Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain cover.png
Developer(s)Kojima Productions[a]
Director(s)Hideo Kojima
  • Hideo Kojima
  • Kenichiro Imaizumi
  • Kazuki Muraoka
Designer(s)Hideo Kojima
  • Daizaburo Nakamura
  • Makoto Sonoyama
  • Shutaro Iida
  • Takehiro Nomura
Artist(s)Yoji Shinkawa
  • Hideo Kojima
  • Shuyo Murata
  • Hidenari Inamura
  • Etsu Tamari
SeriesMetal Gear
EngineFox Engine
  • WW: September 1, 2015
  • JP: September 2, 2015
Mode(s)Single-player, multiplayer

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain[b] is a 2015 stealth game developed by Kojima Productions and published by Konami. It was released worldwide for Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, and Xbox One on September 1, 2015. It is the ninth installment in the Metal Gear series that was directed, written, and designed by Hideo Kojima following Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, a stand-alone prologue released the previous year. It is his final work at Konami.

Set in 1984, nine years after the events of Ground Zeroes and eleven years before the events of the original Metal Gear, the story follows mercenary leader Punished "Venom" Snake as he ventures into Soviet-occupied Afghanistan and the AngolaZaire border region to exact revenge on the people who destroyed his forces and came close to killing him during the climax of Ground Zeroes. It carries over the tagline of Tactical Espionage Operations first used in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain received critical acclaim, with praise for its varied and interconnected gameplay mechanics, level of player freedom, and the narrative's emotional power. However, its writing, pacing, and representation of the character Quiet drew criticism, while the end twist polarized critics. The game's derivative second half and ending that left several plot points unresolved, attributed with conclusive evidence of removed content, led some to label the game unfinished. Nonetheless, The Phantom Pain received perfect review scores from a number of publications and was described as one of the greatest stealth games of all time. A complete edition that bundles The Phantom Pain and Ground Zeroes together, titled Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience, was released in October 2016.


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a stealth game in which players take the role of Punished "Venom" Snake from a third-person perspective in an open world.[1] The gameplay elements were largely unchanged from Ground Zeroes, meaning that players will have to sneak from several points in the game world, avoiding enemy guards, and remaining undetected.[2] Included in Snake's repertoire are binoculars, maps, a variety of weapons, explosives, and stealth-based items such as cardboard boxes and decoys.[2][3] Following one of the series traditions, The Phantom Pain encourages players to progress through the game without killing, using non-lethal weapons such as tranquilizer darts to subdue enemies.[4] Players may traverse the game world with vehicles such as jeeps and tanks, in addition to traveling on foot or on horseback, and as certain locations are mountainous,[5] occasionally, players can opt to go rock climbing as a shortcut.[6] They may call for helicopter support against enemy soldiers or request airstrikes that can bomb the target area or change the current weather.[7] Snake can call on AI companions—including Quiet, a silent female sniper with supernatural abilities; D-Horse, a horse capable of wearing armor and hiding Snake during travel; D-Walker, a manned, highly agile mobile weapons platform that can provide heavy weapons support; and D-Dog, a wolf pup raised and trained on the new Mother Base to assist him in the field.[8] The companions' abilities and their effectiveness will depend on the player's relationship with them.[7] There is a large emphasis on tactics in The Phantom Pain.[9]

In this screenshot, Snake uses the Fulton surface-to-air recovery system to transport a sheep back to Mother Base.

As in Peace Walker, The Phantom Pain features a base-building system that allows players to develop weapons and items from their home base.[10] Recruitment of enemy soldiers and prisoners has also returned for this purpose, allowing the base to grow through organization. The player is given the option to access their base from their real-life smartphones and other devices via a companion app.[11] Unlike in Peace Walker where players can only see Mother Base from the air, they can control Snake as he explores the complex on foot. The Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, an item introduced into gameplay in Peace Walker, returns as well, with players able to transport captured soldiers and other objects such as animals and vehicles back to Mother Base.[12] Money for upgrading Mother Base's defenses and technology can be collected from objects found all over the map, such as diamonds, shipping containers, and special blueprint boxes,[13] as well as sending recruited soldiers on combat missions around the world. The income is invested in upgrades to the appearance and abilities, weapons and equipment of Snake, his AI companions, and vehicles. For example, Snake's prosthetic arm can be modified with a taser, echolocation function, or remote controls that allow it to fly as a drone.[14][15]

Game design direction allows the player to choose in what order the story events take place by selecting missions in any order they like, and yet still "understand the encompassing message by the end".[16][17] The enemy AI has improved in terms of situational awareness. If players frequently use particular weapons or tactics to subdue enemy soldiers, this will see the enemy increase in numbers and be outfitted with better equipment; for example, the frequent use of headshots will see enemy soldiers don metal helmets to make targeting the head harder.[18]

The game has a dynamic weather system and day-night cycle that runs in real-time.[19] The cycle is able to be fast-forwarded when Snake lights a "Phantom Cigar", a type of electronic cigar; a digital silver Seiko watch panel appears on screen to denote time.[20] The passage of time enables players to analyze the movement of marked enemy forces in the area, such as shifts in sentry patrols and individual patrol routes. Weather effects, such as sandstorms and rain, affects the gameplay environment by reducing visibility or masking the sound of footsteps.[21]

Kojima spoke about the restrictive nature of previous Metal Gear Solid titles, saying that they "set [the player] on one rail to get from point A to point B, with a certain amount of freedom between". In stark contrast, The Phantom Pain offers players new ways of traversal and sneaking methods, such as taking a motorcycle, plane or helicopter to the mission area (however, usage of the former two vehicles was later dropped during development). Players are able to traverse the game world or deploy directly to landing zones that allow for different approaches. A video published after the E3 2015 convention showcased this, with the same mission played four times in a number of different ways: with the player opting for stealth, launching a direct assault via helicopter gunship, attempting to assassinate a target with a sniper rifle, and smuggling an explosive device into an enemy base by way of an unsuspecting patrol vehicle crew.[22] The player's actions affect the wider game world; for example, sabotaging a radar installation will open up new entry points.[23] The playable world in The Phantom Pain is two hundred times larger than that of Ground Zeroes, featuring a variety of climate conditions and environments. This allows the players to freely roam the map while proceeding to either story missions or sidequests, as in other games with nonlinear gameplay. In addition, players who have previously played Ground Zeroes are able to import save data into The Phantom Pain and gain special perks.[24]


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain includes two multiplayer modes: first, the new Metal Gear Online, developed by Kojima Productions' newly formed Los Angeles division (now known as Konami Los Angeles Studio).[25] The first footage for multiplayer was revealed in December 2014.[26][27] While originally set for launch alongside the release of The Phantom Pain, Metal Gear Online was postponed to October 6 for consoles and January 2016 for Microsoft Windows.[28]

The second multiplayer mode is an extension of the Mother Base base-building feature. Players are able to expand their operations to include "Forward Operating Bases" which can be used to generate resources and income for the single-player campaign.[29] These facilities can be attacked by other players, making a player-versus-player mode available whereby the attacking team attempts to steal resources and/or soldiers and the defending team tries to protect the Forward Operating Base from the intruder. Defenders are able to call on their friends to aid in the defense, especially if their Forward Operating Base is attacked during a story mission.[30] Players are able to customize the security, staffing, and layout of their Forward Operating Bases, allowing for a large number of compound configurations. Following the success or failure of the intrusion, the location of the attacking player's Forward Operating Base is revealed to the defending player;[31] however, defending players can only launch a retaliatory strike if the attacker was discovered during their infiltration. The Forward Operating Base feature is an entirely separate multiplayer experience to Metal Gear Online[29] and is also needed to increase the number of combat units the player can deploy.

During development, Kojima Productions and Konami attracted criticism for their decision to include microtransactions; a system that allows players to pay for access to content in the game. However, a spokesperson for Kojima Productions confirmed that the system was included to benefit players who may not have the time to complete the game, given its scale, and that no content would be available exclusively through microtransactions.[32] Further controversy emerged following the publication of an early review claiming that the Forward Operating Base mode was behind a paywall,[33] which Konami refuted saying that microtransactions acted as an accelerator rather than a paywall.[34]



In the aftermath of the events of Ground Zeroes and the destruction of Militaires Sans Frontières (commonly abbreviated as MSF), Big Boss (Kiefer Sutherland/Akio Ōtsuka) falls into a coma.[35] Nine years later, he awakens and helps lead a new mercenary group, Diamond Dogs.[36] Adopting the codename "Venom Snake", he ventures into Afghanistan during the Soviet-Afghan War and the AngolaZaire border region during the Angolan Civil War to track down the men responsible for MSF's destruction. Along the way, he becomes reacquainted with his former rival Ocelot (Troy Baker/Satoshi Mikami) and encounters Quiet (Stefanie Joosten), an assassin and sniper with supernatural abilities. While he and Kazuhira Miller (Robin Atkin Downes/Tomokazu Sugita) are initially driven to exact revenge, Snake soon unearths a plot by the Patriots organization to develop a new model of the Metal Gear system known as the ST-84 "Sahelanthropus".[37]


In contrast to previous Metal Gear installments, Kojima Productions conducted the voice acting and motion capture with English-speaking actors and stuntmen first. While facial capturing was used before for Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, it was done separately from the actual voice acting. The Japanese voice acting was dubbed over the English cast's performance afterward, in contrast to previous releases in the series since Metal Gear Solid 2, which had the characters' vocal and facial expressions lip-synched specifically to both, Japanese and English voice acting.

"This time, Snake won't really speak much at all. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is an open world game focused on giving freedom to the player who will drive Snake's actions. Snake himself will be more of a silent protagonist similar to Mad Max in Mad Max 2. It's the characters around him who will expand the story."

Hideo Kojima[38]

At E3 2013, Konami confirmed that actor Kiefer Sutherland would provide Snake's voice and motion capture work for the game,[39][40][41] taking a role over voice actor David Hayter.[42] Kojima's reason for replacing Hayter was to "have a more subdued performance expressed through subtle facial movements and tone of voice rather than words", and that he "needed someone who could genuinely convey both the facial and vocal qualities of a man in his late 40s". Hollywood producer and director Avi Arad suggested to Kojima that Sutherland could fulfill his requirements.[43][44][45] Akio Ōtsuka was unaffected by this casting change and continued to voice Snake in the Japanese version.[46] On March 4, 2015, Kojima revealed that Snake would have less dialogue in The Phantom Pain than previous installments. The reasoning behind it was to make Snake come across as an extension to the player and that he "will act based on [player's actions] rather than doing things like making spontaneous comments or flirting with women."[38]

Other members of the voice cast include Troy Baker as Ocelot,[47] Jay Tavare as Code Talker,[48] James Horan as Skull Face, Robin Atkin Downes as Kazuhira Miller, Christopher Randolph as Dr. Emmerich[49] and Piers Stubbs as Eli. The Japanese dub features Tomokazu Sugita as Miller, Hideyuki Tanaka as Emmerich, Takaya Hashi as Skull Face, Satoshi Mikami as Ocelot, Osamu Saka (whose previous roles include Sergei Gurlukovich in Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and The End in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater) as Code Talker,[50][51] and Yūtarō Honjō as Eli.[52] Dutch-born model Stefanie Joosten provides the likeness, voice and motion capture for the new heroine Quiet,[50] a mute sniper with supernatural abilities who may assist Snake on missions depending on the player's actions during a certain mission.[53] She also provides the vocals for "Quiet's Theme".


In 1984, nine years after the events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Big Boss awakens from a coma in a hospital on the British military base in Cyprus. A Cipher assassin named Quiet tries to kill him, but he is rescued by a heavily bandaged man called Ishmael. The pair escapes the hospital while evading pursuit from Cipher's soldiers and two superhumans, Tretij Rebenok, the "Third Child", and the "Man on Fire". Although Big Boss loses sight of Ishmael, he is recovered by his ally Revolver Ocelot and brought aboard Diamond Dogs, a new mercenary group founded by Kazuhira Miller on an offshore platform near Seychelles.

Big Boss adopts the code name "Venom Snake" and begins searching for Cipher. During his journey, Snake becomes involved in the Soviet-Afghan and the Angolan Civil Wars and he recruits Quiet, who no longer speaks and has gained superhuman abilities; scientist and former MSF associate, Dr. Huey Emmerich; and Code Talker, a Navajo expert on parasites forced to work for Cipher. Snake also ends up capturing Eli during an operation, a British child believed to be a clone of Snake and leader of a band of child soldiers, and brings him to the base. Though there is speculation into whether or not he is Big Boss' son, a DNA test confirms that Venom Snake and Eli are not genetically related.

Snake learns that Cipher's leader Major Zero was usurped and XOF, a rogue faction of Cipher, was responsible for destroying MSF. XOF's leader Skull Face considers Cipher's plan to unite the world for peace as the same as making it culturally American, obliterating other cultures. To avoid this, he intends to release a unique parasite that kills anyone who speaks English. A modified parasite was used to give Quiet and Skull Face's elite soldiers, the Skulls, their unusual abilities. After releasing the English strain parasite, Skull Face plans to make nuclear weapons available to as many groups as he can, believing that nuclear deterrence will stop the weapons actually being used, attaining world peace while still protecting the integrity of each culture. However, he will secretly retain remote control of the weapons. Skull Face intends to use the threat of the latest Metal Gear system, known as ST-84 "Sahelanthropus", to make nuclear weapons desirable again, but as he cannot get it to function, he is dependent on the Third Child's psychic abilities to manipulate it.

During a test, the Third Child turns against Skull Face, having Sahelanthropus seriously wound him and crush the Man on Fire. Although Snake defeats the Metal Gear, he is only able to recover one of Skull Face's three parasite vials; one is missing and the other is taken by the Third Child and given to Eli. Skull Face is left to die by Snake and Miller but Huey executes him. The Diamond Dogs return to their base with Sahelanthropus. Following their return, Eli, the Third Child, and the child soldiers steal Sahelanthropus and flee the base. It transpires that the Third Child was not consciously working for Skull Face, but his psychic powers enthralled him to the will of the most vengeful person nearby, meaning Sahelanthropus' attack was instigated by Eli.

An epidemic of parasites occurs on base forcing Snake to personally kill many of his own men to contain it. To honor them, he has their cremated remains turned into diamonds to carry into battle. Huey is accused of causing the epidemic while attempting to mutate the parasites to sell as weapons. Alongside suspicion of his role in MSF's destruction, and evidence that he murdered his wife Dr. Strangelove while arguing over using their son in experiments, Snake exiles him from Diamond Dogs. Following this event, Quiet disappears in Afghanistan. Code Talker reveals that Quiet was infected with the English strain parasite with the intention of joining Diamond Dogs in order to spread it, but her allegiance shifted to Snake and so she remained silent to prevent an outbreak. Huey's mutation of the parasite convinced Quiet that she could not guarantee the safety of Diamond Dogs. Snake finds her and helps her fight off the Soviet army. They defeat the wave but as another one approaches they are forced to hide in a sandstorm. Quiet is then forced to speak to summon help when Snake is bitten by a venomous snake. She flees to avoid causing another epidemic.

It is later revealed that Venom Snake is not actually Big Boss but a loyal MSF medic caught in the same explosion that injured Ishmael, the real Big Boss. During his coma, the medic was transformed into a second Big Boss via plastic surgery and hypnotherapy to serve as a decoy for the actual Big Boss while he wages a covert war against Cipher. Venom Snake goes on to set the events of the Outer Heaven uprising in motion and dies at the hands of Solid Snake. The original Big Boss resurfaces during the Zanzibar Land disturbance. Miller and Ocelot discuss Big Boss' plans to create Outer Heaven. While Ocelot remains supportive, Miller is disgusted at his former ally's deception but agrees to continue assisting Venom Snake and Big Boss' sons in hopes of contributing to the real Big Boss' downfall.


A recruiting poster, based on the famous recruitment poster, used at GDC 2012

In February 2012, a site owned by Konami, "Development Without Borders", promoted development for a new Metal Gear title, for "The "next" MGS". The site was recruiting staff for the 2012 GDC pavilion in March, and requested applications for several positions for the latest Metal Gear Solid targeted for "high-end consoles" and "next-gen Fox engine".[54][55] As the year went on, screenshots and videos of the newly announced Fox Engine were unveiled by the team.[56] This media demonstrated many random settings and characters, although none related to the Metal Gear series. Certain screenshots, however, were noted to feature a character who resembled the Big Boss character of Metal Gear, walking up to a Stryker AFV previously seen in Metal Gear Solid 4.[57]

Konami unveiled Ground Zeroes at a private function celebrating the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Metal Gear series on August 30, 2012. The game later made its public debut two days later at the 2012 Penny Arcade Expo.[58] Kojima revealed very little detail about the project at the time other than it was a prologue to Metal Gear Solid V,[59] and that it would be the first game to use the Fox Engine, a game engine developed by Kojima Productions.[60] In January 2013, Kojima revealed that Ground Zeroes would be the first title in the series to be subtitled in Arabic, a feature the team had planned for previous games.[61] He also confirmed that the length of the cutscenes was reduced, as he believed that long cutscenes had become outdated.[16][62]

In an interview with VG247, Kojima expressed concerns over whether or not Ground Zeroes would be released. He claimed that his aim was to target taboos and mature themes, which he considered to be "quite risky", adding that his roles as creator and producer were in conflict with one another; as creator, Kojima wanted to take the risk of exploring themes that might alienate audiences, but as producer, he had to be able to tone down the content in order to sell as many copies of the game as possible. Ultimately, the role of creator won out, and Kojima described his approach as "prioritizing creativity over sales".[63][64][65]

Poster distributed at E3 2013, with visual effects by Kyle Cooper

At the Spike Video Game Awards in December 2012, a teaser trailer for a game known as The Phantom Pain was shown, credited to a new Swedish developer known as Moby Dick Studio, and was described as being "100% gameplay". Allegedly led by Joakim Mogren, the studio's mission statement read that it aimed to "deliver an uncompromising, exciting, and touching game experience to people all around the globe."[66] After the presentation, commentators speculated that The Phantom Pain was actually a Metal Gear game, noting the protagonist's resemblance to Big Boss, graphics similar to those produced by the Fox Engine, the quote "V has come to" at the end of the trailer, and that the title Metal Gear Solid V fits in the negative space and indentations of the game's logo when using the same font.[67][68] The name "Joakim" was an anagram of "Kojima", the domain name for the studio's website had only been registered about two weeks prior to the announcement, and that several people wearing Moby Dick Studio shirts were sitting in a VIP area intended for Konami staff.[67][69] Hideo Kojima stated he was impressed by the trailer and how Mogren was inspired by Metal Gear.[70]

An actor playing a heavily bandaged Mogren appeared in an interview on the March 14, 2013 episode of GameTrailers TV; while stating that he could not reveal many details, he confirmed that more details about The Phantom Pain would be revealed at the upcoming Game Developers Conference, and showed a series of screenshots on an iPad to the show's host Geoff Keighley. After Keighley pointed out the Fox Engine logo in the screenshots, Mogren appeared nervous and the segment abruptly ended.[71]

On March 27, 2013, at GDC 2013, Kojima confirmed that his studio was behind the trailer, and announced that Metal Gear Solid V would be two separate games; Ground Zeroes would now serve as a prologue for the main game, which was officially announced as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.[72][73] He subsequently presented a trailer for the game and showcased the Fox Engine.[74] The trailer featured the song "Not Your Kind of People" from Garbage's 2012 album of the same name.[75][76]

While the official trailer announcing the game was running on a PC, the game was released for the seventh and eighth generations of video game consoles. In an interview during E3 2013, when asked about a PC release Kojima stated "We are making it, and it will be on par with the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions."[77] However, he made it clear that the PC port was not their priority.[78] Kojima confirmed that the visuals seen in the trailer would look close to those in the final game. He also stated that he would like Metal Gear Solid V to be his final Metal Gear game, noting that unlike previous titles where he had announced that he had finished making games in the series, only to return for subsequent games, his involvement with the franchise would be over this time around. Although the trailer had Snake suffering from hallucinations in the form of a flaming whale, Kojima assured that there would be a balance in realism.[79] Kojima later[when?] revealed that The Phantom Pain was initially presented as an independent game so as to assess the public and industry response to the Fox Engine, as he felt that announcing the game as part of Metal Gear Solid V would bias reactions to the engine.[citation needed]

At E3 2013, a fourth trailer was shown at the Microsoft press conference, demonstrating the new play mechanics, as well as the cast of characters. The development of an Xbox One version was also announced at the conference.[80] The PlayStation 4 version was announced the following day when Konami uploaded the red band version of the trailer on their YouTube channel in addition to the standard green band version.[81][82]

The trailers for Metal Gear Solid V showed the game running on a PC hardware, but according to Kojima with textures and character models somewhat based on seventh generation hardware. The developers aimed to improve the technical quality for the versions released for the eighth generation of consoles.[83]

Kojima alluded to the game possibly being "too big to clear", adding that the game is "200 [times larger] than Ground Zeroes".[84] Kojima wanted the player to connect with Snake in The Phantom Pain. To accomplish this, the loss of Mother Base, which the player developed throughout Peace Walker, would serve as motivation for revenge for both Snake and the player. Kojima also tried making Snake relatable to newcomers of the series by making him unaware of what happened in the nine years during which he was in a coma.[85] Weapons, vehicles and other armaments are unlicensed and fictional in The Phantom Pain, just as they were in Ground Zeroes, unlike previous Metal Gear Solid games that included mostly real-world based weaponry.

At E3 2014, a fifth trailer featuring Mike Oldfield's song "Nuclear" was shown, unveiling more plot details surrounding the Diamond Dogs and Snake's antagonistic descent. It was leaked a day earlier, due to an accidental post from Konami's official YouTube channel.[86] Alongside the new trailer, the official site for Metal Gear Solid V was updated and included new information and images such as the developmental progress of the in-game map and the evolution of Snake's design across all games in the series.[87] On August 25, 2015, Kojima released a launch trailer showing "Metal Gear's Evolution and Harmony" with clips from the previous games along with the reveal of the new "Metal Gear Sahelanthropus".[citation needed]

Over $80 million was spent on the development of the game.[88]


The music of The Phantom Pain was produced by Harry Gregson-Williams, making it his fourth Metal Gear title, and composed by Ludvig Forssell, Justin Burnett, and Daniel James. Also featured in The Phantom Pain are collectable music tapes the player can listen to in-game, with a mixture of licensed music from the era, and music from past Metal Gear titles.

Metal Gear Solid V Original Soundtrack was released on September 2, 2015, containing 50 tracks selected from both Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain. Following this on December 23, 2015, was Metal Gear Solid V Extended Soundtrack, containing 114 tracks again selected from both Metal Gear Solid V games. Finally, Metal Gear Solid V Original Soundtrack The Lost Tapes was released on March 30, 2016, primarily consisting of tracks written by Ludvig Forssell for the in-game cassette tapes. The latter two releases also include music that went unused in the game, with Metal Gear Solid V Extended Soundtrack in particular containing two tracks from the cut "Mission 51: Kingdom of the Flies".

The game's soundtrack later won the award for Best Score/Soundtrack at The Game Awards 2015.[89] The event also had Stefanie Joosten, Quiet's voice actress, on stage performing "Quiet's Theme".

Konami–Kojima dispute[edit]

In March 2015, Konami announced plans for a corporate restructuring that saw them part ways with Hideo Kojima and his development studio Kojima Productions. As part of the separation, Kojima's name was removed from the game cover, all of its associated paraphernalia and future releases of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection.[90][c] A Konami spokesperson stated that Kojima would still be involved with Konami and the Metal Gear franchise,[27] and despite the dispute, the company expressed confidence that the game would be declared Game of the Year.[91]

In July 2015, series composer Rika Muranaka told Fragged Nation in an interview that over 30 commissioned songs for the series were never used, with Muranaka believing that Kojima has a lack of business sense that played a part in his split from Konami.[92]


Promotion at gamescom 2015

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was released in different editions. Special Day One editions of the game for each platform featured downloadable content (DLC) vouchers for special weapons and Metal Gear Online experience points. The North American Collector's Edition (which was available for PS4 and Xbox One) comes with a steelbook and a small-size replica of Snake's bionic arm; the Premium Package for the Japanese release (which was available for PS4, PS3, and Xbox One) features a full-size replica, which was also sold separately in May 2016.[93] Sony released a PlayStation 4 bundle with the unit painted in the colors of the arm.

The physical PC release of The Phantom Pain only includes a CD key and a disc with a Steam installer contained within. Game files are not included on-disc and must be downloaded.[94][95]

Tie-in products were also released for the game. Sony Mobile Communications released special edition Walkman, Xperia Z4, Xperia Z3 Tablet Compact, and Xperia J Compact devices, each featuring Outer Heaven emblems, soundtrack audio, and wallpapers.[96] Watch manufacturer Seiko released a digital watch, resembling Venom Snake's watch from the game. Eyeglasses maker JF Rey produced themed eyewear patterned after what Kaz and Ocelot are wearing in the game. Japanese toy company Sentinel, which previously made an iDroid casing for the iPhone 5 and 5S, produced a transformable figure of the Sahelanthropus,[97] while Kotobukiya readied a 1/100 scale kit of the unit. Sports apparel company Puma joined the project through a line of sports jackets, T-shirts, and footwear, including Snake's sneaking boots.[98][99]

Square Enix's PlayArts Kai figure line featured several of the game's characters, while Kaiyodo produced Venom Snake and a Soviet Army soldier for the RevoMini figure category. An art book, titled The Art of Metal Gear Solid V, was published by Dark Horse Comics on November 2, 2016.[100]

A complete edition of the game, titled Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience,[d] was released for PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Steam on October 11 in North America, October 13 in Europe, and November 10 in Japan. The bundle includes the Ground Zeroes prologue and The Phantom Pain in one package, along with all previously released downloadable content for both games.[101]

Removed content[edit]

Following the release of The Phantom Pain, those who had bought the Collector's Edition discovered that the bonus disc included a cutscene, narration, and concept art of an in-game mission, "Episode 51: Kingdom of the Flies", that continued on from the end of the campaign, having not been playable in the game. Critics agreed that the incorporation of Episode 51 would have given the game a more satisfactory conclusion, due to it tying up one such important plot thread[102][103][104][105] whilst giving closure to the relationship between two characters and allowing them further development that led into future chronological events of the series.[106][107][108]

Additionally, the requirement that players replay past missions to progress through its second half resulted in some theorizing that original content had been envisioned but which had not been incorporated into the final game due to time constraints, resulting in the re-used sections.[109][110] This assumption was supported by further evidence of removed content: not long after the discovery of Episode 51, users of the Facepunch forums who had been extracting data from the PC version of the game's files found evidence of a third story chapter, titled "Chapter 3: Peace", that was not included in the final version of the game.[111] Konami neither confirmed nor denied that Chapter 3 had been fully cut from the main game,[112] while Metal Gear Solid community manager Robert Allen Peeler refuted the possibility of future downloadable content for The Phantom Pain.[113] Some fans believed that, due to the chapter's title, it was linked to Konami's "Nuclear Disarmament Event" which was opened shortly after launch with the goal of revealing a secret in the game once all in-game nuclear weapons that had been manufactured by players were disposed of.[114] Data miners had uncovered a cutscene within the game's files that would seemingly be released once the event had finished,[115] although speculation still spread that Chapter 3 was connected. Robert Allen Peeler did not deny that further events may occur once the disarmament had concluded, although stated that "the simplest answer is... the correct one, no need to overthink it."[116] On February 2, 2018, the completion of the Nuclear Disarmament Event was triggered prematurely on the Steam version of the game, despite there still being over 9000 player nukes in existence at the time, resulting in the release of the previously-uncovered cutscene.[117] After investigation, Konami announced that this was the result of a technical error owing to the game's servers being sent incorrect values.[118] Similarly, the event would apparently go on to be achieved by players of the PlayStation 3 version of the game on July 27, 2020,[119] although in October 2020 Konami clarified this had been the work of a cheater.[120]

Critics attributed the missing content to the disclosed tensions between Konami and Kojima during development, the general consensus being that Konami had given strict deadlines for the game's release, having been dissatisfied with how much money Kojima had spent on development.[121] Data miners also uncovered numerous other examples of lesser content that had not been included in the game, ranging from gameplay features to audio files,[109][122][123] but what had been removed as a result of the Konami-Kojima conflict, and what had simply been abandoned earlier in development out of choice, was open to discussion.[108] Regardless, due to the perceived narrative flaws and evidence of removed story content, the game was labeled by critics as being unfinished.[124] Conversely, GamesRadar's Dan Dawkins argued that what fans saw as being unfinished could have been deliberate on Kojima's part, and wrote that claims of the game being incomplete were neither right nor wrong.[125] Speaking to IGN, Kojima stated that the new intellectual property he was developing since leaving Konami (later revealed as Death Stranding) would be "a complete game", which CraveOnline took to mean that Kojima considered The Phantom Pain unfinished.[126]

After the announcement of Metal Gear Solid V: The Definitive Experience, which would include all previously released downloadable content, several fans took this as an opportunity to voice their concerns via Twitter about the missing content that had been uncovered, particularly with regards to Episode 51. Konami responded that Episode 51 had been removed in the early development stages of the game as it had not been intended to be a pivotal ending to the story, and that there were no future plans to have the mission available to play.[127]


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain received "universal acclaim" from critics, according to review aggregator Metacritic.[128][129][130]

Vince Ingenito of IGN awarded the game a score of 10/10, complimenting the way the gameplay mechanics worked together and the organic nature of the open-ended missions that allowed players to create their own memorable experiences, without being punished for deviating from stealth. The review concluded that The Phantom Pain is "a gameplay marvel, rewarding intelligence and creativity in a way few games do."[141] GameSpot also gave the game a 10/10, similarly praising its "near impeccable" gameplay, commenting that, alongside main and side missions, "emergent scenarios serve as the third pillar of The Phantom Pain's open-world gameplay experience". The review also described the story and characters as "captivating", and thought it delivered on its promise of completing Big Boss' series-long character arc.[33] The Phantom Pain was the twenty-third game—and the third in the Metal Gear series—to ever receive a perfect 40/40 review rating from Japanese magazine Famitsu.[136]

EGM awarded the game 9.5/10, praising the story's emotional power and avoidance of exhibiting ludonarrative dissonance while exploring the futility of war that he felt other franchises such as Call of Duty and Battlefield suffered from, as well as the way in which the game world responded to the player's actions. However, the review was critical of the reliance on resource management, particularly in the way assaults on Forward Operating Bases could interrupt and distract from key missions.[132] Destructoid awarded it a score of 9/10, saying that the game is "equal parts tough and flashy, and it's fitting that if this is Kojima's last Metal Gear, he goes on a high note."[131]

Game Informer's Joe Juba awarded the game 9.25/10, praising the mission design for its flexibility and offering players multiple pathways to completion without restricting their choice of weapons or equipment. However, Juba criticized the choice to include key story information in optional audio logs which meant that the player could experience important plot developments without context.[139] Polygon's Michael McWhertor also awarded the game 9/10, similarly praising the game mechanics, but finding that the game hinged on a detailed knowledge of the series' prequel games to the point where it would be inaccessible to newcomers to the franchise.[144]

The Phantom Pain was also positively received outside the traditional gaming media. In a five-star review, The Telegraph's Kirk McKeand stated that the game "takes the best of a great series and creates a series' best in the process". The review complimented the seamless integration of the gameplay modes and noted the way the game's Mother Base mode offered satisfactory and meaningful progress,[150] a sentiment echoed by Time's Matt Peckham,[151] who also complimented the game's longevity, methodological design, and artificial intelligence.[152] Both The Independent and The Guardian labelled The Phantom Pain as the greatest stealth game ever made, with the latter calling it "a game-changing triumph [...] the final evolution of a video game director’s singular vision."[149][148]

Some reviewers were more critical of The Phantom Pain's narrative, with PC Gamer's Samuel Roberts writing it felt like a non-canonical installment and calling the story the worst in the series.[153] IGN's Vince Ingenito opined that the story would be divisive for fans, calling it "insubstantial and underdeveloped", with many plot-related questions answered in a "rushed and unsatisfying" way and a tendency for the game to gloss over its subject matter. Ingenito also thought the game lacked memorable moments that the series was known for, with characters existing to "walk on screen, deliver information, and then stand there dramatically".[141] Kotaku's Jason Schreier argued that the story was unfulfilling, having "terrible" pacing, "incoherent" dialogue, and "incomprehensible" character motivations.[154] David Roberts, writing for GamesRadar, described the game's pacing as "unconventional [...] a whole lot of nothing happens in between quick bursts of exposition", and criticized that major villains were killed off mid-way in "one of the most anti-climactic showdowns in video game history". Roberts further felt that the second half of the story "drift[s] along aimlessly" and ultimately felt hollow from not giving closure to the twist ending that the player character is not Big Boss.[104] The reveal also drew a polarizing response from other critics,[102][153][155][156] while the story ending itself was criticized for feeling abrupt and leaving several plot points unresolved.[102][103][104][105][106] Another common point of criticism was the game's decision to force player to replay missions on higher difficulty settings to unlock the final missions,[33][131] with both Schreier and Roberts saying that it added unnecessary padding to a section of plot conveying the game's most emotional events.[104][154] Although praising the performance of Kiefer Sutherland,[104][139][157] some critics highlighted the minimal dialogue spoken by Venom Snake throughout the game, calling it "strange",[154] "suspicious",[144] and "positively jarring".[141]

Portrayal of Quiet[edit]

Before the release of the game, the presentation of the female character Quiet became a topic of controversy concerning her appearance. Halo content producer David Ellis criticized her for being oversexualized and a negative affirmation of the stereotype of the game industry as "full of man babies".[158][159][160] Kojima and Konami released Quiet figurines in May 2015 as part of the game's promotion. The figure's soft, pliable breasts were criticized by some in the West in social media and in the press.[161][162][163] The finished game drew more criticism of Quiet's portrayal in both reviews and opinion pieces.[164][165] GamesRadar's David Roberts described Quiet as "one of the most complex and conflicted characters in MGS5", but that her depiction was an example of a "juvenile approach to sexuality" that typifies Kojima's work and the Metal Gear series as a whole.[166] Michael McWhertor of Polygon described the justification for Quiet's lack of clothing as "inextricably tied to the game's convoluted story", and criticized how the game similarly presented other female characters by "zeroing in on their jiggling breasts and panning across their asses in a silly, oversexualized way."[144]

On the other hand, GameZone's James Wynne felt that the game's story explanation was a valid enough reason for her scantily-clad appearance and succeeds in Kojima's aim to make Quiet "a true antithesis to sexy-just-because female characters." He wrote that "Fan service doesn't erase the fact that Quiet is a strong, well-written character that doesn't need a man to save her. That puts her on a level comparable to The Boss, who was the most impressive female character to ever grace a video game."[167] Vince Ingenito of IGN called Quiet the most interesting character in the game, writing that her "warm, childlike sincerity and battlefield ferocity cause her to steal every scene she's in." However, he felt disappointed that she was also "required to be a lust-object."[168]


Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain shipped 3 million physical copies within its first five days of release, across all platforms.[169] On its release date, the game grossed US$179 million, higher than the combined opening day box office of the films Avengers: Age of Ultron and Jurassic World.[170] The Phantom Pain debuted at number one on the United Kingdom charts. It became the third biggest video game launch of 2015 in the UK, behind Batman: Arkham Knight and The Witcher 3: Wild Hunt.[171] The Phantom Pain was the most successful launch for the series in the UK, beating the previous record holder, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, by 37 percent.[171] The game sold 411,199 physical retail copies on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4 within the first week of release in Japan, topping the Japanese software sales charts that week.[172]

In the United Kingdom, the game sold noticeably more on the PlayStation family of consoles than the Xbox. Excluding computer sales, The Phantom Pain moved approximately 72 percent of copies on PlayStation 4, roughly three times the amount sold on the Xbox One, which accounted for 22 percent of sales. three percent of sales were on PlayStation 3, and two percent on Xbox 360.[173] By the end of September 2015, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain had shipped over five million copies worldwide,[174] which had raised to over six million by December 2015.[175]


Award Category Result
Golden Joystick Awards
Ultimate Game of the Year Nominated
Critic's Choice Won
Hobby Consolas Game of the Year[176] Won
Panorama Game of the Year[177] Won
PC Gamer Game of the Year[178] Won
Game Revolution Game of the Year[179] Won
GamesRadar Game of the Year[180] Won
The Game Awards 2015[89]
Best Action/Adventure Won
Best Score/Soundtrack Won
Game of the Year Nominated
Best Art Direction Nominated
2015 NAVGTR Awards[181] Game, Franchise Action Won
Graphics, Technical Nominated
Original Dramatic Score, Franchise Nominated
Animation, Technical Nominated
Control Design, 3D Nominated
Direction in a Game Cinema Nominated
Game Design, Franchise Nominated
Game Engineering Nominated
19th Annual D.I.C.E. Awards[182] Adventure Game of the Year Won


  1. ^ Credited to Konami Digital Entertainment. Metal Gear Online multiplayer component developed by Konami Los Angeles
  2. ^ Japanese: メタルギアソリッドV ファントムペイン, Hepburn: Metaru Gia Soriddo Faibu Fantomu Pein
  3. ^ Gameplay videos have shown Kojima's name included within the game itself, with individual credits sequences for each mission.
  4. ^ or Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes + The Phantom Pain in Japan


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Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]