Ghost Recon Wildlands pays surprisingly touching tribute to Metal Gear Solid via old stealth rival Splinter Cell

Sam Fisher looking pensive in Ghost Recon Wildlands.

Splinter Cell's Sam Fisher has returned in a new mission for Ghost Recon Wildlands after years away. His first order of business after such a long absence? Paying respects to another stealth icon who seems to have finally gotten out of the game. Watch this video snippet and you'll see what I mean.

"I've heard they don't make them like me anymore. There was this other guy though - Army Infiltration," Fisher says. "He wore a bandana or something." Karen Bowman, the Ghosts' CIA contact in Wildlands and apparently an old acquaintance of Fisher's, says that guy finally retired. "Then it's only me," Fisher responds, losing himself in reminiscence for a moment before the cutscene continues.

Yes, that's a direct callout to Snake, the protagonist(s) of the Metal Gear Solid series. And it's far from the first time that Splinter Cell has referenced Metal Gear and vice versa, as this surprisingly touching tribute video shows (when Naked Snake asks about "Gabe", it's a separate reference to Syphon Filter protagonist Gabriel Logan).

The first Splinter Cell game came out in 2002, a year after Metal Gear Solid 2. The two series took distinct approaches to stealth action and their joking nods to one another seemed to come from mutual respect - which was refreshing, given how juvenile some video game rivalries can be. You could interpret the lines in the new Ghost Recon Wildlands mission as a literal reference to Old Snake retiring at the end of Metal Gear Solid 4, but given the timing, it's probably a nod to the series' presumed end after creator Hideo Kojima left Konami (aside from the odd side story that is Metal Gear Survive).

Sam Fisher hasn't gotten a new game of his own since Splinter Cell: Blacklist in 2013 - and that one didn't even have the gravelly gravitas (gravel-tas) of Michael Ironsides' vocal performance. But I don't think Ubisoft would bring him back now if it didn't have more plans for Fisher in the near future. Like the man said, it's only him now.

See how Metal Gear and Splinter Cell fare in our ranking of the best stealth games.