Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain: everything we know about MGSV

Some time has passed since Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was unveiled at this year’s Games Developers Conference, and that means that we’ve finally had the chance to simmer down from that drop dead gorgeous trailer. The MGS franchise has always been synonymous with the PlayStation brand, so it’s no surprise that some of us here at PSU, like myself, are diehard fans of the series. Kojima’s got us by the balls, and he knows we’re taking this trailer very seriously.

Probably too seriously.

You can find rumors and speculation pieces all over the internet–our very own Metal Gear forum, NeoGAF, even our podcast, Derailed! However, maybe we should take a break from all this theorizing and speculative thinking, and stick to what we know—for sanity’s sake.

Here’s a list of all things that we know (so far) for sure about Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Let’s start with the basics, shall we?

General / Development

-MGSV is the first game built by Kojima Productions using the FOX Engine

-Published by Konami, the game will be produced, designed, written, and directed by series creator Hideo Kojima

-The game has only been confirmed for PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. A PlayStation 4/next-gen version has not been officially mentioned, but is expected to be revealed at some point by many, due to the impressive visuals of the new FOX Engine. There has been no mention of a PC version; however, a Kojima Productions job listing suggests that a PC version is, in fact, in development. It’s worth noting that the GDC 2013 gameplay demo of The Phantom Pain was running on a PC.

-Metal Gear Solid V is made up of two parts: Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain, just like Metal Gear Solid 2 was made up of the Tanker and Big Shell chapters. Ground Zeroes is a prequel to The Phantom Pain, taking place 9 years earlier. While together these episodes make up MGSV, Konami has been vague as to how these separate experiences will be distributed, confirming that both parts make up one game, but not confirming that they ship together in one package.

-David Hayter, the beloved voice of Snake (young Big Boss and Solid) since 1998, will not be reprising his role as the game’s protagonist this time around, according to various reports, namely the actor’s Twitter account. Furthermore, Kojima has confirmed that the reason for his exclusion is to give a new voice to Snake from here on out.

Characters / Story

Note: there is a ton of story analysis already available on the internet, either through canonical links between other Metal Gear games or in-depth trailer analysis, but we’ll just cover the broad strokes.

-Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain both feature Big Boss (Naked Snake) as the game’s main protagonist. Ground Zeroes takes place soon after the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker; The Phantom Pain takes places 9 years after Ground Zeroes.

-When Big Boss wakes up from his coma, he realizes that he has a prosthetic limb, instead of a left arm. The game’s subtitle, “phantom pain,” is a medical term for when an amputee feels sensations where a limb or organ no longer exists–like Big Boss’ missing left arm.

-Kaz Miller (A.K.A. Master Miller, Big Boss’ second in command) can be seen a few times in the GDC 2013 MGSV trailer.

-During the scene where Kaz is hospitalized, he stresses that Big Boss must survive, and subsequently asks how the third patient (identity remains unknown), whose perspective we’re watching from, is doing. This character is presumed to play an important role in the story, seeing as how they were brought in beside Snake and Kaz, leaders of Militaires San Frontieres.

-Ismael, a mysterious bandaged man, is present when Big Boss awakens from his coma and tries to lead him away from danger. The name “Ismael” is surely a reference to the 1851 novel Moby Dick, seeing as the character called Snake “Ahab,” who is also known as the captain of novel’s whale ship. A giant, fiery whale can also be seen at one point in the trailer. Also, in a ruse orchestrated by Kojima Productions, “Moby Dick Studios” was initially reported to have been developing The Phantom Pain at the 2012 Spike VGA reveal. Moby Dick looks to be largely symbolic in Metal Gear Solid V.

-A young child can be seen wearing a black leather (unfastened) straitjacket and using psychic powers. Speculation leads us to believe that this is most likely a young Psycho Mantis—one of Solid Snake’s foes in Metal Gear Solid.

-In the Ground Zeroes reveal trailer, Chico can be seen captured in a cage by the XOF, with a strange cybernetic implant: a headphone jack on his chest.

-Paz was also mentioned and has been captured by the XOF. One of Big Boss’ missions in Ground Zeroes is to rescue her and Chico.

-A severely skin-damaged man (wearing a drill sergeant hat) is seen throughout Ground Zeroes. It is all but confirmed that this man is the leader of XOF, as he is the one attempting to derive information from Chico.

-A man wearing cowboy boots and riding a horse is seen rescuing Big Boss in The Phantom Pain. He bears a strong resemblance to Revolver Ocelot.

-The MSF (Militaires San Frontieres) is seen being destroyed, presumably by the XOF. This is likely how the FOX unit ended up wounded.

-At the end of The Phantom Pain’s GDC 2013 trailer, a woman with a Russian accent says “V has come to.” This is most probably in reference to Big Boss, but why she is referring to him as “V” yet remains unknown.

-Big Boss is seen donning a leather jacket with a Diamond Dogs logo, which Kaz says is their new “home.” Diamond Dogs might be the new taskforce established by Big Boss after the FOX vs. XOF incident. In this scene, Big Boss has a fully functional mechanical arm, as well as, what looks to be, a horn. Yep. UPDATE: Kojima has clarified (to Game Trailers) that Snake’s latest cranial accessory is, in fact, pieces of shrapnel and bone–not a horn. Thanks, Dave-The-Rave!

-The phrases “From FOX, Two Phantoms Were Born” and “A Phantom Battle Waged By The Vanished” are shown throughout the Metal Gear Solid V trailers, and seem to play a large, symbolic role in the game.


-Metal Gear Solid V will feature a massive open world, a first for the series. Like previous titles, the game will still be a stealth action game, following Big Boss through his missions.

-MGSV will not feature any loading screens when transitioning between areas of its open world, only when “fast traveling” via helicopter.

-For the first time in the series, players can take control of and pilot/drive various vehicles in a sandbox world.

-Players can choose to customize their helicopter dispatch in various ways, one of which is personalizing your helicopter’s music queue upon arrival.

-The Mother Base mechanic from Peace Walker will make its return, although with a few new features. Players will be able to walk around Mother Base in real-time, applying upgrades and more.

-Players will be able to manage the new Mother Base with their respective smartphones and tablets, having changes be reflected in the main game.

-The weapons R&D facility from Peace Walker is also returning

-Metal Gear Solid V will feature much shorter cut-scenes than previous installments in the series.

-Players will have the freedom to complete missions and objectives in the order they choose, with outcomes ultimately being the same (overall story direction won’t be drastically affected).

-Snake is equipped with an in-world holographic map (similar to Dead Space’s), which acts like the Soliton Radar System. It provides information on enemies and mission objectives/locations.

-The game features day and night cycles that will change enemy patterns and the way players approach certain missions.

Alright, there you have it. We’ve listed pretty much everything we know to be true—or at least what Konami and Kojima have stated—about Metal Gear Solid V. Like many of you, we can’t wait for Konami to divulge more information about Kojima’s next blockbuster, but looks like we’ll have to wait until E3 for that.

Are you a Metal Gear fan? Excited for The Phantom Pain and Big Boss’ return? Do you agree with TIm’s theory–like I do–of what The Phantom Pain is? Let us know in the comments section below and stay glued to PSU.com for all things MGSV.