OctoCamo was a form of smart camouflage that could, within moments of coming into contact with almost any surface, replicate both its pattern and texture. It applied thermal technology to regulate the temperature of the disguised subject to better blend with the surrounding environment and to evade thermal imaging. Multiple surfaces could be mimicked at the same time, and preset camouflage patterns stored for later use. It was inspired by the mimicking abilities of the octopus, hence its name. OctoCamo, however, was completely useless for aerial craft.
The OctoCamo technology was originally developed by DARPA. Hal Emmerich created an OctoCamo suit for Solid Snake, based on designs that Sunny had found on the Internet. A muscle suit was also built in, to compensate for Snake's reduced body strength caused by his accelerated aging. When its camouflage properties were not in use, his OctoCamo suit was dark blue in color.
Snake was fitted with the OctoCamo suit prior to his deployment to the Middle East in 2014. He first utilized the suit's camouflage technology while hiding in rubble from two unmanned Gekko units in a ruined building. After crushing a cardboard box of watermelons, which they suspected he was hiding inside, the Gekko departed. One of the fruit subsequently rolled over toward Snake's hiding place, making contact with his right thigh, and causing his leg to briefly gain its color and textural appearance, before he deactivated the camouflage. In addition, five OctoCamo patterns were pre-programmed into his suit during his mission: the Olive Drab; the Woodland; the MARPAT Urban; the Tigerstripe; and the 3-color Desert.
Laughing Octopus of the Beauty and the Beast Unit possessed a suit of OctoCamo herself, used in tandem with FaceCamo, and was able to replicate extremely complex objects, such as medical equipment and the Metal Gear Mk. II. OctoCamo was also utilized on vehicle exteriors, such as the Stryker of weapon launder Drebin 893, and Liquid Ocelot's warship, Outer Haven. Haven was thus capable of generating complex structures, such as the "Mt. Snakemore" formation on its helm.
Snake's Octocamo suit was eventually destroyed after sustaining extensive damage from the microwave emitter defenses onboard Outer Haven.
Although FOXALIVE crippled the AI system of the Patriots, thus ending them, and by extension the Philosophers for good, the OctoCamo still saw some use by the late 2010s. It wasn't included in the MQ-133C flying wing that was on loan to Maverick Security Consulting, Inc. in 2018, because it would have been useless when in the air.
Behind the scenes
- "An advanced camouflage suit inspired by the mimicry ability of the octopus. If the wearer lies still or doesn't move when pressed up against a wall, the suit can imitate the color and texture of wall and ground surfaces, fooling both the naked eye and infrared sensors."
- ―OctoCamo description in Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots
The detail and complexity of OctoCamo technology, especially the more detailed designs it can achieve, are more akin to a cuttlefish rather than an octopus, as while the latter does possess the ability the former accomplishes much more detail and intricacy in its camouflage.
In Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots, the player is able to go into a menu, accessible through the pause menu under "Camouflage," to change details of the Octocamo, such as applying camouflage that has been saved from before. The PlayStation 3's Sixaxis controller can be shaken to revert the OctoCamo back to its default appearance, both during gameplay and cutscenes. In addition, although the cutscenes (more specifically the opening cutscene where he evades the Gekko with his OctoCamo and tricks them into smashing a cardboard box full of watermelons) show that the OctoCamo is capable of generating multiple camouflage patterns at once, gameplay only allows for the player to insert one camouflage pattern at a time.
In Metal Gear Online, under the game conditions of Sneaking Mission (SNE) one player participates as Snake, and is fully equipped with OctoCamo, along with optional FaceCamo under the item menu.
DLC materials in Metal Gear Solid 4 include 12 exclusive OctoCamo patterns. They are the Digital Red, Digital Blue, Laughing Kanji, Raging Kanji, Crying Kanji, Screaming Kanji, Snake, Beauty, Metal, Gear, Fly, and Haven camos. The only one to not serve any use is the Digital Red. The Digital Blue allows for aquatic camouflage; the four emotion kanji forces an enemy to succumb to the respective emotion the kanji represents and is embued with the same emotion; the Snake camo, with the cost of 10% of their camo index, can knock enemies down in one hit and relieve stress when carrying heavy equipment; the Beauty Camo can absorb psyche from a soldier via physical contact, although exposure to sunlight doubles the stress induced; the Metal camo halves life and psyche loss at the cost of 10% of their camo index; the Gear camo is the inverse of the Metal camo; the Fly camo has a similar usage to that of Snake Eater, only with the cost of Snake losing psyche in long term usage; and the Haven OctoCamo allows for 99% camo index when lying down with the cost of life and psyche decreasing at twice the rate than normal.
A similar technology to the OctoCamo, known as the Chameleon Suit, was first detailed in the user's manual for Metal Gear 2: Solid Snake. It was described as a special FOXHOUND stealth suit that could change color depending on the surroundings.
An early form of OctoCamo is used by Snake in Metal Gear Solid Mobile. This version doesn't replicate patterns by touch, however; the player has to take pictures of colors themselves using their phone and then transfer them onto Snake's suit. Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater 3D uses a similar camouflage system to the OctoCamo in Metal Gear Solid Mobile. It was called PhotoCamo in the latter case.
In the novel version of Metal Gear Solid, just before his first fight with Vulcan Raven, Snake alludes to the OctoCamo, stating he wished his camouflage would change with it's surroundings.
It also appeared in Versus Battle, where it competed against the Cardboard Box.
Become a Ghost, Includes Thermal
Developed by Otacon based on internet blueprints unearthed by Sunny, Snake’s Octacamo suit gives him superior camouflage abilities to an Octopus
METAL GEAR SOLID: THE LEGACY COLLECTION"
- ―OctoCamo in Versus Battle
Although OctoCamo itself is still fictional, its uses are currently under research and development.