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Video Game / Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

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From Fox, two phantoms were born...

"Your favorite song... Nicola, Bart — immigrants, wrongly executed... But their deaths served as a message to others: that ours is a society that murders the innocent. Do you, too, believe that your sacrifice will change the world?"
Skull Face

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is a stand-alone prologue to the Metal Gear Solid V experience. It was released for consoles on March 18, 2014 in North America, March 20 in Europe and Japan, and March 27 in Australia. The PC version was released worldwide on Steam on December 18, 2014.

In 1975, legendary mercenary Snake (a.k.a. Big Boss) goes on a mission to extract former allies Paz Ortega Andrade and Ricardo "Chico" Valenciano Libre from a U.S. naval prison facility in Cuba. Paz in particular is Snake's only lead on the whereabouts of "Cipher", an American black ops groupnote  that targeted him during the Peace Walker Incident. Unfortunately, both were captured by Cipher's mysterious XOF unit, who finish interrogating the pair and depart shortly before Snake arrives.

Followed by Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, released a year later. Please note that there are marked spoilers for it in these pages.

Tropes present in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes:

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  • 100% Completion: Your completion ratio is given as a percentage at the title screen. The main story mission makes up 10 percent with the rest being divided among the side ops, extra ops, and trials.
  • Action Prologue: To The Phantom Pain. It isn't essential to play Ground Zeroes to enjoy The Phantom Pain, but it serves to tease the main plot, allows players to get a feel for the darker tone, and as a refresher on the Big Boss timeline.
  • Alternate Continuity: "Jamais Vu" is explicitly stated to have taken place in a different universe than the main game, which is obvious when you account for the sudden appearance of the Snatchers and the time-travelling cyborg.
  • Alternate Timeline: Discussed in the prologue description text for "Jamais Vu". It states that given the size of the universe it is not improbable to assume that any number of branching timelines could exist at the same time, making it so that any given reality could be just as real as the other, simultaneously existing and not existing at the same time, existing in its own reality but not in that other reality.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: Both Extra Ops feature their own set of alternate skins that can only be used in those missions. The "Deja Vu" mission allows players to control low-polygon renditions of Solid Snake and the Cyborg Ninja from the first Metal Gear Solid in addition to the standard Snake, while "Jamais Vu" has players controlling the cyborg version of Raiden from Metal Gear Rising in one of three available color schemes (default, White and Inferno).
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • If (and more likely when) your chopper is spotted by the Marines when ex-filtrating after a mission, it doesn't count as an Enemy Combat Alert.
    • Reflex Mode and the corresponding differentiation between being Discovered and an Enemy Combat Alertnote  are meant as one; although being Discovered with Reflex Mode enabled does forfeit a No Reflex bonus, that's still better for one's score than the penalty from each Enemy Combat Alert.
  • Art Evolution: Commented in both Extra Ops. When the player contacts Miller while observing the logo of a mainline Metal Gear title, he will state the number of pixels or polygons that Snake's sprite or model was made of in that particular installment.
  • Artifact Title: One of two Metal Gear games that do not feature some iteration of the eponymous Humongous Mecha - the Shagohod from Snake Eater was actually a competitor with the Metal Gear project. ZEKE is mentioned in passing by Huey, but never actually seen.
  • Artistic License – Military: Several examples, most notably knockoff woodland pattern the Marines wear (it's woodland pattern, but with a coloration similar to that of modern-day AOR2) instead of the period appropriate ERDL pattern that was USMC issue from Vietnam to 1981 when the M81 BDU was issued, as well as some of the Marines sporting rather... relaxed facial grooming. The enemies are interchangeably referred to as soldiers and Marines, sometimes within the same sentence. Also the use of "Repeat" over comms note , and when the Marine fireteams contact CP (Command Post) CP is the one who says "Out." (More correctly, the Marine patrol would say "Out" to indicate that they were done sending traffic.)
  • Back for the Dead: Paz, who dies before she can reveal crucial information on XOF and Cipher. The Phantom Pain also reveals that Chico died in the helicopter crash.
  • Bag of Spilling:
    • The nuke-armed Metal Gear ZEKE that MSF builds in Peace Walker is explained away by the U.N. inspection; MSF dumped ZEKE and their nuclear weapon underwater to securely hide them, which explains why Snake can't use nuclear leverage come The Phantom Pain.
    • Snake's loadout for the rescue mission is described as "the bare essentials" to minimise disruption, meaning that he can't use any of the flashier equipment that was available in Peace Walker.
    • Mother Base's destruction justifies why none of your gear from Peace Walker carries over. Not that it matters, since you eventually get to develop weapons and equipment that far surpass what the old Mother Base was capable of, anyway.
      • Subverted with the Carl Gustav Fulton. It was eventually added to The Phantom Pain in an update.
  • Big Bad: Skull Face, the commander of the mysterious paramilitary group XOF, which kidnapped Paz and Chico and destroys Mother Base at the end.
  • Big Damn Heroes: At the end of the main story mission, Snake's chopper flies in to rescue Miller and the surviving MSF forces as Mother Base breaks apart.
  • Big "NO!": Snake and Chico do this when Paz jumps out of the helicopter.
  • Boring Yet Practical: By far the easiest way to S-Rank the "Destroy the Anti-Air Emplacements" mission is to A-Rank it first, then replay the mission with the provided rocket launcher, taking the emplacements out from the starting point.
  • Bottomless Magazines:
    • Averted. As Snake continues firing at the XOF troops during their assault on Mother Base, his gun runs out of ammo, and he angrily tosses it down before grabbing Miller's hand.
    • Played with when Snake sits into the helicopter. The chopper has an infinite supply of ammo for whatever weapons Snake uses, so weapons can be reloaded indefinitely. While Snake's reserve ammo is not topped off, the player can still exploit this for infinite tranquiliser pistol rounds (which are hard to come by compared to assault rifle rounds) by constantly calling for a chopper and reloading it.
  • Bowdlerise: A toned down version happens in the Spanish translation: For some reason, the translation severely tones down, but not completely removes, almost all the profanities, with the sole bizarre exception of "bitch", and when someone use a profanity in the game, the translation use a euphemism or skip it completely when necessary.
  • Broad Strokes: The side ops in Ground Zeroes are set a few months before the main mission, but they're "pseudo-historical recreations", implying they might have happened differently, and — most importantly — in another place, than what is actually depicted in the game.
  • Call-Back:
    • In Chico's Tape 1, after Chico is caught by a camp guard, some clattering is heard, then a short clip from "Love Deterrence"note  is heard playing before being shut off.
    • The eponymous character from the Intel Operative Rescue mission is none other than Hideo, who had a S rank in Intel when recruited in Peace Walker.
    • The "Classified Intel Acquisition" side-op is given to MSF by the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff. Snake has been acquainted with their unnamed chairman throughout the previous prequels, having met him during the award ceremony at the end of Snake Eater, and later on when Snake contacted him via telephone to stop the retaliation against Peace Walker's fake nuke launches.
  • Call-Forward: In the opening of the story mission, Miller repeats a line from Colonel Campbell in Metal Gear Solid.
    Miller: Excellent, Snake. Age hasn't slowed you down one bit.
    • In a side-mission, after rescuing Hideo Kojima, Snake puts on his glasses and Kojima asks "Snake, what took you so long?"note , echoing a scene in Episode 1 of The Phantom Pain where Snake rescues Miller in Afghanistan (which was shown at the E3 2013 trailer at the time).
  • Catchphrase:
    Snake: Kept you waiting, huh?
  • Chekhov's Gun: The U.N. Inspection, which is a front for XOF's attack on Mother Base.
  • The Chessmaster: Skull Face's plan is to deliver a crushing blow against MSF and pin the blame on Cipher, leading the two to destroy one another.
  • Cliffhanger: The ending of Ground Zeroes. Paz explodes as she falls out of the helicopter Snake is in, causing it to spiral and collide with another helicopter. Cue a Fade to White, some information regarding the immediate aftermath of the event, a timeline, a monologue by Skull Face, and the credits, along with a short preview of the next game. Completing side missions and obtaining the other tapes alleviate this a bit by establishing that Skull Face is rebelling against Cipher, and he interrogates Paz about the organization as well as its owner, Zero. This also ends on a cliff hanger of its own when Paz agrees, knowing that it can save Snake, and the scene cuts when she begins her explanation.
  • Convenient Coma: Snake falls into a coma for nine years after massive physical trauma, allowing for a convenient time skip from 1975 to 1984.
  • Collection Sidequest: Finding all nine XOF badges in the main story mission unlocks the Deja Vu or Jamais Vu extra-op, depending on the version. There's also an achievement for collecting all 19 cassette tapes scattered throughout most of the seven missions.
  • Continuity Cavalcade: In the "Déjà Vu" extra op, there are tons of references to other games in the series, particularly the very first Metal Gear Solid.
    • The main objective is to "relive" scenes from MGS1 through certain set pieces. Specifically: the Hind D, running out on the open helipad, the final escape scene, blowing up the tank with a grenade, looking at a surveillance camera, the Moai head, and Psycho Mantis' HIDEO blackout.
    • To complete the mission, the player must crawl under an open vent inside the administration building. This is how Solid Snake infiltrates the Tank Hangar in MGS1.
    • Attempting to rescue the two hostages causes them to die in a manner similar to Kenneth Baker and Donald Anderson from MGS1. Meeting both will produce a small scene where FOXDIE attempts to disrupt the game but is shut out by the FOX Engine.
    • A rifle outfitted with a special flashlight allows players to erase the logos of previous games that are scattered throughout Camp Omega. This only applies to the mainline Kojima-directed games (the original MSX2 games, the numbered Metal Gear Solid entries and Peace Walker), while the spin-off titles (which include Portable Ops and Metal Gear Rising) are not affected.
    • Wearing the Solid Snake or Cyborg Ninja skin will turn every enemy into Genome Soldiers (particularly the arctic-clad variants from outdoor areas and VR training), as well as the two POWs into Donald Anderson and Kenneth Baker. The U.S. flag in the main building will also be replaced with a FOX HOUND logo.
    • Wearing the Snake/Ninja skin will also trigger a snowfall in Camp Omega, causing Miller to wonder whether it's actually the SNOW 9 pollen. SNOW 9 was used by the titular androids in Snatcher to hide their presence.
    • It wouldn't be Metal Gear without this: During the brief FOXDIE freakout after finding both prisoners, the iDroid will recite the names of Myoken line train stations owned by Nose Railway. Just like Grey Fox did during his freakout/Genome slaughter.
  • Cutscene Boss: The sequence where Snake fights upon the burning Mother Base unfortunately isn't playable.
  • Cutscene Power to the Max: During the fall of Mother Base, Snake shoots down a helicopter with a burst from his rifle. This is impossible to pull off in-game.
  • Damsel in Distress: The main story mission opens with Snake attempting to rescue Paz, who survived the events of Peace Walker, from Camp Omega in Cuba so he can interrogate her about the Cipher organization, as well as to rescue Chico, who went after her.
  • Dark Reprise: "Here's to You" gains darker subtext when it plays over the credits, along with every time it appears in an audio file.
  • Déjà Vu: Ground Zeroes features a DLC episode named after the concept which is formed by a series of CallBacks to the original Metal Gear Solid, even allowing you to play as the protagonist of that game.
  • Despair Event Horizon:
    • Poor Chico is well past this after suffering weeks of torture and giving in to an interrogation.
    • Miller crosses it once Mother Base is blown to smithereens. He even starts yelling at Paz, even when it's clear she has nothing to do with the attack and has been through intense trauma.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • Shooting at your chopper will cause Miller to chew you out over the radio saying, "That's not funny!"
    • When you rescue Chico and are told to place him down on the ground before extracting him onto the chopper, he will give you a cassette tape with important clues to finding Paz. If you decide to extract Chico without checking on him, the same cassette tape will slide down the chopper door and land on the ground, causing Snake to obtain it anyway during the cutscene. This also counts as an example of But Thou Must!.
    • Normally, when you unlock Chico's cage, he panics and alerts the other prisoners. However, if you extract the other prisoners before unlocking his cage, that scene is skipped.
    • If you've already unlocked the extra skins after the "Déjà Vu" mission and complete it again, Miller will ask why you continue to take the quiz even though you've already obtained the bonuses.
    • If you try to throw a grenade at an enemy chopper in the "Jamais Vu" mission, you will see the trajectory indicator of the grenade pushed down by...wait for it...the downdraft of the rotor blades.
    • Every individual soldier in the naval base has a different callsign ("Delta-6, Delta-2," etc.) which will be consistent if the same soldier ever needs to report in twice.
  • Difficulty Level: Clearing each mission once will unlock a "Hard Mode" version of said mission. "Hard Mode" levels have considerably smarter enemy AI that can see you from further away, and you're usually left with fewer weapons to start out with on your initial run.
  • Discontinuity Nod: While searching for markings in the "Deja Vu" extra op, Miller will only acknowledge titles in the Metal Gear series that were directed by Kojima himself. When viewing the marking for a non-Kojima game (i.e. Ghost Babel, Portable Ops), Miller will feign ignorance about it and won't bother to read the title out loud. Using the special light on these markings will have no effect on them, causing Miller to remark "looks like that's nothing special." This also applies to the "Jamais Vu" mission, where Miller will inexplicably diss Raiden's own game to his face.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?:
    • Camp Omega is a very unsubtle reference to the United States' unofficial prison facility located in Guantanamo Bay, as well as the horrid conditions and practices at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. Interestingly enough, it's never directly stated if Camp Omega is a part of Guantanamo Bay or if it's a separate prison (though the latter is acknowledged as having existed within the Metal Gear universe).
    • The story mission also has several unsubtle references to the Tanker chapter, made all the more explicit by Word of God saying that he sees Ground Zeroes as the Tanker to The Phantom Pain's Plant. Both missions are short but crammed with little details, taking place at night during a rainstorm; involve unusual objectives new to the series (First-Person Snapshooter vs. Escort Mission with immobile escortees); both involve the U.S. Marine Corps doing something shady (although in GZ they're actual Mooks); and both are Downer Beginnings where the mission goes horribly wrong and the player character is knocked unconscious as the result of a vehicle crash. The main difference is that the protagonist switch from Vic Boss to Venom is a lot less obvious than the switch from Solid Snake to Raiden.
  • Downer Beginning: The story mission ends with Mother Base demolished, MSF disbanded due to the casualties that they have sustained, XOF triumphant and having no apparent opposition to their goals, Snake mutilated and comatose for the better part of a decade. And that's all before The Phantom Pain begins properly.
  • Downer Ending: Snake successfully airlifts Chico and Paz out of Camp Omega, and removes a bomb discovered inside Paz's abdomen. However, the "nuclear inspection" turns out to be an invasion by XOF, who leave Mother Base to sink into the depths of the ocean. Snake barely escapes with Miller, who loses his mind with grief. As he screams at a now awake Paz, she opens the helicopter doors and jumps out, before a second bomb inside her body explodes. Snake's helicopter collides with another, and the screen fades to black.
  • Downloadable Content: The two Extra Ops in Ground Zeroes were initially platform-specific at launch: PlayStation players got the "Déjà Vu" mission, which is a large throwback to the first Metal Gear Solid, while Xbox players got "Jamais Vu", which has Raiden fighting Snatchers. The missions were eventually released on both consoles via the Version 1.02 patch released on May 2014 and both are available by default on the PC version.
  • Dropped a Bridge on Him: Chico dies off-screen after the helicopter crash, which only gets a passing mention in The Phantom Pain.
  • Easter Egg: One involving Chico and Paz. It can be activated by obtaining the cassette tape from Chico, but not extracting him, instead rescuing Paz and laying her down next to him. Chico will lay down and cuddle together with Paz, whispering her name and apologizing for giving into the torture while crying. Paz will react to Chico's voice and start humming a song (either "Love Deterrence", "Sins of the Father", or the "Metal Gear Solid Main Theme") in an attempt to comfort him.
  • Escort Mission: Played with, in that Snake is on a rescue mission, so once he finds his targets he then needs to extract them safely from the operational zone. Unfortunately, neither of his primary targets nor the optional POWs he can rescue are in any condition to walk, and thus he has to carry them to an extraction point. While they are not attacked directly by any enemies, the fact that he must carry them the whole way makes sneaking and/or fighting to the extraction point much more difficult because Snake is much more limited in what he can do while carrying someone.note 
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: Several dogs start barking at Skull Face and the other XOF soldiers when they first approach Camp Omega.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • During the opening cutscene to the Intel Operative Rescue Side Op, Snake will hold up a pair of rectangular eyeglasses. They're Kojima's famous glasses. When Hideo makes his Creator Cameo at the end, he dons them after unmasking himself.
    • More subtly, Ground Zeroes itself provides quite a big clue to one of The Phantom Pain's biggest plot twists. Specifically, during the ending sequence sharp-eyed viewers will notice that when Paz explodes in front of everyone, Big Boss is explicitly not shown as having the iconic horn that "Venom Snake" would have 9 years later. Guess who Venom Snake really is?
      • You can also see the Medic accidentally shielding Snake, which means he would've gotten most of the blast. He also doubles Snake's movements for an instant by reaching for Paz, and being blown back in a similar way.
  • Gunship Rescue: Snake now has the ability to call in a helicopter to pull him out of hot spots or provide air support; and it'll play music of the player's choice as it flies in.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: While Big Boss was inactive, Zero tried to bury the hatchet, actually helping to create Venom Snake to help his former friend.
  • Heroic Suicide: Paz jumps off out of the helicopter she's in seconds after she reveals that there's a second bomb in her body. Unfortunately, her fall doesn't quite clear the radius of the helicopter, and the explosion ends up damaging the vehicle anyway.
  • Hope Spot: After the discomforting scene of the removing of the bomb from Paz's stomach, Huey contacts Snake and tells him that everything's going swimmingly in terms of preparing Mother Base for the inspection. That tranquility doesn't last.
  • Hypocrite: Kaz's bleak, venomous rants about Paz during the infiltration will come across as this when Peace Walker reveals he was feeding information back to Cipher himself and acting as a double agent, making him utterly hypocritical when he was doing it out of choice and Paz was forced to do her work.
  • I Cannot Self-Terminate: As Snake extracts Paz from the administrative building, she weakly repeats "Kill me...kill me", having known about the two bombs planted inside of her.
  • I'll Pretend I Didn't Hear That: The Marines guarding Camp Omega take a lot of interest in the XOF Unit that has been residing at their base recently, commenting on their gear, logos, and even their weird commander Skull Face. But in one instance two guards can be heard talking about the nature of what the XOF Unit is, and one of the Marines in question decides to cut the conversation short because he doesn't want to get in trouble and politely asks the other guard to stay quiet about it as well.
  • Interface Screw: Relatively minor, but after encountering the two prisoners in the "Deja Vu", they'll each die of a heart attack and the FOXDIE virus infects the FOX Engine, causing the screen to turn very weird colors, as well as spitting out nonsense notifications. The problem fixes itself in a few seconds, however.
  • Kansas City Shuffle: Snake discovers that XOF tricked him into evac'ing Paz while she has a bomb in her gut. Removing the bomb and saving her, Paz wakes in time to explain the first bomb was meant to be found, so to distract Snake from the second one.
  • Kick The Son Of A Bitch: Snake's enemies are members of the U.S. Marine Corps posted in what's a not-at-all-subtle ersatz Guantanamo Bay, where the prisoners they've captured are tortured beyond all reason. One look at what they've done to the prisoners' feet makes it a lot easier to swallow trading blows with these guys, and in fact, may encourage some to just barge in guns blazing, since there's no way in hell this is legal or right.

  • Last Day to Live: A doctor notes that Paz will only live for another 24 hours at most, which is how long the bomb in her gut (and the second bomb in an unspecified location) will still function.
  • Laughing Mad: When you rescue her, Paz will occasionally be subject to fits of nervous Mirthless Laughter. Considering the torture she's been through, it's not unjustified.
  • Legacy Character: Invoked in both Extra Ops. Miller treats Solid Snake and Naked Snake interchangeably when giving out factoids about their sprite/character model in each game. This is also part of the reason why Big Boss still goes primarily by his old Snake codename in Ground Zeroes as it is his last appearance as a playable character in the series before the protagonist switch to Venom Snake in The Phantom Pain.
  • Lighter and Softer: Déjà Vu is surprisingly this compared to the rest of the game. Especially Kaz as he appears to be having fun during the entirety of the mission.
  • Limited Loadout: Snake can carry one sidearm, one rifle grip gun and one big gun.
  • Lost in Translation:
    • After the player erases every marking in either Extra Op, they will receive a call from Kojima thanking them for supporting the series. This is a throwback to the Japanese version of Metal Gear Solid, where Kojima will give a similar congratulatory message if Psycho Mantis detects save data from Snatcher and Policenauts in the player's memory card. Since the PlayStation versions of Snatcher and Policenauts were never localized, the message was not included in the English version of Metal Gear Solid, making Kojima's congratulatory call in Ground Zeroes seem a bit random to overseas players. Although, it would quickly become a retroactive Tear Jerker.
    • The Spanish translation, as well as possibly other translations, seems to have been done using a neutral accent common in Latin America instead of the European Spanish dialect used in previous games of the franchise and as a result, the intended audience for the translation is different. The translation has been simplified by removing most idioms, military slang, acronyms, and technical terms to convey the message more straightforwardly.
  • Meatgrinder Surgery: After rescuing Paz, Snake and a medic discover that she has a bomb planted in her abdomen and have no choice but to remove it without anaesthetic, while Paz is fully conscious and screaming her bloody head off in agony.
  • The Mole: Huey is strongly implied to have been one, which would explain why Ocelot tortures him in The Phantom Pain.
  • Mundangerous: As there is no swimming mechanic falling into water from a tiny cliff face will make Snake sink into the water like he had boulders attached to his feet. See Super Drowning Skills above.
  • Mutilation Interrogation: The extent of prisoner torture is apparent when Snake tries to evac Chico, only to see XOF has put metal bolts in his achilles tendons so standing is agony. Done tenfold on Paz, who is tortured into giving up info on Cipher, and is rewarded with two bombs in her torso.
  • Mythology Gag:
    • The opening scene of Ground Zeroes has Snake removing his infrared goggles while facing towards the camera, recreating the title screen/promotional art of the original Metal Gear Solid.
    • Also, the mission starts with Snake climbing a cliff at night, just like Solid Snake does in Metal Gear 2.
    • The opening sequence of the Jamais Vu mission, where Raiden shows up to kill Snatchers infiltrating Cuba, mentions that the snatchers began showing up after a Russian jet crashed nearby. Snatchers were Russian in origin in their original game. The mission takes place at night because the Snatchers' artificial skin, which degrades rapidly in sunlight, forces them to operate in the dark in the original game (a major plot point was about this distinction). Also, after seeing a few of them, a snippet of a song from the MSX2 version plays, but those outside Japan are unlikely to recognize it unless they've played either a Fan Translation of it or the extremely rare Sega CD localization. The only significant difference is that they use the weapons of their victims, rather than the laser cannons from their mouths.
    • The Snatchers burn a bright blue when killed, just liked slain FROG/Haven Troopers did. In the original game, Snatchers often self-destructed after they were neutralized to prevent their bodies from being studied.
    • Like several other Metal Gear games of late, Snake's entering line is "Kept you waiting, huh?"
    • A very subtle one. Players may notice at least two rats who will lead Snake all the way to Paz. This is a callback to Metal Gear Solid when Master Miller advises Snake to follow some rats.
    • Snake can climb inside the beds of trucks, tucking himself away until a driver comes by to drive the truck and bypass security checkpoints, much as in the original Metal Gear. Further, the beds of trucks may contain weapons, like the one where Snake picks up his Mk.23 SOCOM pistol for the first time in Metal Gear Solid.
  • Necessary Drawback:
    • When calling for an extraction chopper, you have several possible places to call for one. Typically, a far-away LZ that is unguarded by the enemy, or a hot LZ right in the middle of the base that's sure to piss off the locals and stands a good chance of getting blown up.
    • The iDroid can display a map with every soldier you've marked on it, and even your "last known position" so you can tell where you can probably safely sneak away from after an alert, but doing this forces you to look at the map and not at the soldiers, because the action doesn't freeze. Attaching a tablet or phone to the game lets you see the map on your tablet instead, but that too has a downside, since you need to look at it instead of the screen. Either way, you'll be distracted from the danger.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero:
    • Huey was the one that called for the U.N. inspection in the first place, thinking it would bring greater publicity to MSF. As the tapes imply, and The Phantom Pain outright reveals, Huey was working for Cipher, subverting the "good intentions".
    • Chico going off on his own to try and rescue Paz, only to get captured himself and forcing Snake to leave Mother Base ahead of the UN inspection to rescue them both, since Chico knows about Metal Gear ZEKE. Though, considering that the inspection was a front for an attack by XOF, this might have been a good thing. Although considering Big Boss has fought more giant mechs on foot than even his son by now, he probably would have been able to handle it.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • The Hard difficulty is noticeably a lot more difficult than Normal. Enemies are able to spot you much more quickly, you start with less equipment, can take less damage and the requirements for an S rank are a lot more stringent.
    • Extracting enemies and prisoners is a lot harder than in Peace Walker and The Phantom Pain. You have to summon your chopper to exfiltrate any prisoner and enemy rather than using the Fulton balloon to add any men to The Phantom Pain.
  • No-Gear Level: "Déjà Vu", much like the game it homages, has Snake start with no weapons, having to use whatever he can find. On subsequent playthroughs, Snake will have access to unlocked equipment.
  • Nostalgia Level: The "Déjà Vu" extra op involves Snake recreating scenes from MGS1 in Camp Omega. Reaching the goal after recreating all the scenes will unlock a quiz in which Miller will test the player's MGS1 knowledge. Answer all the questions correctly and the MGS1 version of Solid Snake will be unlocked as a playable character for the mission. Clear the quiz again on Hard and a Cyborg Ninja outfit will become available as well.
  • Oh, Crap!: Snake's reaction to learning that there's a bomb inside Paz, realizing that he was set up from the beginning.
  • On-Site Procurement: Zigzagged in Normal Mode, which starts every mission with a WU Silent Pistol and an AM MRS-4 Rifle. There are several weapons beyond your starters, though, which can only be mooched off Marines or found in warehouses. Played straight in Hard Mode, which starts you with nothing except a Wu Silent pistol with only two magazines, grenades, empty magazines, and Night Vision Goggles, unless you have weapons already unlocked from a past run.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: At the end of the game, the normally calm, collected Miller is absolutely furious at MSF being destroyed and tries to strangle Paz with his bare hands.
  • Pre-Order Bonus:
    • Or rather, a bonus for buying one of the first editions of Ground Zeroes. In any case, it allows you to transfer data from that game to The Phantom Pain - even across consoles (provided both consoles are exclusively Sony-related or Microsoft-related).note 
    • In Europe, pre-ordering the PS3 version of the game would get you a free digital copy of Peace Walker HD Edition as well.
    • In Japan, depending on where you preordered from, you could acquire a special item (a gun, a box, or a staff member) to transfer forward into Phantom Pain.
    • Customers who preordered The Phantom Pain on Steam got a free copy of Ground Zeroes and exclusive Mother Base personnel.
  • Production Foreshadowing: The two extra ops feature one optional task involving the erasure of the logos for every mainline Metal Gear games directed by Kojima and the other involves restoring the logos of Kojima Productions and Kojima Productions LA using certain spotlights. These were allusions to the inner turmoils that Kojima Productions were dealing with at the time that led to the dissolution of Kojima Productions the following year along with Hideo Kojima's ousting from Konami. Consequently, Konami removed all traces of the Kojima Productions logo, along with "A Hideo Kojima Game" tagline, from the finalized packaging of The Phantom Pain, while Kojima Productions LA was rebranded Konami Los Angeles Studios before it was eventually dissolved as well.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The marines guarding Camp Omega talk more or less like normal people doing their job, which makes their indifference to the horrible torture all the more chilling.
  • Put on a Bus: Strangelove, Cécile, and Amanda are all mentioned to have gone their separate ways from MSF shortly before the main story mission. Thankfully, this ensures their safety following the attack on Mother Base.
  • Rape as Drama: Paz is sexually abused by Skull Face in front of Chico. He then has Chico do it with Paz.
  • Recycled Soundtrack:
    • The "Déjà Vu" mission recycles several tunes from the original Metal Gear Solid, while remixing the "Encounter" theme for the alert status. "Jamais Vu" reuses background music from Snatcher and Metal Gear Rising.
    • Remixes of the two standout songs from Peace Walker (the main theme and "Heavens Divide") appear from the get go with other tracks available by discovering tapes, ranging from a remix of the original Metal Gear Solid "Encounter" theme to the obligatory 8-bit rendition of "Theme of Tara" from the original Metal Gear.
  • Respawning Enemies: If you try to slay all the Marines in the area during a Combat Phase, more will show up to replace them until you get out of their sight.
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Defied - Snake is about to take out the invading soldiers at Mother Base after rescuing Miller, but Miller tells him not to. He agrees for the time being and gets back into the chopper.
  • Running Gag: The famous Moai heads are back, and you can find them while flying around in Intel Operative Rescue. Hard Mode even has a trial to complete for shooting them all.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Paz dies in Ground Zeroes unexpectedly, and Snake's failure to save her is something that haunts him.
  • Save Scumming: Discouraged by the scoring systemnote  but still possible. If you play your cards right, you can take advantage of this and still earn an S-Rank.
  • Schmuck Bait: Minor example. If you find the "Classified Intel Data" cassette tape, the description reads "Do not use in music players". As Snake uses a Walkman, the only thing you can play it in is a music player. Doing so results in seven seconds of high-pitched wails and static to play. Not terribly harmful, but useless. The intel is actually a spectrogram that displays a picture of a cage, much like the one Chico was held in.
  • Scoring Points: Each mission is ranked using a points system similar to the VR Missions in Metal Gear Solid 2. Your rank (E, D, C, B, A or S) is based on how many points you score during the mission, with time having a heavy point weight ratio, but also accounting for enemies killed, how often you were spotted, whether you triggered Reflex mode, how many prisoners you rescued and how often you restarted from checkpoints.
  • Semper Fi: Members of "Marine CP" guard Camp Omega.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: What drives Snake in Ground Zeroes is the fact that Chico and Paz have crucial information on MSF's enemies. The game ends with Paz exploding, and during Phantom Pain its revealed that Chico did not survive the helicopter crash. Snake and Miller survive, although the former is placed in a coma. And the MSF that both were trying so hard to protect ends up destroyed and disbanded.
  • Shout-Out: Snake's rainy cliff face climb in the opening of Ground Zeroes is based on a scene in The Guns of Navarone. Kojima previously cited the film as an influence.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: Both "Here's to You" and "Love Deterrence" appear several times in various audio files, and every situation the songs are used in are extremely grim. The latter plays when Snake rescues Paz from Camp Omega. The former, which eulogizes the execution of two innocent men, is hauntingly turned into a chilling battle march when it plays over a group of soldiers gearing up and going off to sneak attack Mother Base and indiscriminately slaughter MSF.
  • Super Drowning Skills: As there is no swimming mechanic in this game trying to go into the water surrounding the base will kill Snake instantly. Snake drowning from landing in the water would make sense if he were to jump from one of the higher cliff faces — not so much with the cliff faces that are elevated a very small distance above the water. Justified in the long run for one simple reason — there's nothing really worth exploring in the surrounding shore line, your objective is in Camp Omega.
  • A Taste of Power: Downplayed. The night vision goggles have infinite battery life and the WU Silent Pistol comes with an unbreakable suppressor in Ground Zeroes, two things that require development in The Phantom Pain (the WU Silent Pistol doesn't get an unbreakable suppressor until it reaches Grade 5). Snake's MRS-4 carbine comes with a breakable suppressor and flashlight, which will need to be developed later on as well.
  • Tech-Demo Game: For the Fox Engine - or at least it was initially presented as such.
  • Time Travel: Explanation behind Raiden's appearance in the "Jamais Vu" mission, being thrust around 40-plus years into the past. Notably, he works alongside Big Boss and his plight is not Played for Laughs unlike in Metal Gear Raiden: Snake Eraser... or rather, not nearly as much as it was back then.
  • Thousand-Yard Stare: In the GDC 2013 trailer there is a scene where Snake is riding around in a helicopter as he stares off distantly into the horizon, his face characterized by a blood splattered forehead and a hollow expression. Given the wounds on his face this is in the aftermath of Paz's death via time bomb and the subsequent helicopter crash he went through as a result giving him good reason to be so upset.
  • Torture Always Works: Skull Face tortured Chico to get information out of him. It didn't take long for the poor kid to break under the pressure and talk.
  • Trojan Horse: The mission spearheaded by XOF and Cipher is called "Operation Trojan Horse" for a reason. Specifically, the plan is to lure Snake out into Camp Omega to rescue Chico and Paz while XOF, disguised as UN inspectors, infiltrate and destroy Mother Base. It succeeds.
  • Unexpected Shmup Level: When exfiltrating by chopper, each mission ends with a brief rail-shooting segment. Rescue The Intel Operative is almost entirely a rail shooter by itself.
  • Unexpected Gameplay Change: Jamais Vu is much faster-paced with less emphasis on stealth...unless you're going for an S rank.
  • Unstoppable Rage: At the end of Ground Zeroes, as Mother Base burns to the ground and his loyal soldiers die one by one, Snake roars back into the losing battle just to kill a few more XOF grunts. This from a soldier who almost never loses his composure. If this is any indication how far he's willing to go for revenge in The Phantom Pain... it might be best to just start running for cover now.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: You're highly encouraged to go out of your way to rescue various prisoners located throughout the map. Extracting them gives you a massive point bonus, and you usually have to do to this to get an S ranking. These prisoners will later join your forces in The Phantom Pain.
  • Video Game Tutorial: According to Word of God, Ground Zeroes itself is one massive tutorial to help hardcore fans get used to the new Wide-Open Sandbox stealth mechanics.
  • Wham Line: When Paz wakes up after the escape from Mother Base, she drops a bombshell on Snake:
    Paz: The bomb, there's...
    Snake: It's all right, we got it out.
    Paz: There's another... In my...
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Huey is mysteriously missing during the attack on Mother Base, and nobody addresses his disappearance in the ending. However, the trailers for The Phantom Pain spoil the fact that he is alive and well, as he would have to be for continuity purposes. If you listen to the cassettes you soon find a building mountain of evidence pointing to Huey as the cause of the attack, it then becomes safe to assume he escaped safely with the enemy which is confirmed in TPP.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: In "Jamais Vu", Raiden is required to kill Snatchers in order to complete his mission. They don't count as kills in the final results screen.
  • Whole Episode Flashback: The side ops unlocked after beating the main story of Ground Zeroes could be considered this. With the exception of the clearly non-canon Extra Ops, each is a "pseudo historical recreation" of one of Snake's repeated infiltrations of the U.S. Naval Prison Facility in Cuba between the Peace Walker and Ground Zeroes Incidents. They detail MSF's discovery of Cipher's involvement in the camp and their initial investigations of the mysterious XOF unit prior to the main story.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: After Snake rescues Paz, he finds that there's a bomb stitched inside her. With no clear indication of when the bomb is going to go off, Snake orders his soldiers to extract the bomb from her stomach without anesthetic. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only bomb.
  • Word Salad Title: The term "Ground Zeroes" is never used in the game, and even if it's subtle foreshadowing to the destruction of Mother Base, it's still a singular term; there don't seem to be any other "Ground Zeroes" aside from that one... until you discover it’s also ground zero for the “death” of MSF’s top soldier, the Medic, and his rebirth as Venom Snake, the Patriots’ (namely Zero, Ocelot and Big Boss) first memetic clone of Big Boss. Furthermore, it's ground zero for the eventual creation of Raiden as the test subject of the S3 Plan and ground zero for Big Boss’s return to FOXHOUND to eventually train Solid Snake.
  • You Are Too Late: By the time Snake catches wind of XOF's plan to destroy Mother Base, the attack has already begun. Also, he ends up realizing too late that Paz had a second bomb inside of her.
  • You Can't Go Home Again: Mother Base, Snake's offshore research station home during Peace Walker, is destroyed in the game's prologue by XOF.
  • Younger Than They Look: At the start of the story mission, Snake appears to have gray hair thanks to the new lighting engine.

Alternative Title(s): Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes, Ground Zeroes, Metal Gear Solid 5 Ground Zeroes