Forward Operating Bases are a core element of the multiplayer action in Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. They are, as George Carlin put it, a place for your stuff; every player has one, and—this is where it gets interesting—you can bust into other players' FOBs and take their stuff for your own. Of course, other players can do the same to you, and being burgled by a super soldier isn't as much fun when you're on the receiving end, is it?
Players who are tired of dealing with losing their stuff may now take advantage of "FOB Insurance," a new service added to the game as part of the latest update. Other players can still take your stuff, but if you have insurance, then the stuff they take will actually remain on your base. Everything is effectively doubled: They get your stuff, but you get to keep your stuff. It's like magic!
The downside is that, just like real-life insurance, it's not a once-and-done deal. Instead, you'll have to maintain a subscription to the service with "MB Coins," which are purchased with—you guessed it—real money. It's possible to earn the coins in-game, but the process is very slow—daily bonuses vary but are generally quite tiny—and according to a NeoGAF user, insurance isn't cheap: A single day of insurance costs 50 coins, three days is 100 coins, a week is 200 coins, and two weeks is 300 coins. Furthermore, not everything is covered: Stuff that isn't fully yours, wounded staff, staffed deployed in defense of your FOB, and nuclear weapons will not be covered by the policy.
But the real bite, I think it's safe to say, is that this exists at all. Konami specifically designed the MGS5 multiplayer experience around this element of competition between bases—you take my stuff, I take yours—and now, for a price, are offering a way to avoid most of the negative consequences of being on the losing end of a fight. People are free to spend their money in whatever way they see fit, but this strikes me as very much on the sketchy side of the microtransaction spectrum: Optional, sure, but hardcore players may feel like it's a necessity to have.
The update also brings a number of other changes to the game, including developer-generated "Event FOB" missions, a greater range of missions in Combat Deployment (Online) with better and more varied rewards, new weapons and a new top-tier performance grade, night vision equipment for your security staff, a proper "ghost mode" for FOB infiltration that enables stealthy players to do an entire FOB mission without alerting the enemy player, an option to reduce the amount of time required for FOB expansions (also paid for with MB Coins), and various smaller tweaks and fixes.
We recently took a closer look at the pre-update state of the FOB multiplayer mode, and came away from the experience not entirely satisfied. It's a cool idea, but "doesn’t feel aligned with what’s great about the game... As a standalone mode it could work, given more nuance in terms of how players personalize their bases and interact. Right now, FOBbin’ is too inconsistent to recommend." Perhaps the update will help address some of those shortcoming.
The new Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain update is slated to go live today. Full details are up at Konami.jp.