The Metal Gear series seems to be pretty much dead as far as interest and quality are concerned, and that’s mostly because creator Hideo Kojima has moved on from the games. But when he was at the helm, the series had crafted a chronology that lasted more than 20 years in real-time releases.
All of the mainline games fit into one Metal Gear timeline, whereas much of the side material is set in parallel universes. If you’re confused about which game takes place in which year (and it’s very easy to be confused with this series), then take a look at the chronology, which includes all the main Metal Gear games, and the years they are set in.
Updated on June 27, 2021 by Ben Jessey: The Metal Gear franchise has had such an impact on the gaming industry that it’s still being talked about to this day, several years after the last release in the series. Discussions surrounding the stealth franchise have increased recently because Hideo Kojima referred to the games through his other work, Death Stranding.
The mentions of the series may have tempted you into another playthrough or convinced you to try the series for the first time. However, both new and old fans are probably unsure about the chronological order of events. After all, the Metal Gear timeline is a confusing one. So, we’ve gone back to our list that puts all of the main games in chronological order to make sure everything is clear and accurate to allow you to understand the Metal Gear chronology.
11 Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (1964)
If you want to know the man behind the villain that was Big Boss, then you need to start from all the way back in Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. The game shows us a young Big Boss — known here as Naked Snake — in the 1960s, as he seeks to prevent a superweapon from going off and threatening the world.
During his quest, Snake has to face his mentor, known as The Boss, who has become a turncoat and is now on the opposite side of the protagonist; this makes the story a deeply personal one. And it also serves as the beginning of the Metal Gear Timeline.
10 Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (1970)
You might not have heard of Portable Ops since it was released exclusively for the PlayStation Portable back in the day. The story, too, while taking place a significant time after Snake Eater, doesn’t delve into the fallout of the events that followed Snake taking The Boss’ life.
However, the game is still a part of the Metal Gear chronology, as this story follows Naked Snake rallying whatever support he can get in a world where he is now out of allies. The plot sees Snake being the one held captive by his own former FOX teammates, with the protagonist having to escape with his life and establish new grounds for himself.
9 Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (1974)
This one serves as the true sequel to Snake Eater by presenting us a Snake (no longer Naked, it seems) who is wracked with guilt at The Boss’ death even almost a decade later. The result from Portable Ops is also felt, with Snake now having formed his own mercenary group known as the MSF. In fact, you learn plenty of important things about the series by playing both Portable Ops and Peace Walker.
Snake being called “Big Boss” takes its first steps into the Metal Gear chronology here, with the character being very reluctant to hold that title due to his unsureness over his mettle of being a leader. Of course, by the end of the game, Big Boss has truly arrived.
8 Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (1975)
You can’t be satisfied with this game if you play it exclusively without continuing with the follow-up, because Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeros is the first part of a two-part story. As a result, the story leaves you hanging, but that’s the point of the game.
Starting very shortly after Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, the plot sees Big Boss (now embracing this title, although going by the alias of Snake) infiltrating enemy lines to rescue his allies. The whole adventure is brief, but it’s an important part of the Metal Gear timeline.
7 Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (1984)
What’s weird here is that you kind of need to play the first Metal Gear to understand what the ending of this game entails, although you could still play chronologically and avoid the enormous reveal of Big Boss’ identity.
This story brings to a close the biggest plot hole the series had had for decades and completes Big Boss’ arc in the past – setting up Solid Snake’s adventures that had been released earlier in the real world. The plot for The Phantom Pain depicts Punished “Venom” Snake in his pursuit of revenge for the events that took place in the previous game.
6 Metal Gear (1995)
Remember how we mentioned Big Boss had been captured by his own FOX team and then proceeded to form a new special forces group? This is where it led to, as we step into the shoes of Solid Snake in the original Metal Gear.
If you happened to become attached to Big Boss by now, then unfortunately for you, you’re going to have to fight him, as he takes over the reins as the series’ antagonist from here. However, all your adventures in the previous chronologically placed games will have brought you context to what Big Boss’ motivations were, so the blow isn’t too big.
5 Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (1999)
This one places it simpler with its storyline, as you become Solid Snake again to enter enemy lines and rescue a scientist, along with the plan of destroying the mysterious “Metal Gear D”. For those who played this game back when it was released in 1990, the sight of Big Boss was a surprise since he was supposed to be gone, but we know from Phantom Pain what really was up.
This game continues placing us into the shoes of Solid Snake and makes us further accustomed to the hero. By this point, you start to learn more about the protagonist and gain more appreciation for him.
4 Metal Gear Solid (2005)
The Big Boss stuff is done for now, and we’re firmly into Solid Snake territory. This game began the Metal Gear Solid chronology, but it still remains a part of the original timeline. The story now shifted toward making Solid Snake a fully fleshed-out character and brought in Liquid Snake as his antagonist this time around.
Overall, the plot was pretty much along similar lines, as Snake has to continue his infiltration techniques to fight off a threat that has nuclear implications. Snake’s personal story takes an unexpected turn when it is revealed that the villain is his genetic counterpart; this is where roots to Big Boss’ games take into effect.
3 Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons Of Liberty (2007-09)
In a time where there was no trolling on the internet, Metal Gear trolled everyone hard by making them believe Solid Snake was the hero of this story. In actuality, it was a young man called Raiden, who holds the main protagonist role for the Big Shell portion of the game, which takes place in 2009. In the opening prologue, however, you control Snake while infiltrating a Tanker in 2007.
From here, Solid Snake’s story evolves into incorporating everything that has happened previously into something unforeseen. The Sons of Liberty take control of the situation by threatening the President, and an overall sinister plot to overtake world power is unraveled; orchestrated by the Patriots – an organization that manipulates everything.
2 Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns Of The Patriots (2014)
Solid Snake’s story comes to a close here, with the protagonist suffering from old age, due to his accelerated aging. With Snake’s death impending, he undertakes one last mission to confront Liquid Snake, and bring down the Patriots in a final bid for world peace.
All in all, this story ties everything up with Big Boss’ saga, too, with his unit’s intentions becoming clearer here, and the overall evolution of where things started and where they ended up heading. Guns of the Patriots effectively concludes the fifty-year story that began in 1964 and ended in 2014.
1 Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (2018)
It’s not a direct continuation, but we do get an epilogue of sorts with Revengeance, where Raiden’s personal story comes to an end. After the Patriots were finished off in the previous game, its remnants are seen in this one, with one of the series strongest heroes, Raiden, being the man to end this threat.
Four years after the previous game’s events, we don’t get to see what the world is now like, as the story squarely focuses on Raiden’s cybernetic abilities, which devotes the plot toward his own angle rather than the arc we were used to. However, it’s still part of the main canon and thus fits into the Metal Gear Chronology.
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