Because in that blank space, there is always a hero, says Kojima in MGS5’s official novel.
Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is a great game and perhaps offers the best gameplay in the series. But there were compromises done to achieve that. One of the things that makes a Metal Gear game Metal Gear is its story and although the story is there, it’s underwhelming and it kind of messes the timeline. The ending is abrupt and does not add any sort of character development to Venom Snake.
However it seems all of this was intentional from Kojima. The Japanese novelization of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain was recently released and Kojima gives a broader perspective about his intentions with Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. In a translation provided by a Redditor, Kojima spoke a bit about how this novel is unique and how the author Hitori Nojima did a great job of getting the story across given the open nature of The Phantom Pain.
He also explains the lack of cutscenes in the game by stating that even though they were a selling point of the games before, they served as an obstruction to freedom. Honestly, this kind of statement is a bit off given the man is a big fan of movies. Anyways, moving ahead…he further states that every series needs to come to an end. He gives an example of quote given by Dennis Lehane with the popular series Patrick Kenzie & Angela Gennaro who declared that at the peak of his popularity “No matter what kind of series it is, there is a time that it must end.”
However according to Kojima that is not parting as the influence of the story will always be there. “No matter how popular a series is, someday the end will come. However, that is by no means a parting. Even if you can’t touch it, you can feel the influence of that story. A story is a thing without shape. Assuming physically nothing is there, nothing to be lost. As long as stories and legends are desired, they will continue forever. The brilliance will never vanish. It’s in everyone’s heart. It is not always true that saying “goodbye to a hero” ignites a phantom pain. By saying “goodbye to a hero”, you can for eternity leave behind lost joy as a blank space.”
He then states an example of a punk band which you can read about it in the translation. He essentially states that there will “be a blank space” and “it won’t be filled”. He claims that within that blank space there is always a hero and “one can advance ahead.”
It’s interesting to note that in an article by Famitsu, Kojima actually hinted the twist to the author. The quote that was translated by a Redditor states the following: “In MGSV, we hand the story (the legend) over to the player. That’s how the player becomes the Big Boss in the MSX2 Metal Gear. You play the game as you will, raise up your Mother Base. That’s the way I want the player to create his own story, thinking of things like “war” and “peace” as Big Boss. Up until now, the Metal Gear Saga was told by creating video games, but I want each player to think and come up with their own story (legend) on their own.”
In short, this was always the plan to have the player play as a body double of Big Boss. I wonder why Kojima and Konami advertised the game as having a ultimate story?
My personal take on these statements by Kojima is that the man eventually got tired of the Metal Gear Solid series. Hence he left the ending at a blank state so that another developer can possibly pick up the remains and take the series ahead. It must be noted that Kojima had no interest in working on another Metal Gear game after Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty but he eventually came back again to direct 5 more games after all. I guess it must be tiring working on the same series for almost 30 years.
Despite’s Kojima’s thematic intentions with The Phantom Pain, several fans are still not happy with the story they got. Hopefully, the next Metal Gear game will have a nice balance of story and gameplay, something we haven’t received in a decade since Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eatrer.