The Complete Guide to Metal Gear Protagonists

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Hot off the heels of the sensational Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and the upcoming Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Limb arriving later this year, all eyes are on the Metal Gear universe in 2014. Whether 2014 will be the first time you have ever played a Metal Gear game or you have been a fan since the series got its start on the NES way back in the late 80’s, one thing is certain: the Metal Gear universe is one of the most confusing series out there.

Who is Naked Snake? Who is Big Boss? Which games star Solid Snake? How are the protagonists in one game linked to another? Because the games have been released out of order in the overall Metal Gear timeline, it can be difficult to fully appreciate the events in one game and how they progress the overall story arc. But never fear! This guide will explain the importance of every protagonist in the Metal Gear franchise – and in chronological order!

Naked Snake

To fully appreciate Naked Snake (birth name ‘Jack’), you must keep in mind a few key events that occur before we are introduced to Naked Snake and the first entry in the Metal Gear timeline, Metal Gear Solid III: Snake Eater:

  • 1918: China, the United States, and Russia form the group ‘The Philosophers.’ This group will play a fundamental role in the entire Metal Gear saga.
  • 1935: Naked Snake/Jack is born.
  • 1942: One of Otacon’s grandfather starts work on one of the most infamous projects in world history, the Manhattan Project (we’ll meet Otacon later in this guide).
  • 1950: Naked Snake meets The Boss and becomes her apprentice.
  • 1954: Naked Snake is involved in the Bikini Atoll test, the first airborne detonation of a hydrogen bomb. Everyone contracts fatal illnesses except Naked Snake, who only becomes sterile as the result of exposure to radiation.
  • 1959: Naked Snake and The Boss go their separate ways.
  • 1961: President John F. Kennedy (JFK) defies the Philosophers.
  • 1963: JFK is assassinated. Yeah, the Philosophers are a big deal.
 Guide to Metal Gear Protagonists

1964: Metal Gear Solid III: Snake Eater

The Cold War between Russia and the United States is well underway. A stalemate of nuclear proportions, it’s one of the tensest moments in American history (Google the Cold War if you must). Nuclear war seems almost imminent between the two nations. Despite the fact, the opening moments of Metal Gear Solid III: Snake Eater sees FOX agent Naked Snake parachuting deep into a Soviet jungle. Under the orders of Major Zero (also known as Major Tom and founder of FOX – he plays a key role in the Metal Gear saga), Naked Snake is tasked with saving a genius weapons designer all the while sabotaging the brand-new Soviet superweapon, the Shagohod (ancestor of the superweapons that would become known as ‘Metal Gears.’).

Unfortunately, Naked Snake is tricked by The Boss (his mentor), who defects to the Russians and helps MGS III antagonist Colonel Volgin steal the superweapon. Upon stealing the weapon, Volgin detonates a nuclear device from the Shagohod that the United States is blamed for.

 Metal Gear Protagonists Guide

Because the United States and Russia are on the brink of a nuclear war, the U.S. government sends Naked Snake to assassinate The Boss, prove its innocence, and in the process, terminate the Shagohod. He is helped by a former NSA agent named EVA (who disappears after the end of MGSIII), fights series mainstay Revolver Ocelot (then a Spetsnaz agent), and learns all about the Philosophers along with the Philosophers’ Legacy, which is a fund worth $100 billion that has been illegally taken over by Colonel Volgin. Naked Snake eventually kills The Boss and Volgin, destroys the Shagohod, and is awarded with the title of ‘Big Boss’ by President Lyndon B. Johnson.

Shortley after, Naked Snake leaves FOX.

Big Boss

  • 1966: Naked Snake (now known as Big Boss) rescues a soldier named Frank Jaeger (who later becomes known as Gray Fox) from a civil war in Mozambican (the Mozambican War of Independence). Escorted to a rehab facility, Jaeger is given to the CIA for use in the infamous Perfect Soldier Project. Big Boss also searches for EVA, with no luck.
  • 1970: Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops.

Still using the codename ‘Naked Snake’ despite the official title of Big Boss (he felt unworthy of the title ‘Boss’), Big Boss is caught by FOX (now a rogue group) and interrogated. Imprisoned, Big Boss encounters Roy Campbell (who becomes a close friend of Big Boss’s son, Solid Snake) and manages to speak with one of his contacts, Para-Medic, who informs him that Major Zero and himself have been charged with treason by the Pentagon, as they believe they are behind the revolt of FOX.

Big Boss learned that a FOX operative named Cunningham has been tasked with forcing Gene, the leader of the rogue FOX unit, to launch Metal Gear in order to destroy the CIA’s reputation. Big Boss killed Cunningham and attempted to kill Gene, yet Gene tells Big Boss that a ‘CIA strategist’ has actually planned the entire events of Metal Gear Solid III: Snake Eater (known as Operation: Snake Eater). According to the strategist, The Boss was ordered to defect to Russia in an effort to locate the Philosopher’s Legacy. Essentially, the events of Metal Gear Solid III were planned and executed down to the smallest detail. Big Boss kills Gene and forms FOXHOUND.

 Metal Gear Protagonists Guide
  • 1970: Big Boss joins the group The Patriots – a group formed in dedication to The Boss.
  • 1971: Big Boss finds EVA and asks her to join the Patriots. She does.
  • 1971: Major Zero (also a member of the Patriots) begins spreading lies about Big Boss. Big Boss becomes sick of being Zero’s puppet.
  • 1972: Afraid of losing the talents of Big Boss, Les Enfants Terribles commences. Zero orders Para-Medic to clone Big Boss in order to keep a ‘Big Boss caliber’ icon in the Patriots.
  • 1972: The ‘Twin Snakes’ (Liquid Snake and Solid Snake) are born thanks to the Les Enfants Terribles project. Solidus Snake is spawned later. This offspring become known as the ‘Sons of Big Boss.’
  • 1972: Big Boss finds out about the project, leaves FOXHOUND and the U.S. altogether, and becomes a drifting soldier throughout the world.

1974: Events of ‘Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.’

Big Boss begins using his ‘Naked Snake’ codename once again as he feels unworthy of using the title ‘Big Boss’ – at least for this game (to avoid confusion, he’s still going to be referred to as ‘Big Boss’ throughout this section). Along with Militaires sans Frontieres (which translates to Soldiers Without Borders), Big Boss and the team is hired by agents to aid in liberating Costa Rica from a military presence. Big Boss learns all about the superweapon known as Peace Walker – another Metal Gear prototype.

Note: ‘Soldiers Without Borders’ is officially referred to as ‘Militaires sans Frontieres’ in Metal Gear lore. However, because ‘Militaires sans Frontieres’ can be difficult to pronounce, they will be referred to as ‘Soldiers Without Borders’ for the remainder of this guide.

Big Boss learns that the person behind the events in Costa Rica is Coldman – the man behind Operation: Snake Eater (some theorists suggest that Coldman is the ‘strategist’ Gene mentions in Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops). Because Peace Walker unfortunately will fire nuclear missiles on any opponent, Coldman tried to feed wrong data to the vicious Peace Walker so it will fire upon Soldiers Without Borders. Coldman is eliminated via the KGB, whom are attacked by Soldiers Without Broders. Coldman orders Peace Walker to fire its weaponry on Cuba. In the process, he sends false data to the NORAD system (causing the U.S. to believe Soviets are firing on them). Big Boss then fights Peace Walker while trying to persuade the United States joint chiefs of staff the launch happens to be a fake. The U.S. does not believe Big Boss, and as a result, Peace Walker’s AI drowns itself into the ocean, destroying the false data transmission.

 Metal Gear Protagonists Guide

The designers of Peace Walker join Soldiers Without Borders, and as a result, Big Boss’ FOXHOUND unit builds their own version of a Metal Gear, which is unfortunately stolen by Major Paz Andrade (Zero’s secret agent )who is planning to use the weapon against the United States and frame Soldiers Without Borders in the process. Paz falls to her death, and Big Boss stops this from happening, and tells his troops they will have their very own nation – Outer Heaven.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

Shortly after the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, Big Boss learns Paz Anadrade survived the fall to her death and orders her to be assassinated since she is a Cipher agent with important information about Soldiers Without Borders. However, he decides to save Paz as he learns she could be a double agent. Currently being held prisoner, Big Boss infiltrates the camp. He eventually saves her, but is affected by an explosion, causing him to go into a coma.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes Guide

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Limb

Upon awaking out of a coma, Big Boss finds his arm has been replaced by a prosthetic hook. He learns he has been in a coma for nine years, and is eventually rescued by his nemesis Ocelot. Ocelot and Big Boss travel to Afghanistan, and unfortunately, we have no idea what happens during this span of time (we’ll learn about it all Fall 2014).

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Limb Guide
  • Mid-to-late 80’s: Solidus Snake murders Raiden’s parents and raises him to become a soldier. All the while, Big Boss establishes Outer Heaven located around South Africa.
  • 1990: Big Boss’s son Solid Snake battles in the Gulf War on the side of the United States.
  • Big Boss comes back to the U.S. to take command of FOXHOUND.

Solid Snake

1995: Metal Gear

Metal Gear GuideThe first game in the Metal Gear franchise and the very first game in the timeline to star Solid Snake. Big Boss orders Solid Snake to search for Gray Fox inside Outer Heaven and discover if there is any existence of a superweapon in Outer Heaven (note: Solid Snake has no idea who Big Boss is or what Outer Heaven actually is). Solid Snake eventually saves him. Big Boss then begins telling Solid Snake to cancel the mission, which Solid Snake ignores.

Solid Snake finally finds a superweapon known as Metal Gear TX-55 and aims to destroy it. Big Boss then reveals he is actually the ruler of Outer Heaven and informs Solid Snake that by being in Outer Heaven, he has wasted the time of the United States, which has allowed Outer Heaven to complete the construction of their very own Metal Gear weapon.

Snake eliminates the Metal Gear and fights Big Boss one-on-one, defeating him and leaving him for dead.

Now, the world felt as if Big Boss had turned evil and become a madman, but this isn’t the case. Big Boss was not planning to wage war against the United States, but was instead going to use the superweapon against Major Zero’s secret forces that were located within the U.S. By defeating Big Boss, Solid Snake unknowingly helped Zero via destroying Metal Gear and the Outer Heaven nation. Nevertheless, Big Boss survived and saved the refugees of Outer Heaven, relocating them to the Middle East.

1999: Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

By 1999, Solid Snake has joined FOXHOUND (under the command of Colonel Roy Campbell – a friend of Big Boss). Tasked with saving Dr. Kio Marv (inventor of synthetic oil) from the infamous Zanzibar Land (a land that houses the most powerful military force in the world that found itself low on oil). After sneaking into the country, Solid Snake discovers that Big Boss escaped Outer Heaven and fled toward the Middle East.

He also learns that Big Boss is the leader of Zanzibar land.

 Guide to Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

Solid Snake saves Dr. Marv, yet is attacked - by none other than Gray Fox inside the cockpit of Metal Gear D! Snake escapes, but discovers that Dr. Marv has been tortured to his death. Snake obtains the synthetic oil formula (known as the OILIX formula) straight from the corpse of Marv, only to be forced to fight Metal Gear D again. He defeats the superweapon, but loses the formula to none other than Gray Fox.

Snake and Fox meet in a minefield, where Fox dies (or so Snake thinks). Big Boss shows up and begins waxing philosophical on Snake, eventually learning that Big Boss is his father. Snake doesn’t have any of his equipment on him, so he improvises: by torching Big Boss alive via a lighter and an aerosol can.

Solid Snake then spends five years by himself in the wilderness of Alaska. At the same time, the Patriots obtain the corpse of Big Boss and place him on ice. Big Boss remains in a coma (induced by a nanomachine), and his genes are stolen and form the very basis of the infamous Genome Soldiers of Shadow Moses (where the events of Metal Gear Solid take place). Big Boss is then placed into storage.

  • 2000: Solid Snake’s brother, Liquid Snake, becomes the commanding officer of FOXHOUND.
  • 2001: Major Zero stops having faith in mankind and allows five AIs to control the legacy of the Patriots: GW, AL, TJ, JD, and TR.

2005: Metal Gear Solid

FOXHOUND, led by Liquid Snake and a group of Genome Soldiers, rebel against the United States government and state they will fire a nuclear device on the United States if Big Boss’ corpse is not returned to them. Giving themselves the title of the ‘Sons of Big Boss,’ they state they need the genes of Big Boss to stop the degrading of their genetics.

 Guide to Metal Gear

Solid Snake sneaks into Shadow Moses to rescue key U.S. figures and find the nuclear device the Sons of Big Boss was threatening the U.S. with. The key figures die after they meet Snake (a virus known as the FOXDIE virus was inserted into Snake’s corpse thanks to FOXHOUND doctor Naomi Hunter). Even so, Solid Snake still fights his way throughout the base, fighting Revolver Ocelot, meets Gray Fox (now a cyborg ninja), and discovers the Sons of Big Boss do indeed have a nuclear weapon: Metal Gear Rex.

Solid Snake also meets Hal ‘Otacon’ Emmerich for the first time (designer of Metal Gear Rex). Solid Snake eventually meets his brother Liquid Snake. The two of them battle atop Metal Gear Rex with the Shadow Moses facility collapsing around the two of them. Liquid Snake eventually dies due to the FOXDIE virus.

  • 2006: Solid Snake, along with Otacon, form Philanthropy – an organization that aims to eliminate all Metal Gear weapons.

2007: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty - Part I

Snake and Otacon infiltrate an oil tanker believed to be transporting the newest Metal Gear weapon. They are tipped by Otacon’s sister Emma Emmerich (the creator of an artificial intelligence known as the GW AI) about Metal Gear Ray – the first amphibious Metal Gear weapon in history. Shortly after arriving onboard, the tanker is hijacked by a band of mercenaries directed by Sergei Gurlukovich with orders directly from Ocelot (whom is now possessed by Liquid Snake’s arm – don’t ask). Ocelot flees in Metal Gear Ray, framing Solid Snake, blaming him for destroying the tanker that flooded New York Harbor with pools of oil.

 Guide to Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty


2009: Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty – Part II

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty GuideOff-shore decontamination facility known as Big Shell is taken over by Sons of Liberty (a group commanded by Solidus Snake), with the United States President being kidnapped. An AI posing as Campbell orders Raiden to sneak onto the rig. Raiden discovers Solid Snake is aboard the Big Shell, and learns information regarding the Patriots from the President, and also learns Big Shell is actually a huge Metal Gear named Arsenal Gear.

Together, Raiden and Snake insert a virus into the Patriot’s GW AI that is housed inside Arsenal Gear. Unfortunately, Snake is caught, forcing Raiden to fight a barrage of Metal Gear Rays by himself. In the end, it is revealed that Raiden’s mission is an effort by Zero’s Patriot AIs to transform Raiden into the Patriot’s latest legendary soldier.

Caught, Raiden becomes unconscious and wakes up the next morning. Learning he has been used the entire time, he also learns Liquid (still inside the corpse of Revolver Ocelot) plans to crash Big Shell into Manhattan Island. Raiden eventually has to battle and ultimately kill Solidus Snake, with Ocelot escaping in the only Metal Gear Ray left.

Now known as Liquid Ocelot, Ocelot obtains the last of the GW AI from Arsenal Gear and replaces his arm with a cybernetic prosthetic.

Raiden and Solid Snake

2014: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

The world currently runs on OILIX in MGS 4. Moreover, the world is at war tanks to Private Military Companies (PMCs) waging battles across the world for profit. The world’s five largest PMCs are operated by Liquid Ocelot. Campbell asks Solid Snake (now prematurely aging) to kill him. Aided by Raiden, Raiden informs Snake that he needs to find someone known as Big Mama in order to obtain the corpse of Big Boss to save himself. The corpse is revealed to belong to Solidus Snake.

 Guide to Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Ocelot discovers what is going on, and uses a genetic key in order to communicate with the Patriot AIs in order to obtain control of every nanomachine worldwide. This disarms every army in the world except Ocelot’s, causing Ocelot to destroy all United States forces. Interestingly enough, EVA passes away in the arms of Solid Snake.

Ocelot flees to Shadow Moses (the setting of Metal Gear Solid), but Raiden and Snake are not far behind. Raiden dies atop a Metal Gear Rex, and Snake eventually flees to Shadow Moses in a Metal Gear Rex, yet is attacked by Ocelot riding in a stolen Metal Gear Ray. The two men fight in their respective Metal Gears, but Ocelot escapes on his own weapon, interestingly enough known as Outer Heaven. His plan? To fire a nuclear device at head Patriot AI JD so Ocelot can control the Patriots network by himself.

Snake ultimately hops aboard Outer Heaven and fights toward Patriot AI GW, and places a virus into the network that spreads the virus to the minor Patriot AIs. In the end, the Patriot AIs (and the group as a whole) is dead, Liquid Ocelot’s dastardly plans for world control come to an end, and finally, Snake kills Ocelot.

Raiden’s physique is restored. Meanwhile, Solid Snake meets Big Boss at Boss’ very own grave. Big Boss tells his son that he was eventually unbound from the influence of the nanomachines, killed Major Zero by suffocating him, and allowed himself to die by the FOXDIE virus (the same virus in Solid Snake).

Solid Snake’s story ends here as well. For the rest of his life, Solid Snake lives alongside Otacon and Otacon’s adopted daughter, Sunny Emmerich.

Back to Raiden…

2018: Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Raiden decided to return to the military sector and work for a Private Military Company (PMC) known as Maverick Security Consulting, Inc. Trying to support his family, Raiden is manhandled via a cyborg organization which is led by a mysterious cyborg ninja: Samuel Rodrigues. Raiden undergoes reconstruction by PMC, and he makes it his mission to quest to find Sam and the entity he’s aiding: Desperado Enforcement LLC to get revenge.

 Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

Raiden eventually killed Sam with one quick stab through his abdomen. He also discovered a new Metal Gear known as EXCELSUS, yet destroyed it by cutting off its front legs. After saving the day once again, Raiden decided to leave Maverick and restore his corpse to a more ‘human look.’

There you have it: everything you need to know about Metal Gear’s protagonists. While every single detail could not be included into this guide, what’s included is more than enough to help you to understand the role of every protagonist in the Metal Gear franchise.

Have any questions about the protagonists in Metal Gear Let us know in the comments below!

Article by - Dusty W.

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