One of the biggest secrets in Metal Gear Solid V may not actually be possible -- but that's not stopping players from coming together and trying to achieve it anyway.
First, some background. Yesterday I wrote about a hidden ending of sorts that players found while datamining the game on PC. It looks like this, uploaded courtesy of Александр Гольтяев:
Nobody knows for sure how to trigger this cutscene, but the most common theory postulates that, in order to achieve this, players have to disarm every single nuke in the game. The scene itself seems to support this:
Nukes, for those that don't know, are a weapon which can be built in Metal Gear Solid V after reaching a certain point in the game. Players build them because it deters other players from attacking them in the multiplayer portion of the game -- only players with nukes, or high enough heroism can attack other players with nukes. Players are free to try to steal nukes from one another, if not outright detonate them against other players. Once in possession of a nuke, players can also choose to dispose of it in exchange for heroism points.
Let that sink in for a moment. In order to get this secret, players think they have to get rid of every single nuke in the game. No more nukes. Nobody building nukes. How, exactly, would that be possible? Can hundreds of thousands of people come together in the name of peace, or is this just a clever but unfeasible mechanic in the game?
One group is trying to make the impossible happen. Over on Reddit, 369 players who call themselves the "Metal Gear Philanthropists" are working to get rid of every nuclear warhead within the game.
To do this, they have created guides that inform players on best practices and routes to acquire and disarm nukes:
"If you have to die or get captured [to steal the nuke], so be it," one of the philanthropists advises. That's how serious they are about it. The group has even taken to creating personal leaderboards that keep track of how many nukes individual players have disarmed, complete with its own ranking system.
"Soon after that cut scene was leaked someone on /r/metalgearsolid suggested that we form a group to disarm as many nukes as possible, like how Snake formed the Philanthropists in MGS2 to rid the world of Metal Gears," superpegacorn, a high school senior and one of the founding members of the Subreddit, told me in an interview.
The undertaking is not without its hitches. For one thing, hackers on the PC version of the game make disarmament more difficult: these cheating players can simply give themselves more nukes. The game itself can hiccup occasionally, and get in the way of the Philanthropist's goals. Sometimes, for example, the game won't show enemies with nuclear weapons consistently within its own interface. Other times, the Philanthropists have reported difficulties actually getting the game to disarm the nukes. And, more importantly, an entire opposing side has sprung up in response to the Philanthropists. Every Metal Gear Solid V player does not dream of peace, as it turns out.
The enemy calls themselves the Patriots, and they aim to "[populate] the world of MGS with Weapons of Mass Destruction." As of the writing, the group is small, but dedicated. They want to steal nukes from the opposition before they can be dismantled. Some of them are surely in it for the chaos -- being a dick is fun! But some of them genuinely believe building and stockpiling nukes is an evil done for the greater good.
"There [aren't] enough nukes to achieve the goals that are being rumoured for unlocking a special ending," dchaffins, one of the members of the Patriots, wrote on the subreddit. "More nukes = more people disarming nukes = closer to the rumoured cutscene."
The player continues:
Instead of disarming nukes, we would instead make nukes more readily available. Geo-politically it might give counties that aren't considered world powers a larger say in world affairs if the option were available to them to contract a PMC to build a nuke. PMCs already operate outside of the UN and other peacekeeping organisations therefore the country in question would not be breaking any sanctions by owning a nuke rather than developing one. Having this opportunity open might act as a deterrent against world powers from interfering or controlling the actions of lesser countries. Like MGSPW, MSF was contracted to fight for a country that didn't have an army. So/r/MetalGearPatriots would be available to contract as nuclear deterrent for those countries that are being manipulated through the nuclear arms race of the 1980s. (This is kind of similar to Peacewalker and Skull Face's motives).
Yeah. They're really getting into it, much to the delight of the Philanthropists.
"Every army needs an enemy to fight to keep focused and motivated," Xander, a moderator of the Philanthropist subreddit, told me in an interview. Hilariously, Xander is actually helping the Patriots get their community off the ground, just to keep things interesting.
"Honestly, the fact that a group formed to counter us has been one of my favourite parts of the experience so far," superpegacorn said. "We are playing a game after all, and having a distinct rival to battle with just makes it all so much more interesting, challenging, and rewarding.
"I like to think of the relationship between our groups as similar to the relationship between Big Boss and Zero -- a bitter, yet civil relationship where both sides are merely fighting for different things but with the same intentions. Nuclear deterrence can be seen as an alternate way to achieve peace, after all. So in a way we're fighting for the same thing."
Funnily enough, superpegacorn isn't sure if full disarmament will actually unlock the scene -- as I mentioned earlier, people aren't 100% certain about the unlock conditions at play here. Maybe it can't be triggered at all. Not that it really matters in the end. For the Philanthropists, it's more about the journey.
"I thought that crusading to make the game nuclear weapon free would be a fun way to add to the experience of the game," superpegacorn said. "It adds an extra level of role playing to the experience that makes you almost feel like a hero in your own right, instead of just being a hero through Venom Snake.
"Trying to rid the game world of nuclear weapons is a daunting task, and in my opinion it also fits in well with the overall themes of the franchise. So I feel as though, by making this group, we've in a way added a game mechanic and gave a new level of depth to what was already a fantastic gaming experience."
"I almost feel like Big Boss leading my own Diamond Dogs! And trust me, that's a fantastic feeling."