If you want to upgrade Mother Base in Metal Gear Solid 5 The Phantom Pain then there are a lot of systems to learn. From resources to gather, to construction priorities and more - there's a deep military base management sim to master here, on top of all the intense free-form stealth-action. You are a literal boss as much a legendary one after all, so there's a lot to manage through your trusty iDroid as you jet around the world being all gruff and heroic in Metal Gear Solid 5. If you're wondering what to focus on, or how to find enough materials to expand Mother Base, read on and we'll help you reach your full building potential in no time.
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1. Always Be Fultoning
I mentioned this in my essential tips guide, but it bears repeating: never stop Fultoning soldiers, because they determine how effective your individual units are at completing their respective tasks. Miller will automatically assign them to the unit best suited to their abilities, and he'll even kick out your least-skilled troops should your Mother Base ever hit capacity, so don't worry too much about micromanaging that stuff - but don't be afraid to manually reassign troops if you need a quick boost to something like R&D. Keep an eye out for high-ranking soldiers with your binoculars, and remember that enemy forces will level up as you complete main missions and as your base grows, so this is something you should be doing constantly.
2. Research your Fulton upgrades ASAP
Because the Fulton balloon is such a vital part of the economy of MGS5, you need to prioritize its development above all else. When you start, Snake only carries 12 balloons, and you won't be able to snag anything heavier than people or small animals. To make sure your Fulton device is strong enough to carry out crates filled with unprocessed materials as well as vehicles and other weapons (which you can sell if you need to), make sure you level up your R&D and Support units as much as you can (to help upgrade your balloon capacity), and that you extract a Transportation Specialist (to allow you to lift heavier objects).
There's also a Wormhole upgrade that is absolutely vital for late-game Mother Base expansion. It not only guarantees an extraction regardless of weather or injury, but you can also extract items and troops indoors - which is important, because there's no way to move large shipping crates out of areas with ceilings that would otherwise block a proper balloon extraction. Complete the "Capture the Legendary Jackal" side-op as soon as it opens up (which should be after you complete Mission 31) in order to unlock the ability to research this game-changing upgrade.
3. Prioritize Mother Base platform construction above other gear
It's tempting to go on a spending spree developing every single gun, grenade, and cardboard box you can, but it's far better if you stick to a handful of essentials and focus your efforts on growing Mother Base. Each platform is important in its own way - R&D and Support will let you research better Fulton upgrades and Combat will net you a lump sum of GMP (read: money) at fixed intervals - but Base Development is the most important platform for expanding Mother Base. This unit is not only responsible for processing your raw resources, but it'll also collect unprocessed materials for you as well. The higher the unit's level, the faster these processes run. At its highest level, your base will process materials for you in about 10 minutes of game time, versus the hour or so it takes when you first start.
4. Steal everything
Every base, outpost, and encampment is filled with resources and diamonds. Find them and take them. Processed materials only come in small amounts (usually in batches of 50 or 100), but don't scoff at the small number - you don't have to wait to process them, and they definitely add up. As for large shipping containers, if you have the proper upgrade to take them, you should do everything in your power to make sure that you steal them.
The two most important resources you need to properly expand your base are Common Metal and Fuel. Six out of seven platforms require fuel, and the resource requirements are astronomical by the time you're hitting end-game platform upgrades. If you see a container with either of these materials inside, Fulton them immediately.
5. Sell off supplies you don't need
If you pop into the resources menu in your iDroid, you'll be able to access all the materials and resources you currently own. While you can't touch your unprocessed materials, you can sell off pretty much anything else you don't need, from plants, to artillery and vehicles. Precious metals are probably the resource you'll sell the most, as they're only used in a handful of late-game upgrades (many of them for D-Walker), and they're worth a ton of GMP. Don't be afraid to sell them off if you start to run into the red. Plus, there's a resource and GMP cap, so if you hit your limit, sell off extras or develop some gear or platforms so your base can continue to refine your unprocessed materials and send you more cash.
6. Build your FOB as soon as it's available
Around mission 21, you'll unlock the ability to build a forward operating base, or FOB. FOBs are additional development platforms that operate independent of Mother Base that exist online and do a number of things to help you out. They're good ways to expand your troop limit and increase your units' levels. They give you two additional squads you can send out on combat development missions (more on that in the next slide). And they also harvest and process materials on a global timer, allowing you to gather resources while you're not logged in.
The important thing to remember about FOBs, though, is that they're open to invasion from other players. Of course, that means other players' FOBs are open to invasion as well, and if you're sneaky, you can easily fill your coffers with ill-gotten gains. Only resources procured online are susceptible to theft, so you don't have to worry about losing stuff you earn from the single-player game. FOBs aren't necessary to complete the game, but I find the bonuses they provide to be worth the hassle of maintaining them.
The game gives you one FOB to start with for free, and you can purchase additional FOBs with Mother Base coins. MB Coins can be purchased directly from the store with real-world dollars, or can be slowly accrued through daily log-in bonuses. Don't stress out too much about this - Mother Base and one FOB are more than enough to keep pace with the game's difficulty curve.
7. Make sure your combat units are always on a mission
When you reach a certain point in the story, you'll be able to send your combat units out on missions. This works a bit like the Brotherhood missions in Assassin's Creed - each mission takes a certain amount of time to complete, and will count down while you're gallivanting about the game. Each mission also has a difficulty rating, a mission success rate, and a chance to lose soldiers based on how strong your troops are. Missions offer different rewards ranging from new soldiers to cash or supplies.
You can run two of these missions simultaneously at the start, and you get an additional two for each FOB you own. Always run the maximum amount of excursions that you can - you may lose the occasional soldier here and there, but for the most part, these missions amount to free money and resources. And as your combat squad levels up, missions will become far less risky to pull off.
8. Don't be afraid to exploit missions to collect vast sums of resources
Resources can take forever to process, and you need to make sure you have a decent supply at all times so your base is working efficiently while you're tackling missions or side ops. If you're just gathering materials in free-roam, you'll notice that it takes a while for those resources to respawn. There's an easier way: replay old missions, and abort them once you get what you need.
You'll need the wormhole upgrade for this particular exploit. Start mission 12, skip the cutscene, and immediately turn around and go back into the hangar. Take out the two guards, and explore a platform on the left. You'll find three crates, containing 7500 fuel, 500 precious metal, and 4000 minor metal, respectively. Fulton those, grab the intel file on the other side of the room (thus creating a new checkpoint), and abort or restart mission as desired.
If you're looking for common metal, simply replay mission 14. You'll find a container carrying 7500 common metal (as well as a container holding 400 biological material) on the west side of Kiziba village, near the anti-air radar. Simply swoop in, grab the goods, run outside of the village so the game saves the checkpoint, then repeat/abort mission as needed.
There you go - practically every bottleneck fixed with a little bit of farming.
9. Hang out at Mother Base if you just want your materials to process
Every development timer runs on a real-time clock and is completely separate from the time of day represented in-game - so researching new items will take 18 actual minutes, and you can't use the phantom cigar to speed up that timer (sorry). And while you can just hang out in your helicopter to wait for your combat units and item development to finish up, it seems your materials won't actually process unless you're in the field.
That's OK, though, because there's an equally safe place you can chill out if you're just killing time for your resources to process: Mother Base. The material processing timer seems to run just fine here, and no one will take you by surprise and murder you if you have to put the controller down and step away for a bit. All you need to do is check in on your iDroid every so often so the timers 'click over', so to speak, and reward you with your spoils.