Is ‘The Phantom Pain’ Really a New ‘Metal Gear’?

Published 2 years ago by , Updated July 17th, 2013 at 3:35 pm,

Phantom Pain Metal Gear Solid Theories

In our discussion of the 2012 Spike Video Game Awards winners post we cited how decidedly barren the show was in terms of mystery reveal trailers. Last year’s show, for example, was chalked full of trailers many never saw coming, or at least were not sure would make an appearance.

This year, however, the only big mystery came in the form of a new game from an unknown studio. And this new game, titled The Phantom Pain, has sparked quite the debate across gaming forums everywhere, leading many to believe it is little more than a clever rouse, meant to lead gamers on a wild goose hunt for its true purpose.

For those that have yet to see the trailer, all you really need to know is it stars a man with bandages over his face, whose arm has been replaced by a wooden shaft and a hook. That alone would be an intriguing concept, but it only gets more and more mysterious from there.

As the unidentified character is guided through a war torn hospital filled with military troops, tons of fire, and several odd occurrences as well, he is never shown from the front, neither do they do anything beyond crawl or stumble across the floor. So to say that the content contained within the trailer definitively points towards anything would be stretching credulity, however a few minor details suggest this game might not be called Phantom Pain at all. In fact, the popular theory running rampant around the Net right now suggests this is actually a new Metal Gear or is part of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes.

Just one look at the main character’s salt-and-pepper mullet instantly calls to mind Solid Snake or Big Boss without so much as seeing his face so in that regard the connection is clear. And then there’s the mysterious figure that appears at the end of the trailer, a character who is wearing a uniform that looks eerily similar to the get-up of Volgin, one of the main villains in Snake Eater. Yet another detail that is hard to explain away, but isn’t set in stone.

Phantom Pain - Is This Volgin

And while these details can be contextualized by stills from the trailer, other hints that point towards Metal Gear come by way of some clever investigation into The Phantom Pain‘s developer Moby Dick Studio. That company, a developer with no previous credits to its name, claims to have been founded by its current CEO Joakim Mogren.

Now it’s a little tin hat and crop circle-y for our blood, but if you swap the letters around for Joakim you end up with the name Kojima, the man behind the Metal Gear franchise. However, more investigation into Moby Dick reveals it is a Swedish-based developer, and in Sweden the name Joakim is somewhat common.

And there’s a gif going around that proposes some vague lines in the game’s title are actually meant to spell out Metal Gear Solid 5, which is the least credible of the theories out there as it connects dots that may not even exist. However, the person who managed to connect those dots did so in such a way that you still end up seeing the title. Check out the gif here.

More theories are popping up by the minute, and as they grow so too does the feeling that we have a Half-Life 3 level conspiracy theory on our hands. On a very surface level there are some connections to the Metal Gear franchise, but even then that could be stretching it.

The easiest route to dismissing the game as Metal Gear related comes courtesy of Spike TV’s Geoff Keighley who tweeted:


Now Keighley is the man behind these exclusive trailers — he secures them, he promotes them, and he knows way more about them than we ever will until launch. So for him to say The Phantom Pain is a completely new game — or at least to imply that by a hastily put together tweet — should definitively put the theories to bed.

The real smoking gun will probably have to come from Hideo Kojima himself, who, if he wants to prove Pain is not MGS, can simply mention that this new IP runs on the Kojima Productions Fox Engine and therefore has similar visual qualities, but it is by no means the same product. Or does he even need to explain himself? The man has already tipped his hand towards his future projects already.

We already know that Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes is a thing — we’ve seen 10+ minutes of footage from it — so why would Kojima stoop to such secretive tactics? And if it’s Metal Gear Solid 5, why are all the connections that are being drawn up related to Big Boss and Snake Eater?

Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes Screenshot 1

Personally, this sounds more like gamers trying to find connections to current IPs rather than accepting a product as something new. It happened with The Last of Us, where many thought that game was simply Uncharted 4‘s new direction, and it happened to a lesser degree with Watch Dogs, Ubisoft’s open-world, technology-based title.

Until such a time as the stars align, and all the details come together, AND Kojima comes out from behind his curtain to say, “You got me,” it’s hard to believe Kojima Prod. would deliver a trailer, a title, and a studio that are all part of some elaborate magic trick. Why can’t this just be a new and potentially exciting game that has caught our eye with some intriguing concepts?

Feel free to share your theories in the comments. Why do you think it’s a new Metal Gear? Why do you think it’s not?

The Phantom Pain currently has no release date.

Source: NeoGAF

TAGS: Kojima Productions, Moby Dick Studio, PS3, The Phantom Pain, Xbox 360

  • COREY_1993

    why the hell would they disguise it as the phantom pain? there would be so much more interest if it was called metal gear 5 XD… this is kinda stupid and really a waste of time to read because this is not a new metal gear game.

    • flamingdogs

      Because it would spread faster and get everyone’s interests piqued? Just look at what happened. Marketing genius.

      • COREY_1993

        they did nothing… this is speculation from people like you and also new games that get announced at events like this always get major hype. looks at watch dogs.

        just wait, you will all be disappointed then this game will start getting hated and people will just moan. thats usually how things work out on the internet.

      • Rob Keyes

        It definitely generated buzz and a TON of speculation, but that’s not going to affect sales on this footage alone.

        If this is MGSV, I’m not sure I understand the need to make/rename a developer just for it and hide the actual project name.

        • Max

          That’s why you’re not the head of a marketing division. Buzz is a necessary component to selling games and it’s not a bad idea to plant the seed of an idea in someone’s head and let it germinate for a while. The trouble comes when they let the seed stay too long without caring for it –releases new info or the game itself– and people lose interest. Look at The Last Guardian: it was shown several years ago and no real information was provided, but there was a precedent from the studio of having connections between their games which fueled speculation and discussion. This created the buzz they needed to assuage investor’s fears. Unfortunately, they haven’t been keeping up with their audience and interest has waned over the past couple of years. If Kojima Productions can release a finished product within a year of showing this they will have as much hype for their dollar that they can get. Intrigue is something that’s sorely lacking in the industry today and that novelty pays for itself. This is obviously, without a question, a Metal Gear game. The I was hoping to see something in this article that was worthwhile but all I found was a write-up of why OTHER people said it WAS Metal Gear and why those people are wrong.

        • Pat

          Well I think this is a very early teaser and doesn’t try to show us what MGS V is going to be, only that it is officially coming out. I look at the trailer as a piece of concept art – the “open your eyes” gimmick, the title “Phantom Pain”, and the fact that the whole thing seems to take place in a dream state all allude to the hidden reveal of MGS V. It’s a brilliant piece of viral marketing. I think the reason they haven’t announced it as MGS V is two-fold: for one, the game is probably so far from finished that Kojima couldn’t show us a real gameplay or story trailer even if he wanted to, and two, they don’t want to overshadow or take away from the hype for Ground Zeroes. We probably won’t see anything new on MGS V for a while.

          • Carlos T

            For most MGS fans it is obvious that it is a Metal Gear Solid game! The storytelling style, the cinematography, the brilliancy! Kojima has stated multiple times that Ground Zeroes will serve as the Prologue to Metal Gear Solid V! That game’s tagline is “Two Phantoms Were Born”, this new game announced has a codename of “The Phantom Pain!” This wouldn’t be the first time Kojima miss-led the public! He wouldn’t want to directly connect the two games because it can potentially spoil the events of Ground Zeroes! Now we know something goes wrong during the rescue mission, Snake is now in a coma! Has for it being impossible to be V if its Big Boss, did you forget the sequel to Sons of Liberty MGS 3 was in the past and starred Naked Snake! I was cautious myself when first hearing about the connections, after watching the trailer it was obvious, especially with the rise of the mantis/sorrow at the end, same exact style we’ve seen in the last 14 years!

    • Carlos T

      They don’t want to take away from Ground Zereos, the prologue to MGSV! Geoff Keighley saying its a completely new game is true! Nothing has been shown on Metal Gear Solid V, so his comment is factual! Ground Zeroes is not MGSV so of course he can confirm that this is a completely new game!

  • boogoo

    While I would normally agree that fans love grasping at straws I think the coincidences here are a little too strong. The mullet, the scar, and the mysterious figure are all pretty convincing. I’d love for it to be a new original game but I think I’d be surprised if it didn’t turn out to be Metal Gear Solid related.

    • tankD

      The thighs.

  • Tristan

    If you want to get even more out there the founder of the studio’s last name is Mogren. Drop the m and the n leaves ogre. As in Project Ogre.

    • Tristan

      Also does any one remember if big boss has both hands? Could the trailer be Big Boss getting extracted from Outer Heaven?

      • illutratedDEO

        BIG Boss has a way more refined build than Old/Solid Snake,Old/Solid Snake has a build that is slimmer than Big Boss, basically.On-lookers of the trailer are currently speculating that it has to be Liquid Snake with the prosthetic arm,only problem Liquid was confirmed dead in past MGS titles and his right arm should be missing not his left.All questions will be answered at next years electronic expo ,E3’2013.Kojima you sly devil you well played.

        • scvd

          You’re judging this on build? A man who has been in a coma for a “long time” won’t exactly keep his build.
          There’s no point looking outside the obvious, it’s Big Boss, this is a MGS3 insanity sequence performed by, perhaps, a young Mantis.

  • NotCaring

    The “Phantom Pain” title has cuts throught the top. People have written “Metal Gear Solid V” in those cuts. It fits perfectly. I have seen many speculate that it is Metal Gear Solid V: Phantom Pain.

    • NotCaring

      Sorry Anthony I just realized you wrote in the article about the lines in the title.

  • ChrisTypeR

    To all MGS fans this is dynamite and I have a few suggestions that feedback would be appreciated on:

    1. The main character is naked snake possibly
    2. Characters arm in missing leading me to believe this is liquids doppelgänger and ‘one armed’ ocelot.
    3. Is that physco mantis or perhaps ‘the pain’ as in ‘the phantom pain’ from MGS 3
    4. British hospital says that is zero’s influence.
    5. Gun types say to me this is modern
    6. This is def MGS V
    7. Is that Volgin?
    8. The horse is ‘The Joy’s’ horse
    9. The female is Meryl or perhaps a camp looking raiden
    10. Psycho mantis fighting against ‘The Pain’ while snake escapes
    11. MGS V is current gen, MGS Ground Zeros is next gen
    12. Possibly ‘the Fury’?


    • Rob Keyes

      Pretty interesting :)

    • Ryuhza

      Ground Zeroes was confirmed for current gen back in September. This game’s graphics look to be the same level of quality.

  • WELP

    It’s another section of MGSV

    The Phantom Pains and Ground Zero are just different acts of the same game which is MGS5

    Similar to the plant and tanker chapter in MGS2

    Or the Liquid Sun and other acts in MGS4

  • Brian

    Am I the only 1 that realized that Joakim is an anagram for Kojima?

    • Brian

      Nevermind. Just saw it in the article.

  • Peter

    Wow a great article to get some clic. You know,we know its mgs. If you think its not ? Than your an ass to think that a game Would use so much cliché form mgs to make a different ip. Thanks for your useless article

    • Anthony Taormina

      You’re welcome.

  • Taylor

    Saying it’s a completely new game (as in nothing shown before) in no way destroys the possibility of it being MGS5. That game hasn’t been shown yet. As for everything being related to Big Boss and Snake Eater, Kojima has already stated that Ground Zeroes is a prologue to MGS5, so it’s completely plausible to infer that this is, in fact, the next game in the series. Plus, the cryptic style of the trailer just has Kojima’s name written all over it.

  • Dervy

    Doesn’t explain why Kojima had some Surgeons in his studio, a long with pictures of a “Car crash” scene on his twitter…

    Just so happens that The Phantom Rain was set in a Hospital, and there was a car incident right?

  • Emissary of Death

    Phantom Pain can also lead to The Sorrow from Snake Eater since not much was mention about him in the game except Boss a.k.a The Joy said that, that was her lover and he died for her. This could be a possible code name leading to Ground Zero. Its just a thought I came up with. Also stop calling it a prequel to mgs5 its a sequel to Peace Walker. If you watch the trailer for ground zero and watch gameplay Paz and chico are in the game. Plus Big Boss has his hair grown out. If it was a prequel to MGS5 then he would had his hair cut down. We will have to wait until next gen to find out about MGS5.

    • Emissary of Death

      Fixing my mistake. Ground Zero is basically a prequel to MGS5 but also a sequel to Peace Walker. So we should be seeing hour long cut scenes.

  • Joe

    haha, the only one grasping at straws here is the author of this article. The evidence pointing to this being a Metal Gear game (or at least, to the creators wanting us to think that) is ridiculously overwhelming.

    Also, where did you dig up that bullshit notion that “many” thought that The Last of Us was Uncharted 4?

    • boogoo

      There was a Last of Us clue about a mysterious fungus hidden in a newspaper in Uncharted 3 which made a lot people think the games were related. It wasn’t a theory that held for long but it’s not a BS notion.

      And the bottom line is there is no official confirmation on anything, just rampant speculation so I’m sure you can forgive a game journalist for remaining objective.

      • Joe

        That’s fair enough, but this journalist has quite clearly made several errors in his effort to be controversial. e.g. Someone deliberately went and wrote the words “Metal Gear Solid V” on the game logo. They aren’t just “vague lines” and no one is “connecting dots that may not even exist” – the letters are there, and they spell those words, that is an undeniable fact.

        • Rob Keyes

          Joe, I can tell you straight up that Ant isn’t trying to be controversial. No one on Game Rant is trying to be controversial.

          He’s sharing the evidence and laying out his opinion. That’s we we do in all of our news posts, unlike most other sites.

          On the letters, while that may prove true about the MGSV logo fitting in, is absolutely not an “undeniable fact” because it’s a theory. Theories are not facts. It is possible to fit in other letters/numbers as well.

          • Joe

            The words Metal Gear Solid V fit in perfectly, without any need to alter the image in any way. That’s an undeniable fact, it’s not a theory. And it’s not like people saw a few lines and forced the words in there – parts of the letters are clearly visible. You can’t simply explain that kind of evidence away by claiming that people may be seeing something that doesn’t exist, which is insulting.

  • G Hazy

    that cheek “injury” that everyone keeps talking about is just Big Boss’ facial wrinkles:
    You can see that chronologically from MGS3, Peace Walker, Ground Zeroes, and MGS4, it seems to be a natural progression (and development of detailed gfx) regarding the wrinkle on his cheek.

  • GestaltReplicant

    Another piece of oft-overlooked evidence is that there are white petals ala the climax of MGS3 floating around in the beginning of the hospital scene.

    Not to mention there were people from “Moby Dick Studios” present at the VGAs, and they were all part of the Konami group.

    …And, you know, the little thing where the bandaged protagonist, when comparing his in-game model to the in-game model of Big Boss shown in Ground Zeroes, is identical.

  • Danji

    I hope the writer of this article feels like a complete asshat when the game is unveiled to be MGS.

    1. How else would a game like this end up at the VGAs?
    2. There is no mention of a publisher in the trailer.
    3. The developer’s site was registered 6 days ago.
    4. How in the world would a small studio that’s completely unknown with a mysterious and supposedly renown CEO make such a high caliber trailer?
    5. Without the use of a completely cutting edge engine like Fox or ND’s, graphics like this aren’t really possible on PS3 or 360. Especially not from some nobodies in the middle of nowhere.

    I hope you’re adolescent because otherwise you’re unjustifiably naive.

    • Rob Keyes

      Normally, I’d ignore this because of your depressing, demotivating trolling and totally inappropriate “I hope you’re adolescent because otherwise you’re unjustifiably naive” but because you’re critically wrong I have to say:

      Media companies often register just before announcements.

      Have you heard of Piranha Games or Roberts Space Industries? No huge publishers attached, small studios, and both were able to make amazing game trailers for MechWarrior Online and Star Citizen.

      Not saying you’re wrong on MGS5, just wrong on every explanation you offered. Also, trolling is not cool.

      • Danji

        You’re still ignoring the fact that it was at the VGAs with no publisher in the trailer. How is it that you think that is possible otherwise? The VGAs aren’t a charity event, no publisher would put it there without stamping their name all over it, and there’s no other incentive to be this aloof. Yea, I come off as an asshole but the thought that it could’ve gotten to the VGAs otherwise is naive.

        • Rob Keyes

          Hey dude, FYI, the Dark Souls II trailer didn’t list a developer.

          Does that mean it doesn’t have one? No. We found out afterwards it’s FromSoftware, just as we will for The Phantom.

          Does The Phantom Pain teaser (note: it’s a teaser) not showing a publisher name mean there’s no publisher? No. We just don’t know yet it and…. get ready for it…. no one is saying otherwise.

          The only “facts” are the ones shown in the trailer. No insults necessary. Protip to common decency: Share your arguments/ideas/theories without beginning with “I hope the writer of this article feels like a complete asshat”.

  • Anthony Taormina

    Listen guys,

    The article is called ‘Is The Phantom Pain Really a New Metal Gear,’ not The Phantom Pain could in no way be Metal Gear. I presented all of the arguments (that were available at the time) that suggested the game was Metal Gear up front, and then presented a case for why it couldn’t be. If you only want to read all the reasons why this game is Metal Gear, there are plenty of articles out there that deliver that.

    Then I concluded with my own personal opinion on the matter, as someone who likes new IPs, especially ones with intriguing concepts, and would like to see Phantom Pain be its own creation.

    If it’s Metal Gear…great, but we already knew that game was coming. And I’ll play it, and most likely love it.

    • Alex

      Dude, its brand new concepts meant for a brand new IP, but shoehorned in the MGS brand. This is what Kojima has been talking about all year, with “Project Ogre”, not wanting to be known as the “Metal Gear” guy, etc. Project Ogre is a game he’s been working on for YEARS, one he thinks will be seen as “Taboo” or very controversial compared to his norms and what he’s known for.

      Kojima recently revealed that his latest game was made from the ground up to be a new IP, but Konami wont put that kind of money (FOX Engine) up front for anything other than Metal Gear. Fox Engine and everything Kojima wants to do is all in thanks to MGS, but also is in debt of MGS. Kojima is not allowed to do ANYTHING without figuring out a way to tie it into MGS. If he ditched MGS entirely, we would have a really un-groundbreaking looking mediocre game rather than stuff like this.

      So just think of it as a brand new type of gaming experience set within the MGS lore, but is nothing like MGS. Like how Rising is an Action game in the MGS lore. Only this is far more “out there” than Rising lol. It could all be hallucinations. In a way it IS a new IP, it just isn’t at the same time. That’s why the premiere reveal is one of a new IP and very vague. Its not just for the heck of it to play games with us ala MGS2, but also to make a statement of how much he wants to do entirely new IPs and games.

  • Kal

    And the critical mistake in that is Project Ogre and Ground Zero is not the same game. Kojima is working on two separate games, hence why we haven’t seen this game before. GZ is the prologue, this is MGS5.

  • OverlordPhantombane
  • ATG

    Geez! Why does everyone on the internet have to be so anal when they don’t agree?


    My opinion, I think the game is related to MGSV, like a spin-off maybe. It’s got Metal Gear Solid written all over it (literally, in one case :) ).

    • Rob Keyes

      No kidding.

      I love discussion and we promote that but some people literally ATTACKED Ant on N4G and here.

      I also think it’s related.

  • Bernard Jacobson

    I have to disagree here. I do think that there are many reasons why this may not be a new Metal Gear, but the evidence in the video outweighs this. In the beginning of the video when he looks at his missing arm, white flower petals are floating around. They look eerily similar to those floating around in the final battle with the boss. The Volgin looking man seems way too similar to be fake. Also, at the end of the video a man levitates, conjuring images of either The Sorrow or Psycho Mantis. One of the tagline a from Ground Zeroes was that “From fox two phantoms were born.” The title of this game is no coincidence. Either way I’m really looking forward to playing whatever it is.