Metal Gear Survive is a surprisingly hardcore, captivating survival multiplayer experience

6 min read
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It’s easy to bemoan Konami for quickly setting their sights on extracting as much worth as they can from the Metal Gear Solid name now that famed creator Hideo Kojima is sowing seeds elsewhere, but it’s hard when you consider just how solid Metal Gear Survive actually is. The survival action title set in an alternate universe from Metal Gear Solid is surprisingly competent, and even more fun than I possibly could’ve imagined before going hands-on with some online multiplayer. Does that mean it still isn’t being exploitative in some manner? Absolutely not.

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The most confusing thing about Metal Gear Survive is simply its loose attachment to the stealth franchise. There’s very little in Survive that ties it to the politically charged, often whacky hallmark game, and it’s clear that the name itself is being used to garner some good will from unsuspecting fans. It’s a shame though because the game itself introduces some neat ideas on top of perfectly enjoyable gameplay that the attachment ends up sullying it more than it does bolster it.

Playing a session of online multiplayer with a handful of other journalists, re-visiting the desolate outskirts of the Afghanistan region from The Phantom Pain immediately felt familiar. A thick fog blanketing the grounds gives it a more ominous feeling, matched by the strange creatures that mindlessly roam the lands. They’re not zombies in name, but their characteristics are easily encapsulated in that stereotype. Enemies lumber towards you slowly and then rush in the kill in packs, with suitably glowing weak spots making your job of thinning out the herds a little easier.

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The main objective of the session was point defence. A wormhole harvester of some kind needed to be protected by our team of four from increasingly difficult and lengthy waves of enemies, consisting of regular foes, overgrown bombers and some heavily armed nuisances. Each player chooses a class before battle, which helps govern starting gear and weapons. Assault rifles and bows and arrows are standard issue, and pretty stock when it comes to mowing down mindless foes. It’s the gadgets instead that introduced an element of strategy to the entire affair.

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Holing up in a blown to pieces shelter, we weren’t exactly in the perfect place to make a stand. My particular class gave me the chance to lay down all manners of hazards and traps to slow down the encroaching hordes. Electrically charged fences and massive fire traps strategically placed by all players around the map introduced a neat sense of cooperative comradely, as we all prepared for the horrors of the night to topple the down.

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Survival isn’t just a naming convention either. Each player consists of a health and stamina bar, along with hunger, thirst and oxygen indicators. At least two gradually tick down over time, decreasing the total health value you can possibly heal to with a pack or after revival. Supplies are incredibly short too, and quickly it becomes apparent that sharing really is caring. Teammates can pool together resources at a central part of the camp, allowing anyone to craft ammunition, food items and more powerful versions of defences that you might already have.

These recipes are all controlled by player specific unlocks, which seems like the perfect place for Konami to inject some randomisation. With each round victory (and to a lesser extent, defeat), players are rewarded with new weapons, recipes for crafting and player profile unlocks that help supplement progression. You’ll become more adept at surviving the more you play, with the tools for taking down the nastier foes that later waves through at you. It’s no the only mode that will be on offer when the game launches next year, but it’s likely the main one that Konami is hoping most play.

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Honestly though, it’s not bad. Despite reservations, Metal Gear Survive was both intriguing and enjoyable to play, with its many systems providing a strategic element to what is essentially a more blown out version of something like Call of Duty zombies. collaboration is certainly key online though. I soon found myself crucially out of ammunition, with one specific teammate hoarding most of the saving grace supply drops in-between waves all to himself. Without the aid of a single player, the walls quickly started falling. We were overrun shortly after that still, emphasising quickly to the entire time how a single act of greed cost us when we were so close to victory.

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Still, it’s hard to understand why Metal Gear as a franchise needs to be attached to this at all. Perhaps it’s because it’d struggle without the association (which is probably entirely true), but it then works against it by imbuing a high bar of expectation given the strong history of the franchise. Instead, Metal Gear Survive is just simply enjoyable – not really more, and hardly less. It’s far more captivating than the snarky reception will ever suggest, but it’d probably serve Konami well to perhaps move it into a space that’s more captivating instead of confusing.

With the game now delayed to 2018 and single-player content still scarcely being shown, there’s still a lot more that Metal Gear Survive might end up just surprising us with.

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Last Updated: June 14, 2017

Alessandro Barbosa

You can all call me Sandy until I figure out how to edit this thing, which is probably never. Sandy not good enough? Call me xXx_J0k3R_360degreeN0Sc0pe_xXx. Also, Geoff’s a bastard.

  • Matthew Figueira

    Happy to hear it’s not all bad. I have high hopes for this, despite Konami exploiting such an epic franchise 😡

  • Hammersteyn

    This is the most surprising thing I’ve read all week O_o Wish I could be a fly on the wall in Konami’s meetings, looks like it’s not all just pachinko machines 24/7

    • Mr.Sixes

      Yeah they(Konami) said that 2 years ago…no one listened…

  • Original Heretic

    Reading this, seems like Konami missed a trick here. They could have created a brand new IP. Good marketing would have ensured hype and with the game being as good as Sandy mentioned, it very likely would have succeeded.
    By latching the Metal gear name onto it, they may have soured the game to many.

    • 100% this.

    • Mr.Sixes

      I’m endeared to it more than not because of the metal gear name, mainly because I’m thinking of how many interesting things they could do.

  • Pieter Kruger

    See, there is life after Hideo after all…..

    • Jim of the Banana

      But it’s a sad life… like being 69 years old and without pension….

  • Jim of the Banana

    Konami is the new Capcom. Everything they touch turns to litres of excrement.

    • Corey Jason Cochran

      Monster Hunter World’s gonna be awesome. Capcom finally listened for that IP.

  • ObsessedGeorge

    No way I’m touching this game. Supporting Konami is an insult to our gaming industry. Petty spiteful fuckers.

  • George George

    What a strange beast. I still can’t wrap my head around it. I imagine they latched onto Metal Gear for two reasons: name recognition, and asset re-use. If this were a new IP, they probably wouldn’t get very far using the exact same environments and mechanics before people started crying fowl. That said, they could have launched what actually looks like kind of a cool game without any of the baggage associated with defiling the legacy of their most beloved franchise.

    I don’t like or trust Konami to make smart or good decisions, though. They minimized the cost associated with this game and maximized its exposure by harvesting recognizable brands. I’m sure most people don’t even know what went down with Konami and Kojima anyway (people who just play games and don’t spend the rest of the time reading about what happens behind the scenes). Nonetheless, I can’t pretend I won’t still play this, convictions aside. I’ve already made a team for it on https://www.guilded.gg/metalgearsurvive/lfg to get my foot in the door in case this game turns out to be really good.

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