Peace Walker Wi-Fi Recruiting

Not many people seem to have written about it. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker has an interesting feature where you recruit new soldiers using Wi-Fi access points. Here is a video.

Peace Walker contains an X-Com-like base management part. You need to recruit new soldiers and assign them to different teams. This gives you access to new, better weapons.

Soldiers are usually recruited by basically kidnapping them during missions. But the soldiers recruited this way often have very low skills. An alternative way of recruiting unlocks at some point. The game scans the Wi-Fi access points in your environment and generates soldiers from them. You can recruit the soldiers by doing a hand-to-hand combat training mission against them. I have been using this feature a couple of times, here are some observations.

  • Forcing players to take out the PSP – You will “use up” the access points at home quickly and will soon be doing recruiting sessions on the go. Because there is a mission associated with recruiting, you will be forced to play the game on the go. On the one hand, this is inconvenient. A passive “street pass” option would seem less troublesome. On the other hand, players will be encouraged to play the game on the go. This has the potential to make the PSP system and the game itself more visible. Other people might ask the players what they are doing and learn about the game this way.

  • Lack of Transparency – The way the function works right now, you just select the menu options and the recruiting mission magically appears. The fact that the soldiers are generated from Wi-Fi access points is not addressed at all. It’s not clear where the soldiers are coming from. This lack of transparency reduces the function to an arbitrary, anonymous soldier generator. Increasing transparency could encourage players to experiment more. Maybe the Wi-Fi at Starbucks generates a kick-ass medic. I’d like to know so I can share this with my friends.

  • Disparate Wi-Fi Functions – Actually, you can do a lot in Peace Walker using Wi-Fi. You don’t only recruit solders but you can also trade solders and equipment, play co-op missions and play versus matches. Each of those functions is hidden in a different, separate menu. The next level of this system would be to pull all those functions together in one menu. Walking through the city and collecting soldiers, I should be able to accidentally meet a Peace Walker players and play with them or exchange gear.

  • Easing Players Into Online Functions – There is an interesting feedback loop that encourages players to use more online functions. Once you start recruiting soldiers, you actually get quite a lot of them. You will soon max out your teams and you will be forced to weed out some of your staff. It feels like you are wasting recourses if you just fire them. So you are automatically interested in reaching out to friends to see if they can find any use for your obsolete staff members.

These are just a couple of observations. I heard that the usefulness of the system and the resulting experience varies depending on the Wi-Fi density of where you live. If you played the game, feel free to add on your own observations. I’d love to hear them.

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

6 responses to “Peace Walker Wi-Fi Recruiting”

  1. sirleto


    can you take out your android mobile phone (its easier to see there, i was told) and check how many wifi networks you are receiving in the (big) city of collogne?
    (smartphones have better wifi reception than notebooks and you can move them arround in your flat to see how many wifi access points are available).

    here in darmstadt i have aprox. 60 wifi access points when i walk along the “perimeter” of my flat … i expect it to be VASTLY HUGE UNBELIEVABLE amounts more when playing MGS in tokyo, so probably there you never need to leave the house?

    1. Krystian Majewski

      60 Wi-Fi acccess points? This is crazy.

      If you didn’t have to leave the house, what would be the point?

      As with the Monster Hunter series and the recent Street Pass function in the 3DS is, this is clearly made with the daily commute in mind, which seems to be a major part of urban Japanese life style nowadays.

  2. sirleto

    daily commute -> yes, sounds reasonable to me.

    60 wifi access points seems quite reasonable to me. walking through aprox. 10% of the city of darmstadt, i found more than 1 thousand.

    makes sense to me, 130k inhabitants of darmstadt, at aprox. 50k flats, with 20% wifi coverage?! 20% seems actually quite low to me, but i was probably walking way less than 10% of the city ;)

    its quite crappy to design a game with that in mind, i think. what about living in odenwald, in a 1000 soulds village? you will have way less wifis (not even proportional) to the city.

    it reminds me of a similar problem a konami game boy advance game had (somekind of vampire, i forgot the name): it had the great idea to add a light sensor to the cardtridge so you had do actually sneak into shadows and when you stepped into light you did load a sun-gun to eliminate vampires. the problem was, that it was designed for japanese latitudes in mind, which means way more sun. even in the most sunniest day in the cloudless city of mannheim i could not reach more than 10% of gun load, which made the game quite impossible to play.

    i had a really great wifi idea in mind, but i actually fear exactly these problems: different coverages all over the world, makes it hard to design the game to be overal available/enyoable.

    probably one would need to adjust the balancing dynamically? just similiar to a dynamically adjusting action-rpg enemy-difficulty aproach…

    1. GhostLyrics

      sirleto, I think you’re looking for this one:

  3. sirleto

    ah yes, exactly :)

  4. Maggotman

    it seems they didn’t change it for the HD version either so you have to carry your xbox360 or ps3 around to different access points to get better/more recruits


The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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