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The Fulton Recovery System In MGSV

And How It Could Use Some More Work…

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is an extremely fun and polished game to play. Even in its supposedly incomplete final release state, this 4-year-old game doesn’t seem to lose its magic. That being said, the easy-to-use Fulton recovery system featured in the core gameplay loop, however, feels unrealistic and impractical as it is able to lift up items way beyond the maximum limit; and it breaks the immersion of the game to some extent.


The Fulton recovery system in MGSV is a liberal adaptation of the actual Fulton recovery system used in WWII, designed to extract elite soldiers out of the battlefield (which was never meant for extracting vehicles or large resource containers as it appeared in the game). The maximum lifting weight of the Fulton recovery system is around 500 pounds (227 kg), which is about the total weight of 3 adults. MGSV, however, allows the Fulton recovery system to extract, besides humans, vehicles and resources containers way beyond the maximum weight limit. This decision greatly reduces challenge for the player to obtain key resources for mother Base defense and for online dispatch missions: jeeps, tanks and even containers become easy grabs and souvenirs. In addition, due to its upgradability, the Fulton recovery system, in the later portion of the game, becomes too powerful that it breaks the immersion of the game at times. The final upgradable version of the system is a wormhole Fulton recovery system with unlimited usage and 100% recovery rate. Understandably, this design choice may be a fun reward to the players who ground for hours and invested major portion of their GMPs into tech development; yet it breaks the immersion for the gameplay and narrative. Remember, MGSV’s backstory is set in 1985, a time when no country in the world could develop portable wormholes, not even today. Some may argue that the Metal Gear (the gigantic robot killing machine) in the game, and the skull soldiers are indeed fantastical and magically realistic designs that could not possibly be real at that time either. But the fact that the Metal Gear and the skull soldiers carry so much narrative purposes with themselves, which the wormhole Fulton recovery system doesn’t, shouldn’t be overlooked. The Metal Gear and skull soldiers are narrative and metaphorical tools, designed unrealistically to convey the horror of nuclear power/weapon and the parasite virus, used by skull face to achieve his hideous ends. The same, however, is not true with the Fulton Recovery system.


Regardless, the Fulton recovery system in MGSV offers players a fast and convenient way to extract resources, vehicles, personnel, or even himself out the combat zone with a tab of button. The system adds infinite possibilities to the gameplay, encouraging players to creatively tackle every mission, build their mother bases and Human Resources. The intentionally simplified use of the system could be explained by the nature of the game itself. MGSV is at its core, a steal game, whose secondary gameplay loop focuses eliminating enemies silently and efficiently. The Fulton recovery system is an approach designed to support and strengthen the fun of this secondary loop. In other words, if the game instead forces the players to extract vehicles by driving them out of the hot zone to a designated location where a heavy-duty helicopters is waiting for further transportation; or by developing specific tech just for extracting vehicles and for containers in the field, the gameplay experience will not be enhanced. Thus, the system is kept simple for the sake of the most essential gameplay; and the wormhole a unique Kojima-ish surprise in some perspective.

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