Stealth has always been a major part of the Metal Gear Solid series, and it remains one of the more useful tactics in The Phantom Pain. This game emphasizes stealth as a major factor and in the early stages, it is almost required, as enemies are brutal and ruthless should you get spotted. As you’re sneaking around, there are two distinct stages to enemy detection in the game, a white detection and a red detection.
The white detection means that an enemy might have noticed something and will most likely move to that position to see what it was. This doesn’t mean that the enemy has spotted you, so move away from that position to remain hidden. If you see a red alert, then that means the enemy has spotted you and will engage in combat. Reflex Mode (on by default) will trigger, slowing down the game and giving you a chance to quell the source before the entire enemy force goes on combat alert.
One of the more important factors in being stealthy is navigating the in-game world. By default, Big Boss will be in a standing animation and will run when you move. Pressing the run button will make him sprint, but this will make it easy for enemies to detect you. By pressing the Stance button once, he will crouch, making it a little more difficult for enemies to find you. Hold the Stance button and Big Boss will go prone, where you can crawl, allowing yourself to achieve an even greater degree of stealth.
There are a number of things you can use to your advantage to keep out of the enemy’s sight. Whenever you begin a mission, you have the option of choosing the time of day. Enemies in the day will have an increased line of sight, while their vision is slightly impaired at night. However, you will have to contend with lights at night, with enemies in watchtowers using a spotlight. It’s very important to remember not to be in direct light when enemies are present.
Also, enemies will hear noise, should you make some, like knocking over a jar or chair. Be wary of your surroundings and make sure that you don’t hit anything, especially if you’re sneaking up on an enemy from behind. This also extends to footsteps, as moving too quickly behind an enemy will alert them, so gently move forward when the enemy is not aware of you.
Another major thing you can utilize are distractions, with there being many things in your arsenal that can be used to create them. Your prosthetic arm has a built-in function called knocking, which can be brought up via the command menu. This has a short range, though, and can only be used within 15m of an enemy. Some Buddies can cause a diversion, with D-Dog having a Bark command or Quiet shooting someone without a suppressor on her weapon.
There are also some items that can be used to create distractions, such as empty magazines, which you have an unlimited number of from the beginning of the game. You can develop something called Decoys, which you might encounter later on in the game, as enemies will employ them as well. Even using something like C4, which can be detonated remotely, can provide a necessary diversion as enemies go to investigate the cause.
Combat is also an important part of The Phantom Pain, as you will undoubtedly need to subdue some enemies that might be in your way. It is also not just limited to enemies coming after you either, as you will be fighting a lot without the enemy noticing you. Sneaking up behind an enemy without them noticing will give you a button prompt to grab them. From there, you can either kill them, choke them unconscious or interrogate them to find other enemy locations or things like collectibles.
You can take cover behind objects, which is especially useful if you happen to be in a firefight. Each of the weapons in the game has their advantages and disadvantages, such as pistols not having a big penetration factor. You will want to keep this in mind, especially later on in the game, as enemies will start wearing armor and helmets. Of course, you don’t always need to resort to weapons, as your fists are also deadly utensils of war. Big Boss has a 5-hit CQC combo that can knock out an enemy should he land all of the hits. There are also turrets, with each of the guard posts and bases usually having a couple to utilize.