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