 and Xbox One…Someday.

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