The Metal Gear Solid 5 Master Theory - Part One: Ground Zeroes

CVG's resident MGS expert, Dan Dawkins explains the 'trojan horse', the subtext of Ground Zeroes and the influence of The Patriots on MGSV

Ok, that's the easy bit. As we predicted in last week's 'The Phantom Pain: The Unifying Theory, Metal Gear Solid Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain are chapters in MGSV, with the former acting as a form of prologue.

Now, the tricky bit: what does it all mean for the wider sweep of MGSV? Who's the mystery figure on the horse? Is the bandaged man really a psychic projection of Big Boss's damaged psyche? Is that really Kiefer Sutherland's voice? Why does Big Boss have a metallic horn? Who are the Diamond Dogs?

Let's start at the beginning:


1) A beginner's guide to the MGSV trailer

If you've played the MGS games, this is complex. If you've never played an MGS game, this is *really* complex. Don't worry - a lot of the more arcane plot subtleties don't matter. It's quite possible that Kojima is ret-conning some of the complex MGS timeline in MGSV (more on that later) but what we are getting, is an inventive open-world action game with a psychological twist with, likely, something genuinely interesting to say about the world we live in.

Hey, 2001's MGS2 was essentially a meditation on the rise of the internet, information control and the death of privacy; through the medium of a cart-wheeling naked soldier, right?

The trailer's key characters and scenes are best explained in the 18 screen shots here, which we'll expand on below. If it helps, here's where MGSV is likely to sit in the MGS timeline:

  • 1964 - Metal Gear Sold 3: Snake Eater (PS3)
  • 1970- Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (PSP)
  • 1974 - Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (PSP
  • 1974 / 1975 - Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (PS3)
  • (Big Boss enters nine-year coma?)
  • 1984 - Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain
  • 1984 - 1995 Metal Gear Solid V: Diamond Dogs?
  • 1995 - Metal Gear (MSX)
  • 1999 - Metal Gear 2 (MSX)
  • 2005 - Metal Gear Solid (PSone)
  • 2007 - 2009 Metal Gear Solid 2 (PS2)
  • 2014 - Metal Gear Solid 4
  • 2018 - Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

*Note: There are other games in the series, but we're sticking to the main story canon


Hideo Kojima was interviewed by Gametrailer's Geoff Keighley last week and confirmed that MGS: GZ was set 'almost immediately' after Peace Walker, with the main game taking place nine years later. Later in the interview, Kojima says MGSV will be influenced by the era, which is 'around 1984'.

This seems coherent, but presents a number of contradictions within the existing MGS timeline. Most notably, Big Boss is supposed to rescue Frank Jaeger (Cyborg Ninja in MGS) from a FRELIMO prison camp in Mozambique in 1977. We're no medical experts, but that's no easy task for someone in a coma.

However, this information may be non-canon or subject to ret-con, and the official interactive Metal Gear Solid timeline has a yawning gap between 1974 and the early 80s, with no mention of Big Boss.

In MGS lore, Big Boss 'major' coma (approx ten years) takes place in 1999, after he is badly burned by Solid Snake at Zanzibar Land and placed into a nano-machine induced coma by The Patriots. The Big Boss we see in MGS4 (circa 2014) has been resurrected using body parts from Solidus and Liquid Snake.

The flipside is that Big Boss hasn't really been in a 'nine year' coma, as suggested by the doctor in The Phantom Pain - somebody just wants him to think that way. This might lead to a scenario like the 1965 movie '36 hours', where a US major is tricked by the Germans into thinking WWII is over in order to give up his secrets. In MGSV, The Patriots would play the role of the Germans, but it's unclear why they'd be looking to dupe Big Boss.

It's all speculation for now - but we'll dig deeper in the next part of our MGSV investigation.


2) How will the game be structured?

Essentially, MGS: Ground Zeroes is the prologue to MGSV and The Phantom Pain, as Konami clarified this morning. It's likely MGS: GZ will be released first, possibly as a digital download, or alongside another game. Remember how Kojima released the tanker section of MGS2 as a demo with ZOE? It's worth noting that Castlevania LOS 2 is also a Kojima Productions title, due late 2013, early 2014. It's speculation, but worth noting.

Only recently, Kojima explained he was planning to release pilot episodes of games, like they do on TV. It'd allow Kojima Productions to test new distribution models (e.g. a cheaper download game with DLC adds ons), alleviating development strain as we head into next-gen. Konami also confirmed that MGS: GZ and The Phantom Pain will both be playable on current consoles - though this doesn't rule out a next-gen crossover, given FOX Engine's scalability.

Both 'chapters' form part of MGSV's narrative sweep, so they are separate products, with a unified story.


3) So, what's the plot?

Ground Zeroes follows on directly (more or less) from MGS: Peace Walker. Big Boss is in the Camp Omega military base in Cuba, presumably trying to rescue Chico, the kid from Peace Walker (who now looks a bit older, and is sat in the cage with the walkman jack).

Judging by the MGSV trailer, it appears this is a rouse leading to the destruction of Mother Base, the oil rig military base that you build during Peace Walker. Mother Base is the home of Big Boss's soldiers army, Militaires San Frontiers, and his second-in-command Kaz Miller (the younger dude with the '80s hair in the MGSV trailer), who is lying on the hospital bed at the start of the trailer.

Who blows up the base? It's likely the mysterious burned man and his XOF soldiers, who also appear in The Phantom Pain trailer (the words 'Body Combat Armour' are on their outfits in both cases). The burned man talks about how this 'pirate crackdown is go' and 'The Trojan Horse's in' - more on that later.

The Phantom Pain begins with Big Boss (so we think) in hospital after suffering serious injuries and entering a coma. This is like the tutorial level of MGSV. "The game play demo I presented today is the opening of "TPP" which is tutorial that starts from crawling", explained Kojima.

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