Everyone knows the story of Konami and the Metal Gear franchise. After removing his name from the title of the MGSV and refusing to let him accept the award at the VGAs, Konami fired MGS auteur Hideo Kojima for reasons that will likely forever remain unknown (although let’s be real, he’s probably a huge pain to work with). This year, they announced their first Post-Kojima Metal Gear game, Metal Gear Survive, in which a group of MSF soldiers get pulled through a wormhole into an alternate universe where they fight zombies made out of crystals.
Yes, you read that right.
While Metal Gear can’t possibly be the same without Kojima behind the wheel, fans are nonetheless upset that Konami took the “dive headfirst into bad fanfiction” approach instead of something more measured and true to the franchise. Despite Kojima’s departure, there were still more stories to tell in the Metal Gear Universe, and ones that could easily be told without everyone’s favorite philosophical nutjob on scripting duties.
I present to you the story of an internet video game blogger who gets pulled through a wormhole into an alternate universe where someone suggested the saner approach. Spoilers for the MGS series follow.
1 – Metal Gear Rising: Recontinuity
When Metal Gear Rising was first announced, I was ecstatic. Raiden had been something of a black mark on Metal Gear’s reputation after he derailed the story of Sons of Liberty to resolve his relationship drama, and while his return as a cyborg ninja badass in Guns of the Patriots was one of the better things about that game, the fact that we didn’t get to play as him when he’s actually cool left a bad taste in my mouth. Rising presented the opportunity to play as the edgy androgynous swordsman in his prime, while also filling in the gaps of his story between Sons and Guns, something that the latter was seriously lacking.
Unfortunately, what we got was the ridiculously named (even for Metal Gear) Revengeance, a straight-up stylish action game from Platinum that explored Raiden and the Metal Gear universe at large in a post Solid Snake world while simultaneously destroying everything the original ending of the saga was meant to stand for. I’m not saying the game was bad mechanically (it’s not my cup of tea, but seems to be generally well-regarded), but how he went from a cartwheeling Snake wannabe to Genji from Overwatch’s role model is a story I wanted to see.
The Game: The game begins like a standard Metal Gear game, using the FOX Engine to play as Raiden as he follows the trail of the Patriots in an attempt to rescue Olga’s daughter from captivity. Early on in the game, Snake and Otacon reluctantly ask for his help on a small job that goes sideways, and he suffers an injury that results in him losing an arm. It gets replaced with a super cool cybernetic, and so the story continues with the Patriots’ nanomachines slowly eat away at his body, requiring more and more of him to be replaced with machine until he is the brain-piloting-an-exosuit we see in Guns of the Patriots. This allows the player to play more and more aggressively as time goes on, transitioning from hunted to hunter as bullets suddenly become less of a concern and the ability to break dance with Metal Gears attached to your feet becomes a reality.
2 – Metal Gear Solid: Foxhunt
One soldier-to-ninja story isn’t enough? Okay, fine, let’s talk about Gray Fox.
The original Cyborg Ninja of the franchise, Gray Fox’s story is one that was sadly never tapped to its full potential. Despite only appearing in the first Metal Gear Solid game (and the two original Metal Gear titles), he influence is felt throughout the franchise, as he is tied so closely to Solid Snake, Big Boss, Naomi Hunter, and Para-Medic. While we largely know his story, getting the play through it could have great emotional impact in much the same way Halo: Reach and Final Fantasy: Crisis Core told the tale of a doomed protagonist.
The Game: We follow young Frank Jaeger as he is taken in by Big Boss and Roy Campbell (is Portable Ops still canon?) and learns how to be a true soldier with honor. The first act of the game revolves around going on ops and accumulating more and more glory and trust from Big Boss, including escaping from Mother Base’s destruction at the end of Ground Zeroes and becoming a shadow agent under the employ of Revolver Ocelot and the Intel Team to help Big Boss establish FOXHOUND, ending with him taking the title of Gray Fox.
The second act would fast forward over the Outer Heaven incident and let players control Gray Fox as Big Boss’s right hand man, helping in the takeover of Zanzibar Land and establish the military nation found in Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. The final battle of Act 2 would be Fox’s famous fistfight with Snake in a minefield, ending in a hail of shrapnel and Solid Snake going on to kill his father.
Act three begins with Jaeger waking up on the operating table, murdering his way out of the complex, and setting his sights on Shadow Moses. Allowing players to replay the events of the first game with the power of a cyborg ninja, culminating in a battle with Metal Gear REX and delivering Frank’s famous final monologue to his old friend would be incredibly gratifying to longtime fans of the series.
3 – Metal Gear Tactics: Stealth Reborn
Part of the appeal of what I call the “PMC Trilogy” of games (Portable Ops, Peace Walker, Phantom Pain) is the fact that players get to be the charismatic militant leader who builds an overwhelming military force. Up until that point, Metal Gear had been known for being a game where there is no backup coming and you have to get out of every situation by your own wits, but the ability to have a whole support team created by soldiers you recruited personally fit with the experience of being Big Boss.
However, most of the actual field ops in that game were settled out of game, with simple animations letting you know how an operation went. If the player was actually controlling the action, it was yet another solo sneaking mission (perhaps with a buddy if you’re playing Phantom Pain). Something that Metal Gear never truly delivered on was the feeling of actually being a commander of soldiers in this world.
The Game: The simple answer is to make it a turn-based strategy game. All the same base-building mechanics of the PMC-based games, except instead of playing as one legendary operative who captures and recruits soldiers, you play as the tactical support advisor who issues orders to a small squadron of units. Group stealth can be very different than solo sneaking, and something like a mix of X-Com and Invisible Inc. where combat is fast and visceral and death is permanent would get players even more attached to their soldiers than they were in Peace Walker. Whether the game lets you play as FOXHOUND, Dead Cell, MSF, Diamond Dogs, or any of Liquid’s PMCs is largely irrelevant (why not multiple campaigns for all of them?), but that type of experience could make for an excellent addition to the Metal Gear franchise, even if it doesn’t necessarily add anything to the story.
4 – The Phantom Pain 2: Outside of Heaven
The highly-telegraphed twist at the end of Phantom Pain that (SPOILERS FOR METAL GEAR SOLID V) you’ve actually been playing as a body double of Big Boss the entire time left a pretty big question mark for a lot of fans: what exactly was Big Boss doing that entire time?
We know he was building Outer Heaven while Venom built what would eventually become FOXHOUND, but the fact that we didn’t get to see any of that seems like kind of a bummer to fans who were waiting for things to come full circle. Another open world stealth action game about building up a covert military fortress in secret, while still trying to keep up the ruse that Big Boss is off fultoning sheep in Afghanistan, could make for a solid follow-up.
The Game: Essentially more Phantom Pain but with new locales, gear, and a new mechanic of Attention. If Big Boss botches a job, more attention gets drawn to that part of the world and away from Diamond Dogs. Embarking on missions without Big Boss lowers that attention, but those soldiers obviously don’t quite have the same combat prowess as the legend himself. Also find a way to make the FOB system work in single player, with AI-controlled rival military groups that will sometimes try to infiltrate Outer Heaven, forcing you to adapt and maintain high security.
After the game’s plot has been resolved and Outer Heaven is truly established with a complete Metal Gear, the final mission puts players in the role of Solid Snake as he must infiltrate Outer Heaven. Now you have to break your own defenses, get past your own men, and defeat Big Boss. Only after the credits have rolled does it cut to Big Boss running off to Zanzibar while having one less Codec call with a dying Venom Snake, revealing that he switched places with his double and Big Boss lives on.
5 – Just Fucking Remake Snake Eater
Just do it. It would print money. Snake Eater is both the most accessible and the most well-regarded entry in the franchise, mixing classic Metal Gear ridiculousness with a James Bond flair. The survivalist gameplay still rings true today, the only thing the game is missing is a new coat of paint to give Konami all the money they want.
The Game: Literally the same game, rebuilt from the ground up in the FOX Engine.
Are you going to give Metal Gear Survive a shot? Where do you wish the MGS franchise had gone? Give me a shout out in the comments.