In this blog post I would like to talk about a mission in Metal Gear Solid Five: The Phantom Pain. Mission 43 in MGSV took one of the darkest most unexpected turns in any video game I have ever played in my lifetime. This level of depressing tops even that of the Final Fantasy endings. As most dark turns do, mission 43 contains death. A lot of death. Throughout the entirely of the mission I found myself face palming and cringing. Being a real man, I will admit I did tear up just a little. For the sake of this blog I guess I will delve into the depths of my memory to tell you the depressing tale that in Mission 43.
Mission 43 is a mission in MGSV which automatically becomes available shortly after completing Mission 42. In my case, I was simply in a normal side mission when I got a call in game telling me to head back to my base. When I arrived, my staff members informed me that a large portion of my crew members had been infected by a biological weapon called “parasite”. Infected crew members had been quarantined inside my bases medical sickbay. The main focus of the mission is to make contact with the person inside the sickbay who contacted Big Boss via radio. Everything seems normal at this point. The player simply has to throw on a gas mask, enter the sickbay and find whoever send the transmission, right?
Once the player steps into the sickbay, the first things they see are blood stained floors and walls. There are infected crew member lying helplessly along the walls begging for mercy as they slowly die. The worst part about the parasite infection is that it controls the hosts body after death and makes them hostile. In the case of Mission 43, crew members are infected and will soon become aggressive which will ultimately throw the player into a kill or be killed scenario. Throughout the mission a character by the name of Kaz is telling you to kill anyone who looks infected. At this point the player is not obligated to kill anyone and in my case, I did not. I simply proceeded to try and find whoever contacted me within the quarantine. As I keep searching I ran into a staff member who didn’t show symptoms of infection but was severely distressed. In fear of getting infected, this staff member put a gun to his head and killed himself right in front of me. This is when things started taking a really dark turn.
Once I found the person inside the quarantine who contacted me, he told me that I could tell who was infected if I used my thermal night vision goggles. I could now differentiate between infected people and non-infected people. This small mechanic put a sliver of hope in me that I could save some of my crew. This was not the case. Almost every crew member I avoided killing had now started turning. Looking through my goggles they were clearly infected and had to be put down. Most of them still had their consciousness and pleaded for me to kill them. Each crew member had their own unique name, some of which I remembered walking around base and greeting me normally. Every infected person also had their own dialogue but in the end it came down to them begging for mercy or asking for death. Regardless of their choice, I had to kill them considering the mission cannot be completed otherwise.
With each pull of the trigger I felt more and more morally conflicted. I kept telling myself that what I was doing was purely fictional but that didn’t work. Another character in the game by the name of Dr. Huey would yell at me through my headset calling me a monster for killing my own men. Every person I killed a little notification would pop up saying a staff member has died and my heroism has decreased.
I eventually came across a room filled with more of my crew who saluted me as I entered. One of them stated, “The Boss will know what to do”. This sent shivers down the spine because I knew what I had to do, I just didn’t want to. Eventually, I brought myself to it and killed them one by one as they maintained their composure and faced their death saluting ME, the one who was about to kill them. As I stared at their bodies my goggles found one crew member who wasn’t infected, sitting in a corner. At least I could save one person right? Wrong. As I spent several minuted struggling to carry him to the quarantine exit, the man eventually collapses. I am told to analyze him with my goggles again and sure enough he had become infected during the time it took to carry him. All my hope was crushed at this point and I was beyond thankful that the mission was over.
One of the most depressing and meaningful moments of this mission is the ending cut scene. Big Boss understand that he must maintain his composure despite doing what he did in order to keep his staff in order. However, Big Boss clearly demonstrates how much he cared about the crew members he had to kill because he cremates each one of them. One of the most touching quotes occurs when Big Boss refuses to toss his crew member’s ashes into the sea. He states, “I will not scatter your ashes to the heartless sea…I will always be with you”. Big Boss then asks of his staff to make diamonds out of the ashes. From this point on, Big Boss and his staff have a small diamond on their insignia that they wear into battle to commemorate their fallen comrades.
Overall, this mission was a roller coaster of emotions for me. It is definitely the most memorable gaming experience I have had because it evoked a completely genuine reaction from me. Not many games take the time to implement such well thought out missions.