Hideo Kojima talks Metal Gear Solid V
posted on 03.29.13 at 11:55 AM EDT by (@salromano)
Metal Gear creator discusses newly announced sequel.

GameTrailers recently sat down with Metal Gear series creator Hideo Kojima to discuss his newly revealed Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. During the interview, he discusses the game’s original The Phantom Pain VGAs announcement, setting, theme, concept, and more.

Watch the interview below. Find our transcript beneath it.

The Phantom Pain Mystery

“There are several reasons for this. One I think because core fans, myself included, wanted to do something interesting in the social space. I think it’s been kind of dull lately, and we wanted to do something to really energize the community. The second reason for doing this is, we wanted to evaluate the FOX Engine. We wanted to put the game out without revealing it was Metal Gear Solid, and just see how well it will do based on the visuals of the FOX Engine.

“Honestly, we knew that people were going to know what it was, more or less, but we were surprised that they were actually able to guess the exact title. We knew from the beginning that it wouldn’t be a secret. We wanted fans to realize this was kind of a service to the fans as an inside joke, like ‘hey, we know you know what it is, just play along with it.’ And we’re happy fans did realize what it was and did play along with it.”

Two Game Confusion

“To explain on how these things fit together, Ground Zeroes is basically a prologue. And this takes place about nine years prior to The Phantom Pain. The Phantom Pain takes place nine years after Ground Zeroes, but put together, these two pieces comprise Metal Gear Solid V. The Phantom Pain is the main part of the game, it’s really a huge game.

“We can’t comment just yet on how these things will be distributed and sold. But what we can say is that The Phantom Pain and Ground Zeroes will be two parts of a whole, and Ground Zeroes will come first. It will kind of The Phantom Pain on a smaller scale. It will be open-world, but not quite as big as The Phantom Pain. It will allow you to jump in, learn how to sneak real-time in that open-world, and later on, after they kind of get used to that, then The Phantom Pain will come along and they’ll be thrown into this huge, gigantic open word. It’s a two-step process, the game design, and together these things will comprise of Metal Gear Solid V.”

[Editor's note: Kojima Productions' Kenichiro Imaizumi told me they're both the "same" game.]

Setting

Ground Zeroes takes place almost immediately after Peace Walker, and then main part of the game, The Phantom Pain, takes place almost nine years later.”

David Hayter

“I can say that yes, there will be a new person [playing Snake], but I can’t say who yet.

“What we’re trying to accomplish is to recreate the Metal Gear series, it’s a new type of Metal Gear game and we want to have this reflected in the voice actor as well.”

Diamond Dogs

“There are many different meanings behind this name. I think you touched on a few of them [Blood Diamonds], and of course there’s the David Bowie album, as well. This is the name of his [Snake's] new unit. He loses his old unit, so he has to create a new one. This is the name. The name signifies many things. The ‘dog’ in Diamond Dogs is like a dog of war, who will work for money and do dirty things. But at the same time, they have pride, and that’s where ‘diamonds’ come in. They fight, and they fight for money maybe, but they have a heart.”

Snake’s Horn

“He actually has some debris embedded into his skull. Debris and bone, as well.”

Cyborg-like Arm

“There will be different ways that, depending on the player, they may be able to do different things with that arm. It’s not going to be anything quite like Bionic Commando [laughs].”

Characters

“There will be many new characters. I think fans can expect to see some familiar faces, as well, returning from the old saga. But Yoji Shinkawa has been working on some new characters, as well. And I think it’s a different taste from what he’s done in the past.”

Style of Gameplay

Metal Gear Solid has always been based around this concept of sneaking and infiltration. But up until now, it’s very much been kind of like a story on rails. You sneak in, but you’re kind of limited to what you can do. This time, we wanted to create a real open world and a realistic infiltration. So you don’t just suddenly show up at the stage and sneak in, you figure out when you’re going to go to the place and sneak in, and figure out how you’re going to get there. Maybe you don’t go there right away, maybe you side-track and do a side-mission along the way. And if you do that, the strategy will change by the time you get to your final objective. So it’s more of a realistic approach to infiltration and there are many options available to the player. And it’s not something that’s very limited to a certain design. It’s a completely free design and very realistic.

“As an example, say the player has to sneak into a certain area and help a certain person, and they show up at night, it may be dark and they may have a hard time seeing anything. So they may want to use Jeep headlights to see. But if they do that, they’ll probably be found. So maybe they try to use a flashlight and sneak in. There’s still a chance that they may be found. But there will be less guards than if you went in during the day. On the other hand, if you went in during the day, it may be easier to navigate. You can see everything much more clearly. But of course, there will be more guards there and it will be much easier for you to be found. It’s up to the player to decide the best strategy to infiltrate a certain area. As we showed in the FOX presentation, time passes within the game in real-time, a 24-hour time cycle, so it’s up to the player to decide what time they embark on a mission.”

Design

“One thing I want to make clear, just graphics, that wasn’t our goal in creating the FOX Engine. We wanted to change the entire way we create a game. Up until Metal Gear Solid 4, we approached game creation sort of as craftsman and worked on every single little detail by hand and put a lot of detail into everything. And while that’s great, we want to use technology to our advantage and make it easier to create a game. FOX Engine was designed to work more efficiently and give us this boost of technology. We wanted to really shift the amount of time it took creating the game—from creating assets—to actually doing the game design. In the past, maybe a programmer would spend a lot of time creating a certain system or asset. Now a level designer can go in there and create a stage on their own—they can create a stage, they can do the lighting, and pretty much create a stage by themselves. Really, the time goes from asset creation to programming to actual game design and allows us to focus more on the game design.”

Roman Numeral

“Up until Metal Gear Solid 1 through 4, of course, we used regular Arabic numerals. But since then, the west has really caught up. And I think in many ways, we’re threatened by games from the west. There’s a lot of competition out there. So we really wanted to reinvent ourselves with this game, really invent the series. So shifting over from ‘5’ to ‘V’ represents our will for victory—’V’ stands for ‘Victory.’ And that’s what we want to accomplish with this game, kind of take back our leadership and stride for victory.”

Theme

“I do have a concept and a theme in mind, from the beginning I’ve had this in my mind, but I can’t say it. I can’t reveal that just yet. What I can say that is Metal Gear has always been about these themes of anti-war, anti-nuke, it’s always had these messages, and it’s always about what’s passed on to the next generation. Metal Gear Solid 1 was about genes, 2 was about means, 3 was scenes, 4 was sense, and Peace Walker was peace. So of course, you know, Metal Gear Solid V does have a key concept, as well, but I can’t reveal it just yet. I can say that it’s a very heavy theme.”

Playable Characters

“You’ll be playing as one character. No Raiden—you can play Revengeance for that. You wake up [in the hospital during The Phantom Pain scene], you’re Snake waking up, and that’s how you enter Metal Gear Solid V.”

Supernatural

“There of course will be a balance between things that are very real and a little bit of supernatural elements, as well. But it will be primarily real. That said, it does take place nine years later and roughly around 1984, that era, and there are instances from that era within this game. If I were to give percentage for the balance, I’d say maybe 80 percent real, the other 20 percent maybe sci-fi or a little bit of supernatural elements.”

Moby Dick Studios

“I wouldn’t say they cease to exist [anymore], because Moby Dick Studio is Kojima Productions. We’re still around. Honestly, I really would have liked to have a studio in Sweden, it’s a really nice place, but as of right now, we’re developing this in Tokyo and in Los Angeles.”

“It’s not necessarily that. I do want the L.A. Studio to have other things to work on, as well. So it’s not necessarily that we’ll be working on the same exact thing. In the beginning, I’m thinking as the L.A. Studio gets up to speed on the FOX Engine, I think we’ll working together on many different things. There will be a collaborative effort there. But my ultimate vision is that the Tokyo team and Los Angeles team will be working on different things, growing together, competing with each other in many ways, so you know, in a sense, Kojima Productions will no longer just be a Tokyo studio, it will exist somewhere in between Tokyo and Los Angeles. It will be the culmination of these two studios.”

Concept

“As far as how much has changed, it honestly has not changed very much from my concept at all. Obviously, from within the team, there were some people who opposed from taking Metal Gear Solid and making it into an open world game. But I think now we’re all on the same page and we’re all moving full-speed ahead toward the same goal.”

PlayStation 4 and Next-Gen

“I can’t comment on any next-gen platforms, but what I can say is as we’ve revealed earlier today, this will be available on PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360. And of course, we’re developing within a PC environment.

“What you’ve seen today is, of course, moving on a PC, but it’s being targeted on current gen consoles. I can’t say that it will be 100 percent exactly what you’ve seen today, but it will be very close to what you’ve seen.”

“Last Metal Gear

“I want this to be my last one. Of course, I always say that, but this time I really want it to be true. You know, after this, I really want the Tokyo team and the L.A. team to focus on their own, take over Metal Gear, and create new games in the series while I’m free to work on my own projects. For about 10 years, I’ve had all these ideas in my head that I want to create, so hopefully I will be able to work on that.”

  • Shadow

    So why is Akio Otsuka (Japanese Snake) still playing big boss? That doesn’t make an awful lot of sense.

    • http://gematsu.com/ Sal Romano

      Good point. Here, go ask him on Twitter: 英語での声優が変ったのに、なぜ日本語では大塚氏がまだ演じているんでしょうか。

    • PrinceHeir

      because Hideo Kojima handles the voices himself in the japanese original version.

      he designs the characters(or help with Yoji Shinkawa) and supervises the recording.

      http://andriasang.com/comvyg/kojima_voice_recording/

      Hideo Kojima also says Akio Otsuka is cool, and that he’s made of 70% of Snake(which he get’s embarrassed), so Snake has always been Akio-san.

      http://andriasang.com/comzw2/vita_mgs_touch_pad/

      im guessing Konami US is handling the US voice recording, so either that or Kojima allowed them to handle it by themselves.

      for me just put back David Hayter, just for consistency purposes.

      • Cass

        Yeah, it seems Kojima is good friends with Otsuka. Fact the new guy sounds like Kiefer Sutherland (http://youtu.be/gEod8_2h99Q ) is pretty interesting too.

        Both Ishmael and Big Boss have the same voice actor, so I think there’s something interesting going on there plot-wise. Ishmael has his face hidden by bandages and says he’s been watching Boss for nine years (which he wouldn’t have been doing all as a patient there, wouldn’t make sense with his supposed injuries not being the kind he’d have bandaged a decade). Ishmael also says “we” when talking about something only he, and not KO’d Big Boss, did.

        Phantom pains are psychological pains found in limbs that no longer exist as part of the person. I think Ishmael is probably a delusion of Big Boss, a psychological manifestation just like phantom pains. Would make sense based on the stuff in the above paragraph and Big Boss’ other weird hallucinations of long-dead Volgin and big flying fire-whales and whatnot. To survive a nine year coma physically and mentally up to 1984 he must’ve been pumped full of drugs and probably Patriot implanted nanomachines too, as it’s not realistically possible for anyone to be in a coma so long and not have their muscles in complete atrophy and likely brain damage too.

        If Hayter had done both voices I think a plot twist like the above would really be too obvious, but that’s just a silly little theory anyway :) I love Hayter’s voice, but I’m interested to see how this new guy handles it. Big Boss would sound a lot different after nine years of coma and what we hear in the gameplay does sound a lot weaker which does fit imo. Still sucks it’s not Hayter… but it could still be awesome!

        • Cass

          Ah… I see Freesun4 also already posted the same thing as me pretty much, lol :)

        • Marco Tinè

          “…as it’s not realistically possible for anyone to be in a coma so long and not have their muscles in complete atrophy and likely brain damage too.”

          Don’t forget Big Boss is not the average man :) So much time and episodes has been spent to remind us. Furthermore, if I’m correct, nanomachines first comes into play in Metal Gear Solid, so having them in 1984 would not be possibile. Intensive drug treatment sounds like a more realistic explaination for Jack’s hallucinations, though :)

        • PrinceHeir

          thanks for the explanation :P

  • Charlie

    No one can replace Hayter. It just doesn’t feel right.

  • http://chaosraiden.blogspot.com/ Chaos Raiden

    Great interview.

    I hope that Richard Doyle will be voicing as Big Boss. I like his performance in MGS4.

  • http://chaosraiden.blogspot.com/ Chaos Raiden

    Great interview.

    I hope that Richard Doyle will be voicing as Big Boss. I like his performance in MGS4.

  • http://kougeru.tumblr.com/ Kougeru

    “does take place nine years later and roughly around 1984,” Technology doesn’t match up with the technology of the previous game’s respectable of the timeline. I guess it’s an unrelated story completely?

    I also still see no reason at all for this to not be on PC as well. He makes it sound like consoles can’t handle Fox Engine to what he’s been showing on PC, but he could obviously still get that if he gave us the PC version and used that to further advertise his engine’s capabilities to their full extent.

  • xMCXx

    This still confuses me greatly.

    • Freesun4

      Welcome to Metal Gear

      • xMCXx

        Hey, I was here since MGS1! xD
        But yeah, this is Metal Gear in a nutshell. :p

  • Rudy Soto

    Oh God, so that’s the origin behind that horn.

  • Adol Christian

    “I can say that yes, there will be a new person [playing Snake], but I can’t say who yet.” :(

    My hype level for the game just went way down.

    • Budgiecat

      its probably going to be an actor that will play Snake in the live action movie

  • http://twitter.com/RaiuLyn Raiu

    Two game confusion
    tl;dr version: Ground Zeroes is just part one of the game while Phantom Pain is part two and being more open world than the first…

    Last Metal Gear
    Geez… When have we heard that before from Kojima-san? More than 4 times already…. xD

  • http://www.facebook.com/krsoct29 Kevin Stone

    I’m fine with a new VA for Phantom Pain, but at least give Hayter the role of Big Boss/Snake for GZ since it’s RIGHT AFTER PW. Give him a final farewell, ya know?

    • Budgiecat

      its the same character why would you use 2 different voice actors

    • Budgiecat

      its the same character why would you use 2 different voice actors

      • http://www.facebook.com/krsoct29 Kevin Stone

        A person’s voice can change in 9 years.

  • Ace

    METAL GEAR.

  • http://www.facebook.com/micheal.scott.315 Micheal Scott

    would love to see his new idea
    but MGS is to strong of a series so well see

  • PrinceHeir

    also this is Kojima’s last Metal Gear game :(

    i was hoping for a Remake of Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2 MSX Remake(maybe for 30th anniversary of the game??)

    Big Boss vs Solid Snake, Solid Snake vs Gray Fox in HD 1080p!!!!!!!!

    i hope the tokyo team leads though, LA team is new and they don’t have enough experience to handle a grand IP as Metal Gear.

    maybe another spin off that is not Solid series, but has the core values to it?

    just make it like Deus Ex Human Revolution, keeping the core values while adding some unique spin to it, and im fine with that.

    so yeah Zone of the Enders 3(Ender’s Project), Snatcher/Policenauts sequel, and Hideo Kojima x Suda 51 x Chiyomaru Shikura Collaboration Project that was announced last year(2012)!!!!!

    http://andriasang.com/con030/kojima_shikura_adventure/

    • http://profiles.google.com/dnlblue Daniel blue

      “also this is Kojima’s last Metal Gear game :(”

      He always says that. In fact, the first time he said that was right after the release of MGS 2 in 2001. How many more Metal Gear games has he made since then?

      Kojima’s become such an influential character in the gaming scene, and built such a reputation for himself as well as for his company as a whole, that I can’t see why he would give in to corporate meddling and keep working on the Metal Gear series against his will. If Konami refused to give him freedom to pursue his new projects, he could grab the team and leave – I’m sure he’d have absolutely no trouble finding a new company to work for.

      He keeps working on Metal Gear because he wants to. I’ll only believe he’s done with the series when the inevitable sixth game doesn’t mention him as the producer.

      • PrinceHeir

        to be honest Ender’s Project was the right step in direction.

        the only problem is that he’s working more of a supervisor and not director.

        roles can change though, so i want a status update on Ender’s Project!!!

      • Marco Tinè

        Well, I think he’s quite honest when he says he’d like to give up the series, that he has many new ideas he would like to develop outside Metal Gear. I guess the real problem is all around him: this series has become crucial for Konami’s reputation and revenues, and the general feeling is that there’s no Metal Gear without his creator.

        Kojima thought that Revengeance could turn the tables and demonstrate that other people inside KP could take the reins of the franchise, but we all know how it turned out. So in a sense, he had evidence of the fact that there’s indeed no Metal Gear without him. That world is all inside his head, all the links between events and characters and the essential ability to twist things out of predictability.

        Even recognising the economic benefits of the series for his studio, or having all the liberty in the world to manage it as he pleases, doesn’t mean he’s happy to be constantly asked by Konami (the brand owner) to make another one and embark in enormous development processes that steals all of his time and energy. Besides, he’ll turn 50 this year, and with age the passion tends to wither.

        Just my two cents :)

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Bob-Obb/100001994017630 Bob Obb

    I think Konami’s trying to reinvent the series IN THE WEST by replacing David Hayter. He may “be” Snake to some people but his voice is just too cartoony for the series to be taken seriously.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dnlblue Daniel blue

    I read an article some weeks ago where Kojima sugested that developers should build an early prototype of their games to gauge interest and help finance the actual project (sort of like what Polyphony does with the Prologue versions of Gran Turismo games). This prototype would show what the game was about, but built on a smaller scale (perhaps a downloadable episode) in order to keep costs down and present the game’s features as succinctly as possible.

    …What if MGSV is made in such a fashion? Grund Zeroes may be a smaller (and cheaper?) downloadable game, released a few months before the real deal (The Phanton Pain, a proper full game, released on disc, built on the concepts demonstrated by Ground Zeroes). It’s like releasing the Tanker and Plant chapters of MGS2 separately.

    Of course, it’s all conjecture. But it kinda makes sense, doesn’t it?

  • Freesun4

    I bet the bandaged man Ishmael is not real just like Joakim from the previous interview. He could be one of Big Boss’ hallucinations. Think about it, the guy sounds a lot like Big Boss. He is apparently a patient but he believes the enemy is targetting Big Boss. He knows Big Boss is extremely weak but he does not help him at all to escape from the hospital other than yelling at him. Then when Ocelot appears (with the same outfit from the 2000s) Ishmael has disappeared.

  • LordKaiser

    Why I do have the feeling that Chico will die in this game? It’s possible he had a bomb implanted and it goes of when Snake rescues him and take him to the base….