What Secrets Does The Metal Gear Solid V Art Book Reveal?

Credit Konami
Credit Konami /

The art book of Metal Gear Solid V holds some interesting details for what could have been…

Having recently managed to obtain a copy of the official Metal Gear Solid V art book from Yoji Shinkawa, I poured through every ounce of detail found within the 200-or-so pages, to see if I could decipher any hidden details that were missing from the final product.

There will obviously be spoilers for both The Phantom Pain and Ground Zeroes throughout this piece, and the book was only published a matter of days ago, meaning that while some concept art may have made it online, there will be some pieces of artwork that I will only be able to refer to, without providing the corresponding image.

Without further ado, let’s delve into the secrets that the official art book for Metal Gear Solid V holds, and see if we can decipher where the game may have been headed before production was abruptly halted.

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An Older Venom Snake:

Seen below is a series of images from Shinkawa that depict a considerably older Venom Snake. This, unfortunately, leaves more questions than it does answers, as it sets up the possibility that The Phantom Pain could have taken place over a much greater distance of time.

Credit Yoji Shinkawa
Credit Yoji Shinkawa /

Going purely off this piece of art, I feel fairly confident guessing that the Venom Snake seen here is roughly the same age as Big Boss during the ending sequence of Metal Gear Solid 4. Again, this leaves more questions than it does answers, as canonically Venom Snake has to perish at the hands of Solid Snake during the events of the original Metal Gear, a few decades before the events of Metal Gear Solid 4.

Nevertheless, it’s a fascinating piece of art from Shinkawa, that in my mind hints at a far grander time scale for Metal Gear Solid V. We already had a nine year gap between Ground Zeroes and The Phantom Pain, why not have another time leap between the demise of Skull Face and the rise of Outer Heaven?

A young Otacon:

Unfortunately, the tiny sketch from Shinkawa of a young Otacon is nowhere to be found online, but rest assured that the image in question depicts a young Hal Emmerich, standing beside his disabled father, Huey, who is forced to maneuver using a cable attached from the ceiling.

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If you aren’t familiar with the character of Otacon, then the rough sketch found within the art book could very well be a younger version of Huey, but the characteristics that clearly come across in this single drawing from Shinkawa paint a perfect picture of an awkward, shy Hal at a very young age.

The only reference to Hal found within the final product of Metal Gear Solid V is when Huey confesses that Strangelove had sent their child to live away in America, firmly outside of his abusive grasp. Going on this, it’s hard to imagine how Hal could have made an appearance within MGSV, although flashback sequences and hallucinations aren’t exactly a rarity throughout the Metal Gear series.

An aged Ocelot:

While the artwork depicted below isn’t exactly the way it’s laid out within the book, the drawings of Revolver Ocelot are exactly as depicted within the art book, all of which show a character the closely resembles the antagonistic Ocelot from the original Metal Gear Solid.

Credit Yoji Shinkawa
Credit Yoji Shinkawa /

Again, as with the drawings of the aged Venom Snake, this further adds speculation as to whether Metal Gear Solid V was originally envisaged as taking place over a larger period of time. The Ocelot that can be seen above bears much more of a resemblance to the character we were first introduced to back in Metal Gear Solid.

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Although he might look the part here, there’s still the matter of the character acting significantly differently to previous iterations of Ocelot. Actor Troy Baker stated that Kojima specifically told him to play a more subtle, quiet Revolver Ocelot, which is a stark contrast to the younger Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid 3, and the older Ocelot in Metal Gear Solid.

Chico the demon:

I for one was disappointed to learn that Chico had met his demise at the conclusion of Ground Zeroes, and it would appear as though Kojima and Shinkawa originally had greater plans for the child soldier, as seen in the image below.

Brace yourselves.

Credit Yoji Shinkawa
Credit Yoji Shinkawa (Photo by Hirun Cryer) /

Not only has Chico suffered horrific facial injuries similar to those of the antagonistic Skull Face, but it would also appear as though he’s done a full 180 with regards to his mental state, becoming an unhinged, sword-wielding demon.

The theme of men becoming demons was prominent of the marketing material for Metal Gear Solid V, and Chico could have embodied this far better than Venom Snake ever could. Note how the character appears to be wearing a similar garb to Paz in Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker. The same Paz that he harbored feelings for and tried so heroically to save, but could only watch as she was engulfed by a bomb planted within her, that everyone failed to detect.

This transformation of Chico really hits home, especially of Kojima envisaged the player having to fight Chico at some stage within the game. In addition to the similarities to Skull Face, the deformed Chico bears a striking resemblance to a Chinese Oni demon, and whereas Venom Snake could be seen as representing the demon from Western culture with the horn in his head, Chico could represent the demon of eastern culture.

Missing military equipment:

Within the pages on the equipment found within the game, Shinkawa also planned out some pieces of equipment and vehicles that didn’t make the cut into the final product.

Firstly, there are two additional bionic arm types for Venom Snake to wield, these being the fire and the parasite arm. While the former would most definitely act as a flamethrower, I can’t quite put a finger on what the latter would do, as Snake already has a parasite suit that allows him to utilize the abilities of the various Skull characters.

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Secondly, there were more outfits available for both D-Horse and D-Dog. The former would have been able to wear full parade dress and a western outfit that resembles something that would probably make the cowboy Ocelot weak at the knees, while the latter would have been able to equip what looks like a bomb disposal outfit, as well as a gas mask.

Finally, there are two vehicles that failed to make the cut. The first is a lightweight tank, which looks to prioritize speed over firepower, while the second one bears a striking resemblance to the Shagohod from Metal Gear Solid 3, being able to traverse the environment on four large metallic blocks.

And there you have it, an analysis of the secrets that the art book of Metal Gear Solid V holds. The overall product is excellent at gaining an insight into the workings of the storied Yoji Shinkawa, while also revealing some of the key concepts and designs that for whatever reason, failed to make it into the final version of Metal Gear Solid V.

The views expressed in this article explicitly belong to the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of, nor should be attributed to, App Trigger or FanSided as an organization.