I didn't want to get my hopes up about Metal Gear Solid Delta, but Konami's somehow done it

The lens on Snake's air goggles reflecting the sun.
(Image credit: Konami)

If you're a Metal Gear fan, then chances are your stance on Metal Gear Delta so far has been cautious optimism at best. Konami hasn't done much with the series since the departure of its creator, Hideo Kojima, but the recent release of MGS: The Master Collection Vol. 1 and the remake of Metal Gear Solid 3: Snake Eater shows the Japanese publisher starting to reclaim its most iconic and standout series.

At today's Xbox Games Showcase, Konami offered up the first gameplay trailer of MGS Delta, though it should be said that while this is all in-game a whole bunch of it consisted of cutscenes. The approach Konami is taking with Delta prioritises being faithful to the original game, but with a stunning visual overhaul alongside bringing the controls and some mechanics more in-line with contemporary expectations. And I probably wouldn't have called it "stunning" before this trailer.

The look of Delta blows me away because, honestly, I didn't know if Konami still had it in them. But the jungle environments here are visually some of the best I've ever seen, no matter the map layout underpinning them, with the air so moist at points you can almost feel it on your skin. At one point you see Snake wading through swampwater with the crocodile cap on, before a drone's searchlights swoop over the surface, the sun blazing over distant hills as the surface ripples, and in some way captures what Snake Eater always looked like in my imagination.

Other observations: the CQC system seems to be pretty in-line with what we saw in MGSV: The Phantom Pain, which is great. The animations have been overhauled with real sensitivity to their accuracy and speed. At one point Snake crawls backwards and aims, which is new. Every gameplay sequence shown is present in the original game. The environment layouts seem totally unchanged. And it ends without giving us a release date.

The only repeated criticisms I've seen of the trailer so far relate to the character models of Snake and the Boss, which is always going to be one of those super-subjective calls. For my money they look fantastic and manage the not-inconsiderable task of recreating a PS2 model's characteristics while balancing the huge increase in visual fidelity. I'd go against the tide on the Boss especially, who here looks stern, maybe a little weary, and noticeably older than Snake.

This element of Delta in particular was always going to be a thankless task, but I think Konami's done as good a job as it could have. Note also that in the cutscenes the lip-syncing animations have been vastly improved over the original, though still retain wonkiness in parts.

I didn't want to get my hopes up about Delta, but Konami has somehow got me hyped. Not that my expectations are too wild: MGS3 was a PS2 game and, with how closely Delta is hewing to the source material, this is definitely going to feel archaic in some ways. But it's also one of my favourite games ever, with one hell of a visual shine-up and a few modern quality-of-life improvements. For me this is a must buy. But whether Delta's odd mix of old and new will appeal to the mainstream audience will have to be seen.

Rich Stanton

Rich is a games journalist with 15 years' experience, beginning his career on Edge magazine before working for a wide range of outlets, including Ars Technica, Eurogamer, GamesRadar+, Gamespot, the Guardian, IGN, the New Statesman, Polygon, and Vice. He was the editor of Kotaku UK, the UK arm of Kotaku, for three years before joining PC Gamer. He is the author of a Brief History of Video Games, a full history of the medium, which the Midwest Book Review described as "[a] must-read for serious minded game historians and curious video game connoisseurs alike."