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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain features very fun and flexible mission design. From fully customisable loadouts to the fact that you can tackle almost any operation exactly as you see fit, you're always given countless options when it comes to fulfilling your objectives. One of the game's most interesting additions to the franchise, however, is its buddy system.

The buddy system allows you to bring along an artificial intelligence parter on most missions, and they can help you achieve your goals. There are four companions to find and recruit throughout the sandbox stealth-'em-up, and with any luck, this guide will help you understand their varying roles, and how to best utilise their talents out on the battlefield.

Needless to say, there are some minor spoilers regarding buddies in this guide.



Best used for:
Travelling from one objective to another at a reasonably fast pace.

How to get D-Horse:
D-Horse is the only buddy that's unlocked at the start of the game, after you've completed the prologue. She's the horse that Snake is riding when you first enter Afghanistan.

Description and thoughts:
D-Horse is a trusty steed that'll rarely let you down. Although she isn't the most exciting of the game's four available buddies, she'll always have her uses. For starters, D-Horse is your most reliable form of transportation. Especially near the beginning of the game, you won't yet have easy access to vehicles, so D-Horse is your only real option when it comes to travelling relatively long distances. It goes without saying that she's also far quieter than a jeep or truck.

Indeed, D-Horse can be useful when it comes to stealth. By pressing the crouch button while you're saddled up, Snake will lean in behind D-Horse, effectively using her as cover. This technique is great for navigating past smaller outposts that are dotted around the map, as guards won't be too suspicious of a horse that doesn't appear to have a rider. That said, you still don't want to get too close to enemies while in this position - simply trot past at a distance and stay hidden.

If you are spotted while riding D-Horse, know that you can pull out a weapon and starting dishing out bullets while mounted. This obviously puts D-Horse in danger of being shot, but it's still a reasonably effective option if you need to thin the enemy ranks while also making your escape.



Best used for:
Espionage. When you need to be stealthy, D-Dog can be an invaluable ally.

How to get D-Dog:
Near the start of the game when you're able to pick and choose which missions to tackle, you may stumble across D-Dog as a puppy out in the wild. One of the best ways to find D-Dog is to listen for his barking; if you're in close proximity, he'll start to yap. Ocelot can also tell you over the radio about a nearby puppy if you miss the barking. Once you've found the enthusiastic pup, simply extract him back to Mother Base using your Fulton extraction system.

Of course, you won't be able to take D-Dog out on missions when he's just a puppy. Continue to complete objectives, and in time, D-Dog will grow into a powerful looking canine.

Description and thoughts:
As mentioned, D-Dog is your best buddy choice if you're playing things stealthily. Instead of having to mark out the positions of your enemies yourself, D-Dog will do his best to point out any guards that he spots or hears - all you have to do is approach a base or outpost and he'll do this automatically. Obviously, this can be a huge help when you're working against the clock, or you want a quick read of how many troops you're dealing with.

D-Dog's spotting skills don't stop there, though. Snake's best friend will also point out any resources or wild animals in your area, too. As such, he's a valuable partner to have around when you're exploring the map in search of medicinal plants or specific wildlife.

Like any well trained mutt, D-Dog responds to numerous orders, and commanding him correctly can make missions a lot easier. You can tell D-Dog to stun an enemy, wound them, or even tear out their throat. His ability to take a single foe out of the picture means that he can be a fantastic last resort when you feel like you may be discovered as you attempt a stealthier approach.

However, sending D-Dog in to deal with a group of guards usually isn't the best idea. He can certainly kill enemies quickly, but against three or more armed men, he's going to take a lot of fire. As such, if you are going to use D-Dog in combat, keep him nearby and use him to punish any foes that get too close for their own good.



Best used for:
Support. Quiet is a versatile buddy who can help out with both stealth and combat.

How to get Quiet:
Being a major character in the game, you'll probably know when Quiet's about to appear in the story. During a mission, you may hear a report over the radio that there's a sniper roaming around Afghanistan, and if you head to the Aabe Shifap Ruins, you'll find her.

This is where things get a little tricky. In order to recruit Quiet, you'll have to battle her. Once she's down, you'll be given a choice of whether or not to kill her completely. Of course, if you want to take her on as a buddy, you'll need her alive, so be sure not to squeeze the trigger by accident.

As with D-Dog, Quiet won't be available as an ally right away. You'll need to continue playing and complete a few more missions before she's able to fight by your side.

Description and thoughts:
Quiet can increase your chances of success in multiple situations. She'll help you out in firefights and keep enemies off you if you're taking a stealthier route - she can even mark guards for you. Because of all this, Quiet is arguably the most versatile buddy in the game, but to get the most out of her, you may need to channel her skills by giving her commands.

When you're looking to conquer a base, send Quiet to a nearby position that overlooks it. From here, she can both mark and snipe, and by highlighting a specific foe, you can then tell Quiet to take a shot. With enough preparation, it's possible to cripple guard outposts with Quiet's sniping while you stay hidden or perform some kind of sabotage, such as taking out communications to stop reinforcements from showing up.

With that in mind, Quiet truly excels when the odds are stacked against you. If a base is packed with enemies, or your foes are on high alert, you can make things considerably easier by having Quiet take out numerous troops from a safe distance. Keep in mind, though, that without a silencer on her sniper rifle, her fire will give away her position.

When you find yourself up against tougher elite or heavy enemies, Quiet's once again a great buddy choice, as she'll back you up on whatever approach you take. What's more, she's unsurprisingly a damn good shot, which can make all the difference if you have no choice but to engage in a gunfight with your aggressors.



Best used for:
Combat. Particularly against vehicular opposition, D-Walker can help crush your foes.

How to get D-Walker:
You unlock D-Walker after mission 12, but you'll need resources to outfit it with weapons and gadgets that best suit your style of play. Again, you won't be able to take this buddy out into battle until it's ready, so get out there and complete a few objectives first.

Description and thoughts:
D-Walker is an exceptional tool in the right hands. Though it may not be quite as openly versatile as Quiet, it can be customised rather extensively in order to fulfil your needs. There's no doubt, though, that D-Walker is best used as a means of mowing down your enemies - usually in the most fun way possible.

Its armoured body means that it can take a lot of punishment while protecting Snake from fire, and its gatling gun lets you tear standard infantry to shreds. If you're up for a spot of unadulterated chaos as you attack a base head-on without much prior planning, you can't go wrong with D-Walker.

Naturally, as a mechanical killing machine, D-Walker isn't particularly stealthy - but you can slightly alter its destiny by developing and equipping more suitable parts. For example, you can outfit D-Walker with a stun gun for non-lethal operations.

However, just because D-Walker is effectively a small bipedal tank doesn't mean that it's invincible; it's still best to use D-Walker with some care when you find yourself completely outnumbered. It's also worth keeping in mind that the mech is surprisingly mobile. Flanking your opponents or retreating at speed are certainly options, especially if you can put buildings or structures between you and the enemy.

Do you have a favourite buddy in Metal Gear Solid V? Do you have any hints or tips that we haven't included? Share your experience of tactical espionage action in the comments section below.