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I'll say it again just for courtesy purposes... HUGE SPOILER

Okay, my question isn't necessarily about the true ending. I completely understand the plot twist; my question is about the Phantom Big Boss, Venom Snake. Can somebody please explain to me in detail why the phantom, or the medic, whatever you want to call him, is just as well trained and deadly as the real Big Boss, aka Naked Snake? It just doesn't add up for me. I understand that Venom Snake truly believes that he is the real Big Boss, and I can even accept the fact that somehow he was able to obtain the memories and cognition of Naked Snake, but how is the Phantom just as well trained? It's never explained in the game, as far as I know, nor how he got the thoughts and memories of Big Boss. That seems like a huge plot hole to me.

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  • I don't think he really had any of Boss's memories, all he knew was what he did. I don't know if this is fact but I'd imagine being a medic of the boss, you'd be around him a lot so you pick up things he does and says a lot. As far as training goes, he had a lot of opportunities to train (shooting ranges at MB) and just being out on the field doing missions improving along the way. Thinking he's the boss, could have been a big boost to his ego and thus retain a lot of what he has learned. Oct 15, 2015 at 2:54
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    It's explicitly mentioned that there was a rigorous regiment of hypnotherapy done on the sleeping medic to convince him he was Big Boss - including going over all of Big Bosses missions. I view this as being analogous to how they created the AI of The Boss from PW - they didn't upload her consciousness, they just simulated all her experiences to create a roughly identical individual.
    – two bugs
    Oct 15, 2015 at 13:21

3 Answers 3

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On one of the last tape you unlock, you can hear Ocelot discussing this with Big Boss/Naked Snake. (Not the exact word since I can t listen to it right now):

"He was our best man, almost as good as you, he will be fine, and I ll be there to support him"

He is implied to be the best MSF soldier you had in Peace Walker, and like in MGSV: TPP, soldier you pick up often have equal if not superior skill to Big Boss.

The point of it is, Big Boss is nothing but a title, a name, you are just more visible, but there is hundred, thousand of men in the dark, who may or may not be better than him, but are not known to the public.

Venom just happened to be at the right place in the right time, and had a pretty extensive CV too. Best soldier of the first PMC, composed of elite soldier, and personal medic of Big Boss himself, that guy is not any no name.

You may compare the title of Boss with the Medal of Honor (or for that matter, any military reward). Your mission was difficult and is a success, you are rewarded, sometime even without having done anything heroic. And thousands died after doing something purely heroic, but nobody saw them, and they are forgotten.

Big Boss is just not the best soldier in skill. Just the one who was at the right time in the right place with the right skills, and got rewarded for it.

Example of people of similar/higher skill of Big Boss, but without title nor reward:

(As a side note, thoses also are only know to us player by the fact they were in key position, who know about all thoses no-name soldiers?)

Skullface: (Spoiler for MGS3, MGS5: GZ, MGSV: TPP):

Skullface, and a lot of XOF, sneaked Snake AND the russian for at least half of Operation Snake Eater, and supposedly helped Snake in the shadow. The reason Skullface hated Snake was he did at least as much work as Snake, without any reward.

Ocelot: (Spoiler for all MGS but PW):

Was a triple agent in operation Snake Eater, was supposedly behind the scene during PW, instructor in MGSV, and ended up being a quintuple agent for the rest of the series! (Working for Big Boss, and in this way fooled Cypher, Solidus and Liquid, while pretending to be mind controlled by Liquid). Also fooled Venom and himself in MGSV to help Phantom Snake. The guy deserve a medal bigger than Snake for that.

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  • "Big Boss is just not the best soldier in skill." This reminds me of the old Halo novels, where each of Master Chief's comrades in training had a specialty; Kelly was extremely fast, Linda was the best sniper, Sam was the strongest, etc. At first it seemed as if he had no specialty, but the Chief later realizes (and Cortana acknowledges I believe) that it must be luck, along with bravery that borders on stupidity. Luck is just as important as skill on the battlefield, where a slight error spells death. It seems that it is somewhat similar for Big Boss; he's amazingly skilled but also lucky. Oct 16, 2015 at 19:36
  • @LucasLeblanc: It s similar, but that s not luck, just publicity. Boss was a public figure held as a hero by the USA. Big Boss killed her, and so became the new Boss, with the same publicity. Was the Boss relly that good? Sure she was extraordinary, but since Snake bested her, how many other people could do that?
    – DrakaSAN
    Oct 22, 2015 at 12:49
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Remember your first mission? Ocelot sends Venom in to save Miller with no backup to, "Prove to the World that you've still got it, that you still are Big Boss". Like Big Boss says in "The Man who Sold the World" -- "[They] are both Big Boss".

As to whether or not Venom's skills are actually a match for Big Boss, we won't know, but the point is, it doesn't matter -- he's good enough to convince everyone that he is Big Boss. And don't forget, he may have been a medic, but Venom was one of the (Peacewalker) Diamond Dogs himself; just because he knew medicine didn't mean he didn't know how to sneak with the rest of Big Boss' crew!

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He's described as one of the best soldiers from the old mother base. So when he's put into the role of Big Boss, it's not too much of a stretch that he's on par with Big Boss.

I think it's his great skill plus a bit of a placebo effect that makes him passable as the real big boss.

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