Dispensing with the pleasantries immediately (a first for the MGS series), we're not going to bury the lead. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes is set to be released on March 18th, 2014 in North America and March 20th in Europe. It will cost $19.99/£29.99 (or £19.99 for a digital copy) on Xbox 360 and $29.99/£29.99 on "next generation" consoles.
The real bones of this story, however, come in the form of an interview with MGS creator Hideo Kojima who sat down with the Xbox Wire Staff for an in depth interview.
X - What are you most excited about for developing on new generation hardware?We've also got two new trailers for your greedy eyeballs.
HK - I'm most looking forward to the "pseudo-cloud" era that the next generation of hardware will bring. It's still one step away from the "true" cloud revolution, but it will allow players to interact with their games, and each other in new and exciting ways using multiple devices such as tablets and smart devices. Social experiences and player interaction are what will drive the next wave of games.
X - How will a new generation of hardware impact the future of the “Metal Gear” franchise?
HK - Technology is at a crossroads, facilitating evolution perpendicular to the path we've taken thus far. It's not just about the next level of gaming hardware anymore, it's about how that hardware will allow games to interact with multiple devices and SNS platforms. Technology is fanning out in a horizontal direction as opposed to the vertical evolution of the past.
X - What are some of the reasons for developing “Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes” with new game design such as Open World elements?
HK - From now on, an increasing number of players will be actively communicating with each other through the medium of games. The best way to engage and motivate these players, and nurture the resulting sense of competition among them is to give them the freedom of interaction that open world elements provide.
X - What are some of the new experiences that fans can look forward to with an open-world “Metal Gear Solid?”
HK - First of all, to avoid confusion, I would like to clarify that my vision for "MGSV" does differ a bit from what most people may assume when they think of the current "Open-World" genre. A more accurate way to describe it would be a "stealth simulator" in an open world environment. The open world elements exist to remove the rails from the stealth experience, allowing players to freely plan their own routes and experiment with their own unique infiltration strategies. However, at its heart, the gameplay is all about stealth and we don't intend to shift the focus away from that.
X - What are you most excited about with the addition of Kiefer Sutherland to the “Metal Gear” franchise?
HK - It's no longer just about the words that a character speaks, it's about the depth of their facial performance and the expressive tone of their voice. As technology evolves, it's vital that the expressiveness of the characters in the game evolve to match the capabilities of the hardware. Kiefer is helping us to raise the bar in that respect, and I'm looking forward to the final result.
X - Can you explain the relationship between “Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes” and “Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain?”
HK - "Ground Zeroes" is the gateway that leads into "The Phantom Pain" and serves as the prologue to the core "Metal Gear Solid V" experience. If I were to draw an analogy to Hollywood movies, it's similar to those first 15 minutes of a film that grabs the viewer's interest and pulls them in before the opening title appears. In game terms, it's a sort of tutorial that will help players get accustomed to many of the changes that we're introducing to the system.
X - There have been some notable villains and NPCs with incredible backstories that have appeared throughout the “Metal Gear” franchise, which character is your favorite and why?
HK - It's a tough call, but maybe Otacon? He's a character who proudly identifies himself as an "Otaku" (Japanese for "geek"), but is still able to survive and hold his own in the midst of all these amazing heroic characters, despite the fact that he himself never engages in battle. Back when we were making the original "Metal Gear Solid," it was risky to include a character like his in the game, but I think it's precisely because of his inability to fit in that people have grown attached to him. He's become a sort of lovable mascot for geeks (otaku) the world over.
X - The “Metal Gear” franchise has always featured an immersive storyline with amazing graphics and cut-scenes; can fans expect more of the same in the latest iteration?
HK - Naturally, there's still a good amount of story to be told, but I'm trying to express it in a new way. It's different from the linear style of storytelling I've used in the past. There will be cut scenes, but they will come together piece-by-piece based on each player's individual progress through the game.
X - What do you feel is the trademark of a “Metal Gear Solid” title?
HK - Stealth and the desire to convey a meaningful message to the player. The way these elements are implemented may vary, but they'll always be there. In that regard, my approach to "Metal Gear Solid V" is no different from before.
X - It’s been 25 years since the first “Metal Gear” game was released, do you see the franchise going for another 25-plus years or do you feel that the storyline will come to an end for Snake and Big Boss?
HK - I honestly have no idea. The only thing I can say for certain is that I personally will not be able to carry "MGS" forward for another 25 years. However, with new talent at the helm guiding the series through each new stage, I can easily imagine a world 25 years from now where a new "MGS" franchise continues onward into the future.
It's definitely worth noting that the second trailer is an Xbox-exclusive. Observe as the cyborg ninja Raiden takes down enemy bioroid 'Snatchers'!
To recap, MGS V: Ground Zeroes will be released on March 18th, 2014 in North America and March 20th in Europe.
Thanks to all of the community members who suggested this story!