Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain – All In Big Boss’ Head?

metal gear solid v snake

Earlier today Hideo Kojima headed up a GDC presentation – Photorealism Through the Eyes of a FOX: The Core of Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes. At some point during the presentation, the world stood in awe as Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was revealed. Sporting Kojima Productions’ next-generation FOX engine, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain tells a story of FOX vs. XOF, the fall of the MSF’s Mother Base, and the battle with a new, deadly enemy army.

The ensuing battle costs Big Boss (and Kaz Miller) many of their friends and comrades and almost kills them. Big Boss, was revived thankfully but lays in a coma for years. Nine years later he wakes up and The Phantom Pain truly begins. It looks and feels like a journey in Big Boss’ subconscious, with monstrous creatures, larger-than-life enemies, and even a horseman of the apocalypse-type pursuer.

The Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain trailer begs the question, is this all in Big Boss’ head?

metal gear solid v msf base

The fall of Mother Base.

Before you call me crazy, let’s look at the Metal Gear Solid timeline. In MGS4, Big Boss is revealed at the end and if you’ll notice that he actually moves his fingers, makes a fist, and even uses his left arm like he hadn’t lost it in battle. However, in The Phantom Pain, Boss wakes up from the coma and realizes that his left arm has been replaced by a prosthetic (with attached hook). He even uses the prosthetic to prop up his shotgun during the chase scene with the flaming horse rider.

As well, Big Boss is known to have freaky, almost lucid dreams like the one he had in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Remember? The one with vampires in it? The dream takes place in a large warehouse where Snake’s character (whom fans have dubbed Guy Savage) uses his double hook blades to kill zombie-like enemies in order to transform into a monster himself. The more he kills, and the more brutal the kills, the more his hair turns from brown to white and the more feral he becomes.

metal gear solid v coma

Big Boss almost dies and falls into a coma in MGS V.

The Metal Gear Solid games have long since straddled a balance between realistic and surrealistic. Mixing true-to-life combat moves, weapons, and real-world threats with the crazy mechs and some super powers. The Phantom Pain however, goes way over the series norm for crazy and includes monstrous fire-soaked whales (that floats in the sky) and the aforementioned flaming horseman. It looks to me like this adventure is Big Boss’ internal struggle to survive and to awake from the coma. The Phantom Pain in it’s entirety could be us playing through that internal struggle.

Another possibility is that Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes lays the ground work towards the story in The Phantom  Pain. If you’ll look at Big Boss in the first few moments of the trailer, it looks like he’s at the same point as he and his MSF army in Ground Zeroes, ending the game with MSF’s Mother Base getting destroyed by the XOF. This loss then opens up MGS V with Boss waking from his coma into a brand new reality – an alternate take on the MGS timeline.

metal gear solid v the phantom pain horseman

A flaming horseman? How much crazier can The Phantom Pain get?

Now an alternate Metal Gear universe/timeline might work for these brand new games. Think about it, Kojima and crew can basically create a new timeline and not be shackled or held down having to retcon every single plot thread to make it fit into the timeline established in the earlier canon. With Big Boss, we already know that he’ll survive for a very long time until his final meeting with Old Snake at the end of MGS 4. Imagine the amount of tension it’ll create if this new alternate Metal Gear reality – Starting with The Phantom Pain – can convince the player that Big Boss can actually die at any time in this new timeline, to be replaced by a new central character in later installments. Kind of like how Metal Gear Rising tells a fresh tale in the MG universe, The Phantom Pain could wipe the slate clean and begin the franchise anew.

Or perhaps the trailer is something meant to confuse us and to hide the true story behind Metal Gear Solid V. Remember, Hideo Kojima is known for his bait-and-switch from Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty. Regarding Kojima Productions games, I think “Experience Everything, Believe Nothing” sounds like a good way to take his trailers and teasers, because you’ll never know what to expect from the final, retail copy.

What do you think? Do you take Kojima’s Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain trailer at face value or do you think there’s more to the game than that?

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About janhutchings

Canadian Game Industry Blogger / Contributor for @Sonyrumors & @ShogunGamer / Communications and PR Professional. Voice of Canadian and Indie Gaming. http://jtmgames.com/

Posted on March 27, 2013, in Opinions And Editorials and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Kojima himself explained ground zeroes is the prologue to the phantom pain, according to him TPP starts in the clinic as the tutorial then all about the horses and supernatural things happen but, if you recall after the horse is taken down, there is another scene in the clinic where big boss sees a nurse, so it can mean it was actually a nightmare that serves as the tutorial, then boss wakes up and as you can see in the end he is riding a motorcycle all recovered, there will the game start to take revenge on XOF

    • Good observations Alejandro! That actually might happen in the full release of whatever MGS V is going to be. Though you can never tell with Kojima’s games. Kojima-san has been more upfront with MGS3, MGS4, and Peace Walker’s story and features, but recently he’s been secretive and held back when it came to Ground Zeroes, TPP and MGS V.

      Thanks again for the comment! If you have any other thoughts or speculations please share it with us!

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