Metal Gear Solid V: 6 Things It Does Better Than Metal Gear Solid 4

Despite widespread critical acclaim and impressive sales, Metal Gear Solid V, the final entry in the Metal Gear Solid franchise, has gone on to become one of the most controversial entries in the series. As the last title directed by the franchise's original creator, Hideo Kojima, expectations ran high going into the game's release. While the core gameplay was highly praised, others took issue with the underwhelming storytelling and occasionally repetitive mission structure.

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Although it remains controversial among fans, most can agree that Metal Gear Solid V did bring a number of important improvements to the table, especially when compared to its predecessor, Metal Gear Solid 4.

6 Environments

To be clear, the environments in Metal Gear Solid 4 had a lot of character to them. Snake travels the globe in that game, visiting urban environments, war-torn ruins, and the long-forgotten remains of Shadow Moses Island. While there's a lot of variety to these settings, they can occasionally feel a bit linear, designed to get the player from point A to point B so they can listen to the next monologue about how bad war is.

On the other hand, Metal Gear Solid V doesn't have as many settings as its prequel does, but those that it does feature are far more richly detailed and look great on account of some incredible concept art design. Exploring the game world in Metal Gear Solid V is highly encouraged, as there's no shortage of secrets and supplies to find scattered around the map. It also helps that the game's maps have a lot of variety within themselves, so as the player travels from mission to mission they'll be greeted with varying landscapes that shake up the scenery. Ultimately, the maps presented in Metal Gear Solid V have such depth and atmosphere to them that players didn't mind that there weren't as many locations to visit as there were in Metal Gear Solid 4.

5 Gadgets

Metal Gear Solid 4 introduced players to a range of cool gadgets and items that Snake could mess around with as he infiltrated the battlefields of the future. The remote-control Metal Gear Mk. II was particularly fun to drive around and scout guard positions with, and Snake's OctoCamo made blending into the background feel futuristic and stealthy.

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But while Metal Gear Solid 4 certainly offered some fun toys to play with, it's hard to compete with the sheer amount of tools at the player's disposal in Metal Gear Solid V. The creativity that this toolbox affords the player perfectly suits Metal Gear Solid V's sandbox approach. Want to scatter inflatable decoys all over the place to confuse the enemy? That's doable. Want to turn Big Boss' mechanical hand into a rocket fist that can punch out enemies at a distance? Also doable. There are options that suit nearly every available playstyle, and seeing exciting new gadgets down the tech tree is sure to motivate players to complete side missions to try and unlock them as fast as possible.

4 Customization

It's clear that Metal Gear Solid V wanted to adopt a more sandbox-like approach to its core gameplay compared to its predecessors. Environments are more open, with multiple paths to explore, and the game gives players a wide range of tools to suit whichever playstyle they choose to pursue when completing objectives on the world map. Appropriately, this freeform approach extends to nearly all aspects of the game, including customization of the player's many items and amenities.

Central to the game's themes of customization is Mother Base, the floating micronation that the player has to consistently upgrade and recruit staff for. Although it starts out as a humble assortment of platforms, Big Boss' exploits throughout the game allow the player to upgrade it however they see fit. The modular construction of the base allows the player to add new platforms with different functionality, and to upgrade their facilities, which gives the base a personalized feeling. In addition to Mother Base, the player also has control over the outfits that Big Boss will wear, the appearance of his weapons, and even what song will play when a helicopter is called in for extraction.

3 Controls

Although Metal Gear Solid 4 afforded players more control over Snake's mobility than the PlayStation 2 games did, Metal Gear Solid 4's status as one of the earlier PlayStation 3 titles meant that the game wouldn't align neatly with the conventional control schemes of later third-person shooters on the platform. The difference is particularly notable when compared to Metal Gear Solid V's impeccably responsive controls, which are some of the most impressive of any stealth action game.

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For its part, Metal Gear Solid V makes sneaking around more fluid and satisfying than it's ever been before, which is appropriate given the game's new settings. The freeform terrain of the map presents the player with multiple approach options for every objective, which in turn demands that the control scheme allow the player to comfortably traverse each possible path. The result is a much more mobile gameplay experience. In Metal Gear Solid V, Big Boss can climb rough terrain, vault over obstacles, roll around, slide, and execute any number of other maneuvers to help him navigate the game's environments.

2 Cutscene Direction

Fans might have agreed that Metal Gear Solid 4 was too intrusive with its frequent, long cutscenes. Looking back, however, it's also agreed that Metal Gear Solid V course-corrected too far in the opposite direction. The newer game features minimal cutscenes, which, while it does allow the player to explore the world map uninterrupted, has the unfortunate side effect of offloading much of the story into optional audiotapes. Without Metal Gear Solid's trademark outlandish dialogue and indulgent cutscenes, it can feel like some of the franchise's character is missing from V, even if it does keep the franchise's signature crazy twists.

With that said, the cutscenes that are present in Metal Gear Solid V are some of the most impressive that the franchise has to offer. The scenes in the game's introduction, as well as in its prologue in Ground Zeroes, have a unique visual flair to them and are grippingly intense. Kojima's work on the cutscenes in Metal Gear Solid V is reflective of a much more confident directorial style, so it's interesting to imagine what the game might have looked like had it come with a stronger central narrative.

1 Gameplay

A common opinion among fans is that while Metal Gear Solid V might not have as much of the franchise's signature style in it, it does feature the best core gameplay in the series. Whether or not the gameplay improvements are enough to make up for the lack of story will likely vary from player to player, but most can agree that Metal Gear Solid V is a joy to play at its core.

Supporting this claim is the unprecedented level of freedom and fluidity that the game brings to its stealth-action gameplay. Past Metal Gear Solid titles would typically follow a structure wherein the player would be presented with a series of sneaking challenges as they traversed the game's levels, while on the other hand Metal Gear Solid V radically expands the game's scale. This gives the player an unprecedented degree of freedom when it comes to infiltrating enemy bases, which is elegantly supported with layers upon layers of new stealth mechanics that bring unparalleled depth to the experience. Disagreements and unpopular opinions are sure to be shared among fans, but it would be a challenge to argue that other Metal Gear Solid games present the core experience of infiltrating an enemy base with as much elegance as Metal Gear Solid V does.

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