Hideo Kojima has announced he is returning to the world of spycraft.
During the latest PlayStation State of Play, Kojima joined PlayStation Studios boss Herman Hulst to announce Physint, a new “Action Espionage” game from the creator of Metal Gear. Kojima alluded that it will also be a movie, but clarified on X that the “look, story, theme, cast, acting, fashion, sound, etc… are all at the next level of ‘Digital Entertainment’ that could be called a ‘movie.’”
“PHYSINT (working title)” will be the third, new original IP since the establishment of KOJIMA PRODUCTIONS. It is a completely new “Action Espionage” for the next-generation. It will be created using cutting-edge technology and the best talents from around the world, both from… pic.twitter.com/0vnMXJbGNz
— HIDEO_KOJIMA (@HIDEO_KOJIMA_EN) January 31, 2024
A bit redundant, I’d say, since Kojima’s already leveraging movie-calibur production on his current project, Death Stranding 2: On the Beach. But nevertheless, Kojima’s return to the genre he revolutionized and popularized nearly four decades ago is worth celebrating.
For nearly 30 years Kojima cut his teeth on the world of Metal Gear, a tactical espionage action series that was synonymous with the PlayStation brand. Metal Gear pushed the boundaries of gameplay and video game storytelling to new heights thanks to a thoughtful approach to cinematic presentation, genuinely fun and inventive gameplay, and ultimately a story about hope and peace. Kojima likely would have continued with the franchise had he not had a very public split from Konami, which retained the rights to the iconic Metal Gear franchise.
When Kojima set up his studio — Kojima Productions — and released his first post-Metal Gear game, Death Stranding, it seemed like the director was trying to find his way forward in games knowing he will never be able to return to the world of Snake and Outer Heaven. Death Stranding had elements of Metal Gear — there was some sneaking, some gunplay — but it mostly carried forward Kojima’s trademark multimedia directing style and love of symbolism and metaphors.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t get a vague feeling while playing Death Stranding that some of its elements were just slightly penciled over Metal Gear iconography (the whale is made of goop, not fire), but for the most part it was an honest attempt at creating a new franchise distinct from Metal Gear. Where Metal Gear centered on how Snake and Big Boss could utilize the natural world to their advantage, Death Stranding was, to me at least, about how Sam Porter Bridges must find a way to survive through the destroyed world.
The theme of struggle and survival carried into the gameplay. Where Metal Gear, especially Metal Gear Solid 5, was a game where controls could be mastered to the point where Snake could perform even the most precise actions, Death Stranding was clumsy. Snake could CQC through the toughest battles whereas Sam would trip and stumble over a rock. It was fun sometimes, but also very not fun at other times.
All this makes Kojima’s return to the action espionage genre such an exciting prospect. The last Metal Gear Solid game felt like the first chapter in the next-generation of Kojima spy games before it was cruelly cut short. It’s not an exaggeration to say Metal Gear Solid 5 is the best-playing game in the entire franchise, regardless of how you ultimately felt about the story. Between the seamless open-world, excellent combat controls, and attention to the smallest details, MGS 5 still manages to be an astonishing game to play, nine years after it was released in 2015. And we’ll finally get to see how much that kind of gameplay will be improved now that Kojima is ready to make a proper spy action game again.
So what can we expect from Physint at this stage? Nothing much, other than Kojima will likely continue hiring famous actors to be a part of the game. The working title, “Physint,” is likely a combination of the words “Physical” and “Intelligence” so presumably these two traits will be important in the gameplay, but other than that we won’t know more until after Death Stranding 2 is released in 2025.
One final note – whatever Physint ends up being called, one name it won’t be called is Metal Gear Solid 6. While it’s truly a shame we’ll never really get closure to the abrupt way the series ended, had Kojima stayed at Konami, and with the way AAA game development is at the moment, there’s a chance he would’ve spent the last years of his career making two or three more Metal Gear sequels.
Instead, we’re probably in the most prolific era of Kojima’s career between Death Stranding, the recently announced horror game OD, and now the upcoming spy game Physint. Where some studios will spend the next 10 years on another sequel, we’re at a time where we get to potentially play three new Kojima games in that same timespan. Leaving Konami may have closed the door on Metal Gear, but it opened a path to so many new stories and games. And that to me is more exciting than ever getting Metal Gear Solid 6.
Matt T.M. Kim is IGN’s Senior Features Editor. You can reach him @lawoftd.