Breaking down Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain

As many had suspected, The Phantom Pain was just a ruse. At GDC yesterday, Hideo Kojima revealed Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain, accompanied by a lengthy five-minute trailer, one packed with clues as to where the franchise will go. There's the obvious: the game starts in the 1970s, shortly after the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. At least, the portion of the game that's referred to as Ground Zeroes. But what other tidbits are hidden in the game's official debut? BOOM video 15055 The first striking image in the trailer's opening moments is a mysterious figure (presumably Naked Snake) wearing a "FOX" shoulder patch being attended to on a hospital bed, as we see Kaz from Peace Walker imploring him not to die. A running theme throughout the trailer is a burgeoning conflict between two factions: FOX and XOF. Longtime follows of Metal Gear lore will recall that FOX (Force Operation X) was disbanded shortly after the death of The Boss in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. What the trailer does not explain is why Snake is suddenly donning this patch again, since he was a founding member of the Militaires Sans Frontières mercenary group at the time of Peace Walker.

Python from Portable Ops?

The scene then shifts at the 1:07 mark to what's presumably a flashback, preceding the events of Snake's sudden hospital visit. We see Snake aboard a helicopter shooting an automatic rifle over Mother Base, before the scene abruptly shifts to the ground. We see the logo "XOF" uncovered before Snake and Kaz come under heavy fire. A charred figure reveals himself, looking similar to Python from Portable Ops and Snake Eater villain Volgin. The fight goes terribly for Snake's crew, as we see a XOF badge fall to the ground and Mother Base go up in flames starting at the 1:54 mark.

Volgin from Snake Eater?

The trailer then returns to the hospital at the 2:13 point, at which point the hospital is under fire. Presumably, the XOF have learned about Snake's location and are looking to finish him off. One of the figures that attacks the hospital is a pyrokinetic, looking similar to the mysterious figure that revealed himself back at Mother Base. He appears to be donning a suit that operates like Python's suit, which is meant to keep temperature-based powers under control.

Revolver Ocelot returns... on horseback

At the 2:56 mark, Snake is rescued by a group led by Revolver Ocelot, who arrives on horseback. The XOF baddie quickly gives chase, atop an evil fiery black unicorn, in one of those visuals that you'll only see in video games. While it may represent something supernatural, it could be a callback to an earlier Phantom Pain trailer. Intrepid viewers may have spotted what appeared to be a young Psycho Mantis in the hospital in an earlier trailer. If it is, in fact, Psycho Mantis, then the fiery individual and flaming Pegasus could all be a result of his burgeoning mental powers at work.

Psycho Mantis illusion?

The Boss' death in MGS3 created a bitter divide between the remnants of FOX, mainly between Snake (her favorite disciple) and FOX co-founder Major Zero. Their conflicting visions of what a soldier is supposed to be appears to be a running theme in MGS5, as evidenced by the words, "From ‘FOX,' Two Phantoms were Born," that appear at the trailer's 4:38 mark. This stems from Peace Walker's ending, which revealed that Zero was the game's true villain, envisioning a world forcibly controlled under one unified intelligence agency. These machinations ran in stark contrast to Snake's vision of an army without borders, bringing him and Zero into a conflict that would carry all the way into the end of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. Ground Zeroes and Phantom Pain will likely continue this narrative, showing what shaped Big Boss' desire to create Outer Heaven, while further exploring the betrayal of Zero that began in Peace Walker.

From FOX: Two Phantom Were Born

The 4:46 mark shows the words, "FOX vs. XOF," followed by the doctor telling Snake that he's been in a coma for nine years. Nine years is more than enough time for Zero to create a rogue organization and further enact his plans from Peace Walker. That graphic is shortly followed by the words, "A Phantom Battled Waged by the Vanished." Those words could represent the conflict of philosophies of those that have fallen over the course of the MGS series, including The Boss. It could also be a hint to the aforementioned Psycho Mantis and the development of his powers, leading to a more literal battle between the vanished.

A Phantom Battle Waged by the Vanished

The trailer ends with an ambiguous look at the mysterious Diamond Dogs logo that Hideo Kojima has been teasing through his Twitter account. Kaz refers to Diamond Dogs as "our new home," meaning it could be a new organization--a spiritual successor to FOX. This is followed by the words "V has come to" splashed in front of the Diamond Dogs logo. "V" could be a codename for Snake or could represent a different patient at the hospital. This was not made entirely clear and more clues will obviously pop up before MGS5's final release.

Metal Gear Solid V is the first game to use a roman numeral. The V must serve a dual purpose

Finally, there's the curious case of Snake's voice. Snake did not have a speaking part at all during this trailer or any of the preceding trailers. David Hayter has already spoken out on Twitter, saying that he has not been approached to reprise his iconic role as Snake for MGS5. This is a major stab in the dark, but what if Snake doesn't have a speaking role in the game at all? What if the attack on Mother Base damaged him more than anyone at Kojima Productions is letting on? Perhaps the experience at the hospital has left him in a strange psychological state that will prevent him from speaking. It's an admittedly absurd notion to think of a Metal Gear Solid game without any voice for Snake, but part of me wonders if there isn't some sinister reason for keeping the character silent through all of the trailer? Then again, maybe Kojima and Hayter are just toying with everyone on the internet. Perhaps Hayter will be revealed as Snake's voice later down the line after giving everyone a good scare and having a laugh at everyone's expense. Either way, it's strange to go this long without hearing Snake's voice, period, much less without Hayter's recognizable growl behind it.