Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is one of the most anticipated games coming out of 2015. If you are planning to jump into the series for the first time with the upcoming title, however, you will be missing out on a lot, especially when it comes to the game’s story. Below, you can find a list of Metal Gear games for newcomers to play before diving into The Phantom Pain.
If you are short on cash and/or time, you can skip the rest of the Metal Gear series and focus on three essential games, all of which are set prior to the events of the sequel, before playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain.
Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater – Snake Eater is the first game in the Metal Gear timeline as it follows the exploits of Naked Snake before he became known as Big Boss. In terms of gameplay, the third main installment in the series is drastically different when compared to The Phantom Pain. With that said, it is still an excellent game in its own right and is still considered to be the best installment of the franchise to this day by many fans.
The easiest way to acquire Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater is through the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection, which was released for the PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PlayStation Vita. You can check out the compilation with this link.
Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker – Set several years after the events of Snake Eater was Peace Walker. The original handheld game laid the foundation to the evolved gameplay elements found in Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain. While you can beat the game in single-player, we highly suggest playing cooperatively as some of the boss fights are especially tough when playing alone without the right weapons and equipment.
Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes – The last of the essential games to play prior to Phantom Pain is Ground Zeroes, which is set in between Peace Walker and the upcoming title. This short game expands on the elements introduced in Peace Walker and applied them to a massive open-world environment. Thus, it serves as a perfect bridge between the two mainline installments.
You can purchase a physical version of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (which is out on the PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, PS3 and PC) with this page.
If you have more time and/or cash, you might also want to check out the other mainline Metal Gear installments. These titles are optional as they take place after the events of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. With that said, the games are still great in their own right and will delve deeper into the lore of the gaming franchise.
Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake – Before Metal Gear Solid, Konami released two mainline games for the Metal Gear franchise. Both titles, especially the first release, does not have the same cinematic flair and high-production value as the other optional games on the list. Not to mention that the Metal Gear Solid does a great job in recapping the key plot points of these retro releases.
Since Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake are included in Metal Gear Solid HD Collection version of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, however, these classic titles are worth trying if you want to see what they are like.
Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops – Portable Ops is set in between Snake Eater and Peace Walker. Although the story of the game is considered to be canon, the events haven’t been referenced much in other games of the series. Not to mention that the gameplay hasn’t hold up as well as most of the other Metal Gear games. Still, if you are a completionist, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops is worth a play through.
You can purchase the physical version of the PSP game here.
Metal Gear Solid – The original Metal Gear Solid was one of the most revolutionary games in the industry. Fortunately, the gameplay (which mixes the old school Metal Gear games with some modern elements) and story still hold up incredibly well even by today’s standards.
Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty – A direct follow-up to the original Metal Gear Solid, Sons of Liberty further built upon the foundations of the first MGS game. Even when compared to the other installments, Metal Gear Solid 2 provides an unconventional way of storytelling that you may or may not end up liking.
Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots – The last game in the timeline, as far as canon goes, is Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The PlayStation 3 exclusive ties up most of the storylines from all of the games in the series with the exception of Peace Walker, Ground Zeroes and the upcoming Phantom Pain. If you played all the other non-essential games we mentioned on the list, you should most definitely play Guns of the Patriots as well.
You can purchase the PS3 game with this link.
Spin-off Non-Canon Games
If you can’t get enough of the franchise, you might also want to check out our list of recommended spin-off games below.
Metal Gear: Ghost Babel – Metal Gear: Ghost Babel brings the modern elements introduced in Metal Gear Solid back into the second dimension. The unique mix resulted in one of the best portable games ever created. If you enjoy Metal Gear and Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, you will most likely love Ghost Babel.
The Game Boy Color videogame can be purchased with this page.
Metal Gear Acid and Metal Gear Acid 2 – Two of the more underrated games on the PSP are Metal Gear Acid and Metal Gear Acid 2. Instead of being stealth-based action titles, these spin-offs are turn-based tactical role-playing games that take elements from trading card games. If you get used to them, the two Acid games should provide deep and engaging experiences.
Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance – Although Revengeance is set after the events of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, it is not considered to be canon. With that said, the action game is still excellent, which isn’t surprising when you considered that the project was developed by Platinum Games. Not to mention that there are some cameos that should please Metal Gear fans.
You can buy Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance here. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain won’t be released until the first day of September. So you should have plenty of time to play through the Metal Gear games we mentioned above.