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How to Stay Undetected in "Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain"

Jeremy enjoys gaming when not helping manage the college he graduated from.

Main characters from Metal Gear 5

Main characters from Metal Gear 5

Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

For any unfamiliar with the Metal Gear video games, they offer an exciting blend of stealth and action (usually with a superb story thrown in) that make them personal favorites. The Phantom Pain offers a particularly open-world approach with plenty to explore and upgrade. You'll play as an agent codenamed Snake and infiltrate enemy lairs to disrupt malevolent schemes while amassing your own private army. Do you rush into enemy territory, guns blazing, or stick to the shadows for a more tactical approach?

While the choice is yours, Snake is ill-suited at facing multiple foes at once, making stealth the ideal approach both for survival and achieving high mission rankings. How can Snake stay hidden from view? Let's dive right into this spoiler-free stealth guide!

MGS5's playable platforms

Systems Available For

PlayStation 3

PlayStation 4

Xbox 360

Xbox One


Night approach, crouch position

Night approach, crouch position

Stay Low, Mark Enemies, Infilitrate at Night

  • Positioning: Let's start with the basics. Snake can move in three basic positions: upright, crouched, and prone. For stealth, you should use almost disregard the upright position, where you'll be easily spotted and heard. Prone is the slowest but also best cloaks you, and crouch offers a blend of speed and covertness. Additionally, early on you'll have be able to purchase a "Sneaking Suit" uniform which silences your footsteps in the crouch position. Highly recommended for CQC usage (see below).
  • Time of Day: The time of day will gradually change, and you'll be able to arrive at your mission starting point (via helicopter) at an hour of your choosing. I strongly advise a night infiltration: fewer guards will be stationed, some may fall asleep, and most importantly, their visibility will worsen. Yours will as well, but Snake's handy night-vision goggles and ability to mark targets should nullify the problem.
  • Marking: Before you actually infiltrate, try to find a good vantage point (one with elevation) where you can use your binoculars to "mark" enemies and keep track of their movements, essential to planning your takedowns. Marking foes lets you see their silhouettes even from a distance and through walls, and it nets a few extra mission points.
Snake incapicates a guard with CQC

Snake incapicates a guard with CQC

Use Quiet Firearms and Items

A good way to avoid being detected is to noiselessly eliminate those who can see you: enemy guards. To do so, utilize the right weapons and CQC (Close Quarters Combat).

  • Firearms: Several guns have suppressors that reduce the sound of gunfire. Suppressors eventually break but can be easily restocked through supply drops, so don't be stingy with their usage. The tranquilizer pistol you start with works superbly as it's practically silent. Suppressed lethal weapons, like some assault and sniper rifles, generate a bit more noise even when suppressed, so implement caution with their usage.
  • CQC: Snake can use also CQC to quietly eliminate guards at close-range. Carefully approach a foe, use the CQC button to grab them, then either kill them or knock them out (both of which are silent). This saves you ammunition and allows you to interrogate the helpless guard for intel before eliminating them. CQC is key for stealth; strive to approach foes from behind, try to seclude them, and note that enemies will become more alert if they find bodies.

Another item of note is the empty magazine. You have an unlimited supply of these and can toss them to direct a guard's attention to a specific point or separate them from a group. This greatly aids in approaching from behind and performing tactical takedowns; don't overlook this nifty tool.

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Reflex Mode

Reflex Mode

Take Advantage of Reflex Mode

Metal Gear 5 offers a lifesaving-system if spotted: Reflex Mode. When detected by the enemy, time will slow down and Snake will have a few seconds to eliminate the guard(s) who have spotted him before an alarm is raised. Try to do so quietly or you'll raise the alarm anyway with loud gunfire. Follow the tips below to improve your chances:

  • If you're close to the foe when Reflex Mode begins and there's only one guard, grab them with CQC.
  • If you're farther away and there's only one guard, score a headshot with a tranquilizer to instantly put them to sleep.
  • If multiple guards have spotted you, you need a faster weapon than your tranq. A suppressed assault rifle is your best bet.

Note Enemy Status

  • All-Clear: Enemies bases have different protocols depending on their suspicion levels. At the default all-clear level, adversaries will simply man their positions, unaware of your presence.
  • Alert: An "alert" status can occur if an enemy spots you but loses sight, hears a firearm, or finds a dead body. Alert status has guards leave their posts to actively look for an intruder. This sounds detrimental, and it can be, but if you've marked your foes, you can actually take advantage of abandoned posts to infiltrate areas that were heavily guarded in the all-clear status.
  • Combat: Finally, there's the combat status, the phase you want to avoid. This occurs when a foe sees you and you don't eliminate them before Reflex Mode ends. Enemies will be aware of your position and aggressively attack you. At this point, your stealth approach has failed, points will be taken off your mission score, and you should decide whether to accept the losses and fight back, hide until the phase ends, or retry from a checkpoint.
Attempt missions again with upgraded equipment

Attempt missions again with upgraded equipment

Use the Checkpoint System

If things go astray, don't be afraid to pause the game and restart from the nearest checkpoint. Most missions save your progress periodically, preventing you from having to redo every section in one go. Nonetheless, be careful, as having to checkpoint will still set you back somewhat, but take advantage of the system to begin anew from a botched attempt.

Alternatively, complete your task even if spotted; The Phantom Pain allows you to replay missions to achieve higher ranks, accomplish optional objectives, and earn more GMP (the game's currency). In other words, if you mess up and don't want to checkpoint, know that you'll be able to reattempt the mission later if you so choose.

Remember that you'll be periodically upgrading your weapons, gear, and intel teams, meaning you'll be better-outfitted and may have an easier time earning that prized S rank later on, so don't grow too disheartened if you struggle with a particular mission.

Final Tips for The Phantom Pain

You're now prepared to tackle any fortress! Remember to upgrade your equipment, plan your approaches, and your patience will be rewarded. Vote for your preferred gear above, and I'll leave you with some final pointers for mission success:

  • Reload your weapons after battle.
  • Take advantage of sandstorms or heavy mist to enter heavily-guarded areas.
  • Eliminate sentries on the way to make your exit easier.
  • Practice headshots to ensure enemy takedowns before Reflex Mode ends.

© 2017 Jeremy Gill


Nesper Stumbleduck from USA on December 13, 2017:

Great article! Very informative. This helps me a lot, because the game isn't extremely descriptive when it comes to strategy and ways to get around. Thanks for this!

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