Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was released this week accompanied by an almost crushing amount of hype.

From the schism between series creator Kojima and publisher Konami, to the presence of microtransactions in a game that almost costs a thousand rand, to the fact that many reviewers had to play the game under strict supervision MGSV has caused many people to lose their minds over a series that has been loved since the 80’s.

Onlookers might wonder what all the fuss is about. They may even be tempted to pick up a copy. If they do, they’ll still end up scratching their heads due to the fact that the storylines in the Metal Gear games are incredibly dense and they border on nonsensical.

So, if you fancy playing MGS V and you’d like to know the lore of the series, allow us to help prepare your mind, body and soul for the ravages of the plot of The Phantom Pain. Since there are more than a dozen games in the Metal Gear universe, jumping in can be quite the daunting task, but we have two timelines that could help you.

If it isn’t obvious: there are major spoilers below for almost all the Metal Gear games, so read at your own risk.

From John to Venom: the story of Metal Gear Solid

metal gear solidMuch like the Hyrule Historia – an official guide created by Nintendo to explain the tumultuous timeline of the Zelda series, this timeline was posted on the official English Konami site.

It’s formatted superbly, making the outlandish plot line very easy to follow. We particularly like the fact that real world events and objects are shown in a different colour, so you can see the alternate history of Metal Gear fracture from our own.

If you’re a history buff this may sound like an insult to you, but trust us – once you’re deep in Metal Gear lore you won’t be able to tell up from down, history from fiction, or purple from potato. Need a taste of what we’re talking about? Here is a direct quote from the timeline that introduces The Phantom Pain:

Bound to Hell, Venom Snake, the Fallen Legend, will have his Revenge and his Outer Heaven

Yeah…

Read “From John to Venom: the story of Metal Gear Solid”.

Metal Gear Timeline

metal-gear

A labour of love by game developer Alex Camilleri, the Metal Gear Timeline includes in-game dates with explanations, a colour coded system to indicate which games housed certain storylines, and even it even boasts an option to hide uncertain parts of the canon.

You’ll want to get yourself a snack and a free afternoon if you intend to read the entire timeline in one sitting as it’s thousands of words inter-spaced with a ton of imagery. Mind you, if any series could justify all this effort, it is definitely Metal Gear.

And here’s the quote to impress any potential punters:

Big Boss rescues Chico, who also joins Militaires Sans Frontieres. Big Boss proceeds in his mission to find the nuclear warhead. It emerges that Hot Coldman, a CIA agent, wants to use the Metal Gear – created by the scientist Huey Emmerich – to launch a warhead and test its effectiveness.

Yes, a character is named Hot Coldman.

Read the Metal Gear Timeline.