Gamers could be playing Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain a lot sooner than expected, if recent rumors making their way around the internet are to be believed. According to said rumors, Big Boss and his cohorts could be sneaking into retail as soon as February of next year.

Okay, so, Big Boss is basically known for popping up out of nowhere and surprising folks, but this particular feat seems a little too hard to believe, even for the world’s most notorious super soldier. As VG24/7 is reporting, multiple retailers now have Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain slated for release on Feb. 24, 2015.

Originally popping up on Reddit, a retail clerk who was curious if there was any update on a release date for the new MGS got more than he bargained for. Until recently, the game had a Dec. 31 release date listed, which is basically a placeholder used to mean “Hey, it might come out sometime this year.” Rather than updating to Dec. 31, 2015, however, it looks like the new date listed is in just a couple of months’ time, specifically Feb. 24.

If this was just a one-chain situation, we wouldn’t put too much stock in it. However, Rakuten, Smart Game Shopper and the Microsoft Store have all updated with the same new date, making this release rumor feel all the more plausible.

So why, then, am I having such a hard time believing that The Phantom Pain will be upon us within about 60 days? Because I can’t think of a single AAA title that’s ever announced a release date that was so damn close. A four-month warning isn’t unheard of but, when it comes to franchises as big as MGS, you usually have a date to circle on your calendar a good six months in advance. If nothing else, solid release dates are usually preceded by campaigns boasting that it’s “Coming this fall” or the like.

It’s not like we haven’t heard a decent amount about The Phantom Pain at this point. The game was originally revealed as a mysterious project back in 2012, but eagle-eyed viewers quickly uncovered the truth and Kojima Productions eventually said “Yeah, it’s a new Metal Gear. Did we fool ya?!” The game has appeared at a pair of E3 events since then, as well as various other conventions and special video presentations.

The prequel, Grounds Zeroes, released just this past year on both new gen and last gen consoles, recently earning a PC port to boot.

Finally, Director Hideo Kojima showed off the game’s multiplayer portion during The Game Awards just a few weeks ago.

So, yeah, it’s clear that The Phantom Pain is pretty far along at this point, but I was expecting a fall 2015 launch window at the earliest. So what do you folks think? Is it likely we’ll be sneaking around in cardboard boxes come February?

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