How to Play the Metal Gear Solid Games in Chronolgical Order


Whether it’s Snake’s elevator ascent to the rainy cliffs of Shadow Moses or the climactic battle between student and mentor in the final moments of Snake Eater, Hideo Kojima and Konami’s epic spy thriller franchise, Metal Gear, is home to some of gaming’s most iconic moments. Telling a story that spanned multiple console generations and pushed the creative capabilities of video games to their limits, Solid Snake and Big Boss’ adventures are legendary, so much so that many claim they’re among the most important releases the medium has ever produced.

Back in 2015, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain seemingly ended the franchise for good, with Kojima leaving Konami and the Metal Gear Solid IP behind to form his own studio. However, Konami has since announced plans to resurrect the series through re-releases and an upcoming remake. With so many new players experiencing this world of undercover espionage, shady government conspiracy and gruff-voiced dudes with cool eyepatches for the first time, we’ve laid out the chronological order of the Metal Gear Solid series so newcomers and returning fans can catch up.

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How Many Metal Gear Solid Games Are There?

Not including remakes, ports or remasters, there are 17 total Metal Gear games: 11 mainline games, and five on handheld devices and one on mobile. Although that’s a lot of games, a decent chunk of them are considered non-canon, with their stories overriding events from the main saga and spinning off into their own unique takes on the universe.

2018’s Metal Gear Survive takes place in an apocalyptic reality where a zombie virus has overtaken the world, so it falls outside the main canon. As for the PSP’s Metal Gear: Acid and Metal Gear: Acid 2, they veer from the timeline and tell a new story, making them alternate-timeline spin-offs. Then there’s the Game Boy Color’s Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, which is an alternate-universe Metal Gear sequel that wipes away the events of Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake, thus removing it from the timeline. And finally, Metal Gear Mobile and Snake’s Revenge have since been deemed non-canon by the community and Kojima himself in interviews.

That leaves 11 games within the main storyline. Each game is considered part of the true Metal Gear Saga, spanning from a fictional alternate-history 1960s to the late 2010s. So, let’s run you through all the games in that story.

Metal Gear Games in Chronological Order

These blurbs contain mild spoilers for each game, including characters, settings, and story beats.

1. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

The first slot in the saga’s timeline, Snake Eater follows a US Special Forces operative codenamed Naked Snake during the events of the Cold War. Sent to locate and extract a Russian scientist from the Soviet Union to prevent him from building a weapon of mass destruction known as the Shagohod, Snake’s shocked to find his former mentor, The Boss, has betrayed the US government and sided with the Soviets.

After a heated battle, Naked Snake is brutally defeated and left for dead in the jungle. Surviving the encounter, he’s tasked by his commanding officer, Zero, to return to Russia, find his mentor and kill her, all the while tracking down the Shagohod to prevent nuclear war. By the end of the story, Naked Snake adopts the moniker of Big Boss, becoming a legend among the US Special Forces. However, his battle with The Boss and the secrets he’s uncovered throughout his adventure leave him disillusioned with his duty and the government he serves.

Read our Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater Review or see updates about the Metal Gear Solid 3 remake.

2. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops

Set six years after Big Boss’ climactic battle with his former mentor, Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops picks up the legendary soldier’s story as he goes head to head with his former squad, FOX Unit. The game begins with Big Boss learning FOX has gone rogue, betraying the CIA and staging a revolt.

Captured and tortured on a Colombian base by FOX Unit, Boss breaks free but learns he’s been accused of treason. In a bid to clear his name, he decides to hunt down his former allies and pursue their ruthless leader, Gene. By the end of the game, Big Boss learns of Gene’s desire to create a nation of mercenary soldiers known as Army’s Heaven and acquires the mass of funds and equipment saved for the project. Returning to the US, he later forms a squadron of special ops soldiers known as FOXHOUND.

Read our review of Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops.

3. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

Four years after the events of Portable Ops, we catch up with Big Boss, who has left FOXHOUND and the Patriots. Since leaving, he’s formed a new band of mercenary soldiers known as Militaires Sans Frontières (or MSF) with Kazuhira Miller. Using their newfound army to protect countries that don’t have the forces or means to defend themselves, Big Boss and Miller wage war against an armed militia known as the Peace Sentinels after they invade Costa Rica.

During his investigation, Big Boss soon realizes that his former mentor, The Boss, is somehow involved in the Peace Sentinels’ plans. Worse, they have access to nuclear weapons, wielding a supremely powerful mech called the Peace Walker. Rallying on an off-shore oil rig known as Motherbase, Snake and the Militaires Sans Frontières take the fight to the Peace Sentinels, attempting to discover their true motive and secrets. The game ends with Big Boss battling his former ally Paz, who turns out to be a secret agent of Zero’s shady government organization, Cipher.

Read our review of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker.

4. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

A few months following the events of Peace Walker, Ground Zeroes acts as a prologue to the fifth entry in the Metal Gear Solid series: Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The story sees Big Boss embark on a new mission after learning that Paz survived their climactic battle during the final moments of Peace Walker and is being interrogated by Cipher at a mysterious military base known as Camp Omega. Knowing that she has crucial information about Cipher and could reveal secrets about MSF to the shadowy organization, he rushes to extract her.

While infiltrating the base, he discovers a mysterious Cipher cell known as XOF, which is led by a sadistic, severely burned commander called Skull Face. The prologue ends with Snake extracting Paz only to realize his allies are being attacked by the XOF back at Motherbase. The onslaught destroys the oil rig and eradicates Militaires Sans Frontières, leaving Big Boss on the cusp of death.

Read our review of Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes.

5. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

Nine years later, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain opens with a severely injured Big Boss waking up in a hospital in Cyprus. Evading an assassination attempt where he’s attacked by a man covered in flames, a telekinetic soldier and a master sniper, Boss is saved by Revolver Ocelot and returns to action as he leads a new mercenary group known as the Diamond Dogs.

Swearing to stop the XOF after they destroyed Militaires Sans Frontières, he adopts the codename Venom Snake and heads to Africa to pick up their trail, learning that the former-Cipher-affiliated group went rogue. Their leader, Skull Face, is instead working on a devastating parasitic weapon with the power to eradicate the Western world. The game ends with Big Boss setting in motion his plans to create a military nation known as Outer Heaven, where soldiers are free to live without being used to further shady government plans.

Read our review of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain.

6. Metal Gear

11 years later, the story catches up with the first entry in the series: Metal Gear. The game follows Solid Snake: a rookie soldier and member of FOXHOUND. FOXHOUND is once again run by Big Boss, who acts as Snake’s mentor and commanding officer. On his first mission, Solid Snake is sent to track down a weapon of mass destruction being constructed in a military nation known as Outer Heaven.

During his mission, he finds another agent codenamed Grey Fox, who was also sent to track the weapon. Grey Fox reveals the mysterious weapon is a mech codenamed Metal Gear, which has the power to launch nuclear bombs. The game ends with Solid Snake and Big Boss coming to blows, with the latter revealing he was behind Outer Heaven’s plans.

Read our review of Metal Gear.

7. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

Four years later, Solid Snake returns to action after he learns Big Boss survived the events of the previous game and is currently constructing a new Metal Gear for the fictional nation of Zanzibar Land.

Teaming with various characters, Snake infiltrates Zanzibar Land and attempts to destroy the weapon of mass destruction, battling Big Boss and his army of soldiers along the way.

See more about Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake.

8. Metal Gear Solid

Six years after Metal Gear 2, Solid Snake returns in a new mission. This time he’s sent to battle his former unit, FOXHOUND, which has gone rogue, turned against the US and taken over a mysterious government facility on an island known as Shadow Moses. Shadow Moses is allegedly a test site for a secret Metal Gear, with FOXHOUND threatening to use its nuclear weapons if they aren’t supplied with Big Boss’ corpse and a large sum of money.

Snake heads to the facility and fights various members of FOXHOUND, including Revolver Ocelot, Psycho Mantis and a Cyborg version of his former ally, Greyfox. He also meets the eccentric leader of FOXHOUND, Liquid Snake. The game ends with Snake being declared killed-in-action by Colonel Campbell and presumed dead by the government after they intended to double-cross him. He flees Shadow Moses alive.

Read our review of Metal Gear Solid or see more of the best PS1 games.

9. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty opens two years later, with a now-rogue Solid Snake infiltrating an oil tanker while hunting down a new Metal Gear being transported to the US. There he discovers a prototype Metal Gear known as Metal Gear Ray, which is subsequently stolen by Revolver Ocelot. Ocelot sinks the tanker and escapes, while Snake is blamed for the tanker’s destruction.

Two years later, we shift to a new protagonist: Raiden. An agent of FOXHOUND, Raiden is sent on a mission to an off-shore decontamination facility known as Big Shell, which was constructed to clear the crude oil spill caused when the oil tanker was destroyed during Solid Snake’s mission. Big Shell has been hijacked by a militant group known as the Sons of Liberty, which has taken the US president hostage.

Infiltrating the facility, Raiden soon discovers things aren’t quite what they seem, looking into Big Shell’s secrets and meeting a junior lieutenant named Iroquois Pliskin, who’s clearly hiding a big secret. By the end of the game, Solid Snake joins Raiden’s mission, telling him he’s going after Ocelot (who it’s revealed is possessed by the will of Liquid Snake) and the Patriots.

Read our review of Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty or check out more of the best PS2 games.

10. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

Marking the end of the main story and Solid Snake’s final mission, Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots catches up with Snake three years after the events of Sons of Liberty. Due to the cloning process used to create Snake and the rampant FOXDIE virus still coursing through his veins, we discover that his body is rapidly aging, with the protagonist being told he only has a year left to live. Donning a new nickname, Old Snake, he returns for one final mission.

He’s to assassinate Liquid Ocelot, who is currently running a new version of Outer Heaven which is comprised of some of the biggest private militaries in the Middle East. Equipping his body with nanomachines, Snake sets out to bring Ocelot down, learning that his nemesis intends to once again locate Big Boss’ corpse and execute a mysterious plan. As Snake battles his age and the lingering FOXDIE mutating in his body, he makes his way towards a final confrontation with his most ruthless enemy.

Read our review of Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots.

11. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

The final story in the current Metal Gear timeline, Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance focuses on Raiden who, as we learned during Guns of the Patriots, has transformed into a cyborg. The story picks up four years after Metal Gear Solid 4, revealing that Raiden now works with a private military company called Maverick Security Consulting.

During an operation in Africa, Raiden is attacked by a rival private military group known as Desperado Enforcement. Wounded and left for dead by its commander, Jet Stream Sam, Raiden continues his investigation into Desperado and learns some sinister secrets about the group and its allies. As the revelations about the private military grow darker, Raiden swears to bring them down, setting off on his own to deliver violent justice.

Read our review of Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.

How to Play the Metal Gear Games by Release Date

  1. Metal Gear (1987)
  2. Snake’s Revenge (1990)
  3. Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake (1990)
  4. Metal Gear Solid (1998)
  5. Metal Gear Solid: Ghost Babel (2000)
  6. Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty (2001)
  7. Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater (2004)
  8. Metal Gear Solid: Acid (2004)
  9. Metal Gear Solid: Acid 2 (2005)
  10. Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops (2006)
  11. Metal Gear Solid: Mobile (2008)
  12. Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots (2008)
  13. Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker (2010)
  14. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance (2013)
  15. Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes (2014)
  16. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain (2015)
  17. Metal Gear Survive (2018)

What’s Next for Metal Gear?

Although for many years, it seemed Metal Gear was officially finished as a series, Konami has recently confirmed an upcoming remake of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. Shown with a cinematic trailer during PlayStation’s 2023 summer showcase, Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater will rebuild the game from the ground up, giving fans a modern reimagining of Naked Snake’s legendary battle with The Boss.

The showcase also revealed that both Metal Gear games, as well as Metal Gear Solid, Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty and the original Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater will make their way to modern consoles as part of the Metal Gear Solid: Master Collection Vol. 1 this October. The bundle will be available on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, Nintendo Switch and PC.

As for potential new entries in the series, Konami hasn’t confirmed whether they plan to make original Metal Gear games without Hideo Kojima. That being said, Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater developer, Virtuous Studios, did tease that remakes of other Metal Gear games aren’t off the table. Speaking with IGN, the team said: “Regarding remakes of previous games in the series other than Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater, we will listen to player demand and consider accordingly.”

Callum Williams is a freelance media writer with years of experience as a game critic, news reporter, guides writer and features writer.



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