In this Metal Gear Solid 5 story guide, we'll be outlining all the major events of the plot of MGS5, as well as highlighting how they impact the rest of the historic series. We'll also explain how to unlock mission 46 in Metal Gear Solid 5.
If you need anything else on Metal Gear Solid 5 whatsoever, including additional mission walkthrough guides as well as general tips and tricks, make sure to head over to our Metal Gear Solid 5 guides walkthrough hub.
Metal Gear Solid 5 Story Guide
When Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain came out back in 2015, the main comment we saw about the opening hours was, "I have no idea what the heck is going on here."
That's understandable. In the first few minutes, the man we think is Big Boss awakens from a coma to find himself in the middle of a warzone. There's a Bond-esque female assassin, squads of special forces, and what seems like a fire demon controlled by a red-headed kid who bears a suspicious resemblance to Psycho Mantis from the first game. It's typical Kojima, which is to say that it's crazy.
Things eventually settle down a bit as the newly-renamed Venom Snake heads to Afghanistan, but there are still plenty of big questions below the surface: What's the agenda of mysterious Skull Face? What's going on with Cipher? What is the cause of the mysterious illness breaking out in Africa? And what happened to the members of Snake's original Outer Heaven?
The Events Leading Up to The Phantom Pain
In Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Snake strikes out on his own and creates his own mercenary faction, which he dubs the Militaires Sans Frontieres. Snake's organization becomes embroiled in a battle on Costa Rica. It is here that he uncovers an untangled plot involving a weapon known as the Peace Walker - a quadrupedal walking tank capable of firing a nuclear weapon. The MSF eventually defeats the Peace Walker and develop their own weapon with the help of Huey Emmerich, dubbed Metal Gear ZEKE, which they plan to use a deterrent against foreign intervention. But Snake is betrayed by Paz - the girl who originally convinced Snake to take the mission in Costa Rica - who is now working as an agent of Major Zero. She seizes control of the Metal Gear, but Snake is able to destroy it, and Paz is seemingly killed.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a direct follow-up to the events of Peace Walker. Snake, now working under the title of Big Boss, learns that Paz may be alive, and that she is being held at a secret facility on Cuban soil known as Camp Omega. Snake sets out to find her in hopes of getting more information on Major Zero and is able to extract her; but once they're safe on the helicopter, she informs him that she has been surgically implanted with a bomb. Snake and company are able to just barely remove the bomb after a particularly gruesome scene, only to find Mother Base in flames after an attack by Skull Face - leader of a black ops unit under the command of Cipher. Worse, Paz has a second bomb implanted in her. Ground Zeroes ends with the bomb exploding and grievously injuring Big Boss... or worse.
Metal Gear Solid 5 Plot Synopsis
After the events of Ground Zeroes, Big Boss awakens in a hospital under attack by assassins, special forces teams, and a young Psycho Mantis. He escapes and teams up with Ocelot, forming a new organization - the Diamond Dogs. He subsequently travels the world taking on various missions while simultaneously pursuing Skull Face.
It eventually transpires that Skull Face has created a new Metal Gear with the help of Huey Emmerich - the Sahelanthropus. He intends to use it to deliver a parasite that activates upon the recognition of certain languages, with Skull Face intending to wipe out everyone who speaks English. Snake eventually uncovers the nature of this parasite, and with the help of the Navajo Indian "Code Talker," he is able to find a way to stop its spread. He eventually confronts Skull Face in the Metal Gear's hangar, where Skull Face is betrayed by the young Psycho Mantis. Snake disables the Sahelanthropus while Skull Face is crushed by debris and finally shot by Huey.
After Skull Face's defeat, however, there are plenty of loose ends to tie up. A mutated version of the parasite gets loose in Mother Base, and Snake is forced to shoot many of his own men. Quiet, who is recruited by Snake, saves his life, then goes into the desert to die. Huey is exiled. Confronting and embracing his dark side, Venom Snake prepares to found Outer Heaven, leading to the events of the original Metal Gear.
Metal Gear Solid 5 Major Characters
A number of prominent Metal Gear characters play a prominent role in The Phantom Pain, some of whom go on to play a major role in other games in the series. Here are the names that you need to go know.
Also appears in: Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, Metal Gear
If you don't want the big twist involving Venom Snake spoiled here, then you should probably stop reading. After this, it will be spoken of freely. Otherwise, here's the deal.
As it turns out, Venom Snake is actually the medic who shields Big Boss from the explosion of the second bomb in Ground Zeroes. In the process, he is grievously injured. While he lays in a coma, he is surgically altered to look like Big Boss so that he can be a body double. He is also given hypnotherapy to believe that he is actually Big Boss.
Venom Snake eventually recovers and helps rebuild Mother Base with Ocelot and Miller. Afterward, he becomes the real Snake's "phantom," and he is the one who is killed by Solid Snake in Outer Heaven a decade later.
Also appears in: Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty, Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
Venom Snake's advisor through The Phantom Pain. He doesn't play a large role in the unfolding story, but he does help to raise D-Dog, and he urges Snake to spare Quiet. Ocelot is aware of Venom Snake's true identity, and as usual, it's Ocelot's voice who appears over the final shot of the title screen. He speaks of Big Boss's plan to build Outer Heaven, and of the role he is to play in building Big Boss's legend around the world. He also says that Big Boss's sons are fated to eventually face one another, and Ocelot will support "the other son."
Also appears in: N/A
Quiet is the assassin who initially tries to kill Venom Snake in the hospital, and is badly burned in the process. Near death, she is infected with the vocal chord parasite, preventing her from speaking English lest it spread and kill her. The parasite also replaces her scorched lungs, allowing her to breathe through her skin. Quiet is sent to kill Snake, but is defeated. If she is allowed to live, then she becomes a partner who can be used during missions.
In order to view the entirety of Quiet's story, you have to maximize your bond with her and complete Mission 43, which will unlock Side Ops 150 after Huey is exiled. Completing Side Ops 150 will unlock Mission 45, which is the conclusion to Quiet's story. After Snake rescues her from the Soviets, he is bitten by a venomous snake. Quiet relents and speaks English to call in Pequod to save him. Afterward, Snake finds a cassette tape in which Quiet reveals her motivations and feelings for Snake. She was meant to infiltrate Mother Base to either kill Snake or infect Diamond Dogs with the English strain of the parasite, but she ultimately had a change of heart. Her final scene shows her walking into the desert alone, presumably to die.
Also appears in: Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
The father of Hal Emmerich. After the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Huey is found to be working with Skull Face on a new Metal Gear, dubbed the "Sahelanthropus." Huey is eventually extracted, but his inherent selfishness prevents him from earning the trust of the Diamond Dogs. He repeatedly withholds information, and his actions directly or indirectly results in the theft of the Sahelanthropus from Mother Base, the death of Strangelove, and the spread of the mutated strain of the vocal chord parasite in Mother Base. In the end, Huey is exiled for his actions.
Also appears in: N/A
Skull Face is initially the subordinate of Zero, the founder of The Patriots and a major antagonist. His task is to shadow Big Boss and ensure that he is able to complete his missions, occasionally cleaning up the messes that he's left behind. Over time, he grows to resent both Big Boss and Zero and goes rogue, destroying the Militaires Sans Frontieres and infecting Zero with the vocal chord parasite that cripples him. With the vocal chord parasite, which he obtains from Code Talker, his goal is to destroy everyone who speaks the English language. He is finally defeated when he himself is betrayed by the young Psycho Mantis and his Metal Gear is destroyed.
Also appears in: Metal Gear Solid
Eli is initially discovered in Africa, where he is leading a unit of child soldiers. Venom Snake defeats him in single combat and recruits him, but Eli proves difficult to rein in. It later transpires that he is a product of the Les Enfants Terribles initiative, a genetic engineering project designed to create super soldiers based on the DNA of Big Boss. It is Eli who is eventually able to turn Psycho Mantis on Skull Face.
After Skull Face is defeated, Eli is found to be prepping for an insurrection on Mother Base by stockpiling weapons and rallying the children that Snake has rescued. Eli is stopped, but with the help of Psycho Mantis, he steals the Sahelanthropus and departs. In a mission that was reportedly cut, he goes on to infect an entire island with the final strain of the English vocal chord parasite. Eli is defeated, but he is once again rescued by Psycho Mantis. He is fated to meet Big Boss's other son, Solid Snake, in Metal Gear Solid, where he is known as Liquid Snake.
Frequently Asked Questions
How do I unlock Mission 46 so I can see the true ending?
There's a lot of speculation on this front, but you reportedly have to complete all of the main missions and important Side Ops (marked yellow on the mission list), with the exception of Mission 45 and Mission 47-50. You also reportedly have to upgrade Mother Base, though it's unclear to what level.
How does the big twist with Venom Snake connect to Metal Gear?
Venom Snake is the final boss in the original Metal Gear. He is the one who is ultimately defeated and killed. Venom Snake's role as Big Boss's "phantom" accounts for the fact that Big Boss is seemingly killed in the original game, but returns to life in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.
What's the deal with the Skulls?
The Skulls are an XOF special forces unit infected by the vocal chord parasite. Their version is known as "the one that covers," and it has the effect of making the skin into a kind of armor, among other benefits. Its side effect is that it destroys the users mental faculties, effectively making them zombies. Quiet is also infected with "the one that covers," though her variant is a mutated strain that allows her to retain her mental capacity.
Is the red-haired kid Psycho Mantis from the original Metal Gear Solid?
Yep. If you listen to the cassette tapes, you learn that he is originally from Russia, and that he escaped a psychic research institute when a Soviet transport plane "mysteriously" crashed into the facility. Using his psychic powers to send electrical impulses, he is able to animate machines, primarily the Sahelanthropus. He eventually betrays Skull Face and teams up with Eli, which leads directly to his role in Metal Gear Solid.
What's going on with the Man on Fire?
That's our old friend Colonel Volgin from Metal Gear Solid 3. As it turns out, he wasn't actually killed in Snake Eater. Instead, the need for revenge on Big Boss kept him alive. His comatose body was taken to a secret Russian research facility, where he gained telekinetic powers and the ability to channel fire. In the process, he became all but invincible, able to withstand pretty much everything save water. He finally dies when he's crushed by the Sahelanthropus, though it takes a while.
The Connections to the Rest of the Series
Metal Gear Solid V in many ways serves as a bridge to the rest of the series. Here are some of the major connections.
- After laying the groundwork for Outer Heaven in Peace Walker, The Phantom Pain pushes both Venom Snake and Big Boss even closer to establishing their mercenary country. The Phantom Pain also establishes that it was Venom Snake who was killed by Solid Snake at the end of the original Metal Gear.
Metal Gear Solid
- Liquid Snake's origins are revealed in The Phantom Pain. He goes on to become a major antagonist in Metal Gear Solid, and his present is also felt in Metal Gear Solid 2 and 4.
- Ocelot hints at his future alignment with Liquid Snake, saying that he will aid "the other brother" while Miller tacitly supports Solid Snake.
- Otakon, who is introduced in Metal Gear Solid, is shown to be the son of Huey and Strangelove.
- The Metal Gear ST-84, which is stolen by Eli, bears a strong resemblance to Metal Gear Rex.
- We see the origin of Psycho Mantis, who becomes one of the bosses in Metal Gear Solid.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater
- Colonel Volgin is established to be alive in The Phantom Pain, having become The Man on Fire.
- Skull Face says that he is with the CIA at this time, and his task is to shadow Naked Snake and ensure that he does not fail in his missions, his mission to kill The Boss being one of them.
- The Boss's voice can be heard floating through Mother Base from time to time via the The Boss AI module from Peace Walker.
- In general, The Boss's legacy impact every facet of the series, and The Phantom Pain is no exception. It's her ideals that drive Big Boss, and later Venom Snake, to create the MSF and Diamond Dogs as part of her dream of a world without borders.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker
- The fates of many different characters are revealed in The Phantom Pain. Strangelove is revealed to have had a relationship with Huey and borne him a son, only to die after accidentally being sealed up inside the Mammal Pod and allowed to suffocate.
- Paz meets her fate in Ground Zeroes, but later appears in Mother Base. She is revealed to be a manifestation of Venom Snake's guilty conscience over letting her die in Ground Zeroes.
- Huey teams up with Venom Snake after being forced to design the Metal Gear ST-84, and later builds a four-legged mech resembling that of the Peace Walker, but is eventually exiled for, among other things, unleashing the vocal chord parasite in Mother Base.
- Skull Face also alludes to what he considers the mistakes of Peace Walker villain Hot Coldman, saying that he doesn't want an AI in the Sahelanthropus, preferring instead that it be controlled by Psycho Mantis.
Metal Gear Solid 2 & 4
- Zero's vegetative state is revealed to be the result of an infection of the vocal chord parasites. Zero is infected by Skull Face, who discovers Zero's whereabouts by interrogating Paz. The infection provides the impetus for creating The Patriots' AI, which is intended to quietly rule the U.S. after Zero's eventual death.
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