After obsessively watching the awesome Metal Gear Solid V E3 trailer over and over again, I noticed that a lot of people had questions concerning the game’s story. Questions like “Wait a second, who is that?”, “Wasn’t he a bad guy?” and so on and so forth. So for your benefit, I decided to do a brief summary on everything you need to know about Metal Gear Solid V‘s story. Just sit back, relax, and try to remember the basics of CQC.

(Spoilers for Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker and Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes ahead)

Who Is Big Boss?


Big Boss is a legendary soldier in the Metal Gear series with numerous accomplishments to his name, including saving countless lives by stopping a nuclear missile crisis between the USA and Russia. Big Boss has been called the perfect soldier, but no longer fights for any country after being forced to kill his mentor, The Boss.

Alongside Kazuhira Miller, he formed a private army (Militaires Sans Frontières) to help those in need. Big Boss suffered traumautic injuries at the end of Ground Zeroes after his HQ was bombed by a rival organisation. The Phantom Pain begins with Big Boss waking from a coma and seeking revenge for this attack.

Who Is Shalashaska?


Shalashaska (a.k.a. ADAM, a.k.a. Revolver Ocelot) was one of Big Boss’s former rivals turned close friends. Ocelot made his debut in Metal Gear Solid 3 as one of Naked Snake’s (Big Boss) arch rivals and an amazing dueller who accidentally shot Naked Snake’s eye during a torture sequence, causing him to wear the iconic eye patch we know and love today.

At the end of MGS3, it is revealed that Ocelot is actually one of the good guys and on the same side as Big Boss, despite trying to shoot him multiple times. Ocelot looks up to Big Boss and is practically obsessed with him, always trying to gain his approval.

Why Is Ocelot Helping Big Boss?


As I said before, Ocelot is rather obsessed with Big Boss. While the details of Big Boss waking up from his coma are still to be revealed in The Phantom Pain, it makes sense that Ocelot would show up when Big Boss is at his weakest and offer him a helping hand to escape. Big Boss is not a guy to hold grudges, so Ocelot’s assistance in a difficult time would likely be welcomed.

Ocelot helps Big Boss again by giving him intel on the whereabouts of Kaz Miller (Snake’s second in command) as well as helping to rebuild Mother Base and create the new mercenary group, Diamond Dogs. Just why is Ocelot helping Snake though? Who knows? Perhaps Ocelot has a plan to cross Snake or maybe he just wants to help Snake achieve his vengeance.

What Is Mother Base/Diamond Dogs?


Militaires Sans Frontieres is a private military corporation set up by Big Boss in 1970. They recruited soldiers to provide a military force for anyone who needed one, literally becoming an “Army Without Borders”. Mother Base is MSF’s HQ. While it is shown briefly in Ground Zeroes, Mother Base was painstakingly built up by the player in Peace Walker.

With Miller’s help, Big Boss created the offshore base to help train his soldiers for spec-ops and the like. At the end of Ground Zeroes, Mother Base is destroyed along with hundreds of military personnel. All of Snake and Miller’s hard work was turned into a burning pile of rubble and MSF was no more.


With the help of Ocelot, Big Boss and Miller formed a new group, Diamond Dogs, from the ashes of MSF, with the same goals to perform any military operation with pride and efficiency. The ashes of operatives from MSF were condensed into small diamonds and given to the new operatives to act, using Miller’s words, as “a shining light to our brothers in arms, even in death”.

As an interesting side note, Diamond Dogs is a concept album by David Bowie, one of Hideo Kojima’s favourite musicians, and Kojima originally wanted to open The Phantom Pain with the album’s title track.

Who are Cipher? Who are XOF?


Cipher is a codename for The Patriots, a secret organisation that had gained control of the USA by the 1990s. Big Boss was once a member of Cipher alongside Ocelot, but left the group because of mounting tensions with the group’s leader, Zero.

Zero was behind the “Les Enfants Terribles” project which extracted DNA from Big Boss (without his knowledge) to create clones that would become the perfect soldier. The clones eventually came to be known as Liquid Snake, Solid Snake and Solidus Snake. When Big Boss learned about the project, he left Cipher in disgust. Cipher will do anything to get Big Boss back into their organisation and engaged Paz Ortega as a double agent in MSF during Peace Walker to achieve this goal.

So, who are XOF? XOF are a proxy organisation of Cipher. They are the lead enemy in Ground Zeroes and are under the command of Skull Face  a shady character who we have yet to learn more about. XOF executed their Trojan Horse operation in Ground Zeroes by posing as a UN nuclear inspection team, launching an attack on Mother Base. They were successful and completely destroyed the base, severely injuring Kaz Miller and Big Boss. We’re almost certain to learn more about XOF and Skull Face in The Phantom Pain.

Why does Big Boss have a horn?


Big Boss was severely injured after the events of Ground Zeroes. Along with losing most of his arm, it has been suggested that a huge piece of shrapnel has become lodged into his head. We don’t know exactly what damage this has caused Big Boss, but The Phantom Pain is said to include Big Boss’s transformation into a “demon”. It is suggested that this shrapnel horn is symbolic of Big Boss’s inner turmoil or inner demons bursting forth, but that supposition has not yet been confirmed.

What does “V Has Come To” mean?


“V Has Come To” is a caption in one of the trailers for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. This means that Big Boss has awoken from his coma and the “venom” of his revenge has also awakened. Big Boss is called Venom Snake in The Phantom Pain, presumably because his lust for revenge has awoken, and he will seek the (V)enom of revenge.


Hopefully that helped set the scene for what happens in The Phantom Pain. Big Boss is out for revenge and aims to rebuild MSF  in the form of Diamond Dogs with the help of Ocelot and Kaz. Whether Big Boss is aiming to take down XOF or Cipher first remains to be seen, but be sure that The Phantom Pain will deliver a whirlwind of exciting espionage.

Got a question about The Phantom Pain? Need a hand clearing up some confusion? Leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to answer it as best as I possibly can. For all things Metal Gear, be sure to follow us on Facebook and like us on Twitter.


Nathan Hughes
Follow me on Twitter ( for more nonsense.

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1 Comment

  1. Thank you for this. I read up about the Metal Gear history every time I see a new trailer as I always forget who is who with the whirlwind of confusing information. Absolutely adore this series though. Hideo is a mad genius.

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