The Ultimate Ending Discussion (SPOILERS)

Avatar image for thefantasticfillip
#1 Edited by TheFantasticFillip (70 posts) -

Since people are now starting to finish the game, can we have a discussion about the ending and its implications? Trade theories and what-not. To keep wandering eyes safe, I've left all my analysis under spoilers markings. Please do not go foward if you want to protect those virgin eyes.

Despite the knee-jerk reaction of many across the internet, I love it. I think the last few seconds are a little hard to understand, and I think it's hard to build a complete picture without a little conjecture or some assumptions, but I really enjoy what is going on here. I think this game fits well into the greater thematic arc of Metal Gear and in itself finishes off Big Boss's story satisfactorily. A lot of people say the ending raises too many questions, but if you grasp from around Metal Gear, I think you can put together a coherent narrative even if the pieces are kind of a mess. Luckily, I spent too much time thinking about this series and am a human Metal Gear encyclopedia.

So at the end of the game, you get a tape explaining that you are not Big Boss, but an exact duplicate created by Zero to protect the real Big Boss from his own organization. This scene is really really good, and I love Kiefer's mocap work when Venom Snake smirks and looks at himself in the mirror with this look of power.

But the last few seconds of this scene are extremely important. When he flips the tape over, there's a time jump to 1995.

Be perceptive: in the reflection of the mirror, there is a Diamond Dogs emblem on the bathroom door. However, when Venom flips the tape over, that emblem becomes an Outer Heaven logo. What's the other side of that tape labeled? Operation N313 aka the operation Solid Snake goes on in Metal Gear 1.

Diamond Dogs. 1984.
Diamond Dogs. 1984.
Outer Heaven. 1995.
Outer Heaven. 1995.

Venom puts the tape into an MSX and it reads data on a screen, data Venom can see, but we can't. He then walks over to the mirror again, and in anger punches it. On the other side stands his reflection, which then turns away from us and walks away into darkness. Given that we're in Outer Heaven in 1995, and you can hear the chaos of gunfire outside, it can be safely assumed that this scene happens immediately before Solid Snake arrives to shoot some rockets at him. He breaks the mirror in rebellion against the mission given to him on that tape, but he accepts it anyways, stoically walking to what will become his death. It's also important how this is depicted visually; Venom walks away in black, silhouetted against smoke. As he walks, the space around him becomes darker, until finally he disappears completely.

No Caption Provided

I think this scene is important not just for characterizing Venom Snake as he strolls off, but also ties into the game thematically. In a lot of ways, MGSV is about the forgotten people that operate in the background to support the big players. Skullface, XOF, us as the players of these games, and Venom Snake; all of them were used to create the Metal Gear world as we know it, and all of them were lost to time. If the original games are about the titans of the universe, this game is about their shadows. Venom Snake disappears at the end of this game; he is washed away from history. Everyone thinks he was Big Boss, and that is all that is ever known of him. He quite literally disappears.

Many people upon seeing the ending assume Venom Snake built Outer Heaven, but this isn't true. At the hospital in Cyprus, Ocelot gives Big Boss a new passport with a new name on it. This is Big Boss's new identity while Venom Snake is Big Boss; the name on that passport is whatever you make it during the character creator, but for the sake of simplicity here, let's just say the name is Steve. Venom Snake, aka the medic, unwittingly gets Big Boss's identity and makes Diamond Dogs and the events of MGSV happen as we see them. During this time, Big Boss is under the name Steve and is building Outer Heaven in South Africa.

But wait, it says that Solid Snake kills Venom Snake in Outer Heaven!?

Yes, but the credits also say Big Boss built Outer Heaven. Notice how the credits refer to real Big Boss as Big Boss exclusively; they refer to Venom Snake as Big Boss's Phantom, never just Big Boss. There's also a discussion after the credits between Kaz and Ocelot about this. They are both included below:

No Caption Provided

Miller: What was it all for...?

Miller: If the Boss has some plan, what is it?

Ocelot: The real Big Boss is working separately from us, to create his new nation.

Miller: New nation...?

Ocelot: A military nation above and apart from all - the true "Outer Heaven."

Ocelot: Something created to maintain world balance. Big Boss is building a nation.

Ocelot: But... until it's complete, we support the other Big Boss.

Ocelot: The phantom carries on his legend... his meme.

Ocelot: That, is Big Boss's plan.

Miller: So that's the way it is.

In Metal Gear 1, no one knows who the leader of Outer Heaven is until the very end of the game, so it is impossible that Venom Snake creates it with Diamond Dogs. Big Boss is ultimately still the founder of Outer Heaven.

But then what the heck is Venom Snake doing there in Metal Gear 1?

Venom Snake was originally created to be a decoy for Big Boss so that he may live when the whole world wants him dead. Sometime during the events of MGSV, Big Boss realizes another purpose Venom can be used for: he and Big Boss can work together to build Big Boss's legend and achieve his ideological goals.

No Caption Provided

Many people thought that Big Boss's turn was going to happen in this game, that we would finally see what made him turn to villainy. But Metal Gear is never so black and white, and in reality, Big Boss's turn was more subtle, and actually happened in Peace Walker.

Peace Walker

Metal Gear in a grand sense is more a meditation on cults of personality and the destructive influence of ideology. In between MGS3 and Peace Walker, Big Boss has already joined and left the Patriots. If you remember, the Patriots were formed by the former team of Operation Snake Eater to carry on their interpretation of the will of the Boss: a unified world. Zero used Big Boss as a figurehead, a messianic figure, to rally the people behind. Using his immense power and wealth, Zero spread the legend of Big Boss through exaggeration and outright falsification. He also used XOF to help Big Boss on his most dangerous missions to further fuel the perception of Big Boss as the "legendary soldier".

Big Boss hated this, and ultimately came to reject it. Sensing Big Boss's intention to leave, Zero had him cloned to ensure his legacy. This disgusts Big Boss, so he leaves the Patriots, and the loaded "Big Boss" moniker, behind. Using some secret funds given to him by Gene (thanks, Portable Ops!) he begins to build his own interpretation of what the Boss wanted: a place where soldiers will never be tools of anyone.

This is where we find Snake at the start of Peace Walker. He made MSF, a rinky dink little operation, and had totally rejected the title of Big Boss and all the bullshit it was imbued with. He was no messiah, he was just a man.

No Caption Provided

However, at the end of Peace Walker, Big Boss gets his first hint of what the Boss really wanted: she wanted the world to be left alone, she wanted a world people lived their lives according to their own desires and didn't try to impose their will on others. Big Boss rejects this, rejects the Boss, and from that moment forward begins down his own ideological path. He embraces the title of Big Boss and for the first times concieves of something much bigger than MSF, much bigger than a business: he was going to build Outer Heaven, he was going to build a nation.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JqQO1MAltJU

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O6e07-caoYw

What is MGSV all about, then?

It further details Big Boss's fall and shows us everything we ever needed to know about him. While in a coma, Zero comissions a memetic clone of Big Boss. The parallels between Les Enfants Terribles and the creation of Venom Snake are obvious. When Zero did this the first time, Big Boss was disgusted and rejected it. But what did Big Boss do this time? He embraced it, he embraced the cult of personality, he embraced the legend. After MSF was obliterated in Ground Zeroes, Big Boss realized that in order to achieve his sweeping dreams, he had to work from the shadows, even if that meant tying the noose around someone else's neck.

Venom Snake builds Diamond Dogs and eliminates XOF as a threat. It is now that Big Boss lets him in on the whole ruse and opens up an avenue of partnership.

This is the point where conjecture begins

So what we know is that Big Boss is again under the Big Boss identity by the time of MG1; everyone knows him as Big Boss, leader of FOXHOUND, while no one knows who is commanding Outer Heaven. As I said before, Big Boss is building Outer Heaven during MGSV, and as such, Diamond Dogs cannot be Outer Heaven. Everyone in Diamond Dogs (Kaz, Ocelot, Big Boss) eventually ends up in FOXHOUND. What this tells me is that at some point shortly after MGSV ends, Big Boss and Venom Snake switch identities again; Big Boss resumes the title of Big Boss while Venom Snake resumes the Steve alias and takes over as head of Outer Heaven. That's how everyone knows Big Boss is the CO of FOXHOUND, but nobody knows who is leading Outer Heaven in MG1.

It is known that to Zero, and ultimately the Patriots, having Big Boss return to them is favorable to having him killed. So then it makes sense that Big Boss returns to them with Diamond Dogs, Kaz, and Ocelot. He again becomes leader of FOXHOUND, finds Sniper Wolf and Gray Fox, and trains Solid Snake.

But why? Why would Big Boss go back to the US/Cipher/the Patriots?

So that he and Venom can play the field from both sides. He communicates to Venom Snake through cassette tape, and later through MSX tape.

Ok, so what happened in MG1? Why would Big Boss have Solid Snake kill Venom Snake?

This isn't, and never will be, clear to a concrete extent. Because Kojima is gone, all we can ever do is try to build a complete picture from what is, at best, ambiguous information. I'm basically trying to explain character motivations and such using nothing but the last 10 minutes of Phantom Pain, the paper thin plot of a 30 year old MSX game, and the thematic undercurrents of the MGS saga.

But this is my theory, and I'm sticking to it.

It can be safely assumed that whatever is on that N313 tape, Venom doesn't like it. He reads the info and immediately destroys a mirror in rage; that does not sound to me like the reaction of a happy man. Given the info we have, it can be reasonably assumed that Big Boss and Venom communicate through those cassette tapes; it can also be reasonably assumed that towards the end of Metal Gear 1, Venom Snake becomes aware of the fact that Solid Snake is coming to kill him and tries to sabotage that operation. During the game, your CO is Big Boss. He's basically the Campbell of Metal Gear 1; he gives you hints and suggestions on what to do. But suddenly, towards the end of the game, Big Boss contacts you on a new frequency and begins giving you bogus advice to try and sabotage your mission.

Real Big Boss's frequency: 120.85
Real Big Boss's frequency: 120.85
Venom Snake's frequency: 120.13
Venom Snake's frequency: 120.13

This second Big Boss on the new frequency is Venom Snake trying to stall Solid Snake's mission. Now, what we see in MG1 is that the entire time, Big Boss is helpful in assisting Solid Snake in his mission to destroy Outer Heaven. We also know that Venom Snake contacts Solid and tries to stop the mission. If Big Boss didn't want Solid to kill Venom, he would have also worked to stop the mission, not assisted the whole time.

It isn't clear, and it will never be clear, what Big Boss's grand plan was for Operation Intrude N313. As it stands in canon now, he expected Solid Snake to fail. Given the new information about Venom Snake, his motivations become even more nebulous. It was established in early canon that Big Boss sent Solid Snake to Outer Heaven to die. We will continue accepting that this is true since there is nothing that directly contradicts it.

What we also know is that around the time of the mission, Venom Snake gets a tape labeled N313 from Big Boss. This tape likely contains information from Big Boss about this mission, and maybe some orders for Venom Snake as well. After seeing the tape, Venom punches the mirror. Then we have that shot that immediately follows it: he stoically walks into oblivion, accepting his fate.

It is also unclear if the Outer Heaven uprising was Big Boss's or Venom Snake's plan. Again, in canon it is Big Boss's, and at this time nothing directly contradicts that information. The Uprising was the end goal of Big Boss's dream, the final result of Outer Heaven. It was an outright war against the Patriots, and Venom Snake goes along with Big Boss's orders to start it.

The Patriots react to this by sending Solid Snake into Outer Heaven to kill its mysterious leader. Big Boss commands him throughout that mission because he is under cover and doesn't want his cover blown. He hopes that his Uprising will be successful in not just killing Solid Snake, but also in challenging the grip of the Patriots.

However, there is one other favorable outcome. If all goes wrong, Venom Snake can still fulfill his duty as Big Boss's doppleganger. If Venom is able to convince Solid Snake that he is the real Big Boss, and gets killed by Solid Snake, then the real Big Boss can use this to fake his own death and go underground to establish Zanzibar Land, aka Outer Heaven 2.0.

I believe that tape contained a general outline of Solid Snake's mission, which is how Venom was able to mislead him on the radio. I also believe it contained instructions from Big Boss for Venom to convince everyone that he is actually the real Big Boss so that if he dies in Outer Heaven, Big Boss can still work in secret to achieve his true dream. This order is what makes Venom furious, what makes him punch that mirror: he was in many ways given the same mission as the Boss. If he cannot defeat Solid Snake, he must die. He must sacrifice himself so that Big Boss can carry on with his plans. He has to give up his identity, his face, his emotions, his ideology, his life; all of it to Big Boss. No one will ever know who he was, no one will ever know what he did. He will go down in history as a criminal, as a monster who instigated an armed uprising and almost brought the world to nuclear disaster.

And Venom accepts his mission. He convinces Solid Snake that he is the real Big Boss by feeding that information to Gray Fox and then by telling Snake himself. He gives killing Solid Snake an honest shot, but he also makes sure that if he goes down, everyone thinks it is Big Boss who went down.

By the way, did I make sure to tell you that I'm Big Boss? I'm also the commander of FOXHOUND. Please ignore my robot arm and horrible face stitches.
By the way, did I make sure to tell you that I'm Big Boss? I'm also the commander of FOXHOUND. Please ignore my robot arm and horrible face stitches.

The Metal Gear series is also about what controls people, what is passed down. Venom Snake passes down nothing, not his genes, not his memes, nothing. All of it is taken by Big Boss. In going through with Zero's scheme, Big Boss does exactly what he has always stood against: he used a soldier for his own gains. He is a hypocrite and a coward who erases one his best men from the face of history just to save his own ass.

Again, what does all of this have to do with MGSV?

MGSV completely recontextualizes everything we knew of Big Boss's and his life. Before the Big Boss trilogy (MGS3, PW, GZ/TPP) all we knew of him came from second-hand sources who were given information fabricated by Zero, Big Boss, and everyone else who worked to help build Big Boss's legend. We thought the goal of the Big Boss trilogy was to be a Darth Vader story, to show the man's fall from hero to villain. But Metal Gear is never so black and white. With MGSV, we see what the real intention of the Big Boss trilogy was: to deflate the legend. Big Boss was never a hero, was never a legendary soldier. What he built was built on the shoulders of countless others. He was also a hypocrite and egomaniac who imposed his own ideology on others, and ultimately, was no different from Zero. Thematically, Metal Gear is about ideology gone astray, how good intentions change and warp over time, corrupted by legends and ego. The Phantom Pain fits right into this, recontextualizing Big Boss's fall entirely into a man who became consumed by his own legend and ideology. Big Boss and Zero had competing ideologies, but they both fell prey to the same sinful desires. They made the same mistakes in life, and if the Patriot AI are the inheritors of Zero's will, then the Snakes are the inheritors of Big Boss's.

In MGS4, during his last moments, Big Boss realizes the mistakes he has made in life. He ends Zero and ends himself, voluntarily destroys their competing and destructive ideologies and legends so that they may not grow again. He tells Snake the lesson the Boss tried to impart on him so many years earlier: lay down your gun and live. No more legends, no more ideologies. Leave the world as it is and respect the will of others. That is exactly what Solid Snake does, thus making him and Big Boss antithetical to one another. Solid Snake was the true protagonist of this series, and with MGSV, we finally see how.

Big Boss's fall was never going to be him going on a rampage of vengeance
Big Boss's fall was never going to be him going on a rampage of vengeance

Here's my rough timeline of events as assembled by clues from MGSV and other games

  • Big Boss goes into a coma; Zero commissions his Phantom
  • Big Boss accepts this and builds Outer Heaven under a new identity. Venom Snake, under the identity of Big Boss, builds Diamond Dogs in Africa. MGSV happens.
  • Big Boss lets Venom Snake in on the plan and the two begin working together. Venom assumes a new identity and becomes leader of Outer Heaven; Big Boss resumes the title of Big Boss
  • Diamond Dogs, Big Boss, Ocelot, and Kaz fold into the US military/Cipher/Patriot structure. Big Boss becomes leader of FOXHOUND
  • The Outer Heaven uprising occurs; Venom Snake receives his final mission: to kill Solid Snake, or die for the Big Boss legend
  • Venom Snake accepts his mission and dies; Big Boss goes into hiding and builds Zanzibar Land
  • MG2 happens

I'm sad to see that it's over, but glad about how it went. Metal Gear Solid was the first game I ever played and beat on my own. I remember struggling with so much of it, my older brother watching and refusing to help, telling me that I have to do it on my own. I beat my head against the wall fighting Liquid and REX for days. My mother made some fucking good brownies on the day I defeated REX. She doesn't give a fuck about videogames, she just likes baking. However, playing the end of Meat Gear Solid as a 9 year old while eating some delicious brownies remains one of my favorite video games memories. This series is fucking stupid and I think about it too much, but I love it and if you can get past the bee men and convoluted plots and oftentimes clunky dialogue, there's something smart there at the core of it all.

Also, please don't take this post as some sort of proclamation that Kojima had all this shit planned out. I'm sure half the things I pointed out were pure accident, and though I do think Metal Gear tells a coherent story and delivers an understandable message, it does so in such a convoluted manner that you basically have to love it or hate it. He made it all up as he went along, but it does sort-of fit together.

I look forward to whatever comes next for Kojima and I'm glad this stupid, wonderful series got the chance to exist, and against all odds, had a chance to go out on a great note.

This is good, isn't it.
This is good, isn't it.

Feel free to add your own analysis, theories, and discussion here.

Edit Log

Yes, I have to keep a fucking change log for this thing. Thanks, Kojima.

  • I changed some stuff about Big Boss's motivations during Metal Gear 1 to better fit in with what we are presented in that game. What I was saying before was in contradiction to some of what was shown to us.
  • Added back in links to the Peace Walker videos. I tried to embed them, but failed miserably.
  • Fixed some typos and spelling stuff
  • Changed a portion early on where I erroneously said that it was real Big Boss standing in the reflection of the mirror. I was thrown off because Venom's robot arm collides with a real arm when the mirror shatters. I should probably learn how reflections work before trying to analyze all of Metal Gear. However, it's still a meaningful shot.
  • I made another gigantic post a little later covering some of the meta-commentary of MGSV. I'd like to point you towards my discussions about MGSV telling the story of the people who helped Big Boss from behind the scenes, because we as players are included in that list. In many ways, MGSV lets us tell our story in this game unlike any Metal Gear before.

Avatar image for strikealight
#2 Posted by StrikeALight (1270 posts) -

This is one crazy series (I lost the thread on it years ago). But I enjoyed your write-up.

Avatar image for colourful_hippie
#3 Posted by colourful_hippie (5906 posts) -

I won't be playing this till I'm back home from vacation but seriously people are already finished with this game? You people are crazy

Avatar image for teddie
#4 Posted by Teddie (2145 posts) -

Okay, I had a way more basic interpretation of the MG1 & 2 stuff. Miller says "screw Big Boss" after finding out about the Venom switch, and that he'll build up Venom and the other clones to be stronger than Big Boss. So I thought that meant Venom was Outer Heaven as it appears in MG1, and Big Boss wanteed to help Solid Snake take them out so they would never become a threat to his Outer Heaven, which is the nation that rises in MG2 (Zanzibarland). I expect that interpretation doesn't hold up to canon, though.

It's kind of a bummer that Kojima's out now, because there could have been a remake of MG1&2 that cleared all this up.

The weirdest thing about that twist is that nobody and everybody is the canon "Venom Snake". Am I part of Metal Gear canon now? I was actually pretty down on the story as a whole up until the twist-- not because I thought it was a great twist, but because it gave me an excuse to say "Oh well that wasn't really Big Boss so it makes sense that everything felt off and un-Metal-Gear-like". I doubt that was intended, but the post-twist stuff (including the tapes you get from completing Episode 46) felt like the good ol' Metal Gear I was expecting going into the game.

I probably will go back and play some more stuff, but it also kind of kills my desire to go all completionist on the game. It sort of makes everything seem meaningless, and perhaps that's why they made it so difficult to unlock those last few episodes (also see: losing Quiet permanently, including her R&D stuff I spent heaps of GMP developing, and if there's anything attached to completing R&D on every item I'll never be able to complete that now anyway).

The stuff with Huey in this game is insane. What a complete 180 of what he was in Peace Walker (just a clone of Otacon, basically). The lies upon lies, murdering Strangelove, (implied) trying to wipe out Big Boss & co. repeatedly, putting his baby son in a Metal Gear... what an utter piece of trash. At least it explains why he offed himself eventually (Ocelot's "what goes around comes around" was a nice reminder that he wasn't getting "another chance" when they exiled him).

Also I kind of hate that Chico and Amanda just get waved away in a cassette tape (I'm not even sure what happened to Amanda, although she probably died in some horrible way like everyone else who doesn't reappear in this game). I though (based on Kojima saying it was in the game) you'd go back to Camp Omega for some old fashioned heart string tugging, but as far as I know that never came to fruition (an even bigger bummer when Kojima was out there saying it would do something "only possible in a video game", but whatever that meant never happened).

Avatar image for utamaru
#5 Posted by utamaru (139 posts) -

I'm just throwing this out there, but didn't Huey have Hideo's "eyegear" when he was tossed out in the boat, screaming how he's the only one sane there? All he was trying to do was build the best Metal Gear.

And did the Code Talker's foreshadowing about "The Eyes of Miller" ever actually happen? The ending in general feels.. off...

Avatar image for teddie
#6 Posted by Teddie (2145 posts) -

Oh also, after the twist is revealed I guess that scene in the hospital where the guy with bandages on his face pees himself is actually Big Boss peeing himself.

What a way to end the series.

Avatar image for jazzylament
#7 Posted by JazzyLament (130 posts) -

@teddie: That was an IV bag. Like many things in the game, its a red herring that calls back to what you know about metal gear and recontextualizing it.

Avatar image for lanechanger
#8 Posted by Lanechanger (1685 posts) -

@thefantasticfillip: I just got the ending ending, nice write-up man! I'll have to go and watch a youtube video of that ending again but that's some crazy detail you noticed with the time shift! One of the things I didn't buy regarding the ending was how a medic is able to pull off tactical espionage on the level of "big boss" though, but your explanation of it the big boss name being all hype anyways made it work. I do have one thing that I'm wondering about though:

  • Diamond Dogs, Big Boss, Ocelot, and Kaz fold into the US military/Cipher/Patriot structure. Big Boss becomes leader of FOXHOUND <-- why does Kaz work with big boss again? he hates him after what happened
Avatar image for yurimegumi
#9 Posted by yurimegumi (121 posts) -

@thefantasticfillip:

  • Diamond Dogs, Big Boss, Ocelot, and Kaz fold into the US military/Cipher/Patriot structure. Big Boss becomes leader of FOXHOUND <-- why does Kaz work with big boss again? he hates him after what happened

Kaz doesn't work with Big Boss. In Metal Gear 2 he's a survival consultant on FOXHOUND for Snake against Big Boss.

Avatar image for deactivated-5a55abbb2b8a9
#10 Edited by deactivated-5a55abbb2b8a9 (185 posts) -

Before I talk about the ending, I think this story works well with PW. PW made the whole base and characters feel very much like a family. Now in TTP, you learn about everyone's fates, and the mood is far more desperate. The best story piece I found was the Paz stuff.....brutal.

A lot of people are disappointed that we were tricked into thinking we would play as BB. However, Big Boss, has always been an idea. Big Boss is a concept. There is Big Boss we play as in 3 and PW, but he doesnt live up to the idea and legend of BB.

What has been boiled into us since MGS is that Big Boss is something to strive for. Liquid wanted to emulate him, because having his Genes isnt enough. Passing in Big Bosses Memes is only part of it. Even Solidus wants to surpass Big Boss. Its something he strives for. The Scene doesnt matter, it shapes a person but even Big Boss wasnt fully shaped by operation snake eater, it wasnt until Peace Walkers events that he accepted the moniker. By then, the idea of Big Boss had already grown into something even greater.

A character as you shape him, takes on the role of Big Boss. He does things youd expect the real Big Boss would do, until the reveal he is Big Boss all things considered. Big Boss is an idea. Like language it is something that varies between people. Big Boss is a warmonger, a traitor, a murderer, a leader, a soldier, a mentor. Its an idea Zero wanted to keep alive. He calls him a friend, but truth is it mightve been more of an obsession.

Big Boss is an idea.

By Liquid, Solidus, Ocelot it was something to strive for. Solid Snake knew the truth and rejected the idea of Big Boss. He was just another murderer.

This game solidifies Solid Snake as a character whilst making his brothers look the fool.

"There is more to remember than rage and hatred........But of course this is just you thinking that i should think that"

"I'm just a phantom, A fragment of the mind you lost"

V Snake is a very messed up individual. He has multiple personalities. His reasoning for wanting to take down Big Boss (hinted towards) around the time of MG1 is brilliant. I personally loved the story =/

Edit: I mean people are upset over not playing as big boss, but who is he anymore? During the end of PW, you can start to see he isn't the person from MGS3 anymore. The game is trying to tell us that we are all big boss. It's a title. V Snake has all the training and experiences of the real big boss. You are just playing as his phantom.

Avatar image for tothenines
#11 Edited by ToTheNines (1672 posts) -

An excellent excellent write up, it answers so many of my questions. I have one left though, so from what you gather ahab gets the final order to die for big boss legacy at solid snakes hands, but decides to blow big bosses cover instead. My question is, wouldn't he do that regardless if he is to purposefully die by solid snake killing him? Since he looks and sounds identical to the real big boss? Thanks for the information dump!

Avatar image for teddie
#13 Posted by Teddie (2145 posts) -

Oh, thinking back on it, did they ever do anything with the bone/teeth fragments that were found in Venom? I was expecting some crazy thing like a person surviving as a phantom inside Venom. Maybe that's why he had those visions of Paz (although I think they gave a reason for that in one of the tapes and it wasn't that)?

@jazzylament: That is a way funnier thing that went completely over my head. I just thought the soldier was kicking out a poster or something.

Avatar image for nta_luciana
#14 Posted by NTA_Luciana (411 posts) -

I haven't read a lot of articles explaining how MGSV fits into the larger canon, but I feel safe saying that this is one of the best articles explaining how MGSV fits into the larger canon.

Avatar image for oldirtybearon
#16 Posted by Oldirtybearon (5626 posts) -

Just finished this game a few minutes ago and I'm rattled. I heard there was a big twist buried in the second chapter, but I didn't know the details. Now... fuck.

It makes a lot of sense. I can see why people are angry, but it's so well executed that I can't be angry about it. It makes perfect sense. Some of it felt like forced course correction mainly because everyone fell in love with Big Boss/Naked Snake due to 3, and it seems like, to me, Kojima wanted to remind people that no, he's a bad guy. He's always been a bad guy, and Solid Snake was in the right all along when it came to Big Boss.

I guess I'll spoiler block the more detailed opinion.

For me the twist that you're not Big Boss, you're his "phantom" is disappointing on a personal level. It's disappointing because I really, really like Big Boss. I like him a hell of a lot more than Solid Snake or Raiden. I think he's the most human protagonist of the Metal Gear games, and I love/d playing as him in these games. I recognize everything that MGSV is saying with regards to legends, cults of personality, and ideology gone awry. I recognize it and even applaud it because there is some really fascinating reads on these themes in the game. It's a hell of a lot smarter about what it's saying than MGS4 was, and I can appreciate that.

And yet I still can't help but feel a little bummed out that we didn't really play the Fall of Big Boss. It was such a romanticized, ideological wonder of the Metal Gear canon that propelled so many plots and motivations that I can't help but feel a little cheated by what MGSV actually is. It's a wonderful game and I can't wait to wrap up the remaining side ops and do a second playthrough, just going from episode to episode to see how a proper Metal Gear pace changes the story for me, but... I don't know. Mixed feelings. On an intellectual level I think Kojima knocked it out of the park, then over the parking lot and across the street, but I can't kill this feeling of disappointment all the same. I guess I know what people felt like when Solid Snake was switched to Raiden (MGS2 was my first Metal Gear), now, so that's something.

It's a wonderful game. I love this game. It blew my fucking mind in a few spots, and it actually managed to answer the series long question of Who Killed Master Miller? (HINT: it was Ocelot)

MGSV to me is like Book Seven of The Dark Tower series. The Prologue and Chapter One are everything that was promised, and in the end justice is served and phantoms are avenged, and then there's the Coda, where the author is pleading with you to turn back because the only thing that lies ahead is heartbreak. Just like when I read the final Dark Tower book in 2004, I didn't listen, and goddamn it, I'm heartbroken.

Avatar image for homelessviking
#17 Edited by homelessviking (55 posts) -
@oldirtybearon said:

And yet I still can't help but feel a little bummed out that we didn't really play the Fall of Big Boss.

You did though, but just one half of the Big Boss persona. If you're bummed about not playing as John/Jack/Naked Snake, I understand, but he doesn't "exist" by this point anyway. Arguably, much like medic dies and becomes Big Boss, Naked Snake died to become his own part of the Big Boss legend. We played through the fall (or, the bgeginning of the fall) of the entire Big Boss legend. It'd be like playing a game where we take on the roll of a non-Bruce Wayne Batman who turns evil and tarnishes the name. It wouldn't matter that we weren't in Bruce Wayne, because Batman is bigger than Bruce Wayne, much like how Big Boss is bigger than Naked Snake. Instead, in this case we're taking Big Boss from heroic leader to rutheless mercenary. We played as Big Boss and that's what matters

Naked Snake never "fell" in that regard; like Fillip details in his write up, Naked Snake's deception was subtle. He still had a hand to play in the fall of the Big Boss legend, but it wasn't his hand directly. And really, it was always our hand, in reality, that was doing these things anyway.

Big Boss, Venom Snake, Naked Nake, Solid Snake, Raiden... they're all the same person... They're you, maaaaaaan.

Avatar image for bouldernozzle
#18 Posted by Bouldernozzle (19 posts) -

I think the only thing that I'm angry about is the lack of a conclusion on the whole Eli stealing the metal gear shit. Unless I missed something.

Avatar image for burban_snake
#19 Posted by BurBan_Snake (422 posts) -

@jtr1234 said:

I think the only thing that I'm angry about is the lack of a conclusion on the whole Eli stealing the metal gear shit. Unless I missed something.

Go youtube mission 51. its cut content

Avatar image for sargemcd
#20 Edited by SargeMcD (101 posts) -

EDIT: Ah, just listened to a tape that answered my quesiton.

I love the idea of a body double. Kind of turns the ITS A CLONE trope on its head a bit.

Avatar image for redhotchilimist
#21 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2963 posts) -

I called this from the first scene, of course you're not playing Big Boss when you have face surgery in the first fifteen minutes. The guy with much better fighting skills than you, and a much better butt, but the same voice and a bandaged head was a dead giveaway too. It gets even more obvious later on, when people don't recognize you very well, and Snake doesn't react to things like the AI pod. My complaint is: Who cares? I mean, TheFantasticFilip does, good for you. To me, this is the dumbest twist I've seen in a real long time. It changes nothing about the game, and feels completely irrelevant to the conflict. It just seems like a twist for the sake of having one. Here's my own story's exciting final beats:

- The villain, Skullface, and his main supernatural weapon, the man on fire, are defeated by his subordinate/weird helper(Psycho Mantis) betraying him to conspire with a child soldier(Liquid), some little ass who's gonna be a good villain in about ten years. Skullface's identity is revealed in tapes. He's some jerk agent who defected from Russia and he must really have hated Mother Base.

- There's a kick-ass fight with Sahelanthropus controlled by PM and Liquid

- Venom Snake collects all of his villains and gathers them on the base. The man of fire is revealed to have been Volgin. This has no impact and changes nothing in the story, and he has no speaking lines or activates again to have an actual boss fight.

- Quiet is tortured, and is revealed to have been sent by Skull Face but came over because of admiration for Venom Snake

- Liquid kills a kid and sends the rest of them on their way, and when you do a ton of missions to get them all back he and PM escapes with Sahelanthropus AND all the kids, never to be seen again.

- I get a mission to rescue Hideo Kojima, Intel Agent, and drop him off a rooftop in the process(It was an accident).

- Code Walker and Kaz talk excitdly about burgers on tape

- The parasites mutate and Venom Snake kills a bunch of his men in a really freaky and good sequence

- Evidence is presented that Emmerich really is a piece of shit, even if he didn't do any of the other stuff he might have done, he definitely murdered the mother of his child. He is then sent packing to survive until he kills himself.

- Paz was some dumb illusion, and Kaz and Ocelot being there originally must have been part of really amazing self-delusion. The imaginary tapes were something else, too. I like to imagine Venom Snake making the voice himself.

- Venom Snake/Big Boss twist is revealed in a flashback and with a tape playing while Venom is in front of a mirror.

- Game is over(Never be game over)

- There is no further mention of Code Talker, Quiet, or anyone else besides Kaz and Ocelot talking about the events of MGS1.

What am I supposed to say to that? I'm sure some of what I'm looking for might be in missions I missed(I have yet to see 45, and I've heard Quiet has a rough time in it) or in cut content(The mission 51 cutscene is out there, I'm gonna watch that immediately), but ultimately I'm really disappointed. I think this story is plain bad. It's well told, and it's savage, and at times it manages to be real scary. But in truth, it's just a proxy war with people bearing the names of people in other games, but none of their actual character. All across the board. The gameplay was better than ever, and it was a real fun ride, but at the end of the journey, I think MGSV just has a plain poor story. Or rather, a weak resolution? I'm annoyed, and frustrated, and feel like I did those dumb repeat missions for a fat load of shit I figured out on my own, five minutes in. What was it all for? What was up with Volgin's fiery horse, whale and bird? Who REALLY felt The Pain's explanation of using a Queen Bee to control his bees wasn't good enough? Why does this game cover a completely bloody irrelevant part of Big Boss' career while all of the actual stuff we're told about the past(Like the conflict with Zero, the establishing of the Patriots) only happens between games? Where are all my boss fights? The twist that gets screentime at the end and the beginning leaves the status quo in the exact same place: Big boss turned into a dick. It's not a revelation for me that he was a dick in a slightly more boring way, by pulling the strings of a body double who's doing stuff we never knew that he had done in the first place!

I was really into people strapped to tables with incisions in their throat and radio receivers through their necks with radios hanging like IV drips next to them, though.

Avatar image for lanechanger
#22 Posted by Lanechanger (1685 posts) -

I just listened to the truth records tape, which if you saw the ending cutscene but haven't listened to yet, you should really listen to it. It paints zero as more of a tragic/sympathetic figure, I kinda felt for the guy after those last few conversations with him.

Avatar image for mrtaste
#23 Edited by mrtaste (43 posts) -

@thefantasticfillip: "the last image we see in the game is Big Boss walking with his back towards us into darkness."

before he (real big boss) turns to walk away he has the horn (metal) in his head as well though? i agree with you on it being big boss since in the reflection his hand isn't the terminator arm like Venom snake, but why does the real big boss have the horn too? unless im missing something since on the bike the real big boss has no metal since he never had any.

Edit: but then again it is a mirror so everything is "flipped" still the metal confuses me.

Avatar image for itsthat01guy
#24 Edited by ItsThat01Guy (70 posts) -

it's because the "real" big boss is just a combination of all the qualities of the people who created him.

the "real" big boss turns and walks away from venom snake, representing the legend of big boss leaving him behind and continuing on after venom snake, one of the creators and carriers of the legend, rejects it.

actually, I have no idea.

Avatar image for novadth
#25 Edited by novadth (238 posts) -

I'm glad to see people here not just shitting on the ending, I've seen a whole lot of people just hating the game because of the twist at the end but I personally love it.

It changes who Naked Snake is completely, no longer is he the heir to The Boss' throne, this incredible soldier who only lives to serve their country. In my mind, he becomes the phantom. A man working from behind the scenes, pulling strings, so that he can make sure that his idolized vision of the world can be a reality, based on what he (wrongly) believes was The Boss' will.

A lot of people seem to be bummed we didn't see this great sadistic twist for him, where he's stabbing kids in the face, but I feel given MGS' history, this is a much more villainous twist for him. We expect people to do sick and twisted shit in this series, but to have a beloved character let some random medic take his name, his legacy, so that he can hide out and work towards his goals free of having a target on his back, it almost makes him a coward - what better way to twist his character?

I'm not sure if my feelings make any sense whatsoever, but I fucking love the twist, it basically throws Naked Snake into the same category as Cipher/Zero/The Patriots, with Solid and The Boss clearly being in the opposing camp.

Granted, there are quite a few unanswered questions, which I assume is due to cut content/MGS being MGS. But I'm incredibly content with this being the final chapter of the series.

Avatar image for reflexroar
#26 Edited by Reflexroar (8 posts) -

I like the medic twist a fair amount, but the real reason why I'm disappointed is the games build up was all about the fall of Big Boss, yet in game we don't see him do anything worthy of "In Outer Heaven men become demons" Or any of the other trailer work that painted this game as the penultimate dark chapter of the entire saga. Having seen the cut chapter 51 cutscene and what the ending of the game would have been I can't say I'm anything but disappointed in the story in this game. Chapter 1 of the game was pretty fantastic, lots of build up with skullface, a conclusion with Sahalenthropus that was great. Once you hit Chapter 2 it becomes incredibly apparent that the game had almost the entire 2nd and final act chopped to pieces.

I think the Medic twist could have been handled a lot better too, the prologue spoils the shit out of it. Same VA for Ishamael and you, "You're talking to yourself", Ishamael is acting as your CO "on your feet soldier", Big boss like tips for healing. And then Ocelots lines are all directed at you as if you weren't Boss.

Still a stellar game well worth the time to play. But man I can't help but feel like we missed out on so much more.

Avatar image for redhotchilimist
#27 Edited by Redhotchilimist (2963 posts) -

It's more like postgame Dragon's Dogma than a second act. Having seen the unfinished stuff for mission 51 now, I'm not that mad anymore. It's sad that it ended up in the state it's in(the cut content is in fact the ending to the conflict), but it's Konami's fault in the end, I suppose.

My larger complaint is that while there are a lot of excuses and thematic reasons for characters to be grim and silent and feel like pretenders, I don't think that those things add up to a better game. Except for not talking a lot in the open world, which is an undeniable positive. Kaz got on my nerves in the end.

But anyway, while I was pissed off while writing that last post, I wanna say that I don't actually dislike the game. I wouldn't play, what, 90 hours in a week if I did. This payoff, and a lot of the story in general, just wasn't what I'm looking for.

Avatar image for liquidus
#28 Posted by Liquidus (993 posts) -

I'm really torn on how I feel about this ending. Maybe it's just because Big Boss is my favorite character in the series and yeah, he's not a hero, he's a tragic villain. So I kinda like what I saw Venom Snake go through in this game emotionally but then the twist that nah, that was someone else and you were being used by the real Big Boss all along just feels unsatisfying? I don't know. The character switch in MGS2 makes perfect sense and I feel like MGSV tries to rekindle some of that but perhaps isn't as focused? I think I might just need sometime to come around to it.

Avatar image for finstern
#29 Edited by Finstern (791 posts) -

Has anyone managed to get a clean rip of the "MSX" tape and tried to make an image from it? Would it work/do something?

Avatar image for yurimegumi
#30 Edited by yurimegumi (121 posts) -

@oldirtybearon said:

it actually managed to answer the series long question of Who Killed Master Miller? (HINT: it was Ocelot)

Liquid tells you in the first game that he himself killed Miller, thats not a mystery.

Avatar image for liquidus
#31 Posted by Liquidus (993 posts) -

@oldirtybearon said:

it actually managed to answer the series long question of Who Killed Master Miller? (HINT: it was Ocelot)

Liquid tells you in the first game that he himself killed Miller, thats not a mystery.

Eh, Liquid liked to boast and fuck with Solid Snake, I think it's total possible that Ocelot was the one who killed Miller and Liquid just gave the order.

Avatar image for nta_luciana
#32 Posted by NTA_Luciana (411 posts) -

Having thought about it a bit, I'm ok with the idea that BB has a body double, but it's the fact that it's the damn medic from GZ that's really throwing me for a loop here. Like seriously? That's the guy you're gonna hang this huge aspect of the lore on? This damn nobody who doesn't even have a proper name?

Avatar image for moonshadow101
#33 Edited by Moonshadow101 (756 posts) -
@lucien_lachance said:

Having thought about it a bit, I'm ok with the idea that BB has a body double, but it's the fact that it's the damn medic from GZ that's really throwing me for a loop here. Like seriously? That's the guy you're gonna hang this huge aspect of the lore on? This damn nobody who doesn't even have a proper name?

Half of the characters in this series don't have names other than their code names. And for the half that DO have "real" names, those names typically don't matter at all.

Avatar image for nta_luciana
#34 Posted by NTA_Luciana (411 posts) -

@moonshadow101: Code names count as proper names IMO. They give them identity. Not like "Medic." It's like if Solid Snake was just "Army Spy Dude."

Avatar image for teddie
#35 Posted by Teddie (2145 posts) -

@lucien_lachance: I dunno, it's kind of cool that they took a tropey twist and presented it in a way that only an interactive medium could. I wish more games would experiment with stuff like this (this game in particular is full of crazy systems and a million different ways for everything to interact with everything else, so it sucks that all that tech is left to rot and wither with Konami).

Also, it's not really supposed to be "The Medic" as a character. His name is whatever you put in, he looks like whatever you wanted him to look like. He could even be your "phantom". I get that it's not as satisfying from a narrative perspective, but it's definitely satisfying from a "hey videogames" perspective. Or at least, it was for me.

Avatar image for nta_luciana
#36 Posted by NTA_Luciana (411 posts) -

@teddie: I just think it would have been way better if they had given him a name and a face, so when you see it it's like "Oh shit, it's that character." Not "That's the guy I created. Huh. Weird."

As Vinny would say, lemme ask you this:

What if the medic was Raiden's dad?

Avatar image for moonshadow101
#37 Posted by Moonshadow101 (756 posts) -

@lucien_lachance: His codename is Punished "Venom" Snake. That's his identity. That's the point.

Avatar image for nta_luciana
#38 Posted by NTA_Luciana (411 posts) -

@moonshadow101: But he only became that after the coma. He was effectively a non-person before that. By giving him an actual face and name, it would have made him seem a little more like an un-non-person. A, uh... person, if you will.

Avatar image for soulcake
#39 Edited by soulcake (2785 posts) -

Just finished the game, and i feel like reusing everything to make you're game look longer is pretty lame. The Final Swerve was pretty cool, but killing of your'e main bad guy in the half point of the game make's this game suffer, with no new "real" threat not even going after Cipher just fucking voice bug's ! the second act feels forced making it almost obsolete. See You in Metal Gear 6 where no questions will be answered.

Avatar image for brotherbran
#40 Posted by BrotherBran (287 posts) -

I had a lot of theories about this from the prologue, but the way people had been talking about the story i was worried it wasnt going to happen. SOOO glad it went this way, really enjoyed theorizing with you dudes about it in other threads and yea i called it, i mean quiet literally says, "not yet the patient in the next bed saw my face" she wasnt there for you then this guy who is obviously snake jumps on her.

Oh @teddie, i have seen a late game mission called "secure quiet" so maybe shes not gone forever.

Avatar image for mikelemmer
#41 Posted by MikeLemmer (1534 posts) -

So regarding Zero, I heard he ends up going against the Patriots he created once he realizes they're out of control. That true?

Avatar image for soulcake
#42 Edited by soulcake (2785 posts) -

@mikelemmer: He got alzheimer's and is transferring he's mind to a AI. its revealed in a tape you get. After beating the game.

Avatar image for infantpipoc
#43 Posted by infantpipoc (291 posts) -

As soon as I knew that there are 2 Big Bosses, my reaction was so Solid Snake killed the fake one in the original Metal Gear.

Avatar image for grixxel
#44 Posted by Grixxel (921 posts) -

@thefantasticfillip:

Awesome write up! I'm extremely sad this is the end of Metal Gear. I always wanted at least one more game with Solid but I guess it ain't gonna happen at this point.

Also ... venom not being BB the reason why david hayter did not get picked for the voice acting? I think Kiefer did a great job but in the end it still bothered me. All those years of hearing the same voice screwed me up.

Avatar image for infantpipoc
#45 Posted by infantpipoc (291 posts) -

@mikelemmer: "Everything eventually gets out of hand for everyone" would be my answer to the question "What's Metal Gear series in a nutshell".

Avatar image for marc
#46 Posted by marc (860 posts) -

Me one big thought on the ending: I love it. It also goes back to making Solid Snake the true hero of the entire series. The one man who didn't buy into his own legend. The one man who always tried to do the right thing. The fall of Big Boss happened, just in a way we never saw coming. The only bummer is we won't ever see any Kojima-made MG1 and MG2 remakes to truly see this Venom Snake story arch fleshed out other than a timeline entry in the end credits. But that is no fault of MGSV, that is a fault of Konami.

Avatar image for sinjunb
#47 Edited by sinjunb (184 posts) -

The whole plot in this was a big dissapointment for me.

At least it makes sense why Venom didn't behave like Big Boss at all troughout the whole game, being somber and quiet throughout - since he was just his fucking body double. The few moments of Ishmael we get have Big Boss actually acting like Big Boss, which was cool, but ultimately the entire thing with Skull Face and the epidemic etc. was just stupid and boring. MGS is usually stupid, but never boring. There weren't even any huge amazing moments I can think of, besides fighting the Metal Gear and Skull Face's death. It was all just so flat, it might have had some of the best gameplay of the series but MGS4 is far more memorable in every way. The structure of V is all sorts of messed up, too. Skull Face isn't developed at all until his exposition dump and that terribly awkward Sins of the Father music cue where you both just stare at eachother (what the fuck was that?), and almost immediately after that he dies. Not only is his whole plan really dumb (kill the English language? really?), but he's taken out of the picture right after we start learning stuff about him, and then the rest of the game is just dealing with the epidemic stuff and Liquid sabotaging things whenever he can. There's no stakes and no reason to care about any of it, unless you really love epidemic plots or something.

Also, the Venom reveal was a perfect opportunity to get Hayter to voice the real BB. Kiefer still did a good job at making the two sound different enough, though.

Avatar image for grixxel
#48 Posted by Grixxel (921 posts) -

Having thought about it a bit, I'm ok with the idea that BB has a body double, but it's the fact that it's the damn medic from GZ that's really throwing me for a loop here. Like seriously? That's the guy you're gonna hang this huge aspect of the lore on? This damn nobody who doesn't even have a proper name?

It's not so much as "hey it was the medic all along!" it's more like Kojima going "and now ... -you- are Big Boss!" to the player. It's a bit subtle and I can see why alot of peeps on the internet are being super dismissive of the whole thing. You kinda have to squint your eyes at it, put way too much thought into it and give the whole (and by whole I mean the entire series) convoluted story some slack. In the end it's a fucking Metal Gear game and it all makes perfect sense within it's own bullshit universe.

Avatar image for sinjunb
#49 Edited by sinjunb (184 posts) -

@grixxel: That might work for people new to the franchise, but it falls apart when taken in context with the whole series. It takes it to the point of asking myself why I ever cared about the writing in these games in the first place. Might be a good thing if someone other than Kojima makes the next one, because over and over again during this it just felt like Kojima has lost it.

Avatar image for brotherbran
#50 Posted by BrotherBran (287 posts) -

@sinjunb: I don't feel that way and I'm not new to the series, I feel like this is a very Kojima thing to do. It wraps up a lot of stuff, almost like he's been stewing over the criticism of fighting big boss again in metal gear 2 all these years and had a chance to justify it. Moreover the game is fucking fun. The parasite stuff is weak I'll admit, but from the prologue and the entire plot with the inner circle dealing with hiding him was great

This edit will also create new pages on Giant Bomb for:

Beware, you are proposing to add brand new pages to the wiki along with your edits. Make sure this is what you intended. This will likely increase the time it takes for your changes to go live.

Comment and Save

Until you earn 1000 points all your submissions need to be vetted by other Giant Bomb users. This process takes no more than a few hours and we'll send you an email once approved.