With one eye on the sentry (literally, one eye), Snake looks for an opening to sneak past the Russian spetsnaz commando. Rather than fight his way into the military outpost in a valley in 1980s Afghanistan, the hero of the video game Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain needs to be guided carefully and thoughtfully into and out of trouble. That’s in part because the game requires thinking about keeping the eye patch-wearing character alive throughout each mission while not losing tabs on the burgeoning private military company they run based off of an oil rig complex in the Seychelles. The epic story’s latest installment keeps a player connected to the pragmatic duties of being a mercenary tycoon, such as making payroll and firing unruly contractors or allocating R&D funding to develop a more capable helicopter gunship. Reality can shift underfoot, as well, as the story weaves in elements that have more in common with Colombian literature’s magical realism than Call of Duty’s first-person adrenaline surges.
Art of Future Warfare project director August Cole joined the Center for International Maritime Security’s Real Time Strategy podcast to discuss Metal Gear Solid V and why it’s an insightful game for understanding the future of war.