How do you survive when you're just one soldier taking on the world?
Carefully. Very carefully. Building an army might be a crucial component in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, but your visits to the battlefield are almost always a solitary affair. The sneak-or-die approach of past games in the series isn't as prevalent as it once was, but the fact remains: you can't face everyone in a head-on firefight.
Operating from the shadows is your best bet. You don't have the numbers, but you have tools your enemies lack. Use them to set yourself up for an advantage. There's nothing wrong with going loud in The Phantom Pain, but you've got to do it smartly. Here are some tips for getting the most out of each sortie to the battlefield.
Know your gear
The loadout screen is the first thing you see before you head into battle. You can carry two primary weapons, two secondary weapons (though one of these slots is always occupied by Snake's prosthetic arm), and an assortment of tools and other gadgets.
Weapons — this is true for both firearms and explosives — come in two varieties. The ones that inflict direct damage are marked with a red "DMG" icon while the ones that mete out non-lethal punishment are marked with a blue icon. For non-lethal gear, the icon text could be "ZZZ" for sleep effects (tranq darts), STN for stun effects (non-lethal bullets) or "—-" for support tools that don't incapacitate enemies at all (inflatable decoy balloons).
Some firearms come with suppressors that muffle the sound of your shots, allowing you to dispatch enemies without raising any alerts. Take note: suppressors in Metal Gear wear down over time. There's a little meter on the weapon card in the bottom right corner of your screen. It decreases with each shot you take, so be sure to keep an eye on that as you push forward. Suppressors can be replenished by supply drops (more on that later).
Tools and other items are accessible via menus that pop up when you hold left or right on the D-pad (pressing up or down swaps primary and secondary weapons, respectively). This is where you find everything from grenades to cardboard boxes (think of them as mobile hiding places).