On Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain PS4; The player is given the option to access their base from their real-life smartphones and other devices via a companion app. They can control Snake as he explores the complex on foot. The Fulton surface-to-air recovery system, an item introduced into gameplay in Peace Walker, returns as well, with players now able to transport captured soldiers and other objects such as animals and vehicles back to Mother Base. Money for upgrading Mother Base's defences can be collected from diamonds and shipping containers found all over the map. The player can also customise and upgrade Snake's appearance and abilities for instance the colour of his fatigues and attachments for his prosthetic arm.
The enemy AI has also improved in terms of situational awareness. If players frequently use particular weapons or tactics to subdue enemy soldiers, repeats of the mission will see the enemy increase in numbers and be outfitted with better equipment; for example, the frequent use of headshots will see enemy soldiers don metal helmets to make targeting the head harder. Series director Hideo Kojima revealed that the game has a new day-and-night cycle that runs in real-time, and that the time taken to travel time from one location to another will affect the time of day when the player arrives at their destination. The cycle also fasts-forwards when Snake lights a "Phantom Cigar", a type of electronic cigar; a digital silver Seiko watch panel appears on screen to denote time.
Time enables players to analyze the movement of marked enemy forces in the area, such as shifts in sentry patrols and individual patrol routes. Weather effects, such as sandstorms and rain, will also affect the gameplay environment. A new game design direction will allow the player to choose in what order the story events take place by selecting missions in any order they like. Hideo Kojima has spoken about the restrictive nature of previous MGS titles, saying that they "set on one rail to get from point A to point B, with a certain amount of freedom between". In stark contrast, Kojima's team will instead offer the player new ways of traversal and sneaking methods, such as taking a plane, helicopter or motorcycle to the mission area.