Though the resulting game isn’t always perfect, Metal Gear Solid 5 approaches serious topics many games ignore, including torture, Guantanamo Bay, and child soldiers. The E3 2014 trailer is so grim that Snake literally rubs the ashes of his fallen comrades all over his face. So you can imagine my surprise when, after all that death and trauma, my E3 demo of The Phantom Pain began with a horse pooping.
The setting of the demo is one fans have seen before, with Snake riding a horse through the
Afghan desert, but when the horse he’s riding momentarily stops to drop a load of excrement, it was a signal that MGS wasn’t abandoning its sense of humor. Weird moments kept popping up, such as when Snake knocked out a soldier, then attached a balloon to the unconscious man that then flew in the air to deliver him to Snake’s home base. Over the 30 minute demo, I saw multiple soldiers float away while shouting, and the same technique worked for trucks, crates, even goats. All those random things ended up as part of Mother Base, the new home to Snake’s Diamond Dogs collective.
This asset collection via random kidnapping is certainly odd, as is Snake’s ability to summon just about anything from the air to help him out, whether it’s an airstrike or a crate to drop on a guard. And the devs showed off all the new ways Snake can dynamically navigate a cardboard box, which (don’t forget) is happening while Snake is searching Afghanistan for a friend that’s been recently mutilated by a militia. It’s admirable that the game has such a capacity for serious narrative and light gameplay, but won’t these shifts in tone get pretty jarring? Then again, MGS’s unpredictable subject matter is just as much a standard for the series as eyepatches and long speeches about being a soldier.
Check the following slides for more information and screenshots.