Ranking the Antagonists Of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
So this is the last entry in the Metal Gear Solid series where it all comes to an end. The divisive final chapter meant to tie the Big Boss and Solid Snake sagas together.
Let’s jump right into it.
Before Eli was Liquid Snake, Eli was the leader of a group of freed child soldiers. They had taken control of a small area in Africa under his leadership, and he trusted no one.
When Eli first meets Venom Snake, he wears his anger towards him clear as day, and that anger never waivers, despite taking the children into the safekeeping of Mother Base. His hatred was so strong that he would take it through his years to adulthood, intent on surpassing Big Boss in every way, shape, or form. All because Venom Snake rightfully smacked the angsty child around when he tried to stab him on multiple occasions.
I’m not going to lie, this one hurt. As a fan of the series, I watched Solid Snake and Otacon become the ultimate bros. In Peacewalker, players thought the same might begin to play out between Big Boss and Huey Emmerich. In Metal Gear Solid V, that all comes crashing down.
The destruction of MSF, the deaths of hundreds of men and women, and even Big Boss’s coma lay squarely at his feet. By cowardice and intellectual greed, Huey put himself before everyone, including his own family. He betrayed not once, but twice. Otacon is thankfully nothing like his father, because Huey is one of the worst human beings imaginable.
Like Eli, Tretij is the child version of a character we’ve seen before: Psycho Mantis. In his youth, harnessing control of his powers, he found himself naturally drawn to powerful hatreds stirring within people.
First this brought him to the Man On Fire, and then the two of them to Skullface. But, when he met Eli they made the closest thing either had to a friendship. Tretij wanted to see Eli’s hatred play out, and he would even go as far as to help Eli steal a vial of a deadly parasite and Metal Gear Sahelanthropus from Diamond Dogs before disappearing for years before resurfacing.
A man who lost everything, burned beyond recognition, his homeland invaded and occupied, even his own native tongue denied him. Skullface came to be the leader of Major Zero’s XOF Unit, living in the shadow of the living legend Big Boss until his departure from the Fox unit. During Big Boss’s coma, Skullface made his move against Major Zero and then planned to do the same to Big Boss. He wanted to wipe out the only men who could stand in his way.
He wanted to change the world using a parasite that became active in certain hosts at different vibration frequencies in the vocal chords, to use it as a tool towards nuclear proliferation, as well as crippling the control that the United States had over the dealings of the world at large. Yet for all his sinister traits, he is just as mortal as anyone else, and meets a particularly gruesome end in a true eye-for-an-eye manner at the hands of Venom Snake and Kazuhira Miller.
#2—Man On Fire
Imagine being kept alive on rage and hatred alone. Imagine that hatred also ignited your body into a blazing fire, as if you weren’t already in a bad enough mood. The Man On Fire is exactly that. If Metal Gear Solid V is your first trip into the series, you’d not know who it is until much later in the game.
But if you’re a series veteran, you’ll notice the outfit, the walk, the way in which its powers are used to be none other than Colonel Volgin. Near death since 1964, it was his pure hatred of Naked Snake that kept him alive. Upon coming into close proximity to Tretij Rebenok, he was active once more with a single purpose; revenge.
It’s only for the first third of the game that Quiet, ‘the sniper without a voice,’ is an antagonist, and yet she takes the number one spot. Why? Her tenacity in her initial mission, and her humanity after it.
When we are first introduced to Quiet, she is an assassin with the XOF Unit raiding the hospital in Cyprus, her target being Venom Snake. After a brief fight with Venom Snake and another patient known as Ishmael, Quiet is covered in a volatile chemical and set on fire before falling out a third story window presumably to her death.
Hours later into the game, we encounter her in Afghanistan in a sniper battle rivaling that of The End. Upon her defeat, the player can either execute her or spare her. If she is spared, she’ll return the favor and appear from nowhere to shoot down a jet that’s attacking you. From there she will be taken prisoner, and held in captivity for quite some time.
Later on you’ll learn she could have escaped her cell at any time, but she honored her ‘role’ as a prisoner. It’s around this time she begins to become an ally instead; for a character that doesn’t speak, she’s simultaneously an interesting antagonist and an interesting side character. While I’m only commenting on her antagonist aspects here, even those earn her the top spot on this list. Other than Gray Fox and The Boss, no other antagonist in the series has had that sort of honor. I’d argue, she even had a bit more.