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Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain E3 2015 Trailer Analysis

On June 15th, the final Metal Gear Solid E3 trailer by Hideo Kojima was revealed, containing over 5 minutes of glorious drama. Below is our analysis of the trailer. As with earlier analyses, we try to stay close to the concrete details, what we see and what we hear, without going too far in all kinds of directions with theories.

This trailer is built around one of the game’s main story themes: language. Kojima already talked about this back at TGS, but at the time didn’t want to reveal too much about it yet. The other themes (race and revenge) are also touched upon in this trailer, but it focuses mainly on the theme of language.


It starts with a quote by a Romanian philosopher: “It is no nation we inhabit, but a language. Make no mistake; our native tongue is our true fatherland.” This quote serves to emphasize the importance of language to someone’s identity. The Metal Gear series as a whole has always been about how internal and external factors shape a person: genes for MGS1, memes for MGS2, scene for MGS3. MGSV adds language as a vital cultural element to the mix.

The first thing we hear is a cassette tape that is being started, suggesting that what we hear next is a recording.

Then we get some shots of the aftermath of a bloody battle. The Diamond Dogs logo suggests this scene takes place on Mother Base. It could be the same scene we briefly see at the end of last year’s E3 trailer, in which Snake shoots three of his soldiers in the head. The first shot sets the tone for the trailer right away: very dark and gloomy.


Skull Face voice can be heard: “I was born in a small village. I was still a child when we were raided by soldiers. Foreign soldiers. Torn from my elders I was made to speak their language. With each new post, my masters changed, along with the words they made me speak. With each change, I changed too. My thoughts, personality, how I saw right and wrong. Words can kill.”

Here Skull Face once again demonstrates how important language is to one’s personality. His line ‘words can kill’ resembles the song lyrics ‘words that kill’ heard in one of MGSV’s songs by Donna Burke.

Big Boss walks across the hallway, bloody and angry. Every now and then the red flashing lights make him seem even more fierce and demonic. Interestingly we can see his horn getting bigger, but his face also gets bloodier, so it seems like this shot is some sort of time-lapse. People have speculated before that throughout the game, perhaps Snake’s horn will grow bigger as it is pushed out of his skull, which also symbolizes his demonic side ever growing. The cutscenes are dynamic, maybe the amount of blood depends on previous player actions.

While Skull Face is talking about himself, and how he lost his own views of right and wrong, the images suggest that this applies to Big Boss as well, to a certain extent.

Next, it shows what appears to be another room inside Mother Base, with a mirror and a sink and some weaponry. ‘Trailer Directed and Edited by Hideo Kojima’. It has to be said.


Ocelot’s voice (most likely talking about Skull Face): “Time and again the country was ruled by a foreign tongue. When he was a young boy, he lost his native language, the bedrock for any developing child. His country, his family, his face, his identity, everything was stolen from him.”

This is what looks to be an important aspect of Skull Face’s character, the fact that he is a man stripped of his humanity. He is literally a faceless character, who also seems to lack any emotion while doing horrible things to Chico and Paz. This makes him all the more frightening.

On the shelf by the mirror is a cassette tape: From the Man Who Sold the World. A reference to a David Bowie song. Left there by someone as a present to Big Boss, probably. Notice the item on the far left features a FOX-logo. Or is it XOF? We can see some medicines and surgical instruments, along with blood splatters. Perhaps this is the sick bay? The choice of the song is very fitting. It is about a man ‘who no longer recognizes himself and feels awful about it’.


We see a shot from Ground Zeroes, of Skull Face leaving Camp Omega. In the next shot, Big Boss inserts the tape into his Walkman, and lets it play.


Then, the familiar shot of Big Boss and Kaz on the operating table, likely the last thing that happened before he fell in a coma. Intercut with a shot of a helicopter flying trough Afghanistan.


The FOX logo without ‘Kojima Productions’.


A montage of Mother Base being destroyed (the end of Ground Zeroes) and Snake and Kaz arriving at the new base (probably after Snake rescued Kaz, the first mission of the game).


With no arm to fill it, an empty jacket sleeve slides through Kaz’ fingers. He clenches the fist of his remaining arm. The two arrive at Mother Base, where Ocelot is waiting for them.

We hear a new voice: “Since ancient times, every civilization’s ruler has had the same idea: when people unite under one will, it becomes stronger than the sum of their parts. And what do rulers use to bring people together? Language.”

Who could this voice belong to?

Then we get our first look in two years at Code Talker.


What if the voice in the voice over belongs to him? We haven’t heard him speak before, but we know the voice actor (Jay Tavare), and the voices are very similar. Listen and judge for yourself. We’re pretty sure it’s him.

Snake and Code Talker are inside some sort of old looking building smoking a calumet (also called peace pipe), so they seem to be on good terms. It’s from the same scene we saw a small piece of two years ago.

A shot of Snake in the helicopter, flying through an already impressive looking Mother Base, followed by a shot of Kaz interrogating Quiet, from the same scene as the Red Band trailer.


Ocelot torturing Huey, we can see the same syringe he injected him with in the Red Band trailer.


Next, a shot of Kaz talking to the Diamond Dogs army from up high. A close up of his face suggests he may be blind.


At least four helicopters are flying over (Kojima already said you can have multiple helicopters in TPP). Notice Ocelot and Big Boss are standing further in the back behind Kaz.


‘Eye for an Eye’.


This probably refers to two things: the revenge Snake wants to take on the people responsible for the destruction of Mother Base and the deaths of his comrades, but also the theme of the game (‘the chain of retaliation’)

Another new voice: “This world will become one. I have found the way. Race, tribal affiliations, national borders, even our faces will be irrelevant. The will that The Boss envisioned will finally become a reality, and it will make mankind whole again.”

There is little doubt this is Zero. Not only because of the British accent, but more so because of what he’s saying. This has always been Zero’s reason for creating The Patriots: to make The Boss’ will a reality. And that was, as he interprets it, a world without borders, without internal struggle, a world that is ‘made whole’. Uniformity. We already knew Zero would have a new voice actor for this game, and this is the first time we hear him speak. Wether he will appear in the game in the flesh, or just his voice (over the telephone or as a recording, for example) remains to be seen.

A shot of a wounded Diamond Dogs soldier being rushed to the medical bay.

Then, another part of the scene in which Big Boss takes on some of his soldiers with CQC. In the Nuclear trailer we saw how one of these soldiers pulled a knife, and Big Boss intervened. Also, notice the posters on the wall: Big Boss is watching you. A clear 1984 reference. In the novel 1984, language is used as a tool to limit freedom of thought.


Another shot at the cremation scene, possibly more towards the end. Big Boss, Ocelot and a grieving soldier. Then, we see Ocelot, Big Boss and Kaz standing together, talking something over. Looks like it’s the same ‘interrogation room’ in which Huey and Quiet are being tortured.


A large pod is being carried inside the base. It’s looks exactly like the ‘Mammal Pod’ form Peace Walker, the part that contained the AI. Maybe they will use this one for the new Metal Gear?


‘Pain for Pain’.


A variation of the ‘chain of revenge’ theme.

Here is where it really gets confusing. We see Ocelot and Big Boss in front of an operating table, discussing a freshly stitched wound – that looks just like Paz’ wound after the bomb was removed from her body. Even more puzzling is the next shot, of a character who looks just like Paz, looking dazed. Someone is waving a hand in front of her face, as if to see how conscious she is. Is it really possible this is Paz, after she was blown to pieces by a bomb that was inside her body? Or is something else going on here?


In the next shot, a man is lying on an operating table, a wire sticking from his throat. Big Boss removes it, it could be something used to manipulate the vocal cords, or be related to them in some other way, as that also ties into the theme of language and speech. At the end of the wire is something that resembles an earpiece.


Then, a shot of Big Boss carrying a heavily wounded Quiet on Mother Base. You can see smoke or steam rising from her body.


Back to the same man on the operating table. Big Boss removes a piece of fabric covering his chest and reveals some nasty looking growth. Maybe this man is one of the ‘Parasite Unit / Skulls’ (the supernatural enemies), and the Diamond Dogs are trying to find out who or what they are exactly.


‘Skull for Skull’.


This one is a bit more cryptic. At first glance it seems like another variation of the theme, but it could also refer to the Skull Unit soldiers, which Snake will be taking out one by one. The ‘skull’ as a symbol returns often in the game: of course there is Skull Face, but also the MSF and the Outer Heaven logo both feature a skull.

Now it gets spooky. A whole bunch of ghost like skeletons are walking trough a misty jungle (suggesting this takes place in Africa). They materialize, and seem to be part of the Skull Unit as well. It looks like Quiet actually has similar abilities.


Zombie-like enemies are stumbling towards Big Boss and Quiet, who are standing next to an helicopter wreck. Maybe they just crashed, or maybe they are investigating the crash site. Quiet is covered in blood.


We see someone trapped in what looks like a mechanical claw. Hard to see if it’s Big Boss. A bit later in the trailer Big Boss is hanging upside down in front of Skull Face, so it’s possible this is what happens just before that.


Something seems to ‘activate’ the soldiers, their eyes light up bright green and their movements speed up dramatically. They appear to be controlled by an exterior force. Maybe some sort of hive mind.


Big Boss is trying to escape in a jeep while being chased by… rock spires? They also resemble Big Boss’ horn, to and extent. Could he be hallucinating?


A helicopter’s spinning rotor blades are killing a bunch of soldiers. This looks like it might take place in the hospital on Cyprus. Next, a burning man, looks like this takes place inside Mother Base.


Big Boss and Quiet inside a steer-less helicopter. This suggests they did crash, and the scene earlier comes after this one. t looks like the crash is caused by the Skulls, we can see one of them outside, clinging onto the chopper.


Justin Burnett is an American film composer, who has worked on several video games including earlier Metal Gear games. On Twitter he wrote he’s proud to be a ‘big part’ of Metal Gear Solid V. He worked together with Gregson-Williams for several years.

Skull Face: “America is a country of liberty, a meeting of immigrants. Instead of simply assimilating, its citizens live alongside others. So the Major sought a system that used information, words, to control the subconscious.”

The ‘major’ he is talking about is obviously ‘Major’ Zero.

Skull Face and Big Boss are riding a jeep together, and talking. Seems like this scene takes place before them arriving at the cave with the new Metal Gear, which we saw in last year’s trailer.


Another look at Eli, who fans have agreed on is most likely a young Liquid Snake. The same room we saw in earlier trailers, with the white plastic chair and the tapestry. The camera moves away and we see a pig head, a reference to the novel Lord of the Flies. Same goes for the conch. In the novel, the conch is used to elect a leader, and only the one holding the conch may speak during meetings. Again, related to voice and language, and who is bestowed the power to use it. The pig’s head is the Lord of the Flies itself, which in the novel is a symbol of religion and of the power of evil in the hearts of men, and the name is a literal translation of ‘Beelzebub’ (the devil). This also ties in with the demon motif in the game. Taking into consideration Eli’s jacket, which features a drawing of ‘Pig Boss’, it seems that Liquid’s obsession with his father, his love-hate relationship, has already started in MGSV.

Maybe Eli is the leader of a group of child soldiers? And maybe he is referred to as Pig Boss?

Quiet at Mother Base, possibly just before her assault on the base, followed by the continuation of the peace pipe scene from earlier.


The ‘Man on Fire’, Volgin, from the hospital scene. There seems to be a lot of destruction going on.


Ocelot twirling his guns, because he’s Ocelot. Then, the ‘Psycho Mantis’ figure. He and the Man on Fire are both part of the same group that attacks Snake in the hospital.


Another shot from the burial scene, showing Snake’s ash covered face as the camera pans around it. One thing that’s interesting is that there has been a small change since last year to this scene, Ocelot and Huey are now standing in the back.


Ocelot’s voice continues: “In his eyes, the greatest symbiotic parasite the world has ever known isn’t microbial. It’s linguistic. Words is what keeps civilization, our world, alive. Free the world, not by taking men’s lives, but by taking their tongues.” It’s hard to say at this point how literal we should take this, but the reason Quiet cannot speak may be related.

We are back at the scene with the mirror. Big Boss looks up at his own reflection. Maybe he is still listening to the tape here.


Quiet in the Afghan desert.


‘Retaliation breeds retaliation’.


The most literal description of the theme.

Eli jumps into Metal Gear’s cockpit. Reminds anyone of MGS1?


Skull Face: “With this, I’ll rid the world of infestation. Sans lingua franca the world will be torn asunder. And then, it shall be free.”

Continuing his reasoning seen above, Skull Face’s intention seems to be to stop Zero’s plans for world domination by fighting him with his own tool: language. Zero wants to unite the world through language, so Skull Face wants to hinder his plans in the same way. Taking away the power of words. Though the scene makes no reference of this, it’s also reminiscent of the biblical story of Babel, in which God realized that when people speak a a single language, there is no limit to what they can achieve, and so he made them to speak all kinds of different languages, so they could no longer understand each other.

Big Boss is being chased out of the cave by the Metal Gear (piloted by Eli?) As said before, we know from MGS1 that Liquid had some kind of love-hate relationship with his father, and he desperately wanted to surpass and ‘destroy’ him.


Skull Face seems to have captured Snake, who is hanging upside down form the ceiling. Is this before or after they were working together? Is Skull Face betraying him? This could be one of the famous torture scenes that can be found in every installment of the series.


Big Boss is still being chased by Metal Gear, but it gets stuck between the cliffs.

Big Boss fires his rifle at an unknown target, it’s the same scene we saw at the end of the Red Band trailer.

The title screen. Instead of fading in, the letters are fading out, maybe to emphasize the theme of ‘lost language’ – words being taken away.


Big Boss in the hallway, probably just before or after the scene of him walking across it.


‘Phantoms breed Destruction’.


Probably foreshadowing the depths Big Boss and his comrades will get dragged in by Skull Face and Zero, and his own lust for revenge.

Big Boss at Mother Base. The camera moves around him and reveals Metal Gear – and Skull Face. If you look closely it is almost as if Skull Face appears out of nowhere. Some people even speculate that he may be a figment of Snake’s imagination, a symbol of his ‘evil side’. It looks like Snake is wearing heavy armor, some kind of flak jacket. Maybe the Diamond Dogs are preparing for a battle?


As the song fades out, the tape ends as well.

Snake walks past the mirror, but stops to take a look at his bloodied face, a large horn sticking from his head. He sees a monster, and smashes the glass.

Skull Face: “The chain of retaliation is what will truly bind this world together as one.”

The trailer is almost over, but there’s one more surprise. We get a close up of Eli. The camera moves to the side, and we see an identical boy to his left. Meanwhile, we hear the voice of Big Boss: “Les Enfants Terrible, Zero called it.” It appears as though these two boys are the twin clones, David and Eli, who would later become Liquid Snake and Solid Snake. This also explains why they look exactly alike. The only confusing part is that according to MGS1, Solid Snake had never met Liquid before and didn’t even know about his existence. Either Kojima retconned this fact for the game, or something else is going on. One other thing is strange: not only their faces are identical, their scars are too.


‘V Has come to’.


The trailer is over.

Konami published another trailer during the E3, a shorter one, but with some new scenes. We’ll discuss those scenes below. On a side note: some of the scenes that are in both trailers have some differences, like time of day, outfit, amount of blood on Big Boss. According to Kojima, this was done to show off they are dynamic and change depending on how you play.

MGSV-TPP-E3-Trailer-Differences-in-Scenes-1 MGSV-TPP-E3-Trailer-Differences-in-Scenes-2

But onto the new scenes.

Huey working on Metal Gear (ZEKE Mark II?).


Kaz hands over a rifle to someone off screen, Snake probably.


Snake closes the helicopter door as it takes off. Maybe this is before the crash in the long trailer?


Ocelot looks over his shoulder at Kaz, this seems to be from the torture scene, and they’re working either Huey or Quiet.


A group of enemy soldiers, armed with rifles and bipedal mechs.


Big Boss and Quiet fighting on Mother Base. Big Boss disarms Quiet of her knife.


Quiet and Code Talker. They appear to be inside Mother Base, you can see the generator that powered the cattle prods used to torture Quiet. Is Code Talker also being interrogated? It appears as if his hands are tied behind his back (which is the same for the other subjects, Quiet and Huey), although we can’t really be sure about this.


Big Boss running away from an attacking tank.


Skull Face interrogating Huey, he doesn’t seem happy. Looks like it takes place at the Metal Gear base inside the cave.


Here we see the Man on Fire and the Mantis again. Looks like they won’t just show up in the hospital scene, as this clearly takes place inside Metal Gear’s hangar at Mother Base. Someone translated the text on Mantis’ straightjacket, and it translates to ‘Leningrad University of Parapsychology’.


Big Boss aiming his gun, probably at Eli who’s hijacking Metal Gear in the next shot.


A bit of a lighthearted scene to conclude: Big Boss and Quiet demonstrate an inventive way to light a cigar using a sniper bullet.


So, that’s it. Lots of new stuff to take in, and while it’s fun to try and piece it all together, we also know that we can never really predict how it will all fit together in the end. For that, we will have to wait until September.

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