You may recall that a great demo for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was released back in March. As you'd no doubt suspect from a game from Hideo Kojima - the lead up to release from teasing and announcement has been just as full of intrigue and plot twists as most story-driven video games on the market.
In December 2012, a mysterious Swedish outfit called Moby Dick Studios showed something called The Phantom Pain at the VGAs on Spike TV. Rumours soon started circulating that the game was in fact a Metal Gear title (there were some clues in the teaser trailer) and that the mysterious and unheard of Moby Dick Studios was just a cover for Kojima Productions. It was one of the weirdest, most elaborate and deceptive moves we've ever seen. This was later followed by a whole lot of confusion regarding what Ground Zeroes was and how it related to Phantom Pain.
Of course, Ground Zeroes ended up being a well-crafted paid for appetiser, and while you can question the value of its original pricing there's no question that the quality was there. It left us wanting more. And more is exactly what we'll get with Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
The Metal Gear series has gone through many stages and evolutions. From the early Metal Gears, to Metal Gear Solid on the original PlayStation, and then Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty on PS2. Perhaps the changes haven't been as drastic since, but Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is undoubtedly the most ambitious undertaking to date. The idea to create a massive open-world and bring the tactical, stealth gameplay of the series into a sandbox environment; it's an interesting and ambitious concept. And given what we saw in Ground Zeroes it certainly appears as if Kojima Productions knows what they're doing.
Following the release of Ground Zeroes, Kojima hasn't been shy about showing his game. At E3 we were privy to a lengthy 30 minute long demo with Venom Snake (Big Boss) on horseback getting used to his prosthetic hand. He's been out of action for nine years following the events of Ground Zeroes. Gillen supplied his impressions along with a healthy dose of speculation on where this chapter will take us in the greater scope of things as Big Boss inevitably grows more corrupt.
And then there was another lengthy gameplay reveal at Gamescom, in fact, it was the same mission, but the folks at Kojima Productions wanted to show how conditions such as time of day and your method of approach would make for a completely different gameplay experience. If you want to compare the two side-by-side skip the cutscene that kicks things off (about 3 minutes long) see just how sandboxy things will get.
If you've gotten enough of Afghan desert landscapes you may want to take a look at the Tokyo Game Show demo where we got a look at a jungle setting and a mission to rescue a Mother Base intel operative who has been taken captive. This demo also showed off how Quiet will complement gameplay and help Big Boss on missions. Her sniper abilities can come in handy and she will be able to help out by spotting enemies. It's an interesting approach to a support companion, one that's available if the player chooses a certain path in the game.
One of the great appeals of this game is the idea of sending enemies and items off with a balloon, or "Fulton" them. The idea is that this provides your base with resources. A very interesting approach, and also a smart way of motivating players to clean up after themselves. Of course, there's a wonderful irony in sending vehicles and people off with a balloon into the air while sneaking around trying not to be spotted.
And then there's Metal Gear Solid Online. Now, this isn't the first time MGS goes online, but Tactical Team Operations (as the subheader reads) certainly looks like an appetising proposition. Take a look at the video below for more of an idea of how that will play out (you may want to skip over Kiefer Sutherland's introduction - it's a couple of minutes).
There's naturally a great deal to say about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. We've played the prologue, we've seen lengthy gameplay demonstrations. And there's no denying our level of excitement. Rumours put the release of the game around summer, but so far there's no official release date.
As Metal Gear Solid evolves it's no longer simply a stealth game, although that's certainly where it belongs. On the other end of the spectrum there's Mike Bithell's Volume, a game that offers stealth gaming in its most distilled form. Another indie stealth game to keep an eye on is Klei Entertainment's Invisible, Inc. (currently in Early Access).
Other big releases like Uncharted 4: A Thief's End appear to introduce more staples from the stealth genre (compared to previous games in the series). A game like The Division, although multiplayer-focussed and set in a city, also has some things in common with The Phantom Pain. There's a certain amount of stealth involved and there's the dynamic world that provides players with different scenarios depending on a variety of factors. While not as dynamic (we're assuming here) Batman: Arkham Knight also provides us with a great big sandbox to sneak around in, as will Assassin's Creed: Victory. Clearly, there's not something out there that is exactly like Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain in 2015 - so we're stretching for comparisons here.