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Recap / Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is set in 1984, nine years after Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and eleven years before Metal Gear. Militaires Sans Frontières (MSF) has been destroyed by Cipher's XOF strike force, with Big Boss having supposedly perished in a helicopter crash. In reality, he was rescued, though he remained in a nine year-long coma. The story begins upon Snake's awakening.

The game is open-world and features a story that is advanced by numbered Episodes, along with occasional story-important Side Ops, and some cutscenes that activate upon visiting Mother Base after certain accomplishments. Thus the sequence of some events is not necessarily canon.

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    Chapter 1 - Revenge 

Prologue: Awakening

On February 26, 1984, Venom Snake first awakens from his nine-year coma in Dhekelia SBA Memorial Hospital, Cyprus. He falls back asleep, but the code goes out: "V has come to." Over the next month, Dr. Constantinou begins Snake's rehabilitation, informing him of the loss of his left arm and the shrapnel embedded in his bones. On March 11, an XOF assassin (who would later become Quiet) kills Constantinou and moves to kill Snake too. However, a heavily-bandaged patient calling himself "Ishmael" defends him, lighting her on fire with rubbing alcohol and forcing her out a window.

Ishmael escorts Snake out of the hospital. They avoid the XOF troops executing the hospital's patients, only to be faced with a gas mask-wearing child and a flaming specter (Tretij Rebenok and the Man on Fire). Ishmael hijacks an ambulance to escape, but the Man on Fire wounds Ishmael and makes them crash.

When Snake comes to in the ambulance, Ishmael is gone. Fortunately, Revolver Ocelot arrives to extract him on horseback. Ocelot informs Snake that Kazuhira Miller is being held by Soviet forces due to his collaboration with the Mujahideen rebels in Afghanistan. He brings Snake to a whaling ship, which they board to reach Afghanistan to rescue Miller. Along the way, Snake regains his muscle mass and equips a new bionic arm.

Episode 1: Phantom Limbs

Venom Snake is dropped off in Northern Kabul, Afghanistan, and given three days to rescue Miller. He frees Miller from the Soviet garrison at Da Ghwandai Khar, though his friend has lost An Arm and a Leg. Their exfiltration is hindered by the Skulls, a squad of Super Soldiers whom Miller recognizes as the ones who captured him in the first place. Fortunately, Snake escapes with Miller via helicopter.

The helicopter takes Snake and Miller to the Seychelles, where the Mother Base of their new PF "Diamond Dogs" lies. On the trip, Miller claims that he took the Mujahideen job to distract the Skulls from Snake's hospital escape. The two vow to take revenge on Cipher and XOF together.

Episode 2: Diamond Dogs

Venom Snake and Miller land on Mother Base. While Miller receives medical attention, Ocelot introduces Snake to Diamond Dogs. He then encourages Snake to begin taking missions with the Mujahideen in Afghanistan to build resources and reputation.

Episode 3: A Hero's Way

Venom Snake is deployed to eliminate a Spetsnaz commander who ran a brutal scorched earth operation against the Hamid Mujahideen at Da Smasei Laman. Snake infiltrates Shago Village and eliminates the commander, but discovers that he wasn't actually involved in the attack.

Episode 4: C2W

Venom Snake is sent to sabotage Soviet communications equipment at the Eastern Communications Post. On his way, he encounters a wild puppy with an injured eye, and Ocelot suggests he extract him (later becoming DD).

Episode 5: Over the Fence

Venom Snake is tasked with extracting a Soviet engineer who got caught trying to defect and is held prisoner at Wakh Sind Barracks. The engineer says he is the one who developed Snake's prosthetic arm, and that he wanted to defect because he didn't want to build giant arms for a secret Soviet weapon.

Episode 6: Where Do the Bees Sleep?

Venom Snake is sent to recover the U.S. military's new "Honey Bee" weapon hidden at Da Smasei Laman, before the Soviets find it. The Soviets have captured the sole Hamid survivor, but he is mute and cannot give its location.

After finding the Honey Bee, Snake briefly meets the man called Skull Face who leads XOF, accompanied by the Skulls and a giant robot concealed in mist. The Skulls corrupt the local Soviet soldiers into zombie-like puppets, until Snake exfiltrates the fort with the Honey Bee.

Episode 7: Red Brass

Venom Snake is hired to eliminate three Soviet commanders at Da Wialo Kallai, who are meeting to discuss the presence of Diamond Dogs in Afghanistan. He succeeds and exits the hot zone.

Episode 8: Occupation Forces

Venom Snake is tasked with eliminating a Soviet colonel reassigned to Da Smasei Laman, and preventing the group of tanks from redeploying there. He succeeds and exits the hot zone.

Episode 9: Backup, Back Down

Venom Snake provides backup to a Mujahideen offensive by eliminating as many Soviet vehicles as possible until the attack is complete. He succeeds and exits the hot zone.

Episode 10: Angel With Broken Wings

Venom Snake is hired to rescue Malak, a Mujahideen being held by the Soviets at Lamar Khaate Palace. The client claims that Malak was taken prisoner after their village was destroyed by the Soviets' scorched earth campaign, and that his freedom is his father's last wish.

When Malak is extracted, however, he claims to have no connection to the client. He also states that his village was infected by a strange disease and burned to the ground long before he was taken prisoner. Now paranoid that Cipher is trying to find Malak, Miller recruits him into Diamond Dogs instead.

Episode 11: Cloaked in Silence

Diamond Dogs are contacted by Huey Emmerich, who is working with the Soviets in Afghanistan and plans to defect. Miller agrees, but only to investigate Huey's role in the fall of MSF nine years ago. Venom Snake is deployed to contact him, but is ambushed by an XOF sniper at Aabe Shifap Ruins.

Upon defeating the sniper, Venom Snake recognizes her as the assassin from the hospital, now known as Quiet due to her muteness. Miller urges Snake to kill her, but Ocelot suggests he extract her to Mother Base instead. Snake agrees.

On their trip back to Mother Base, the helicopter is attacked by an XOF fighter jet, but Quiet snipes the pilot and saves them. She is escorted to a holding cell on Mother Base, but shows such cooperation that Snake begins bringing her with him on missions.

Episode 12: Hellbound

Venom Snake returns to Afghanistan to find Huey at Serak Power Plant. Instead, he witnesses Skull Face and Huey discuss the new Metal Gear Sahelanthropus, before Skull Face shoves him down the stairs and has him detained at the Soviets' Afghanistan Central Base Camp for treason.

Snake follows Huey to the Central Base Camp and finds the Soviets using Walker Gears, supplied by Huey's work with Cipher. Snake rescues him, meeting the Mammal Pod stored in his lab too. However, their escape is blocked by Skull Face, Tretij Rebenok, and a surprisingly functional Sahelanthropus. Outgunned, Snake is forced to evade Sahelanthropus and escape with Huey. When Sahelanthropus pursues their chopper, Snake shoots it with the chopper’s minigun, severely damaging its frame.

Ocelot interrogates Huey, revealing to Snake that Zero hasn't been seen in 10 years and that Skull Face is the one to blame for MSF's destruction. He also reveals that the funding for Huey's Walker Gear and Sahelanthropus projects are being diverted to research in Central Africa. This leads Diamond Dogs to believe XOF is pursuing a "weapon to surpass Metal Gear" in the Angola-Zaire border region, and so they begin taking jobs in the area to gather intel.

Episode 13: Pitch Dark

Diamond Dogs is hired by an environmental NGO to stop an oil spill in the Munene River. This requires shutting down Mfinda Oilfield, which is allegedly taken over by the rebel group UNITA. This is part of a civil war between the communist MPLA and the capitalist UNITA (including three PFs: Contract Forces of Africa, Zero Risk Security, and Rogue Coyote).

Upon shutting down Mfinda Oilfield, Venom Snake learns that the CFA guards were actually hired by the owner, SANR (South African Natural Resources), and they have no ties to UNITA at all. They intentionally flooded the river with oil, covering a mass of corpses with odd growths on the chests. Not only that, but Miller discovers that SANR no longer exists and was a front for something else - most likely XOF.

Episode 14: Lingua Franca

Venom Snake tails an Afrikaans interpreter in order to rescue a British prisoner known as the Viscount, who is being held at Kiziba Camp. The Viscount is a leader of the CFA who tried to swap the CFA's alliance to the MPLA for more profit, but was detained by his Afrikaner colleagues. Upon extracting the Viscount, he discloses that the CFA is buying Walker Gears, almost certainly from XOF.

Episode 15: Footprints of Phantoms

Venom Snake is hired by the MPLA to eliminate every Walker Gear deployed in Ditadi Abandoned Village. He succeeds and exits the hot zone.

Episode 16: Traitors' Caravan

Venom Snake is sent to steal the cargo that a truck convoy is transporting with supposed payment to XOF. The Skulls escort the convoy, showing its high priority. Upon stealing the truck, however, Diamond Dogs discover that it contains nothing but unenriched uranium-laced malachite and yellowcake. This implies nuclear weapons development, but the uranium is useless without being enriched at a plant first, leaving XOF's intentions unclear.

Episode 17: Rescue the Intel Agents

Two members of Diamond Dogs' Intel Team were captured by the CFA, so Venom Snake goes to rescue them. He succeeds and exits the hot zone.

Episode 18: Blood Runs Deep

Diamond Dogs are pulled into a tribal conflict, as they are hired by a Mbele general to silence six Mbele soldiers who are in the hands of their Buta enemies. The first soldier betrayed his colleagues to join Rogue Coyote and now works at Bampeve Plantation, and Venom Snake neutralizes him.

However, upon locating the other five soldiers at Kungenga Mine, Snake discovers they are only children and can't bring himself to kill them. Instead, he records gunshots to falsify their deaths and extracts them to Mother Base. Snake suggests recruiting the children as soldiers, but Miller disagrees and makes an education program for them instead.

Episode 19: On the Trail

Venom Snake is hired by an unknown client to eliminate the commander of Rogue Coyote, known as the Major. He had spread rumors of dealing in nukes, but in reality was only paid to talk and had no real plans.

Episode 20: Voices

The Mbele children reveal that there was another boy, Shabani, who was taken to the Ngumba Industrial Zone. They pay Diamond Dogs to rescue Shabani.

Venom Snake finds the factory full of bloody corpses with lumps on their lungs and earbuds lodged in their throats, each playing recordings of different languages. He locates Shabani, but is suddenly met with Skull Face, who orders Tretij Rebenok and the Man on Fire to kill Snake. Tretij Rebenok is distracted by Shabani and mercy-kills him via smoke inhalation, giving Snake a chance to get outside to fight the Man on Fire in the open. Upon defeating the Man on Fire, Tretij Rebenok teleports away with him, leaving Snake with nothing but Shabani's necklace.

Episode 21: The War Economy

Venom Snake is sent to eliminate a CFA official stationed at Nova Braga Airport, who is due to conduct an inspection with a visiting arms dealer. The arms dealer is spreading rumors of selling nukes, similar to the Major.

Episode 22: Retake the Platform

On the way back to Mother Base, Venom Snake is alerted that the R&D Platform has been captured by an enemy PF called Mosquito Stinger Force. Upon defeating their commander, Mosquito, Snake learns that he is a former MSF agent who thought Snake sold them out and was seeking revenge. Mosquito and his PF are absorbed into Diamond Dogs.

Episode 23: The White Mamba

After all the adult soldiers in Bwala ya Masa mysteriously died, the child soldiers took over, and their leader is the boy Eli. When Snake is deployed to retake the village, Eli spitefully fights back, forcing Snake to subdue him before extracting him to Mother Base.

Upon returning to Mother Base, Eli attacks Snake again with a knife. Snake disarms and reprimands him.

Episode 24: Close Contact

Venom Snake is sent to locate two engineers who had been sent to the area by a medical NGO, but subsequently went missing. They were being held at Ngumba Industrial Zone's SW Guard Post. Upon extracting them, they confirm that English was the only language absent from the earbuds at Ngumba Industrial Zone.

Episode 25: Aim True, Ye Vengeful

Venom Snake is hired by the Mbele general from earlier to stop a group of child soldiers who abducted their XO. This XO is allegedly the general's brother, but it turns out that the XO actually murdered the general; he didn't correct the boys because then they would kill him.

Around this time, a mysterious illness begins infecting Diamond Dogs personnel, requiring a Quarantine Platform to be constructed.

Episode 26: Hunting Down

Venom Snake is hired by a Mbele unit to eliminate a logistics officer for Rogue Coyote who doubles as a human trafficker. He is the one who sent Shabani and the Mbele kids to their fates. However, Snake learns from the trafficker himself that he requested rescue from an NGO, who must be the true client.

Episode 27: Root Cause

Diamond Dogs receives a distress call from an Intel Team agent who was investigating the illness; he was kidnapped by Rogue Coyote and is being held at a guard post. However, Snake discovers that the agent escaped on his own, so he moves to cover his escape. The agent reveals that the pathogen was developed by an individual called Code Talker in a mansion in the jungle.

Episode 28: Code Talker

Code Talker is being held by Zero Risk Security in a mansion in Lufwa Valley. Snake crosses the jungle, avoiding the Skulls. Then he infiltrates the mansion's cellar to meet Code Talker, who informs him of the existence of vocal cord parasites. Code Talker explains that he can halt the onset of symptoms on Mother Base if Snake rescues him. On the way out of Lufwa Valley, Snake finds that the guards have been made puppets.

While exfiltrating, the helicopter is swarmed by a mysterious cloud that instantly rusts it over and causes it to crash.

Episode 29: Metallic Archaea

Venom Snake emerges from the downed helicopter and is forced to fight off the Skulls. After defeating them, Ocelot arrives in a backup helicopter to exfiltrate. Code Talker explains that he developed a microbe called metallic archaea which can quickly process metals, even enriching uranium without a plant. This is a major part of Skull Face's plan: using metallic archaea to make nuke development so easy that he can arm the entire world, while secretly maintaining total control over their usage.

At Mother Base, Code Talker uses wolbachia to turn male vocal cord parasites female and prevent them from reproducing. This effectively cures the epidemic, but also renders all Diamond Dogs staff sterile. Ocelot tortures Huey using metallic archaea, getting him to spill that Skull Face has continued development of Sahelanthropus in Afghanistan after all.

Episode 30: Skull Face

Returning to Afghanistan, Diamond Dogs plans to raid the base OKB Zero. Along the way, they discover that Skull Face released the Russian vocal cord parasites to rid the area of Soviet forces. Venom Snake infiltrates OKB Zero on the ground, eventually facing Skull Face who overpowers him with numbers and words. Forcing Snake into a vehicle, Skull Face divulges the rest of his plan - using the English parasite strain to kill English and make nukes the new lingua franca - during their trip to Serak Power Plant.

At Serak Power Plant, Skull Face summons Tretij Rebenok and the Man on Fire to kill Snake in front of the finished Sahelanthropus. However, the stowaway Eli on a nearby helicopter attracts Tretij Rebenok with his burning lust for revenge, overpowering Skull Face's control. Tretij Rebenok hijacks Sahelanthropus for Eli, making it crush the Man on Fire and attack XOF, pinning Skull Face under debris.

Episode 31: Sahelanthropus

Venom Snake faces the rampaging Sahelanthropus with all of Diamond Dogs' resources at his disposal, unaware of Eli's influence. Eventually it is too damaged to continue, and deactivates.

Snake and Miller find Skull Face and exact their revenge, blasting his limbs off with his own shotgun; Huey finishes him off with a pistol, cheapening their catharsis. Snake throws the English vocal cord parasites into a fire, but they are secretly caught by Tretij Rebenok. Sahelanthropus is brought to Mother Base as a trophy of Diamond Dogs' victory.

    Chapter 2 - Race 
Note: A large portion of missions in Chapter 2 are more difficult replays of previous missions with no story relevance. This Recap only covers missions with unique narratives, and any especially important Side Ops. However, the timing for when the player conducts Side Ops is intentionally left flexible, and thus this is not an official timeline of those events.

Episode 32: To Know Too Much

Though Skull Face is dead, XOF persists as a proper channel of Cipher once more. The Diamond Dogs continue to perform clean-up, confiscating any data on the vocal cord parasites. A CIA mole in the Soviets who is aware of the parasites is targeted by XOF, so Venom Snake extracts him to Diamond Dogs before they can.

Back at Mother Base, Huey reveals his new Battle Gear to be deployed with Diamond Dogs. Snake and Miller are hesitant, but go along with Huey's project for now.

Side Op 143: Extract the AI Pod

Venom Snake returns to Afghanistan Central Base Camp to retrieve the Mammal Pod from Huey's lab. Miller intends to investigate it for evidence that would implicate Huey in the attack on MSF nine years ago.

Episode 35: Cursed Legacy

Venom Snake is deployed to collect two containers of research that Code Talker hid in the Lufwa Valley, as XOF is targeting them too. He succeeds and exits the hot zone.

After Eli throws Shabani's necklace into a chamber full of chlorine disinfectant, Quiet jumps in to retrieve it. Suffering burns and nearly suffocating, Quiet is carried to the Medical Platform by Snake.

Side Ops 51-60: Extract the Wandering Mother Base Soldiers

After apparently finding Paz alive and well in the Medical Platform, Venom Snake begins discovering unhinged MSF soldiers who survived the destruction of Mother Base nine years ago. Extracting them grants him with photographs and mementos from that time. Once he has extracted all ten of them, Paz disappears from the Medical Platform, leaving Snake a tape containing a confession that she was nothing more than a figment of the lingering regret he felt for her death.

Episode 38: Extraordinary

One of Diamond Dogs' informants was killed seeking intel on Tretij Rebenok and the Man on Fire, but managed to store it in a film canister in Spugmay Keep. As Spetsnaz soldiers sweep the area, Venom Snake races to locate the canister before they do.

When Ocelot shares the intel, he reveals that when Venom Snake woke up in the hospital, his lust for revenge empowered Tretij Rebenok until he came across the body of Colonel Volgin and awakened him as the Man on Fire. Additionally, Miller and Huey notify Snake that there has been a radiation leak from some equipment, but it's under control.

Side Op 144: Secure the Remains of the Man on Fire

Venom Snake is sent to retrieve the Man on Fire's body, once word gets out that it was retrieved by Soviets at Yakho Oboo Supply Outpost. As Snake approaches, it comes back to life and attacks Snake, only to momentarily revert to Volgin's original appearance before falling dead. Snake then extracts him.

Episode 41: Proxy War Without End

Venom Snake is hired by the MPLA to eliminate the CFA armored column assembling to the north of Nova Braga Airport. He succeeds and exits the hot zone.

Side Ops 145-149: Search for the Escaped Children

After a child, Ralph, dies in what appears to be an accident, the remaining children are provoked by Eli into fleeing Mother Base. This forces Venom Snake to retrieve them before they are captured by the forces in their respective areas.

Upon retrieving all five children, Ocelot and Snake interrogate Eli. He reveals that he and the boys are rebelling against Diamond Dogs, and Sahelanthropus bursts through the wall with Tretij Rebenok to retrieve Eli and fly away. The children follow, forcing a Diamond Dogs helicopter pilot to follow Eli.

Episode 43: Shining Lights, Even in Death

Miller alerts Venom Snake that the vocal cord parasite outbreak has returned. The radiation leak caused a mutation in the wolbachia, letting the parasites asexually reproduce. Snake enters the Quarantine Platform to rescue survivors.

Snake finds the researcher who made the SOS transmission, who tells him to use night-vision goggles to identify the infected. He moves to the roof, finding manic soldiers trying to escape. Miller worries that if they die outside, the birds will eat their flesh and spread the infection, so a napalm strike is deployed to incinerate them. As the light attracts more infected, Snake must massacre his men to stop the crowd. Snake finds one survivor with no symptoms, but by the time they reach the exit, he succumbs and must be killed too. Snake falls to his knees in the bloodied halls.

The fallen soldiers are cremated for mass burial at sea, but Snake decides in the middle of the funeral to make diamonds from their ashes instead, making them true Diamond Dogs.

Soon afterwards, Diamond Dogs learns that Huey had ordered beta ray-emitting equipment that triggered the vocal cord parasite mutations. Upon interrogating him, they also learn that Huey has been in contact with Cipher, and that he helped the children repair Sahelanthropus. Combined with the discovery of Dr. Strangelove's corpse within the Mammal Pod, Miller holds a trial for Huey. Though Diamond Dogs supports executing Huey, Snake demands that he be exiled with food and water instead.

Episode 45: A Quiet Exit

Upon witnessing the mutation of the vocal cord parasites, Quiet flees Mother Base and returns to Afghanistan. She is captured by Soviet soldiers, and Venom Snake rushes to the rescue. They fight Soviets together before escaping in a sandstorm, but Snake is bitten by a venomous snake. Quiet breaks her vow of silence to radio in and guide the helicopter through the sandstorm, activating the English strain of vocal cord parasites she secretly harbored. She chooses not to return to Diamond Dogs, disappearing into the desert.

Episode 46: Truth: The Man Who Sold the World

Venom Snake remembers the truth of his existence: he is the medic who operated on Paz in the helicopter nine years ago. He threw himself between Big Boss and an explosion, and was converted into a body double for Big Boss who was hypnotized to believe he is the original. Ishmael from the hospital escape was the real Big Boss, ensuring that his body double made it out alive to take his place. This way, his reputation would grow and his agenda would advance while Big Boss worked from the shadows.

Venom Snake receives a tape from Big Boss, who apologizes for tricking him but thanks him for his loyalty. Snake bitterly agrees to continue the illusion by running Diamond Dogs, and eventually building Outer Heaven.

A flashback conversation is heard between Miller and Ocelot. Miller is enraged at being fooled by Big Boss, and vows to train Venom Snake and later Solid Snake to surpass him one day. Ocelot stays loyal for now.

    Mission 51: Kingdom of the Flies 
Note: The canonicity of this mission is a hotly-debated topic in the Metal Gear fandom. It was ultimately cut from the final version of the game, but resolves several plot points and offers the story a proper finale. This information comes from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain Collector's Disc, and not the main game.

After Eli, Tretij Rebenok, and the Mbele children fled Mother Base with Sahelanthropus, the Diamond Dogs pilot who was forced to fly them was finally recovered in Central Africa. He explained that Eli not only had Sahelanthropus, but also the last sample of the English vocal cord parasites - this made him a prime target of XOF. Eli's squad was stationed on an island in a salt lake, demanding the body of Snake.

Venom Snake arrives on the island, finding XOF troops are already present to kill Eli and retake their tech. He finds Eli in Sahelanthropus' cockpit, but Eli is attacked by XOF and he fights back with the Metal Gear, discovering Snake. The two battle until Snake splits Sahelanthropus in half at the waist, rendering it totally inoperable.

Eli emerges from Sahelanthropus and is cornered by XOF. Venom Snake protects him from the troops, but a grenade damaging his "horn" triggers a brain seizure. Due to the temporary colorblindness, Snake accidentally shoots Eli's red suit, but he was fortunately wearing a bulletproof vest. Diamond Dogs arrives to clean up, but discovers that Eli's voice has broken and the English vocal cord parasites are activating in him, forcing them to leave him behind. Ocelot orders the entire contaminated island be burned with napalm, and Snake offers Eli a gun to do with what he pleases. Eli doesn't kill Snake nor himself, but is saved by Tretij Rebenok, who extracts his parasites and flies him off the island.