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Tactical espionage: How Kojima planted clues for Metal Gear Solid 5

MGS5 broke cover this week, but as PSM3 discovered, it has been leaving clues for over a year

The new issue of PSM3 is on sale now. [Sections of this article taken from the April issue]

Solid Snake will star in Metal Gear Solid 5, claims French games magazine IG, based on potentially off-the-record quotes from a recent interview with Hideo Kojima.

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But PSM3's Metal Gear expert Daniel Dawkins (@DanDawkins) research into the MGS plot canon, as well as a year of messages from Kojima himself, point to a complex web of details relating to his next project.

The likely setting is Africa in the '70s. All clues point to Metal Gear Solid 5 being set in this time at this place, outlining the philosophical dispute between Big Boss and Major Zero (that inspired the plot of MGS4), giving rise to The Les Enfants Terrible project - leading to the birth of 'twin snakes' clones Liquid and Solid Snake, plus 'perfect' clone Solidus.

The plot might even extend to the establishment of Outer Heaven, and its infiltration by a 23-year-old Solid Snake, a rookie soldier on a first mission - trying to take down Big Boss, his 'father'. This event occurs in 1995, so MGS5 could span over 20 years (from early 70s to 90s, covering the childhood of Solid Snake), or be split across a new series of MGS games.

While the 'Next Metal Gear' isn't certain to be MGS5 - it could be a Peace Walker-style spin-off on Vita, for example - commerce would dictate that 'Metal Gear Solid 5' is the preferred name, a 'proper' MGS, sure to delight Konami's shareholders, as much as series' fans.

It's almost certain to run on Fox Engine, and - just possibly - could be a next-generation game, given that FoxEngine works across both current formats (PS3, 360 etc), plus high end PCs.

"Another area where Fox Engine excels is that it can be used to develop the same game on multiple platforms at once", Kojima said.

We quizzed Kojima about MGS5 in our exclusive E3 interview, and while we wouldn't name it explicitly, he did say his next game might be about 'something more on a human level, something like the concept of love or rearing a family'.

Our anticipated 1970s Africa storyline would allow for such a tale within the MGS universe: Big Boss as 'father' to the young Solid Snake, and how he deals with him growing up in such a troubled climate, while keeping his identity secret. Think Darth Vader and Luke.

According to the MGS wikia, following Solid Snake's birth, he 'was given the name "David" and spent his early life being raised and taught by a variety of foster parents. Making his way into the military, David was inducted into the Green Berets as a teen'.

Snake's first mission for FOXHOUND came in 1995. He was tasked with infiltrating Outer Heaven; a military nation deep within South Africa, led by a feared and legendary mercenary - Big Boss, his 'father'. The events are chronicled in Metal Gear, an MSX2 title released in 1987. If MGS5 was to retell these events, it'd allow Solid Snake to 'star', while retaining Kojima's focus on 'love and family'.

Further details come from the official @konami twitter account and Facebook page, which celebrated Father's Day on Sunday June 17th with a profile of... Big Boss.

A game about 'love and family' is potentially consistent with previous research, allowing both Big Boss and Solid Snake to take leading roles as father and son.

"I don't really pay too much attention to the theories out there", Kojima told us at E3, "What I can say though is that I do love to tread that line and give something extra to the fans - but I do get yelled at by the company!".

PSM3's Daniel Dawkins has analysed what he believes are nine secret details, already disclosed in secret, that frame the next Metal Gear Solid game...

1. Big Boss will star

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Big Boss wants you! The "next" MGS!' is the fairly obvious clue in the Kojima Productions job ad used to recruit staff at the recent Games Developers Conference (GDC) in San Francisco. A 'classified' file on its website reveals more Big Boss art with a 'Diamond Dogs' logo on his arm, stood next to a dog. Commercial logic dictates that you'll play as a Snake/Big Boss look-a-like (note how little Ezio/Altair/Connor has evolved in Assassin's Creed - people are too invested in the character and it'd be mad to break the brand identification), but there's a wider plot justification. MGS Peace Walker on PSP ends with Big Boss disillusioned, vowing to set up a soldiers' paradise called 'Outer Heaven'. Peace Walker ends in 1974, which is where the image starts to get really interesting...

2. The 'next MGS' is set between 1974 & 1980

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The 'Diamond Dogs' logo on Big Boss' shoulder leads to several potential inferences (more later), but one is its direct reference to David Bowie's 'Diamond Dogs' album, released in 1974. Kojima is a confirmed Bowie fan, and during the prologue of PS2's MGS3: Snake Eater, Big Boss' commanding officer, Major Zero, refers to himself as 'Major Tom' (taken from the lyric 'ground control to Major Tom' from Bowie's Space Oddity single).
Trivia: Kojima originally intended to play 'Space Oddity' and 'Ashes to Ashes' in MGS3's end credits. Major Zero's adoption of a Bowie lyric has a deeper implication for the 'next MGS' plot, as we'll explain.

So, not only does 1974 directly follow the plot of MGS Peace Walker, but it coincides with a neat 'hole' in the absurdly rich MGS timeline during the mid 70s to late 1980s where relatively little is set in the story's lore.
At the end of Peace Walker, Master Miller reveals he's sending some of MSF's soldiers (Militaire Sans Frontiers, Big Boss' unit in MGS: PW) to Angola. "It's a non-state army to use however they want. They've probably decided there's no sense in wiping them out just yet. Better to make... use of them. Indeed they have... There's a site near Angola..."

It sounds a bit spurious, but Angola is the location of Africa's biggest diamond mines, implying more than a 'Diamond Dogs' Bowie reference. Dig deeper, and the continent of Africa develops even greater significance for the MGS canon...

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