The game is forgiving and gives you a lot to lean on: the reflex mechanic helps prevent mess-ups by giving you a short window of slow-motion time to take down any guard that’s spotted you, and this immediately feels invaluable. You also the ability to pop a flare at any time and get ammo or an attack helicopter directly to your position. Once you’ve done the groundwork you can get anything from a silenced sniper rifle to a tank delivered to your position basically anywhere in the game world, as long as you’ve got the cash.
This is subverted with in the later “Subsistence” challenges, tasking you with replaying earlier missions but with no items except a rucksack full of Fulton balloons. If you need a weapon here, you’re going to need to take it for yourself. These missions stand for me as real highlights and they’re a wonderful nod back to the original game. By getting rid of the reflex mechanics and other crutches provided by the game it provides a way for stealth purists to attain a “classic” experience and some bragging rights.
What flaws the game does have are mitigated by the quality of the experience and mostly located in the games base management: progression can feel like a slog in this regard, with base upgrades and research costing a lot of resources and then taking in game time. It’s annoying to upgrade a weapon and have to wait 18-30 minutes for it to be researched for use. It feels like an artificial barrier to entry and it creates more downtime.
This plays into Metal Gear Solid V’s bigger problem: there’s too much downtime. Whether you’re heading back to your helicopter to pick the next mission, heading back to Mother Base to inspire the soldiers and take a shower, or waiting 2 hours (game time) for a new platform of your base to complete, the biggest problem with the game is that it’s often hard to just play it. It’s a minor concern, but I can’t think of a single reason to make the research & building to take in game time and when any game mechanic inspires you to leave your machine running while you do something else in the hope that an upgrade or building will finish? That’s a design flaw. That’s on the developers.
In all honesty, by throwing out a lot of “the old way” of making a Metal Gear Solid game, Kojima productions have produced the best stealth game I’ve ever played and the high point of a series dotted with gems. Metal Gear Solid’s swansong is a masterpiece.