The Metal Gear franchise is in a weird place at the moment. For decades the core series has lead the charge in bringing new ways of conceptualising game design to the industry, as well as having a huge hand in bringing video games into maturity. But we all remember 2015, when Konami pressured Hideo Kojima’s team to release Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain in an unfinished state and subsequently let Kojima go.
Luckily, Kojima has since bounced back – he’s established a new studio under the name Kojima Productions and is working on the highly anticipated game Death Stranding – but Metal Gear hasn’t felt the same since 2015, and its future doesn’t feel much more stable.
So where are we at with Metal Gear today, in 2018?
Public perception of Konami in general has plummeted since Kojima left. At the moment there’s no word on any new titles in the series, largely due to the mediocre reception to Metal Gear Survive from earlier in the year. Survive itself seemed doomed from the beginning, as most of the buzz around the game pre-launch was filled with negativity and disdain for the publisher.
The move to completely remake the cutscenes of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – arguably the most beloved in the series – in full HD for a pachinko machine (think Japanese slot machine) also helped to lead gamers to believe Konami is incapable of doing justice to the series in Kojima’s absence.
The most recent development in the Metal Gear franchise is the inclusion of Metal Gear Solid in the PlayStation Classic’s 20 game lineup.
What can Konami do to right the Metal Gear ship?
From where I’m standing Konami doesn’t have a lot of options on where to take the series. Metal Gear has a lot of clout in the industry, so it’s highly likely that they’ll make another iteration at some point in the future.
The most likely move I can see Konami making is a remaster/remake for modern consoles. There was word before the release of The Phantom Pain that Kojima intended to remake the original 1987 and 1990 Metal Gear games in full 3D to tie-up narrative loose ends and inconsistencies.
Even though Kojima’s no longer apart of the company this doesn’t sit outside of the real of possibility; the two games they plan to make already exist and were originally made by Kojima. The FOX Engine used to develop The Phantom Pain and Survive combined with the stories of those games would make for a great experience, while the heavy work would sit with writers and voice actors to fill in the blanks and line the games up with the rest of the franchise. It would be a popular move on Konami’s part, one that would be much cheaper and easier than developing a wholly new game.
But what would be even easier than remaking these old games for modern consoles? Remastering less-old games for modern consoles. We know Konami is happy to re-release their games, they’ve done it a number of times with a number of franchises. You could consider the inclusion of Metal Gear Solid in the PlayStation classic as an example of this. We’ve also seen how popular re-releases and remasters can be in recent years with Crash Bandicoot and Spyro both receiving revivals, and if Konami needs anything right now it’s a boost in popularity.
My pitch would be to package an Ultimate Collection consisting of Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake and all Metal Gear Solid titles through to The Phantom Pain on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC and Nintendo Switch.
Out of all four platforms I see Switch as being the most likely and best suited place to play these games, considering the top-down camera used from the original Metal Gear up to Snake Eater in 2004. Konami has also been friendly with Nintendo in the past, lending the hero of the series Snake to Super Smash Bros. as a playable character (among various characters from Castlevania) as well as developing a port of Snake Eater to the Nintendo 3DS back in 2012.
We’ve also seen just how powerful the Switch is, being able to run games like Doom and Wolfenstein 2. There’s no doubt the system could run the more recent HD games, considering The Phantom Pain was released on both current generation and previous generation consoles.
But what about a new game?
To design a new Metal Gear game that doesn’t mess with the established timeline would be extremely difficult, as the overall narrative has a clear beginning, middle and end.
For those not in the know, the story of Metal Gear begins in the 1960s with Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Here, we witness the very first Metal Gear operating in Russia and the events which spark the conflicts seen throughout the rest of the series. The story concludes with Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots with the destruction of the evil AI (The Patriots) controlling the Metal Gear and the world, as well as other villainous forces planning to take control of these weapons. The world is released from war and peace is had by all.
Most of the in-between has also been either explored in full games, like the rise of The Patriots and the backstories of most main characters. What is missing is either not big enough to justify a full game or embedded in bureaucracy and paperwork, like the foundation of the Philosophers and the construction of Outer Heaven.
I realise how confusing a lot of these terms are if you’re unfamiliar with Metal Gear, but bear with me.
So what can be done? *Spoilers ahead*
There are a few brief periods in which Konami could set a new game, but they would be filling out largely redundant points.
There are brief periods set on either side of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty in which Solid Snake and Otacon hunt down Metal Gear and The Patriots. The first period is less interesting and probably wouldn’t make for a very interesting game, as this period mostly revolves around Snake and Otacon setting up their anti-Metal Gear organisation Philanthropy and conducting various forms of surveillance to monitor and track the development of Metal Gear. One mission in particular – in which Solid Snake steals the corpse of Liquid Snake – would be of interest but wouldn’t add much to the series as a whole and would not justify an entire game.
In period following Sons Of Liberty Solid Snake tracks down The Patriots while grappling with his accelerated ageing, however most of what occurs in this period is covered in Guns Of The Patriots.
Certain side-characters and their backstories could make for really interesting games, similarly to Metal Gear Rising Revengeance’s look at Raiden post-Guns Of The Patriots. Grey Fox is one character that comes to mind who could potentially carry a game on his own.
Another option would be to follow (spoilers) the real Big Boss during the events of The Phantom Pain. It’s revealed in the final ending of the game that the player has been in control of an imposter, set up by Revolver Ocelot and the real Big Boss to believe he himself is the real Big Boss. This provides a cover for the real Big Boss to leave and establish Outer Heaven, his rogue nation state in South Africa intended as a haven for disenfranchised veterans to live in with purpose.
A game covering this period would be of great interest, explaining how one man managed to take over a portion of a country and establish a nation state, which would go on to develop its own Metal Gear. This would tie in nicely to any kind of 1987 Metal Gear remake, if Konami ever decided to pursue such a project, and would nicely round out Big Boss’s story.
There were also numerous references in The Phantom Pain to plot threads that were never explored, namely the uncertain loyalty of Snake’s right-hand-man Kazuhira Miller.
Is there any certainty in any of this?
Well… no. Konami knows how the public feels about Metal Gear and isn’t obligated to produce any new Metal Gear content.
Sony Pictures is currently working with director Jordan Vogt-Roberts to develop a Metal Gear movie. Vogt-Roberts has repeatedly emphasised his love for the series and Kojima’s vision and by all accounts is fighting for “the most Kojima version” possible. We’ll have to wait and see if Metal Gear can break the video game-movie curse.
There have also been some intriguing Tweets coming from voice actor Robin Atkin Downes, who is well-known for voicing Kazuhira Miller in the Metal Gears Peace Walker, Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain. Atkin Downes has repeatedly Tweeted coy messages referencing Metal Gear and the possibility of new projects, with some directed at fellow cast members including Snake voice actor David Hayter.
— David Hayter (@DavidBHayter) October 18, 2018
— Robin Atkin Downes (@Robin_A_Downes) October 17, 2018
These Tweets seemed to be pointing at a Q&A livestream hosted by both Atkin Downes and Hayter for the 20th Anniversary of Metal Gear Solid and not related to any new Metal Gear projects. However, a final Tweet could suggest we may see something Metal Gear-related revealed at the 2018 Game Awards.
What do you think?
Is more Metal Gear on the horizon, or do you think we’ve seen the end of the series? Leave your opinions on our socials, and remember…
…Eyes on Kazuhira.