Since the expiration of his non-compete clause with Konami and his return under the spotlight in December, legendary Metal Gear Solid creator Hideo Kojima has become more open and outspoken, but there is one thing that he has kept closely under wraps, and that is the true nature of the new game he is planning in partnership with Sony.
We know nothing either about its gameplay genre and its narrative genre, so we can only speculate on what it could be. That’s exactly what this article is: I’m going to examine the little we know and speculate on it to try and understand what Kojima-san might be hiding in his magician’s hat.
Keep in mind that my speculation isn’t necessarily better than yours, so it’s perfectly fine if you think that Kojima-san will go in a completely different direction. After all, I’m trying to read the mind of one of the most eclectic and genial creators in the video game industry. That is no easy task.
I guess I could say that the mission is made a little easier by the fact that (at least to my knowledge) there isn’t a game creator out there who matches my geeky tastes better than Hideo Kojima. We pretty much like exactly the same things, which is why I’m going to try to relate with him as best as I can, to feel out what he might be planning.
First of all, many have been dreaming of a revival of the P.T./Silent Hills project bringing back the dream collaboration with Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus. Something like that might happen in the far future, but I seriously doubt that Kojima-san is going to give it a try as the first game coming out of Kojima Productions.
While survival horror and horror in general are fairly popular, they lack mass appeal outside of extremely well known IPs like Resident Evil. Their relatively niche nature makes them ill fit as the first production of a studio that seems to harbor the ambition of taking the industry by storm.
Kojima Productions has a solid advantage in the fact that it carries the “Kojima” name and Sony’s support, but it still needs to establish itself as a studio capable to produce a great game, and Kojima-san will probably go for a genre closer to what he is already known for, in order to better connect with his existing fanbase and to facilitate the studio’s entry in gaming’s Valhalla.
Again, this isn’t too say that a survival horror is never going to happen, but it’s probably not going to be the first title that Kojima Production will create.
We also know that the new game won’t be a virtual reality experience, so that’s off the menu as well. While Kojima-san has expressed interest in the medium, he is probably very aware that the technology still isn’t mature enough to support the big and cinematic blockbusters that normally come out of his hyperactive brain.
On top of that, Kojima-san seems to be aiming for a game that can expand into a series, and then into anime, manga and figures. Further concepts used to describe the game are “big,” “edgy,” “with a strong story,” and “something that gives a lot of freedom and interactivity.”
Lastly, Geoff Keighley mentioned yesterday that he was “blown away” by the scale and ambition of Kojima-san’s project, and that this might very well be his “most ambitious project ever.”
To speculate on the nature of the new game, I think the best way is to look on Kojima-san’s own passions, and that’s why I think that he is going to blow us away with an open-world (or better, open-universe) science-fiction title, probably focused on mecha.
Kojima-san loves mecha and science fiction in general. You can see it in the Metal Gear Solid series, in his many openly tweeted geeky purchases of books, films and figures, in his beloved Zone of the Enders games, and more.
He also loves space. He makes no mystery of his appreciation for 2001: A Space Odyssey, Dark Star, Leiji Matsumoto’s anime and manga (Ginga Tetsudo 999, Uchu Senkan Yamato and more), and many more productions celebrating the exploration of the galaxy and beyond.
If you follow Hideo Kojima closely as a person and as a creator, there are so many elements that basically scream “I want to build robots!” that it’s fairly easy to think that he simply will do just that, at least as part of his game development.
Some have seen the new logo of Kojima Productions as a hint to the horror genre, but Kojima-san’s own explanation is different:
“Looks like a medieval knight and also a space suit. It expresses the vision of “aiming the new world with the latest technology and pioneering spirit.”
That has “space” written all over it, and it also resembles closely an emblem that could easily be used by a futuristic military outfit in a science-fiction universe.
All those elements makes me think that Kojima Productions is probably going to create an open world space opera centered on mecha combat. It fits Hideo Kojima’s personal passions and hobbies like a glove, and it would be simply perfect to expand into anime, manga and figures. It would also have plenty of room for a series, and it would be big, allowing for a strong story, lots of freedom and interactivity.
You could think of it like a Japanese Star Citizen meets No Man’s Sky with robots, and probably more (of completely) focused on single player.
It also matches Kojima Productions’ situation rather well in terms of scope. Kojima-san wants to keep the studio relatively small, and space includes a lot of empty… space. The wise combination of procedural generation and hand-crafted assets can allow a small team to build enormous universes that could be the perfect foundation of something really special.
Incidentally, this could actually open the door for a collaboration with Guillermo del Toro and Norman Reedus as well. Del Toro is often associated with his Horror movies, but he also directed Pacific Rim. His love for science fiction is no mystery, and there’s probably no film that screams “Mecha Otaku” more than his battle between giant robots and kaiju.
Reedus may be best known by many for The Walking Dead, but he is a flexible actor, and I definitely see him playing the part of a veteran mecha pilot, or a grizzled space pirate.
One thing is for sure: a giant space game bringing the Zone of the Enders concept beyond its limits, with complex characters, a deep story, and Yoji Shinkawa’s incredible mecha design combined with Hideo Kojima’s ultra-geek artistry would be a dream come true for me. And I’m positive that I’m not the only one feeling like this.
Is it Hideo Kojima’s dream as well? Will he enable us to navigate the endless sea of stars? That’s harder to say. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to ask him directly. We’ll probably have to wait quite a few months, or even more, before we’ll learn what his new game will be about, but personally, I really can’t wait.