Review: Metal Gear Survive (Computer)
- Release Date (NA): February 22, 2018
- Release Date (EU): February 22, 2018
- Publisher: Konami Digital Entertainment
- Developer: Konami Digital Entertainment
- Genres: Survival Action
- PEGI Rating: Sixteen years and older
- Also For: PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Single playerLocal MultiplayerOnline MultiplayerCo-operative
'Not A Hideo Kojima Game'
I am a huge fan of the Metal Gear video game series with Metal Gear Solid on the original Playstation being my all time favorite. The reason being that this particular title is the one that showed me that video games could offer an “interactive cinematic experience”. Since then I have played every single Metal Gear title that came out and enjoyed all of of the canon ones (yes, even Sons of Liberty). These had one thing in common: they were ‘directed’ by the series’ father, Hideo Kojima.
Metal Gear Survive is the first title to be released since the creator’s departure from Konami and I was very curious to see where the revered franchise is headed under a new command. So let’s take a look at how this entry fares!
The story of Metal Gear Survive takes off shortly after the events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. The Militaires Sans Frontières’ base is left as a tattered mess following XOF’s merciless attack when suddenly a wormhole of sorts opens in the sky, engulfing just about everything under it before closing up.
In a debrief session with a mysterious new character from Wardenclyffe Section, the secret research organization of the United States Federal Government, we are told that the wormhole leads to another dimension that has an Earth-like world called Dite. The discovery was actually made some 30 years ago and that dimension has been under study since then.
Dite is populated by Wanderers, the iconic zombie-like creatures of Metal Gear Survive which are actually humans infected by a poorly understood lifeform. Wanderers are extremely ferocious, attacking anyone they see indiscriminately. However, it has been discovered that an energy form, called Kuban energy, can be extracted from Wanderers. This massive energy source has the potential to tip the power of the world in favor of those controlling it.
Following the appearance of the wormhole over Mother Base, the coordinates of Dite was obtained and shortly after, a manned expedition team, the Charon Corps, was sent for the first time but contact with the team was later lost.
With enough energy left to send one person to the other dimension, the expendable player-generated character is chosen since he/she (yes you can choose the gender of your character) is already infected. Your character is tasked to recover the research data that the Charon Corps has left behind, gather Kuban energy and rescue any Charon survivors you come across.
So off you go!
Yeah, I know. The plot sounds really over the top even for a Metal Gear title. It definitely lacks the “Kojima-touch” and the inclusion of zombies feel out of place. Frankly, it might as well have been called Zombies: Konami Edition for all I cared. While it might appear that the focus is on co-op play, the single player campaign is quite fleshed out on its own. It will engage the player for over 20 hours to help piece together the storyline. Even then for a series that relies heavily on narrative, it all falls flat, with dull conclusions and poorly developed characters that ultimately do not really live up to the standards of the more intricate plots of its predecessors.
Being the next title after The Phantom Pain, Metal Gear Survive is unsurprisingly built on the already excellent Fox Engine developed by Kojima’s team. So expect great visuals and environment rendering when you jump into this title. If you have played MGSV:TPP, you know what to expect and the world of Dite will feel oddly similar. That’s because the environment design recycling is blatant from the outset. What was Afghanistan and Angola is now Dite after being stripped down to a bland-looking deserts and jungles with ruins of Mother Base littered here and there. While wandering around this new dimension, it is hard not to see Dite as a metaphor of the Metal Gear series itself: ruins of something formidable lost in another dimension trying to rebuild itself...
Afghanistan or Dite? Fox Engine for sure though!
Nevertheless other than lengthy cutscenes and hidden government agendas, Metal Gear Survive does have its share of “Metal Gearness” in the form of lots and lots of stealth action. Indeed during the first hours of the game, stealth will be your best method to sneak out of missions unscathed. Unlike other Metal Gear titles, Survive does not equip the player with the heavy artillery early on. Instead you will have to work for it: explore, collect materials and slowly build up your Base Camp into a burgeoning collective of stations. With a spear and a machete as my only weapons early on, I was forced to play Metal Gear as what it is known best: a stealth game. This focus on stealth was surprisingly satisfying while approaching the title with contempt after all the trash that Konami has received.
Metal Gear Survive also puts the survive in Metal Gear. It brings the survival mechanic that we’ve encountered in Snake Eater to the next level. Throughout the game you will have to constantly keep your character’s hunger and thirst in check. These deplete as you progress and you can replenish them with food and water respectively. If any of the latter is infected, your chances of getting sick increases and you will have to heal your character. Should you forget to take care of your
tamagochi character, the screen will blur, narrowing your vision and you will function less effectively. Moreover, certain sections of Dite are covered in a toxic dust that will require you to wear an oxygen mask. The latter’s content are limited and on top of that your stamina drops faster once in the dust. You will therefore have to be very much prepared before going out on a mission. To come to your aid will be stations from where you can craft weapons, pills and even cook the meat of animals that you’ve hunted. This survival mechanic, a significant part of the gameplay, is a love-it-or-hate-it affair. Some might argue that it adds a layer of “realism” to the game while others might complain that it makes the game all the more stressful and unforgiving. For my part I feel somewhat nervous before going out on a mission because I know if I haven’t packed enough resources, I will end up dead in the desert, lose everything that I managed to scavenge and will have to start over.
Another major aspect of the gameplay is the collection of resources. These come in the form of materials like iron and wood which can be obtained hidden in Dite or by laboriously hitting objects until they break down into their components. Another key resource is the versatile Kuban energy that you can salvage from dead Wanderers. This is also an unnecessarily long process that will increase your chances of being discovered. Once acquired, the resources can be used to craft weapons and build stations and this loop of adventuring-looting-building will be basically what you do for a good chunk of your time as the plot slowly progresses.
With all of the survival factors to take care of, resource collection, base building and exploration going on, Metal Gear Survive has quite a steep learning curve which can become quite daunting especially with the lengthy tutorials at the beginning.
When it comes to the online co-op, you can team up with up to 4 other players to take on missions. Several time-sensitive daily and weekly missions will become available and will help you gather resources quicker which will in turn help you in the story mode. However, many of the missions in both single and multiplayer modes feel repetitive, with similar aims that can be tackled in a routine way where you will encounter the same enemies.
Since we are on the topic of online play, microtransactions are present and is where Konami seemingly plans to further its profits. For a game that costs $40 upfront, you are looking at further expenses like a ludicrous $10 for another save slot or $2 for a single-day boost in points needed to level up your character. While I am not a fan of microtransactions, it is only becoming an increasing practice in games these days...
In-game purchases are done via SV coins, the game's currency that you can buy
Kept You Waiting, Huh?
Somewhat reflecting upon his own legacy, in a recent article Hideo Kojima pondered over how franchises can live forever. Sure Konami owns the Metal Gear IP and is free to do whatever it pleases with it. Under this new aegis Metal Gear Survive oftentimes feels awkward as it tries to piece together stealth, horror and survival into the Metal Gear timeline.
If you can put the Kojima-Konami drama aside, don’t heed to the microtransactions and suck up to the learning curve (and maybe not consider it as a Metal Gear title altogether), you will find some amount of entertainment in Metal Gear Survive. However that’s quite a lot to ask, especially for fans of a series that this game shares its aesthetics and name with.
In my opinion, the game would have fared much better under a new and original IP. The expectations of Metal Gear fans, a demograph this entry is obviously aimed at with its name and looks, are not fully met with Survive.
METAL GEAR SURVIVE – Launch Trailer
+ Survival mechanic
+ Intricate resource looting and base-building system
- Survival mechanic
- Steep learning curve
- Slow progression
- Re-used environments
- Similar missions
- Limited enemy types
In the same vein as its predecessors, the latest entry in the Metal Gear series is a visual treat. No wonder since it was developed on the excellent Fox Engine. However, without its creator, the new Metal Gear title has lost its distinct Kojima touch and now has an absurd-sounding plot and re-used environments.
The focus on the survival mechanic is a make-or-break issue for those accustomed with the gameplay of previous Metal Gear games. Moreover several missions feel repetitive with the exploration, resource-gathering and base-building loop.
The scheduled daily and weekly missions bring fresh content but often feel similar to previous missions.
out of 10
(not an average)
An uncanny addition to the Metal Gear franchise, Metal Gear Survive survives as a survival game but doesn't deliver as a Metal Gear game.