I just (finally) got through playing "Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain", by which I mean I got 100% completion.
Getting 100% completion on this game is hard, but I would say it's not quite as hard as it was in "Metal Gear Solid IV: Guns of the Patriots". And frankly, there are a few things I found out along the way that, if I had known from the beginning, would have made it significantly easier.
First of all, what do you need to do to get 100% completion?
1) Complete every Side Ops Mission.
2) Complete all 50 Main Missions with an S-Rank
3) Complete every objective of every Main Mission.
4) Complete every "important" Dispatch Mission (the ones marked with yellow dots)
4) Get every Key Item
5) Get every Memento Photo
6) Capture every animal (it's not enough to just identify them for your encyclopedia)
With that said, there are a few things you DON'T need to do in order to get 100% completion. You DON'T need to develop every single item, you DON'T need to find all the cassette tapes, and you DON'T need to unlock every emblem.
Let's start with the big tips:
Get the Following Items
Here are some items you ought to develop, not necessarily because you NEED to, but because they REALLY help:
- This item restricts Main Missions to A-rank only, but it still has TONS of uses. More on this later.
- The final upgrade to the Fulton recovery system allows you to Fulton almost anyone from anywhere.
D-Dog's Fulton Outfit
- Sometimes you just don't have time to extract someone, and with D-Dog's Fulton outfit, he can do it for you. It's a little temperamental, but so long as the prisoner or unconscious soldier is nearby and not in a locked room, D-Dog will be able to run over to them and extract them, usually without anybody even noticing.
- The Stun Arm might SEEM useless, but it's quite possibly the single most useful weapon in the game. If you have it equipped, press and hold R2 to start charging it. Keep charging it until the little bar above the weapon icon charges all the way. You'll hear a little beep when it finishes. Then and only then do you release R2. This hidden move releases a massive area attack that hits EVERYONE in a 40-meter radius from you, no matter where they are or what they're wearing, and they stay knocked out for around 6 minutes, giving you more than enough time to do what you need to do.
Parasite Armor + Mist/Armor Parasites
- I know what you're thinking, but the game is lying to you. Using the Parasite Armor does NOT restrict you to an A-rank like it says it does. Only when you use the Camo Parasites are you restricted to an A-rank. The Mist and Armor Parasites can be used as much as you like and you'll still be able to get an S-rank.
- You'll need these for a few missions that involve taking down vehicles (specifically "Backup, Back Down"). Max out the development on these so that you can carry as many as possible without needing to redeploy, since that's one of the objectives of the aforementioned mission.
- Max these babies out because they are REALLY useful for taking out the Skulls in a couple missions.
Sleep Grenade Launcher
- This was really only useful in "Pitch Dark" and "Cloaked in Silence", but it was still useful.
Cluster Guided Missiles
- The best launcher in the game. It does a ton of damage and it locks on to targets within about 200 meters, so it's perfect for taking down helicopters and Sahelanthropus.
D-Walker's Fulton Ballista- Not essential, particularly since it locks you to an A-rank, but there are a few Side Ops where you have to Fulton enemies with TONS of armor. Being able to just shoot them with a gun that automatically Fultons them makes those missions way easier.
- Unlimited ammo AND suppressors. Restricts you to A-rank, but again, it has its uses.
Some of these things require certain specialists or high-ranked Mother Base platforms, but every single one of them is worth it, trust me.
Side Ops Have No Ranking System, So Use Stealth Camo
Unlike the main missions (and unlike the Side Ops in "Peace Walker") the Side Ops don't judge you on your performance. They only care about results.
So break out that Stealth Camo, Infinity Bandanna, and Fulton Ballista and get cracking. Also, one you complete a Side Op, you can just return to the ACC through the Start Menu. Don't worry, the game remembers that you completed it. It just saves you from having to call Pequod and waste money on the extraction.
There are a few different types of Side Ops, but once you get a rhythm for it, they're pretty easy (just time-consuming).
These missions are the easiest. Bring along D-Dog with his Fulton outfit, sneak into the area with your Stealth Camo, when you see the prisoner, tell D-Dog to go Fulton him. If he fails, find the locked door and unlock it and do it yourself. Boom, you're done.
Secure the Blueprint
Either look up online where the Blueprint is or interrogate soldiers until they tell you.
Extract the Highly Skilled Soldier
These are harder than Prisoner Extractions because the target is unwilling. You'll need to find them and knock them out. Not too hard with D-Dog, Stealth Camo, and your INT-Scope. Don't bother capturing every soldier in the area or you'll be there all day. Just find the one you need, sneak in, take them out, and return to ACC.
Capture the Animal
There are a small number of missions that involve capturing animals. The hard part is usually just finding the animal. Once you do, just camo up and shoot it with your tranq gun until it drops.
Extract the Wandering Mother Base Solider
This is necessary for unlocking all of the Memento Photos. This is a little trickier than the other Extraction missions since they often resist you, but with a decent long-range tranq gun, you can land a head-shot, and that's all you need.
Eliminate the Heavy Infantry/Armored Vehicle Unit/Tank Unit
D-Walker's Fulton Ballista is very handy for these missions, but if you're not interested in keeping anyone alive, Air Support Bombardments can work fine too (though they're far less elegant).
Air Support Bombardments are big time savers for these missions.
Eliminate the Wandering Puppets
These missions are fairly easy at first, but they get tricky once the Puppets start wearing head armor. For this, I recommend packing a lethal weapon to shoot them in the head until the helmet falls off, then either tranq them with a head-shot or just finish the job if you don't plan to extract them. Just remember that you NEED a head-shot on these guys.
Most of these missions are easy, but one or two are practically timed easter egg hunts. Use a video walkthrough if you don't want to snap your controller out of frustration.
And that's pretty much it for Side Ops. Like I said, they're easy enough, just time-consuming.
You Don't Need to Get S-Rank and All Tasks at the Same Time
This is a very important thing to keep in mind. While you need an S-rank on every Main Mission and you need to complete every task for every Main Mission, you don't need to do both at the same time. In fact, you don't even need to get all the tasks in one go. Some missions are way easier if you just focus on completing a few tasks per run.
That's not to say that doing perfect runs can't sometimes be expedient, but there are some missions that are so hard that trying to get an S-rank while completing all of the objectives is just more trouble than it's worth.
Particularly because some tasks are far easier to complete with Stealth Camo and the Infinity Bandanna.
A simple way to go about completing all the Main Missions would be to start by doing the mission with your Stealth Camo and Infinity Bandanna, just to easily complete all of the tasks. Then do the mission again without the items that lock you to an A-rank and focus on getting an S-rank.
But how do you get an S-rank? Follow these basic strategies:
Use Mist Parasites
- It's not quite as good as the Stealth Camo, but it reduces visibility so much that you basically have to be within spitting distance of an enemy for them to notice you, and at that point, you can just run up and knock them out. But honestly, with Mist Parasites, you barely even need to do anything else. Just crouch-walk to wherever you need to go, ignore the soldiers, keep your distance, and do what you need to do. You can complete entire missions without knocking out a single soldier if you've got the Mist Parasites. Mist Parasites are OP. Use them liberally, and if you run out, go get some more from the Skulls in Kaz's mission. You can probably take them out quickly with either a decent sniper rifle or Sleep Grenades.
Use the Stun Arm for densely guarded areas
- If a building or area is crawling with soldiers, the Stun Arm can be really useful. Just make sure everyone is within 40 meters (D-Dog is very helpful for figuring that out) before you do the blast. You need a full charge and that takes a few minutes to build back up, so use carefully.
Turn off Reflex Mode
- I know it's helpful, but it's a crutch, and a costly one. If you have it on and it triggers, even if you take down the guy that spots you and avoid an alarm, you STILL won't get the bonus for Perfect Stealth, and that's in addition to losing the bonus for avoiding Reflex Mode. Just turn it off and if someone spots you, try to take them down without it. If you set off an alarm, just reload from the last checkpoint. The points you lose for reloading are significantly less than what you lose for using Reflex Mode and not getting Perfect Stealth.
Don't go out of your way to accomplish other objectives
- Yes, you sometimes get bonus points for them, but you also get bonus points for completing the mission quickly. The trade-off isn't usually worth it. Just focus on the main objectives and doing them as quickly as possible.
99% of the time, don't kill anyone
- This is a "Metal Gear" game. If you're killing someone, you're doing it wrong. There are a couple missions where the fastest way to complete them is to kill the target, so sometimes that's OK, but the rest of the time, do it non-lethally. You get a point bonus, you get new soldiers, and you get more Hero Points.
Use material containers for quick extraction
- Calling down a helicopter takes time and money. But if you climb on top of a material container, use the Fulton extraction, and then press and hold the action button immediately afterward, you can ride the material container out of the mission area. This is particularly useful for missions like "Pitch Dark".
Use Armor Parasites for combat missions
- A few missions are less about sneaking and more about fighting things. "Metallic Archaea", "A Quiet Exit", and "Sahelanthropus" involve Snake getting shot at no matter what you do. This is when you use the Armor Parasites. Seriously, with these babies, you'll be damn near invincible, giving you plenty of time to do whatever you need to do without needing to run to cover constantly.
If a soldier is too armored for a tranq gun, shoot them in the arms or legs
- The soldiers in the game gradually evolve to adapt to your dominant strategies. Eventually, certain soldiers start wearing armor to avoid getting knocked out by your tranq guns. If you aim for a head-shot but you hear a CLUNK instead of the satisfying PEW, then aim for their arms and legs instead. If you hear a RIP instead of a CLICK, then their arms and legs are armored as well. At this point, your tranq gun is useless, so don't waste your ammo. You can either try to knock these guys out with CQC or you can just use your Stun Arm. Or you could just avoid them, if possible.
Look up walkthroughs for "Subsistence" missions
- Subsistence missions are the worst. You have to complete the mission (and all the objectives) without any equipment, weapons, or buddies. You don't even get to pick the time of day. There are only a few of them, but they're still infuriating. Just look up walkthroughs on YouTube. Otherwise, you'll be there all day trying to figure it out.
Plant Capture Cages at the start of every mission
- They get extracted automatically and it will save you time during your eventual animal hunt.
So to sum up, each mission should play out something like this:
- Make sure Reflex Mode is turned off in the Game Options.
- Plant Capture Cages.
- Run to your objective.
- If you see soldiers, activate your Mist Parasites. Turn on your NVG so you can still see. If you hear the iDroid voice tell you that "weather will clear shortly", it means your Mist Parasites are about to wear off, so redeploy them if you're still near enemies.
- If a soldier spots you, try to take them out quickly, even without Reflex Mode (usually running and using CQC is pretty reliable, but if you already have them in your sights, go ahead and try and knock them out with a silenced tranq).
- If you trigger an alarm, reload from the last checkpoint.
- Don't kill anyone. If you do, reload from the last checkpoint.
- If there's a bunch of people all in the same 40-meter area, charge up your Stun Arm and let 'em have it.
- Complete the main objectives (and any side objectives if you don't have to go out of your way).
- If there's a materials container, ride it out of the hot zone. Otherwise, call a chopper and get out, or just run out of the hot zone if that's easier.
As for completing the other tasks, I can't really give too much detail or else we'll be here all day. But for me, this was the most fun part of the game, so I would recommend you try to do this without a walkthrough as often as possible. Since you don't have to worry about getting an S-rank at the same time, you can just accomplish the tasks using whatever weapons and items you want, like the aforementioned Stealth Camo and Infinity Bandanna. You can also have fun with the Air Support strikes and special character outfits like the Cyborg (run faster, jump higher!). This is the part of the game where you get to cut loose, and at the end of the day, this IS a video game, so why play if you can't have a little fun?
The only part of this that is no fun at all is when you have mission objectives that require you to listen to every conversation. Those objectives are obnoxious and there's really no way to make that fun. Sorry. The best tip I have for this is to just have a run where you focus on listening to conversations and then do the other objectives in a different run. That way if something goes wrong, you don't have to listen to the same conversations over and over and over.
If you REALLY want to try and get S-rank and all the objectives at the same time, it is possible (for the most part) if you can avoid detection and having to restart. But I'd probably suggest bringing along the Stealth Camo just in case you get spotted. You only get locked out of the S-rank if you use it, so just having it can't hurt, and it'll be nice if something goes wrong after you've completed most of the objectives. At that point, you might as well just focus on accomplishing the tasks and try to get the S-rank afterwards, so go ahead and use your emergency Stealth Camo.
But again, you REALLY DON'T NEED TO GET ALL THE OBJECTIVES AT THE SAME TIME YOU GET AN S-RANK. There's no big reward for doing both at the same time. The game doesn't care.
That said, if you STILL want to try, these video walkthroughs are the best I could find by far. This person completes almost every Main Mission with every objective, perfect stealth, no kills, and S-rank, and he does most of them VERY quickly. If you're a perfectionist, look no further.
Honestly, there's nothing all that special about completing the required Dispatch Missions. Just have a bunch of high-ranking Combat Unit soldiers and keep trying the important missions until you complete them all. Odds are you'll fail some of these a lot, even with all S-ranked soldiers, but just keep trying. Soldiers are easy to replace and eventually you'll get it.
Get all the Key Items
You'll get most of the Key Items just from completing and S-ranking all of the Main Missions and finishing the Side Ops. Beyond that, there are two Key Items that you only get if you collect all of the Delivery Invoices. If you don't know what these are, you'll find them on those weird orange metal things in certain areas. Those are delivery locations. If you have the appropriate invoices, you can hide in a box at those locations and fast-travel to anywhere else that you have an invoice. They don't have many practical uses, but they do come in handy for a few missions, so they're worth getting early on. Plus, you need them for two Key Items, and you need THOSE for 100% completion, so... yeah. Go get 'em.
The only other Key Item you might not have is the one you get for Marking 500 soldiers, and if you don't have that one by now, you probably should use the INT-Scope more. Just run around areas and look at people with the INT-Scope until you get that Key Item.
You get these from the Wandering Soldiers Side Ops and talking to a certain character that's on your Medical Platform. I can't say too much more without spoilers, but basically, after you finish the first Wandering Soldier Side Op, explore the Medical Platform until you find an area that triggers a cutscene. After that, just head back to that location every time you finish a Wandering Soldier Side Op. When you finish, the last Memento Photo is hidden in that area.
Capture All the Animals
This is another thing that requires a walkthrough, to be honest. If you've been planting Capture Cages at the start of every mission, you'll probably have already found most of them, but there are a few that are damn near impossible to find.
Also, I mentioned this earlier, but it's not enough to just see the animals. You have to capture them. Sometimes an animal will appear in your Encyclopedia even if you haven't captured it yet. To know which ones you captured, look at your Animals Emblems in your Emblem Customization page. You unlock an emblem for that animal when you capture it, so if you don't have the Emblem, you still need to capture it.
This guide is pretty good for finding most of them.
And... that's it! Once you've done all these things, you should have 100% completion. If you don't, then there's probably something that counts towards completion that I'm not aware of. In that case, I'd say just focus on completing all of the Achievements/Trophies for the game. You'll probably already have most of them by now, so it probably won't take long.
Oh, and what did I think of the game?
Well, I spent countless hours getting 100% completion and unlocking all the trophies.
Clearly, I hated it.