Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game is happening. Again. For real this time. Two years after Emerson Matsuuchi’s much-anticipated adaptation of the PlayStation stealth-action video game was abruptly cancelled, Zombicide publisher CMON has revealed its plans for a release next year.
Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game is a co-op board game based on the 1998 instalment in Hideo Kojima’s acclaimed series of sneaky-shooty video games, which follows gruff super-soldier Solid Snake as he infiltrates the island of Shadow Moses to stop the nefarious plans of terrorist cell FOXHOUND and their leader, Liquid Snake.
The upcoming board game expands the roster of playable characters to include Snake, Meryl Silverburg, Grey Fox (aka the Cyborg Ninja) and Hal ‘Otacon’ Emmerich. Each character has a unique gameplay ability, from Snake’s stealth takedowns (smash that square button!) and Meryl’s guard-fooling disguise - represented by a separate miniature in Genome Soldier gear - to Grey Fox’s corridor-clearing high-frequency blade and Otacon’s hacking ability, controlled by a separate deck of cards.
The Metal Gear Solid board game’s gameplay appears faithful to the careful stealth championed by the video game and its sequels. Up to four players (with a solo mode included) must plot their route around guards’ fields of vision - indicated by arrows on the base of their figures - and security cameras, which will periodically switch direction to open up windows of opportunity.
Players can turn each situation to their advantage by distracting guards by knocking on walls and using a full inventory of items procured on-site. That includes Metal Gear Solid’s iconic cardboard box used to fool enemies, with a dedicated miniature showing Snake sneaking around under the box.
While stealth is a big part of the board game, being spotted and triggering an alert doesn’t mean an instant Game Over. If things go south (or if you simply feel like it), there’s the option to go loud and engage in direct combat with enemies, using weapons from guns to claymores and explosives to take down guards.
The game will span a campaign of 14 connected missions that span the story of Metal Gear Solid, with an additional six ‘VR missions’ - a cute nod to the PlayStation game’s Special Missions expansion - serving as standalone challenges. The campaign will allow players to permanently retain items they find in earlier levels, adding to the basic equipment they start with.
As well as standard levels, the campaign will include half a dozen boss fights with the members of FOXHOUND - gunslinger Ocelot, mind-controlling Psycho Mantis, long-range Sniper Wolf, bullet-spraying Vulcan Raven and, of course, Liquid Snake - as well as a battle against Snake’s frenemy Cyborg Ninja.
Like the video game, these boss encounters will each feature unique mechanics controlled by a dedicated set of cards for each boss, representing their varying weaknesses and attack types.
CMON confirmed on Instagram that its Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game is the same as the game first announced by IDW Games in 2018, which suffered years of delays before ultimately being cancelled in 2020. IDW Games was subsequently shuttered the following year.
At the time, designer Matsuuchi - who previously created the MGS-inspired stealth game Specter Ops - expressed his hope that the game would eventually see the light of day, writing: “I have been pursuing a myriad of options to keep the project going. [...] We’re working to keep this project alive and exploring possible options.”
According to CMON, the gameplay of this new release has only seen “a few tweaks” from IDW’s title, with the biggest changes being new artwork from illustrator Marco Checchetto and resculpted miniatures.
Metal Gear Solid: The Board Game will skip a crowdfunding campaign and head straight to retail in May 2024. Ahead of its release, CMON has announced a pre-order-exclusive ‘Integral Edition’, which includes a 13cm-tall miniature of Metal Gear REX and an illustrated graphic novel in addition to the standard game.