Hideo Kojima, best known as the creative lead behind the Metal Gear franchise, is perhaps second-best known for his overtly cinematic style of storytelling.
However, when Gamasutra paid a visit to the opening of Kojima Productions' new Los Angeles studio yesterday evening, it felt like the developer was eager to turn over a new leaf. Perhaps not completely -- the live demo of Metal Gear Solid 5 on display is still weighed down by overwritten exposition and the nigh-incomprehensible amounts of in-universe mythology the franchise has accumulated over the past 25 years -- but enough so to almost feel risky.
Gone are the codec conversations and pre-rendered cutscenes. The new Metal Gear resembles nothing so much as Assassin's Creed spliced with Splinter Cell. Open-world gameplay reigns supreme, even within the tiny sandbox of MGS5's tutorial chapter, and even during story moments, Kojima says, the camera is inclined to stay with the player.
"In the past, the games of the Metal Gear franchise have all been saying 'here is the story,'" Kojima said during the presentation's Q&A. In MGS5, however, "It's their decision to carry the game."
It's an interesting proposition because Kojima wasn't exactly saying the game's story will have branching paths -- or if he was, that has yet to be emphasized in any of the preview materials. Rather, going off what was shown in the demo and Kojima's own descriptions of MGS5's open-world gameplay ("It's more like a TV show, with each mission like an episode"), he appeared more interested in having the player enact the game's narrative at their own pace and discretion.
It's not entirely revolutionary -- but it's a step in a different direction for the core franchise.
"I want to minimize the experience of playing a game," Kojima said later on in the presentation. He referred specifically to the absence of most of the series' traditional HUD elements, but to dispensing with its narrative interjections as well -- the other 'gamey' bits.
"Here, player choice is number one."
More to come.