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Metal Gear Solid Delta combines modern UE5 tech with a faithful recreation of MGS3’s levels and cutscenes

Whisper it quietly, but Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater looks like the most exciting Konami project in years. The trailer shown at this year’s Xbox Games Showcase contains just over two minutes of tightly edited in-engine footage, but it answers a lot of questions about the direction of the project – with more details provided in an interview between Solid Snake voice actor David Hayter and producer Noriaki Okamura. At its heart, Delta looks to offer extensive reworks to visuals, controls and camera, using Unreal Engine 5, alongside slavishly faithful recreation of the level design and cutscene direction of the PS2 original.

Of course, we’ve seen Metal Gear Solid 3 polished up in Bluepoint’s excellent HD Collection back on PS3 and Xbox 360 – a build that’s also been re-used in the recent Master Collection to mixed reviews. But this remake, Metal Gear Solid Delta, is a more ambitious beast. It’s shaping up to be a genuine effort to give series fans the best way to play the game. The big question is this: how does the footage we have so far compare to the original via the HD Collection? What’s changed, and what stays intact?

While Metal Gear Solid Delta’s release date is still unannounced, we do know it’s set for release on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and Steam – and with that being the case, there’s no telling what platform we’re precisely seeing in the trailer. It could be a mixture of formats, though the smart money is on an early PC build. Practically every shot I’ve pixel counted shows a crisp native 4K image, a true 3840×2160 with dynamic resolution scaling deployed only rarely. Next there’s the frame-rate situation. Oddly enough, the trailer is only presented on YouTube as a 30fps encode, but hopefully that is a limitation of the capture – we’d expect to see a full 60fps in the final product, as we got with the HD Collection before it.

Here’s the full Tom Morgan tech breakdown of the Metal Gear Solid Delta trailer. Watch on YouTube

Comparing Delta to the original MGS3, it’s clear that every cutscene revealed thus far is precisely matched. Hideo Kojima’s original direction, the frame composition and even the timing of each camera cut is all transposed to the Unreal Engine 5 remake. Konami is being surprisingly faithful to the original here, and it’s even confirmed that MGS3’s original voice work is being re-used. The only slight change is that the remake positions its camera a few degrees higher than the HD Collection. I’m nitpicking really though, and it syncs up beautifully otherwise.

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Starting with Snake’s HALO jump into the jungle, every dial on the plane cockpit, every monitor and the walls of the hangar are all redesigned with new assets. From the fabrics of Snake’s suit to the metal sheen of the floor, the materials are built from scratch. This allows the game to take fuller advantage of UE5’s more accurate lighting, with more detailed and diffuse shadows playing across the characters, while ambient occlusion shades in under collars and beneath hair. Ultimately then, it’s the same scene composition we had in 2004, but with wildly different results thanks to that UE5 rebuild.

This asset revamp benefits from overcoming limits to texture resolution in the HD Collection, which were themselves improved compared to the PS2 original. At last, we get textures that really do better suit a 4K presentation. There are a few other extras too, such as improved reflections across Snake’s visor before he makes his jump, more realistic cloud rendering and more adeptly deployed lens flare, bloom and colour grading. On that last point, the remake noticeably reduces the green tint that defined the original MGS3 look, though Konami has confirmed it’s possible to re-enable this tint with a legacy toggle in the final game. In later action-heavy scenes, the new textures, lighting, shadows and post-processing tricks combine beautifully. One later encounter with the Ocelot Unit even adds in per-object motion blur – a nice touch that better sells it as a cinematic moment.


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Perhaps the most remarkable upgrade is in MGS Delta’s improved character rendering. Characters like Naked Snake, The Boss, Para-Medic and Major Zero all sport completely new facial detail here – a radical reinvention that can take some getting used to. Again, animations appear to be sourced from the original body and facial motion capture used in MGS3, but the detail layered over the top using UE5 allows for a huge surface-leve change.

Overall, I think it’s a positive move. Snake, for example, now has more defined stubble on his face, visible pores, wrinkles and even coarse streaks of paint ad dirt. His hair is also now finessed as individual strands, rather than the simple geometric clumps used in the original. Combined with the AO, you get a much more richly detailed design in the remake. Yes, it is a contentious move to change what is an iconic design, to push towards realism, but I’d argue it’s necessary to keep the characters consistent with the material overhauls in the world around them. The Boss also sees a huge overhaul, with the materials used for skin, the way shadows play across her body and even the volumetric fog behind her making for a colossal upgrade.

Next there’s the world design revealed so far: the jungle, the swamps, the bridge and the first military base in Rassvet. Across the board, there’s a reworking to every asset in sight – but it’s still all surface-level stuff. The bog of the swamp uses a new shader for example; we get a cleaner, more reflective surface that now mirrors the trees and even birds as they fly overhead. Later on, the ground shows higher quality grass, though thankfully it’s not overdone as the game’s stealth mechanics hinge greatly on these carefully-placed grass patches. Likewise, the remake’s level layout sticks to the original blueprint 1:1, but it’s not clear if the remake will use the same fade-to-black transitions between areas or if we’re set for a more seamless world.

Here’s how Metal Gear Solid Delta, as glimpsed in the trailer, measures up against the original MGS3.

Despite this layout mirror match, it’s worth pointing out a few unique features in the remake. Chief among them is the new “modern” camera and controls, which appear to adopt a style closer to that of Metal Gear Solid 5. It’s great stuff, but purists can opt for a legacy control mode with a top-down camera to boot. This is classic MGS territory and was shown alongside that classic green filter, which is confirmed to be a separate toggle. Kudos to Konami for giving us options to play how we like here. There are a few other neat aesthetic changes too, such as Snake procedurally building scars and wounds as you play, serving as a kind of permanent marker of his battle through the jungle. You might also notice that equipped weapons are now in view, with larger rifles slung across Snake’s back. Again, a nice touch, and one of many more I hope to see once the full game arrives.

Overall, the latest Metal Gear Solid Delta: Snake Eater trailer is making all the right noises. Striking a balance between being technically forward-thinking, while staying true to the original, is no easy task. So far, Delta looks much closer to the 2004 original in design than I’d expected, and it’s both unusual and compelling to see PS2-era level design and cutscenes updated using UE5 tech. It’s a mash-up of two wholly different generations, in essence – and it’s to the developer’s credit that the original MGS3 framework is still viable for a modern release.

It’s also fair to say Metal Gear fans needed some positive news. Barring last year’s Master Collection, which still has its bugs and issues, there hasn’t been much to celebrate. A lot is riding on Konami getting this remake right, as a successful launch might encourage it to revisit the series’ legacy. As the first chronological entry in the Metal Gear story, remaking Metal Gear Solid 3 seems a fitting way for Konami to kick off that initiative.

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