While everyone almost universally agrees that Metal Gear Solid 5 plays great, they are all also mostly still disappointed with the game, because of the story- what it is, how it is told, how it ends, how it seems to be unfinished in the game, and so on. And while the themes of the story had always meant to be what they ended up being in the final game, the original story was a fair bit different than what we ended up getting.
Talking with Famitsu about Metal Gear Solid V The Phantom Pain’s story, MGSV novel author Kanji Yano revealed that Hideo Kojima already described the central elements of the plot and the Moby Dick references back in 2011 (translation from Reddit). Bear in mind that there may be spoilers for The Phantom Pain from this point forth.
“To tell the truth, Mr Kojima had already told me his ideas about MGSV in 2011. At that point, all the themes were already in his mind,” Yano told Famitsu. “Phantom Pain, vocal cord parasites, race and revenge, and of course, Moby Dick too. But at this point, Ishmael was Huey. Snake was Ahab and Diamond Dogs were fighting with America. Huey was sided with America, and the story was supposed to be told from him, from America’s view of justice. The reason the role of Ishmael changed from Huey to Big Boss will be revealed later.”
A different story like that may not necessarily have been a bad idea, and it would certainly have been truer to the Metal Gear Solid mythos than what we got- but on the whole, since Phantom Pain turned out to be as great as it did, I don’t think I’ll be complaining much anyway.