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Metal Gear Solid V: the Phantom Pain

It took months, but I finally finished and reviewed Metal Gear Solid V. It was a tough game to review, mostly because my dreams for an epic conclusion to the Metal Gear franchise seem to have been dashed by corporate stupidity forcing the game to be released before it was finished. Maybe Kojima (and Konami) have some elaborate trick up their sleeve, and there's going to be some crazy patch that replaces the recycled missions in Chapter 2 with real missions, and which adds the missing third chapter and the "Kingdom of the Flies" mission. Unless that happens, I'm going to operate under the assumption that the recycled missions of chapter 2 were put in as placeholders for missions that were planned but never completed. And I have some ideas of what a couple of those missions might have been about.

There's half of Foxhound from Metal Gear Solid 1, right there!

After retrieving the microfilm in mission 38, you get a couple of intel tapes that might inform exactly what chapter two was supposed to be about.

Informant's Report: Part 2 talks about the "Third Boy", who is a young Psycho Mantis. The first part of the tape reveals details on how Psycho Mantis' powers work. The second part is a bit more interesting, as it poses the conjecture that Eli was projecting his will onto the Third Boy, and controlling Sehalanthropous. This establishes how Eli (who would later be revealed to be Liquid Snake) begins his partnership with Psycho Mantis, the first recruit in his Foxhound team that would eventually take over Shadow Moses in the first Metal Gear Solid game.

Was mission 40 supposed to be about Sniper Wolf?

Metal Gear Solid V - Quiet / Sniper Wolf
Obtaining Sniper Wolf's handerchief from the retread of "Cloaked In Silence" unlocks the Sniper Wolf costume.

With that in mind, let's take another look at mission 40. It's a repeat of mission 11: "Cloaked In Silence". It's a repeat of the sniper battle with Quiet, complete with the same mission briefing and even repeating the cutscene of Quiet shooting down the pursuing plane on the way back to Mother Base. All the repeat missions in chapter 2 are reproduced verbatim from the original mission, right down to the bookending cutscenes (even though they make absolutely no narrative sense). But there's two interesting things about mission 40 that make it stand out. The first is that Quiet isn't wearing her regular bikini outfit. She's wearing a jumper - Sniper Wolf's jumper from Metal Gear Solid 1. She even has blonde hair. Secondly, completing the mission awards the player with a Handerchief item that allows Quiet to be equipped with the Sniper Wolf outfit.

Is this a simple fan-service Easter Egg? Or was Mission 40 supposed to be a battle with a young Sniper Wolf that would establish how Eli [Liquid] and Sniper Wolf first met?

Metal Gear Solid V - capturing Sniper Wolf
Quiet even wears this uniform during the battle.

Sniper Wolf was born in Iraq, and she grew up amongst military conflict, she moved around the Middle East and Africa frequently to avoid the authorities, and she was eventually rescued from that life by Big Boss. So her backstory is actually a near perfect match for an appearance in Phantom Pain! Maybe Iraq was supposed to be a third area of operations? Mission 40 could have been intended to be a mission in which the player finds a young sniper wolf, engages her in battle to test her ability, and then captures and recruits her. Kojima may not have had time to finish this mission, and so Quiet's alternate outfit model was used instead, and Quiet's duel mission became a place-holder.

I would expect that if a young Sniper Wolf had been planned, then Kojima would have already cast a voice and mo-cap artist. But as far as I know, nobody has found assets for any character model or dialogue from any one who could qualify as a young Sniper Wolf. IMDB does list some voice actresses for various soldier roles, but no young girls other than Paz's voice (from Tara Strong). But if the game is truly unfinished, and whole chapters hadn't even been developed yet, then it's possible that such casting simply hadn't happened yet. If early rumors of the mission list are true, then the game wasn't nearly as far along as we think. That mission list, by the way, has a mission late in the game called "Beauty of the Battlefield", which could be a prime candidate for the mission that would have introduced a young Sniper Wolf, and the fact that it takes place during a chapter called "The Cost of Revenge" could also be appropriate to Sniper Wolf's story. Though, this mission could also just have easily been a mission about Quiet.

Metal Gear Solid V - Quiet and Snake embrace
It is implied several times by behavior and dialogue that Quiet has romantic feelings for Snake.

Alternatively, the intent of establishing a link between Quiet and Sniper Wolf might be to imply that Quiet is Wolf's mother. There are hints of a possible romance between Quiet and Venom Snake. Ocelot suggests that Quiet might not have killed Snake because she likes him as early as right after you bring her back to base. There's the infamous "playing in the rain scene", and her final casette tape after "A Quiet Exit" even says that she has "feelings" for Snake. And then, of course, there's her suggestive poses in the brig and helicopter. It's possible that there could have been a point during design in which they were planned to have a romantic relationship and possibly even a child together (assuming Quiet is even capable of conceiving and bearing children in her condition). Alternatively, Quiet could have mothered Sniper Wolf prior to the operation in Cyprus. Her injuries during that operation, and abduction and experimentation by Cipher and Skull Face could have separated her from her young child and left Sniper Wolf an orphan.

What about the rest of the missions?

I would assume that the rest of the duplicated missions in chapter 2 were similarly place-holders for unique missions that could not be finished due to time constraints. The others, however, seem to lack unique changes like the Sniper Wolf costume, and so they don't betray their original intent. I would assume that mission 50 (the repeat of "Sahelanthropus") is a stand-in for the cut mission 51, which also included a final boss fight against the giant robot that was stolen by Eli. Mission 42 (repeat of "Metallic Archaea") might have been a stand-in for a final battle with the Skulls, since there's never any actual resolution to that storyline.

The most noteworthy of the remaining missions is number 48 (repeat of "Code Talker"). Code Talker isn't wearing any kind of alternate outfit that might indicate who he was intended to be a stand-in for. Perhaps that's a red herring though, and this mission is intended to be a stand-in for a rematch against the Skull snipers? We already got a rematch against the heavy Skulls in mission 42, so it could make sense to finish off the remainder of the unit by going after the snipers as well.

Metal Gear Solid V - Skulls rematch
Three missions involve repeats of battles with the Skulls unit.

Those two are fairly easy; the rest are almost completely ambiguous. We have missions 33 and 34 (repeats of "C2W" and "Backup, Back Down") that could indicate some new Soviet division (or possibly Cipher) setting up shop in Afghanistan after Skull Face's death and the loss of Sahelanthropus, and these missions could be intended to slow those organizations down long enough to track down the rest of Code Talker's research and keep it out of their hands. Mission 37 (repeat of "Traitor's Caravan") might have been a stand-in for a mission in which the Soviets recover some piece of intel from Code Talker or Skull Face, and Snake has to stop a convoy transporting the files / materials before it reaches base. Those missions (along with "Shining Lights, Even in Death") would close-out the storyline involving the vocal chord parasites. Traitor's Caravan could also be a place-holder for yet another battle with the Skulls.

Missions 39, 47, and 49 ("Over the Fence", "The War Economy", and "Occupation Forces" respectively) might have dealt with recovering Soviet or Cipher agents who were on the trail of Eli and Sahelanthropus. Mission 49 might even have originally involved the Soviets (or Cipher) re-capturing Huey after Snake exiles him on a raft in the ocean. These (along with Kingdom of the Flies) would close-out the Eli and Sahelanthropus threads.

The last mission is number 44 (repeat of "Pitch Dark"), and this is the one that I'm pretty much at a complete loss on. Perhaps we're returning to the oil field to destroy any evidence of the vocal chord parasites? Or maybe there's additional infections occuring in villages downstream, and so we need to clean up the facility or dispose of the bodies in the water?

So as you can see, if we take this philosophy of the repeated missions acting as stand-ins for incomplete, planned missions, then we can almost force a coherent story onto chapter 2. One that resolves some of the unresolved plot threads, no less! And the subplot about trying to beat Cipher and/or the Soviets from recovering Code Talker's Parasite research and other intel also jives well with the chapter's title, "Race". Unfortunately, the twists of "A Quiet Exit" and "The Man Who Sold the World" still come out of left-field.

What about the rest of Foxhound?

I tried to find a way to fit the rest of Foxhound into chapter 2's mission, but couldn't really see a way to make it work. None of these other missions seem to have any relevance to the remaining members of the Foxhound unit.

Metal Gear Solid V - raven country
Comments about Canadians worshipping ravens
references Vulcan Raven from MGS1.

There are multiple references to ravens scattered throughout the game. If you look at a raven through your binoculars and call Ocelot, he'll mention that ravens are worshiped by some indigenous Canadians. Mission 43 ("Shining Lights, Even in Death") - which is one of the best missions of the entire game! - also makes reference to ravens possibly spreading the vocal chord parasite. I couldn't find any specific mission that might have implied the presence of a young Vulcan Raven character, but it's possible that one of these missions was also planned to introduce a young version of the character.

The last member of Liquid's team was Decoy Octopus. Despite the whole game being about Venom Snake impersonating Big Boss, it seems unlikely that Venom Snake would be intended to be Decoy Octopus. Instead, it is implied that Venom Snake ends up being the decoy of Big Boss that Solid Snake kills at the end of the first Metal Gear game on the MSX. Decoy Octopus was supposed to be one of the oldest members of Foxhound, which was established in 1971 (long before the events of either Phantom Pain or Peace Walker), so if he were to appear in a game, it would more likely have been in Portable Ops.

There's also no sign of Naomi Hunter in Phantom Pain, even though her bio claims that she met Big Boss in Mozambique in the 1980's. We see no mention of her (or of Gray Fox) anywhere in Phantom Pain (that I'm aware of). It is worth noting that she probably would have been less than 10 years old at the time that this game takes place, so it is very well possible that this is simply before she met Big Boss.

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