Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes info: every detail we have on MGS 5

An early screen of the FOX Engine that powers Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes

As for the setting, the game possibly takes place around the time of the original Metal Gear on MSX2, which would clock the action in at about 1995. Why? Firstly, the level of kit Snake rocks is nowhere near as sophisticated as MGS4. Rather than using that game’s chameleon-aping OctoCamo, we see a much less advanced, vanilla-flavoured sneaking suit. This would suggest Ground Zeroes takes place years before Old Snake’s 2014-set action.

Now bring in the music player given to the kid during the demo. It hints at a degree of tech beyond anything that was available in the 1970s heyday of a young Big Boss – thus potentially ruling him out as the Snake seen in the demo.

Note the Diamond Dogs logo on Big Boss' sleeve

However, Koj has made more than one reference to a Diamond Dogs logo in the past on Twitter, which also appeared emblazoned on the uniform of a Big Boss sketch that was released to announce Ground Zeroes development (then simply called “The ‘Next’ Metal Gear“). Perhaps significantly, Diamond Dogs is the name of a 1974 David Bowie album. Koj is a confirmed lover of the man behind Ziggy Stardust. Could this mean a 70s setting with Big Boss as the star? His iconic eye patch is clearly visible on that poster from the previous page, after all.

Zero mgs 4Another thing worth bearing in mind is that Zero, a pivotal character in the series mythos was called Major Tom at one point – another Bowie reference. There’s some suggestion he’s the sinister man seen in the demo, as Zero was last seen in MGS 4 looking similarly disfigured (him on the left there).

The two fell out for a number of reasons but the deal breaker was when Zero initiated the Les Enfants Terribles program to clone Big Boss, creating Solid, Liquid and Solidus Snake. As a result he and Big Boss parted ways with Snake setting up Militaires Sans Frontière while Zero later went on to create, and ultimately lose control of, the Patriots AI.

The main piece of art for Ground Zeroes also bares the legend, “From ‘FOX’, two phantoms were born” in reversed mirror writing. Not only did the demo show the mysterious man removing ‘XOF’ logos, Big Boss and Zero formed FOX together before they split up and there separate, ruling the world in secret ways.

Our best guess from all this contradictory educated guesswork? Ground Zeroes covers a significant space of time, letting you control not only Big Boss in the 70s during the height of his conflict with MGS3’s Major Zero (the game’s title is surely no coincidence), but also putting you in the sneaky loafers of a fresh-faced rookie Solid Snake in the mid-90s. Adding confusion to the issue are the two pieces of art showing Snake; look carefully and you can see an eye patch strap poking out from his goggles. Trouble is, it’s on different sides in each image. Crafty.

Whatever the era, the FOX Engine looked sensational according to those lucky enough to attend the event in Japan. Though the action ran on a high-end PC, Konami has confirmed the tech will run on both current and next-gen platforms. Whether Ground Zeroes is PS3′s swansong or a PS4 launch game, the level of visual fidelity in the lighting, character models and particle effects was apparently incredible.

Metal Gear Solid 5 FOX engineKojima has also shown off a few animals in FOX Engine shots, like the dog we saw earlier and a horse used in a series of tech demos. It suggest that animals could be included in the game as more than just decoration and dinner. The ability of Big Boss to call in vehicles suggest transport could play a part, which covers the horse. And let’s face it why make a horse if you’re not going to use it? The dog? Well, guard dogs is the obvious answer although the image of Snake with a dog suggests a possible companion. Then there’s that Diamond Dogs name again…

Since turning Solid, Metal Gear has never been a series to rest on its laurels. And with Ground Zeroes, we could be looking at a tectonic shift for MGS that would make even the Raiden revelation look utterly small fry. Buckle up: we get the impression Koj is just getting started.