Set after the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker but before those of the upcoming MGS5: The Phantom Pain, MGS5: Ground Zeroes gives the player total control over how, where, and when to execute espionage-focused operations.
Playing as Snake, aka Big Boss, players will sneak into enemy encampments, stalk targets, interrogate enemy agents, and recover secret intel while piecing together the game’s story mission by mission. The result is an open, fluid adventure that will play out a little differently each time.
On PS4, Kojima’s proprietary FOX Engine coats the game in a convincing layer of next-gen grit. Eerily lifelike character animations bring new punch to the game’s CQC, while a new global lighting system means that day and night pass realistically, complete with changes to guard behaviour and visibility.
FOX Engine brings a host of other benefits, including an upgraded weapon physics system that accounts for bullet drop. This will be a profound change for fans of the tranquilizer gun and other low-powered projectile weapons, which now require far more finesse to use at extreme distances.
Just before PS4’s North American release last week, I spoke with game director Hideo Kojima to learn more about Ground Zeroes and his plans for PlayStation’s next-generation console. Also, be sure to catch the new gameplay video that shows off 12 minutes of PS4 footage.
We’re seeing a different approach to cinematics and storytelling. Have you re-evaluated your approach?
Kojima: It’s going to be freer, more open, and we want to player to create their own strategies as they infiltrate, and also create their own stories as they try to get out. It’s very different from a linear game, where you go from place to place and cutscenes are triggered.
Within a mission you can do whatever you want, freely. There are a lot of interactive elements, there’s scattered information within each mission, and if you put all of these elements together, and from there the player will put a story together. That’s the way I’ve intended to tell it this time.
It definitely looks more emergent. How do you see Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain working together? Why make them two different experiences?
Kojima: To release them together would be an ideal case for us. But Metal Gear Solid 5 is going to be a huge, a massive scale game. So the development is taking some time. That said, PS4 is launching now and it’s big. A lot of people have been asking for a new Metal Gear Solid experience, so we at least wanted to release a prologue so that people get to know what people will be, experience a chunk of the story. So that guided our decision to move forward at this time.
What do you think of DualShock 4? Are you exploring any concepts for use with the light bar, the motion sensor, the touch pad…?
Kojima: We are trying to take advantage of as many things as we can, but we also want to focus on keeping the experience as close as possible on both platforms, between PS3 and PS4. More than that, I would recommend that people who are looking forward to the next generation having a tablet next to them, taking advantage of those capabilities. I think there are things that people will enjoy there.
What do you think of Remote Play and PS4? Are you thinking about supporting it?
Kojima: We’re still trying to put together how much we can fit into the next game. We’re running tests, and Remote Play is impressive and I like it. So we’re running tests and still working on the game.
From a hardware perspective, are you pleased with PS4? Is it easy to tap into the system’s power?
Kojima: We used to run into some difficulties from PS3 that made us push it to a new level. Now we’re focusing on a multi-platform approach so we’re working on PCs. PS4 has fantastic specs that make it really easy to the transition from high-spec PCs to PS4. We expect that we will have very good results with PS4.
Also, I’m a huge fan of the analogue sticks on PS4. That is structurally, the way they feel, the way the player uses them. I have more in mind for the analogue sticks, and I think it will play very well. That is a huge advantage for PS4, the DualShock 4.
So for example, we have a guy [at Kojima Productions] who specialises on DualShock 4 and what we can do with it. So for the motions that are unique to DualShock 4, you will get something that is very detailed and varied.
What are you most proud of in Ground Zeroes? Something big, something small…?
Kojima: One thing is the searchlights. There are a lot of searchlights in this game. We were able to accurately describe, in a physical way, the way the shadows and lights interact. Twenty six years ago, I wanted to originally put this in the game: moving through searchlights without being spotted. We were finally able to put it in the game.
And also, since it’s an open-world game, there are all these different vehicles, different weapons, you can use turrets… as a player, you’re constantly tempted to use them. However, you’ll be spotted by the enemy as soon as you use them, you’ll be in trouble. So we give this choice to the player: you can use the turrets, the explosions, but they shouldn’t. So I’m happy to have this in the game.
With launch upon us, are you interested in any other PS4 games?
Kojima: Well, I’m always excited by the games that will only be available on PS4. Graphically, I’d like to see what Killzone Shadow Fall can do. And I’m very excited for Knack, I want to play it with Mark Cerny.