Soldiers without (visible) borders
Camp Omega has invisible exit points which abort the mission if you travel past them. The screen changes color and and Kaz will ask you if you’re trying to quit the mission when you get close to these places, and if you walk a little further you’ll automatically fail the mission and watch as Big Boss casually jogs into Cuba. This is one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen in a Metal Gear game.
I understand the need for loading screens, transitional points, and sectioned-off areas, of course. This is actually the first Metal Gear game where the location isn’t chopped up into smaller parts, so it’s not unfamiliar. When you first start playing, however, you get the impression that you can go anywhere your eyes behold, including the long stretches of road leading into and out of the base. An innocent stroll down one of these enticingly clear paths will instantly shatter your sense of an “open world” and make you realize that this isn’t a stealth simulation game, it’s just a big, questionably designed level. It makes no sense for these roads to be an auto-fail section. There’s nothing logical about it.
It can all be seen in the reaction of Kaz, your right-hand man. He begrudgingly scolds you if you leave this way in the middle of a mission, but his tone is ridiculous. He’ll say “You’re leaving the mission?” in a judgmental tone when you get close to this magical wall, and then “Mission aborted!” afterward if you keep going. Think about the scenario though. Big Boss – the greatest soldier who ever lived, capable of becoming a world superpower through his sheer talent for getting the job done – decides to walk 20 paces down a poorly-patrolled, safe road in order to hide from some bad guys who are searching for him. Instead of seeing the genius of using this road to his strategic advantage for the time being, Kaz decides to interpret it to mean Big Boss is running away like a pussy. So he “aborts the mission”, and apparently there’s no turning back after that. Kaz is the voice of the game here, which means players are supposed to feel bad, too. You quit the mission! The game is judging us, because the game decided not to let us do something intelligent, for no reason.
When I first played Ground Zeroes I decided to use my binoculars to scout out areas ahead of time and come up with contingency plans. It felt thrilling to be able to hatch together a plan in the middle of a tense operation, just like old times, except now with the total freedom of the Fox Engine. As soon as I noticed the exit roads I was curious why they were so bare and inviting, but nevertheless I trusted that it led somewhere, and factored it into my course of action. When the time came and I needed to retreat, I was shocked that the game hadn’t given me a fair warning, and felt betrayed by the metagame. In Peace Walker they at least had a floating “X” over blocked paths, and you never need to worry about failing when you left an area, because each area lead to another area, meaning you could turn around and go back if you wanted to. Peace Walker was highly-restricted by hardware, and wasn’t trying to show off a whole new vision for the series, which means it shouldn’t be judged the same.
Of course, if there were an MSF base to go back to these roads would be a great feature. You could pop in and out of Camp Omega strategically to do supply runs, capture a few more soldiers, or use some other guerrilla warfare to give yourself an advantage. As it stands, they are the metagame equivalent of Ground Zeroes‘ pants falling down and then tripping: an amateur embarrassment.