I can already tell you that this game gets a definite A from me. I’m having trouble finding anything that I don’t like. Not that I’m looking, but usually games have something that bothers me. I suppose if anything the auto-save system makes me a sad panda at times. But other than that it’s all fun times. My next post will be some tips and tricks for kicking ass but for this post I just want to talk about some of the mechanics in the game.
The first of these things is that the game has a relaxed pace. When you start a mission, when you end a mission, and even during the mission there are long periods of time where you are either literally doing nothing or traveling. That might sound terrible. In the fast paced world of modern gaming this is almost sinful. However this is something I adore. The pacing lets every event and moment sink in hard. It also means that you try just a little bit harder to get it correct when you take on a mission.
The stealth system takes into account sight, sound, and I wouldn’t be surprised if it takes smell into account. For the most part the AI acts believable and they are varied enough that I’ve done some of the same missions upwards of 10 times just to get them perfect and not been bored. There are so many ways to approach every single mission. You can sometimes literally come at the problem from three to four different paths and from there the pathing of the NPCs and your own mistakes (or speed) impact how the entire thing plays out. It’s awesome and gives this game a level of replayability that is almost obscene. Witcher 3 and this have really knocked gameplay out of the park this year. They both feel like games first and products second. Something I haven’t felt too much since the early 2000’s or 90’s. (Though Skylines is among these excellent entries).
There are a ton of things to collect in this game. You can collect music tapes, collect recipes for upgrading weapons, armor, tools, items, vehicles, buddy gear, and you can even kidnap…I mean collect…people! You might think this is a horrible mechanic but in the context of the game it works beautifully. You are fighting a bunch of mercenaries that are not in war because they like it, they are here because they need food. They fight for the highest bidder. When you recover them (as opposed to murdering them) they thank you profusely and work tirelessly for you. They’ll even happily practice sparring with you in your home base. It’s a fantastic mechanic and makes me feel a bit like I’m helping get people off the battlefield.
The gear upgrades are plentiful to the extreme. I’ve been stuck at the “99+” upgrades after many, many, hours of play.
Another mechanic that I made use of today is calling in your gunship. This is badass to the Nth degree. My friend rained down hellfire upon my enemies while I ran around dropping the hammer with my assault rifle. Once there was nothing but a scorched earth he landed and said “Let’s go boss, it’s all clear.”
I’m sorry, if that isn’t just the coolest shit ever I don’t know what is.
You can call in air drops for more gear, and even call in air drops to change your gear mid game. Just be sure to move out of the way or you’ll take a box to the head.
Every mission has upwards of a half dozen sub objectives that you can complete. Some can’t be completed immediately and require you come back later to complete them when you upgrade your stuff. This might sound terrible but in practice I’m having a great time. Have you ever played a game where you wish it had NG+? These submissions functionally add that to the entire game. You come back with all your new badass gear and wreak havoc. Where once you were but a broken warrior you now return as Odin himself. Starting off a mission with a rocket launch, that you previously only had a pistol in, is quite a satisfying deal.
Plus once you DO get S rank on a mission (I don’t know if there is anything above S), you can come back to the mission later and have a gay old time. Killing everyone in sight Rambo style.
I should also mention that all these (occasionally hard as shit) submissions do not need to be completed at once. You can do them one at a time, or two at a time, whatever makes you happy. This means that if there are two really hard objectives you can split them up and make them considerably easier.
That music you collect can make for a great moral boost while working a tough missions too. I’ve found myself playing great 80’s hits while stalking through an Afghani village. “Take On Me” peppered with gunfire is an experience that nobody should miss out on. In…video games at least. Most everything I’ve said above would be pretty terrible in real life, but that’s the beauty of games. They can take something like war and give it a realm where it has any benefit.
The ability to interrogate soldiers is also awesome. I love interrogating every single soldier and then strapping a recovery balloon to them. High into the sky they fly to be recovered at my base. It’s a cold Afghani summer day before I leave a base anything less than spotless. I am like Sly Raccoon with a sniper rifle.
What’s strange is that with all the things I’ve said there are still tons more things I’m forgetting. I mean hell, I’m not even through the first chapter yet. There are training missions too! And naturally the story itself is thus far excellent. The villains are great and I’m entranced by most of them. Kojima and his team manage to take even corny concepts and make them super fun.
This is easily the strongest farewell I’ve ever seen in the video game industry.