MGSV: Phantom Pain Enemies Response System, Defense, Vehicles Guide

Understanding Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain enemies response system, combat, defense and vehicles.

Understanding Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain enemies response system, combat, defense and vehicles. In order to plan your infiltrations and mission carefully, you’ll need to educate yourself of how enemies will respond and how defense works in the game.

For more help on Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, read our Max Bonding Guide, Specialists Locations, Heroism Guide and Interpreters Locations Guide.

MGSV: Phantom Pain Enemies Response System, Defense, and Vehicles

Enemies in MGSV are complex, because there are various features and systems tied directly to them. Be it your average guard or an enemy gunship, each type of enemy can go through alterations to counter your tactics, which is why tackling different enemies in different ways is usually advised.

This guide will help you do exactly that, covering just about everything you need to know about the various types of enemies you’ll face in the game, and what to expect from them.

Response System

In Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, enemies are not static; they are tied to a special feature called the “Response System”. This is a very gradual process that makes enemies adapt to specific tactics that you are using in a plausible and natural manner.

System not only makes the game more challenging as your progress, but forces (and encourages) players to change their tactics and tackle enemies in a new way.

Thankfully, this highly intriguing system is measurable, and in fact visible to you on your iDroid. You can view it as a small set of six icons on the map. One icon is of the Fulton Balloon, followed by a Helmet, Camera, Pistol, Crescent Moon, and Target Reticule.

Fulton Response
Shows the enemy’s awareness of your frequent use of Fulton Device for extraction.

Helmet (Headshot Response)
Shows enemy’s awareness of your frequent ability to take headshots.

Camera (Covert Actions)
Shows enemy’s awareness of your ability to neutralize enemies and/or capture outposts without being detected.

Pistol (Combat Response)
Shows enemy’s awareness of your ability to capture/eradicate outposts during Alert or Combat Statuses.

Crescent Moon (Nighttime Response)
Shows enemy’s awareness of your frequent use of nighttime for missions.

Target Reticule (Sniper Response)
Shows enemy’s awareness of your frequent use of long-ranged weaponry for neutralization.

When the response system isn’t in function (only really happens very early in the game), all six of these icons will be greyed out. However, as you progress further into the game and complete additional missions, certain icons will turn white, followed by light red, and finally dark red.

These change in colors indicate how highly aware an enemy is of the respective tactics.

For example, when the Nighttime Response is at Grey, enemies will take minimum measurements during darkness as they will not be aware of your night operations.

However, frequent night missions will result in this penultimately turning light red, which indicates enemies are aware of your nighttime operations and are taking evasive maneuvers.

These evasive maneuvers become more severe when the icon becomes dark red, which will result in enemies taking highest measures possible to prevent a specific tactic.

The evasive actions taken by enemies varies for every response.

Fulton Response
Low Level Response: Enemies will pop balloons of your Fulton extractions after a brief delay.
High Level Response: Enemies will pop balloons of your Fulton extractions immediately when they see them happening.

Headshot Response
Low Level Response: Some soldiers will be equipped with helmets
High Level Response: Almost all soldiers will be equipped with helmets.

Covert Actions
Low Level Response: Soldiers will start to use mines, decoys, and cameras in outposts
High Level Response: Soldiers wake up more quickly from Stun/Sleep and use mines, decoys, cameras more efficiently.

Combat Response
Low Level Response: Soldiers are equipped with better weapons and armor to counter your assaults
High Level Response: Number of soldiers greatly increases, and they get heavy-damaging weapons which they use with aggression. Additionally, reinforcements are quicker and more substantial.

Nighttime Response
Low Level Response: Some soldiers start using flashlights and night-vision goggles.
High Level Response: Almost all soldiers begin using flashlights and night-vision goggles.

Sniper Response
Low Level Response: Snipers with bolt-action rifles are diploid to counter your long-ranged weaponry
High Level Response: Snipers with semi-automatic rifles are diploid to counter your long-ranged weaponry.

In addition to this, two additional Responses are observed for excessive use of Vehicles and Smoke/Sleeping Gas. As you begin to use more vehicles and are spotted, enemies will start to use rockets, and in severe cases even guided missiles. For Sleeping Gas, enemies will equip themselves with Gas masks.

Enemy Detection

Enemies in MGSV are able to detect you either visually or from hearing. Each type of enemy has a specific visual range, but hearing is primarily affected by your stance and actions.

Visual Range
Enemy visual ranges vary according to their equipment, environment, and what they’re doing. Enemy visual range is shaped in a wide 120 degrees cone, so you can safely approach them from the back so long as you are not making much noise.

Generally, in clear sight and plain ground snipers have the largest range, and can detect you from 200 meters away.

Standard guards on the other hand only grow suspicious if you are standing while 70 meters away from them. Crouching and moving decreases this to 45 meters, and crawling limits it to 20 meters.

The threshold for all stances for standard guards is 10 meters, which results in instant detection if you are in their visual cone.

When guards are busy having conversations, their visual range is immediately decreased to 10 meters. However, this does not mean you can run in a full sprint 11 meters away from them without causing suspicion, as their audio range remains unaffected.

Your best friend to greatly reducing audio/visual ranges are natural weather changes such as sandstorms and mist clouds. These reduce visual range of all kinds of enemies to 10 meters.

Audio Range
The audio range of an enemy primarily depends on the player and the level of noise he/she is making. All enemies are able to detect significant noises such as gunfire, breaking of equipment, and even Fulton extractions (provided they are close enough).

Each kind of noise has its own unique radial range. Any enemy within that radius will be able to hear that specific noise and attempt to investigate. The largest range is obviously of a gunshots and explosives, which is 160 meters.

D-Dog barking comes next, with a 60 meter range, while D-Horse’s gallop can be heard in a 30 meter radius. Reloading can often be heard 15 meters away, and a sprint is audible within a 9 meter radius.

Your player crouching and walking at full-speed has the lowest radius, at 4.5 meter. Moving slower reduces that range gradually, which is inaudible if you are crawling or moving very slowly in crouch mode.

These aren’t the only noises though; enemies can grow suspicious if you accidentally break a vase or perform a Fulton extraction near them. The range of these noises is typically around 15 meters.

There are two big assets in making it difficult for enemies to hear you: sandstorms and rain.

In Afghanistan, sandstorms are a huge asset as they limit visibility and also greatly dampen noise emitted from walking/running at large speed. In Angola, the regular rain and thunderstorms play a huge role in making it easier to move around faster on foot.

However, dude to the dynamic and transient nature of weather changes, it is often advised to develop your own awareness of noise and reduce levels yourself instead of relying on environmental changes.

Enemy Defense

Enemies in MGS V have a specific amount of health for each body part, save for the head. In addition to this, each enemy also has a ‘defense’ value for each part. Which is set as 300 for default guards

If this value is greater than the ‘impact’ value of a weapon, the enemy gains a damage reduction bonus, based on the difference between the two values. The greater the difference, the more significant the damage reduction.

When enemies wear special equipment such as helmets or suits, the defense value for the part that the armor is covering greatly increases.

The head by default has zero health and zero defense, but if enemies begin to wear helmets, the defense automatically goes high, strong enough to withstand a single sniper-rifle shot.

In addition to health and defense of each individual body part, enemies also have health for their ‘stamina’, and also a dedicated defense. This only comes into play when you try to incapacitate an enemy using tranquilizer rounds or rubber bullets.

When their Stamina reaches zero, they are incapacitated. An enemy’s condition also directly affects the success rate of Fulton extractions. Incapacitated enemies have the highest success rate in Fulton extractions.

Enemies held up at point-blank range have medium success rate, while critically wounded enemies (enemies with one of their body part health value reduced to zero) have a very low success rate in Fulton extractions.

Enemy Heavy Armor
If you’re a combat-oriented player, you’ll eventually come across enemies wearing Riot Suits. These soldiers are specialists and tough to defeat in combat situations due to their incredibly resilient body armor.

Furthermore, they are extremely difficult to stun/tranquilize as well, forcing you to either avoid them or take them out with heavy weaponry. Unlike standard guards, Riot Suit enemies have ‘Armor Resistance’ and ‘Defense’ for each body part.

Armor Resistance for all body parts except Torso are at 2,200 rating, while Defense rating is at 1,200 for all body parts.

The best solution for these enemies is to get behind them and knock them out, followed by a Fulton extraction to prevent any other passing foe to wake them up. Another tactic against such enemies is to use Sleeping Gas Mines.

Grabbing enemies from behind without causing alarm is extremely difficult if they walk in pairs, which is why using Sleeping Mines is the advisable tactic if you don’t want to trigger the Alert status.

Enemy Ballistic Shields
Soldiers equipped with ballistic shields appear in late game missions, and are deployed in accordance with the Response system. These enemies are extremely difficult to tackle head-on, and often cause extreme amounts of trouble despite being slow.

The best tactic against these enemies is to get behind them and silence them without being detected. If you are detected, you will need to shoot them in the uncovered parts such as legs and the very small amount of head showing through the shield’s visual opening.

These are extremely small areas to shoot at though, so often the best tactic is to use explosives like grenades, or if you’re feeling a bit extreme then maybe a rocket launcher. The anti-material rifle unlocked later in the game also worked wonders against these enemies.


Vehicles in MGSV can be used by both enemies and Big Boss himself. However, it is usually the former who has the best set of vehicles. There is a wide variety of them in the game, and each of them pose their own unique kind of threat to Big Boss.

Although it is possible to destroy vehicles of all kinds, it is usually advisable to stealthily Fulton extract them for use at the Mother Base. This can be done once you acquire the Cargo 2 upgrade for your Fulton Device.

Four-Wheel Drives
Four-wheel drive vehicles are small-sized cars. They have no weapon attached to them, but they can hurt you pretty bad if they ram you. Usually, a well-placed mine or even precisely thrown grenade is enough to take one out.

Trucks are slower, bulkier, and heavier than four-wheel drives. Despite that, there is nothing significantly different between a truck and four-wheel drive as far as offense is concerned, as both can only ram you.

Defense-wise however, you’ll need more than just a grenade to take out a truck. Usually a decent rocket launcher is enough to destroy a single truck.

Certain enemies will be controlling man-sized Metal Gears called Walkers. Although they are as big as an Ostrich, their Gatling gun and speed can be extremely dangerous for Big Boss.

Walkers have the same visual range as normal humans, and can be countered by shooting the mounted soldier from behind or avoiding them entirely.

You’ll usually find Walkers in twos or threes, so the best way to counter them is with a powerful rocket launcher or anti-material rifle.

APCs are armored vehicles that have a deadly primary gun attached to them. They move at more or less the same speed as trucks, but their defenses are much higher, as is their offensive prowess.

It takes only a few shots from an armored vehicle to kill you, so it is best to avoid being spotted. APCs do have a blind-spot at the back though, allowing you to sneak up to them and Fulton extract them.

Using a good rocket launcher is the best way to go against APCs. It is usually advisable to aim for the gun, which takes fewer hits to destroy the APC than its main body.

Tanks are the meanest land-vehicles you’ll find, and have extremely high armor and can one-shot you easily with their powerful cannons. They are much slower, but have a very wide viewing angle and very large visual range.

Fulton extracting a tank is also extremely difficult, and it usually takes more than just your average rocket launcher to take one out. Guided missiles tend to work best against tanks, but it is possible to destroy one with standard rocket launchers.

Aiming for the tank’s rear, top, or bottom is the best way to take them out, and C4s only work at these weak spots. Another excellent weapon against tanks is the powerful anti-material rifle.

Gunships are the meanest vehicles in the game (excluding boss vehicles). These choppers come in various colors, with red models being the toughest ones. Gunships often patrol areas in large circles, and have an incredible range.

It is extremely difficult to battle a Gunship earlier in the game, which is why it is advisable to crawl at all times, and hide behind obstacles or ‘play dead’ if the Gunship spots you initially.

Once the gunship is fully alert, it will start to fire its Machine Gun in straight lines towards you. This is extremely difficult to dodge, and takes only a couple of bursts to take you down. If that isn’t working, the Gunship will launch missile attacks, which will certainly destroy you.

The best weapon against Gunships are powerful guided missiles or a maxed out anti-material rifle. However, another good strategy is to call for air support yourself.

If your helicopter is equipped with a good machine gun and powerful missiles, it will be able to take the Gunship out for you. This tactic is only advised when hostile infantry count is relatively low, which allows your helicopter to focus solely on the Gunship.

Haider is a freelance contributor, who loves video games, playing guitar, and aviation. He is a competitive FPS player and also enjoys exotic RPG games like Diablo and Xenogears (his favorite game of all time) ...