Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is just around the corner, and it’s bringing the usual heaping helping of impenetrable backstory with it. As such, we here at TechRaptor thought it pertinent to provide a little refresher on the game’s narrative context. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is the first game in the Metal Gear Series to feature a separate prologue game in the form of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, which in turn draws most of it’s setup from Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, which itself was a follow-up to Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, which was a prequel that revealed the secret backstory of a villain who was alluded to in Metal Gear Solid but had only actually appeared in two earlier games on the MSX2 in the 80s.
Simple enough, right?
Okay, maybe not. Let’s back up. Spoilers for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes incoming.
You are Big Boss, formerly Naked Snake, the greatest soldier alive and clone-daddy to the series’ main protagonist Solid Snake. After being forced to kill his mentor/mommy-figure in order to prevent a nuclear war, Big Boss split from the U.S. special forces to start Militaires Sans Frontières, a private military company, with his best bro Kazuhira Miller.
At the start of Ground Zeroes it is 1975. The company’s headquarters, Mother Base, is due for a UN inspection. There has never been a private military company of comparable size and scope to Militaires Sans Frontières, so it was inevitable that world governments would come knocking to make sure they didn’t have a nuke in the oven. Problem is they do in fact have a huge-ass nuke in the oven, and an in-progress Metal Gear ZEKE weapon that will be able to fire it once it’s fully repaired. So Big Boss, Miller, and resident brainiac, Huey Emmerich, devise a plan to stash the goods on the bottom of the sea floor.
Throwing a wrench into things is the reappearance of double agent, Paz Ortega Andrade. In the previous game, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Paz had posed as a naive student in order to infiltrate and sabotage Militaires Sans Frontières on the orders of Cipher, the ultimate shadowy villain(s) of the series.
Previously thought to be dead at the end of Peace Walker, Paz is revealed to be a captive of XOF, an enigmatic military force that looks to be the primary antagonist force in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. Because of her connections to both Militaires Sans Frontières and Cipher, Paz is too valuable to be left in enemy hands, so it’s decided that Big Boss will rescue her from the Guantanamo-style prison, Camp Omega, while Miller and Huey handle the UN inspectors.
One more tiny wrench: Ricardo Valenciano Libre (nicknamed “Chico”), a former child soldier, ally of Big Boss, and hopeless admirer of Paz, struck out to rescue her on his own and got himself captured as well. So your mission in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, should you choose to accept it, is to control Big Boss on his mission to rescue the both of them.
Big Boss and the player arrive at Camp Omega and reach Chico first, finding the young man traumatized by Paz’s presumed death at the hands of the XOF leader, a nasty piece of work referred to as Skull Face for, ah … obvious reasons. The scaly creep last left Chico alone in a cold, damp cage with a cassette player and a tape containing Paz’s agonized cries as she was dragged away and tortured.
Miller, however, reasons via radio comm that Boss can use the sounds on the recording to figure out where Paz was taken. So find her he does, and she’s in terrible shape, barely alive after weeks of mistreatment by XOF forces. Nevertheless Big Boss manages to sneak her and Chico off of the island (or shoot his way out if you suck at the whole sneaking thing.)
So everything is fine and dandy in the escape helicopter on the way back to Mother Base.
Until it’s not.
Chico realizes that Paz has had an explosive device surgically implanted in her abdomen. Big Boss rushes to remove it with the aid of Nameless-Helicopter-Assistant-Guy and they toss it out of the chopper. The scene is notably more intense and explicit than anything the series has produced thus far, which evokes a sense of anticipation for The Phantom Pain that is equal parts enticing and terrifying. The trailers have certainly painted a gloomy picture of the upcoming game, and Ground Zeroes definitely rams that feeling home.
So the crisis is averted, at least until they return to find Mother Base up in flames and overrun with XOF forces. Big Boss lands to join Miller in combat among the ruins of their enterprise. It’s clear that all is lost, so they retreat back into the chopper just in time for Paz to regain consciousness and announce that there is a second bomb inside of her. Before anyone can stop her, she throws herself from the aircraft and detonates. The blast knocks their helicopter into an enemy aircraft and they all go down in a fiery blaze.
An after credits scene implies that Paz revealed the true location of Cipher to Skull Face during her interrogation. So Skull Face is looking for the puppet masters, but why? Who is Skull Face really? What is XOF’s objective? What became of Metal Gear ZEKE? And how many cardboard boxes will I get to collect? The answers to all that and more await in Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain!
As for what we do know, the snazzy robot arm that Big Boss sports in the trailers for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is likely the result of the helicopter crash. It is confirmed that The Phantom Pain will take place nine years after the events of Ground Zeroes, when Big Boss finally awakens from a coma he sustained during the incident.
The story will follow Big Boss and Miller as they attempt to pick up the pieces of Militaires Sans Frontières and seek retribution from XOF and Cipher. 1984 is an exciting time frame for a Metal Gear game to be set in. Chronologically speaking, The Phantom Pain will be the closest Big Boss driven title to the original Metal Gear, and longtime fans can expect it to start bridging critical gaps in the timeline. Expect plenty of fan service.
I should clarify that by “fan service” I mean plot-related stuff, not scantily-clad sniper-related stuff. Although, you can be sure there’ll be plenty of that as well.
Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is set to release on September 1 for everything but Nintendo consoles.