The Metal Gear series is one of the most recognizable franchises in gaming history and it has actually been around since 1987. During its decades-long run, the series had defined the stealth game genre – as a matter of fact, the original Metal Gear was one of the first true stealth game ever made!

Today, we’ll be going over all the Metal Gear games ever made, listing them in chronological order and providing a brief overview of each one.

Main Series

The main series consists of those Metal Gear games which are officially a part of the canon Metal Gear universe. They are all stealth action games, although the formula has, naturally, evolved and changed over the years.

Metal Gear

metal gear chronology

Release date: July 13, 1987

Released for: MSX2

Also playable on: NES, Commodore 64, MS-DOS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Wii Virtual Console

The one that started it all! The first Metal Gear game was developed for the MSX2 home computer, whose technical limitations may just have been the key factor that pivoted Metal Gear from a pure action game (as it was originally envisioned) to a more stealth oriented one.

In retrospect, Metal Gear has a laughably simple and straightforward premise compared to the complex and convoluted storylines that the franchise would eventually come to be known for – infiltrate the base, destroy Metal Gear. However, despite all the limitations of the late 80s hardware, Metal Gear was already a game ahead of its time, both from a gameplay and storytelling perspective.

The game was ported to the NES, MS-DOS, and the Commodore 64, although the first two had been heavily altered without Kojima’s involvement. The game was later included in Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence for the PS2, as well as in Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for the PS3, PS Vita, and the Xbox 360. On top of that, it was also added to the Wii Virtual Console.

Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake

metal gear solid chronology

Release date: July 20, 1990

Released for: MSX2

Also playable on: PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Wii Virtual Console

Three years after the original game, a direct sequel was released, and it was named after the protagonist himself. It was also developed mainly for the MSX2 and is largely similar to the first installment, both in terms of mechanics and plot.

The most notable addition that enhanced the stealth-centric experience was the introduction of sound as a stealth factor. Enemies could now hear the player, requiring them to use firearms sparingly and make thorough use of the new prone position. On top of that, enemies could also hear noise and come rushing in from off-screen, which meant more serious consequences for breaking stealth.

Unlike the original Metal Gear, Metal Gear 2 was never really ported to any major gaming systems of the time and, like its predecessor, it was released as part of MGS 3: Subsistence and MGS HD Collection, and was also released on the Wii Virtual Console.

Metal Gear Solid

metal gear solid

Release date: September 3, 1998

Released for: PlayStation

Also playable on: PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Nintendo GameCube

The very first 3D game that would come to define the rest of the series – the one and only Metal Gear Solid. While the game did not take full advantage of the third dimension (seeing as it mostly sticks to the familiar overhead perspective), it did make great strides in the storytelling department.

Metal Gear Solid was also released for the Nintendo GameCube in 2004 under the title Metal Gear Solid: The Twin Snakes. This wasn’t a real port, however, as it introduced some changes, including updated graphics and several new gameplay elements from Metal Gear Solid 2, a sequel which had already been released several years prior.

Today, it is available on PSN for the PlayStation 3 and the Vita, and it is also included as a free download in the Metal Gear Solid: The Legacy Collection. Sadly, it wasn’t remastered nor included in the HD Collection with MGS2, MGS3, and Peace Walker.

Metal Gear Solid 2: Sons of Liberty

metal gear solid chronological order

Release date: November 13, 2001

Released for: PlayStation 2

Also playable on: PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows

Metal Gear Solid 2 faced a fair share of controversy upon release because of the way it replaced Solid Snake with a new protagonist – Raiden – who was the polar opposite of the gruff and experienced veteran that the players were used to. A big part of the fan outrage also stemmed from the fact that all pre-release material prominently featured Snake, with no hint whatsoever that the game would be featuring a new protagonist.

But of course, this was all done to accentuate some of the story’s themes, which is where MGS 2 truly shone. It shifted the focus to philosophical and existential matters, as opposed to the mere political fiction that the series was built upon before.

From a technical standpoint, MGS 2 also introduced greatly improved graphics and more polished gameplay, although the clunky first person aiming really felt shoehorned into some of the boss fights.

The game was originally released for the PlayStation 2, but was also ported to the original Xbox and Windows in the form of Metal Gear Solid 2: Substance. Later, it was included in the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection for the PS3 and PSVita, as well as the Xbox 360.

Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater

mgs timeline

Release date: November 17, 2004

Released for: PlayStation 2

Also playable on: PlayStation 3, PlayStation Vita, Xbox 360, Nintendo 3DS

Ask a veteran Metal Gear fan what their favorite game in the entire franchise is and the answer will most likely be Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater. For the very first time, we found ourselves in the combat boots of none other than Big Boss himself, or rather, Naked Snake, as he is called at this point in the timeline.

Snake Eater took a step back from the existential themes of MGS2, focusing more on political fiction and the Cold War, featuring a very character-heavy story. Gameplay-wise, it added camouflage, advanced melee combat, and even some survival elements. However, only the first two would actually stick around for the later installments.

A year later, Snake Eater saw a re-release in the form of Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence that introduced the first incarnation of Metal Gear Online, as well as an OTS camera mode. However, MGS 3 remained a PS2 exclusive until the release of the HD Collection, when it finally became available on the PS3, PSVita, and the Xbox 360.

Furthermore, Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D was released for the Nintendo 3DS in 2012. It altered the controls so as to better adapt them to Nintendo’s handheld console, all the while introducing OTS aiming and shooting as well.

Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots

metal gear solid game timeline

Release date: June 12, 2008

Released for: PlayStation 3

Also playable on: N/A

With Metal Gear Solid 4, we finally got to assume control of Solid Snake as the protagonist once again, but it would also be the last time. MGS 4 is probably the most plot-focused game of the franchise, (in)famous for its insanely long cutscenes that rivaled the runtimes of full-length films at certain points.

While there are cutscenes galore to go around, MGS 4 is sorely lacking in terms of its single-player campaign. Adaptive camouflage makes the camouflage system largely redundant, stealth sections are few, and the game is mostly “on rails” from Act 2-onward.

Still, the main purpose of MGS 4 was to wrap up the many convoluted plotlines from the previous games, something that it definitely managed to do, even if the fans did not much like “nanomachines” as the sole answer to all of the series’ questions and mysteries.

This is also the only Metal Gear game that remains exclusive and playable only on a single platform (the PS3) to this day.

Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker

mgs chronology

Release date: April 29, 2010

Released for: PlayStation Portable

Also playable on: PlayStation Vita, PlayStation 3, Xbox 360

The events of Peace Walker are, once again, focused on Big Boss and his efforts to establish his private military organization in Cuba at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis. This story is what set up the stage for the final chapter of the series, and the game is not half-bad from a gameplay standpoint either.

Peace Walker borrows a lot from MGS 4 in terms of mechanics and adds base management elements and co-op on top of that. The story is executed well, too, and stands surprisingly well on its own two legs, although the bosses are quite forgettable when compared to the rest of the series.

Peace Walker was initially released for the PSP, but a remastered version is also available on the PS3 and the Xbox 360 as part of the Metal Gear Solid HD Collection. However, due to the PSP version of the game already being available on the PS Vita, the HD Collection for the Vita doesn’t actually include the remastered version of Peace Walker.

Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes

metal gear games in order

Release date: March 18, 2014

Released for: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

As far as we’re concerned, Ground Zeroes does not qualify for the status of a standalone game. If anything, it is a paid demo and story prologue for the real Metal Gear Solid V, but since it is still being sold separately, we have decided to include it as a separate entry.

Ground Zeroes picked up after the ending of Peace Walker and quickly set up the premise for The Phantom Pain, all the while introducing us to the best incarnation of Metal Gear, as far as gameplay is concerned. The Fox Engine graphics are absolutely breathtaking, and the only thing more outstanding is how well MGS V manages to fuse stealth and action elements into a dynamic whole.

This particular “game” can be completed in less than an hour, not counting the side missions which take place on the same map, so if you want to pick it up at some point, best wait for when it dips below $5 at a sale.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain

metal gear timeline

Release date: September 1, 2015

Released for: PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, Xbox 360, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

The Phantom Pain is perhaps the most divisive entry in the series. Where Metal Gear Solid 4 had too much story and too little gameplay, V has too much gameplay and too little story. The latter was something that hardcore fans were quick to take note of, and not many were happy with the way that the Metal Gear franchise was wrapped up.

Most importantly, the game was left unfinished due to the well-known Kojima-Konami breakup, leaving the long-term fans with what felt like an incomplete epilogue. Regardless, The Phantom Pain definitely remains the best game in the series if we’re looking at it solely from a gameplay perspective.

As with Ground Zeroes, it perfectly blends stealth and action, the only major problems being the occasional repetitiveness that usually comes with open world games and a lack of memorable boss fights that the series is known for. On top of that, MGS V places a big accent on base building and management, expanding upon the foundation set by the portable games that came before it.

Ultimately, despite the narrative shortcomings, TPP remains one of the best Metal Gear games, thanks in no small part to the remarkably well-executed gameplay, the open level design, and the technical wonder that is the Fox Engine.

Spin-offs

The spin-off titles are those that are not a part of the established Metal Gear canon, and many of them differ from the stealth-action approach of the main series in favor of exploring other genres. More often than not, they are also made by third-party developers.

Metal Gear: Ghost Babel

metal gear game order

Release date: April 27, 2000

Released for: GameBoy Color

An often-overlooked non-canon entry in the series, Ghost Babel (released in the west simply as “Metal Gear Solid”) is a Game Boy Color reimagining of the sequel to the original Metal Gear game from 1987. Considering that it’s a 2D game, it does not deviate much from the formula of the original two Metal Gear games, although it does update it with some elements of the PS version of the original MGS.

Metal Gear Acid

metal gear spinoffs

Release date: December 16, 2004

Released for: PlayStation Portable

Metal Gear Acid is a very clear step away from the series’ signature stealth/action gameplay in that it is actually a turn-based collectible card game where the player guides familiar characters through familiar situations with the help of action cards. The game was released exclusively for the PSP and was never ported to another system.

Metal Gear Acid 2

order of metal gear games

Release date: December 8, 2005

Released for: PlayStation Portable

Heavily resembling its predecessor, Metal Gear Acid 2 did not deviate much from the established card-based formula. It introduced some minor new features that improved the gameplay to a certain degree and it also had better-looking cell-shaded graphics, even if they did seem a bit out of place in a Metal Gear game. And just like its predecessor, it remained a PSP exclusive.

Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops

metal gear solid order

Release date: December 5, 2006

Released for: PSP

Also playable on: PSVita

As the name so obviously suggests, Portable Ops was designed specifically for the PlayStation Portable and was ported to the PlayStation Vita 10 years after its original release.

Portable Ops is commonly seen as one of the weaker links in the main series, primarily because of the lackluster story. However, gameplay-wise, Portable Ops set the foundation for both Peace Walker and The Phantom Pain by being the first Metal Gear game to feature base-building and ally recruitment mechanics.

Portable Ops also received a standalone expansion titled Metal Gear Solid: Portable Ops Plus. It made a number of changes to the gameplay mechanics of the base game and also scrapped the single-player campaign in favor of procedurally-generated “Infinity Missions”.

Metal Gear Solid Mobile

metal gear chronological order

Release date: March 19, 2008

Released for: Symbian

Remember the Symbian mobile operating system? It was one of the several smartphone operating systems from an age before iOS and Android became the dominant force in the market. Metal Gear Solid Mobile was released exclusively for the Symbian OS, and it was a remarkably thorough Metal Gear experience for a 2008 mobile game, heavily resembling the original MGS and MGS 2.

Metal Gear Solid Touch

metal gear timeline games

Release date: March 18, 2009

Released for: iOS

A minor mobile game, Metal Gear Solid Touch followed MGS 4 and was developed exclusively for Apple’s iOS. It featured simple turret-based gameplay and sprite-based graphics. Due to compatibility issues, it was removed from the App Store in late 2015, before the debut of iOS 9.

Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance

metal gear rising

Release date: February 19, 2013

Released for: PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Microsoft Windows, OS X

Revengeance is a very interesting game, to say the least. What started out as a tech demo for the Fox Engine titled “Metal Gear Solid: Rising” soon became an excellent spinoff hack ‘n’ slash action game developed by PlatinumGames.

Set after the events of MGS 4, we assume the role of Raiden once again, as he makes his way through the post-Patriot world. The formula does not deviate much from what you’d expect of this genre, although a unique element in MGR was “zangeki” i.e. the ability to dynamically cut enemies and objects into countless pieces, something that was the focal point of the aforementioned tech demo.

All in all, Metal Gear Rising is a sweet, although a lamentably short experience. Still, that does not prevent it from being one of the most memorable and fun Metal Gear spinoffs out there.

Metal Gear Survive

metal gear survive

Release date: February 20, 2018

Released for: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Microsoft Windows

The first post-Kojima Metal Gear game, it is also the first and unlikely to be the last time that Konami tries to milk the franchise for all it’s worth. Survive is a decent game in its own right, but it is far from being a good Metal Gear game. Seeing as it is a largely unremarkable and generic zombie defense/zombie survival game, and considering how many MGS V assets were re-used, it is safe to say that Survive was possibly one of the laziest and most blatant cash-grabs in gaming history.

The Final Word

And that would be it for this list! If we have skipped any game or made any errors, please let us know in the comments.

Also, note that most of the older Metal Gear games can easily be played on the PC with the use of emulators, though most of those games were never officially released for PC.

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