Kojima discusses Metal Gear Solid 5, open worlds and the need for the Ground Zeroes prologue

Back at E3, Hideo Kojima showed off a video of Metal Gear Solid 5 that introduced the cast and showed off some of the game's new play mechanics. It was a bit of a surprise to a lot of gamers, especially when Kojima started talking about things like creating a "true open world experience."

"I think the term 'open world' has taken on a life of its own and caused misunderstandings," the head of Kojima Productions said in an interview published in this week's Famitsu magazine. "Of course it's not going to be a game where Snake fishes all day or changes jobs and pursues a different life. The game map is an open world and you have freedom in that way, but in MGS5, it's clear what you're doing. That may be 'I have to help someone' or 'Destroy this thing' or 'Go gather intelligence at this spot'. Some missions will have time limits, too."

Kojima explained to the interviewer, Famitsu publisher Hirokazu Hamamura, that going open-world with MGS5 is something that, if anything, was overdue for the type of games he creates. "With MGS up to now," he explained, "we could only build the interior of wherever you were infiltrating. How you got there was shown in a cutscene, and the player would just suddenly be in front of the entrance. Once you finished the mission, there'd be another cutscene, a helicopter or whatever would come by, and you'd escape. It's not that linear games are bad [...] but really, it'd be fun if you were the one thinking about how and where to infiltrate, what sort of equipment to bring, and how to get out of there."

Hamamura asked Kojima how different having MGS5 be open world would really be  after all, you were free to either sneak past your foes or kill them all in past MGS games, too. "That's true," Kojima admitted. "I think the way that MGS is combined with an open world here is something that we haven't really communicated very well yet. In particular, with this game, we're building the control system and working the visual expressions for a global market to meet the needs of the North American market; that may have an impact on things too. But once you try it out, you should be able to feel like 'Yes, this is MGS.' I feel that games are interactive media, and the rush comes in being able to use what you're given freely to play. Open worlds create that for you, and I think the future of gaming lies in them."

MGS5's E3 trailer concentrated on the main game and its characters, but Kojima's presentation at last month's Tokyo Game Show was primarily centered around Ground Zeroes, which serves as an extended prologue of sorts to the main MGS5 game. "The user interface is a bit different, but it's the same open world," Kojima told Famitsu. "There is a certain goal in separating the game like this, though  if we just threw you into the main open-world game, we figured that veteran MGS fans would get confused."

As Kojima put it, GZ exists to help ease gamers into the full open-world experience. "The main section [of the game] is just really big," he said, "and you can have enemies attack you from 360 degrees around. As time passes, you reactions in-game will change depending on player actions. If you do a mission, you'll be tired out. You'd be exhausted after a round of airsoft, right? So let's take an hour-long break...something sort of like that. So to keep people from thinking 'This isn't MGS!', we'll limit the amount available to you at first and set a static time and weather pattern. So you'll get to play this open-world, highly free MGS in those conditions."

There are story-related reasons for this split, too. "GZ takes place in 1975, a year after Peace Walker, and the main game takes place in 1984, nine years later," Kojima said. "Something bad happens at the end of GZ, and then you continue into the main game. Unless you play GZ, you won't understand why retaliation is one of MGS5's main themes. It really is the 'ground zero' of Snake's story."

Kojima has also talked in the past about using cloud computing to create a "next generation social game world." Any news on that? "I can't talk about that yet," he laughed. "If I could give you a hint, for MGS5, we often talk in terms of 'removing the rules'. Instead of restricting players with the game design, we want to have it so players advance the way they want to. For example, in an infiltration mission, it's pretty rare that you go in without any support or intelligence. You have spies and advance forces; you have scouts set up a route for you."

Sounds like the concept overlaps with Peace Walker's Mother Base a little. "The reason we're calling this game 'Tactical Espionage Operations' instead of 'Tactical Espionage Action,'" Kojima replied, "is because we're at the point where we're mixing the old MGS, Peace Walker, and this open world together. There's another world waiting within that mix, and it's one I hope you're looking forward to."

MGS5, which has been announced for both PS and Xbox systems (current and next-gen), doesn't have a release date yet.

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