Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain began a new event this past weekend, and it might be the final salvo in creator Hideo Kojima’s legacy of weaving anti-nuke messages into the Metal Gear series he created.

The event gives players the seemingly impossible goal of disarming and disposing of every nuclear weapon across Metal Gear Solid V‘s online servers. If they succeed, a special narrative event—one first uncovered months ago by data-mining fans—will occur, celebrating a whole network nuke-free.

Nuclear weapons have been a part of the multiplayer portion of The Phantom Pain ever since players discovered they could build nukes to protect their bases from invasion from other players. The nukes function as a deterrent, ensuring that only other players with nukes can invade.

Now, those invasions are happening with renewed intensity, as players have banded together across all systems to steal and disarm other players’ nukes—or, for some more mischievous players, seize them in order to protect them on their own bases and ensure a safe future for the nuclear option.

This isn’t the first time nuclear anxiety has proliferated throughout the world of Metal Gear. The premise of the series, after all, is based on the threat of a walking tank that can trigger nuclear war, the titular Metal Gear, a weapon reserved for the worst villains and the most cynical sort of realpolitik. The first Metal Gear Solid game took this even further by selecting a nuclear warhead disposal facility as its setting, a move that lets the game indulge in a screed against the deplorable conditions of nuclear security after the Cold War.

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The nonlethal play that the Metal Gear series rewards, in which the player “ghosts” through an area leaving no trace and no dead bodies, is another way of reiterating Kojima’s ongoing distaste for destruction.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain stands out by offering the players a different perspective, putting them in the place of major series villain Big Boss on the precipice of his final descent into evil. It’s a game that offers players a chance to build a techno-industrial war machine, profiting off of the unstable politics of the late Cold War and using them to pursue personal revenge.

In a way, The Phantom Pain is a chance to revel in everything the series hates. This new event, then, feels like a corrective, an opportunity to walk back from the ledge of nuclear annihilation.

Hideo Kojima, who left Konami following the completion of Metal Gear Solid V, said as much on his Twitter feed, framing it as a final chance for the player to make an intervention in their character’s downward spiral:

Konami is keeping count of the amount of nukes on all platforms over on the official Metal Gear Twitter. Ever so slowly, across all consoles and the PC, the number is going down.


Metal Gear Solid V’s Final Twist? Nuclear Disarmament