Konami has released their latest title in the Metal Gear franchise titled Metal Gear Survive. The team have ditched the usual gameplay style of past MG games and have taken the franchise in to the survival experience with zombies and some tower defence like features. Once again I tool up and take the fight to the undead of a different planet.
The story is a mix of political espionage with survival horror, meaning it takes the the usual story telling in to a new direction. That being said the story does start off in true Metal Gear style with a cutscene that is just shy of sixty minutes, but unlike MGSV you can actually skip the cutscene. The game pretty much starts off with Mother Base getting destroyed in an all out fire fight and for those that have played the previous games you will get some deja-vu. You then see yourself being put in a coffin with a man named Goodluck standing over it. All he does is apologise for what he is about to do and then the coffin get dropped in to the ocean. You wake up six months later in a facility belonging to Wardenclyffe Section, a secretive research organization of the U.S. government. Goodluck explains you’re already infected with a lifeform and sends you to Dite, a parallel world which is a hellish landscape where victims of the infection have transformed into grotesque creatures known as Wanderers – aka zombies. You then encounters a member of none other than XOF, and together your bitter struggle for survival begins…
The story for MGS takes place between MGS V:GZ and MGS V:TPP so this certainly has a more spin-off feel to it. The only lengthy cut scene I have came across so far is the one at the start of the game. I have came across eight characters so far, two are A.I, then there Goodluck, reeves and a nurse. I will keep the other two secret as not to spoil anything. While the storytelling may not be on par with previous games it still has me wanting to know more, especially when you meat another person and they paint a very different picture to what is going on.
On starting the game you will be able to create your own avatar. The customization options on offer are no different form what we have already seen in MGSV so people will know what to expect. As you play through the game you will be able to level up your character and doing so will increase the difficulty of the wanderers. Increasing the actual level of your character requires Kuban Energy and once you go up a level you get a skill point to level up your attributes and learn new attack skills.
There are four attributes as well as around fourteen skills to learn. The other reason for the levelling up of your character is unlocking extra pouches to carry some more stuff to take out on missions. It does take time to level up as the amount of Kuban Energy needed increases with each level. Considering you need this energy to do pretty much everything else as well, you will need to manage it and your other resources. I tend to make sure I have a great amount of Kuban Energy for my air tank when going in to the mist.
When it comes to the gameplay aspect of MGS there is quite a few different modes on offer depending on your mission. You also have the whole survival element throughout the entire game and its one that I feel was pulled of well. You find out fast that you keep having to eat and drink to ensure you don’t die. You can eat raw meat and drink dirty water but you will run the risk of dying with infection so you are better cooking the meat and purifying dirty water. There will be some gamers that think the time going from full to hungry and thirsty is short, and I did think this at first too. I was wrong though as this helps keep the adrenalin factor as you can’t just go and do multiple missions on just a little drop of food and water. It does feel like a proper survival situation.
Once you have learnt the basics of surviving you them learn about your home base. It is here you will be able to craft weapons, defences, ammo, gear and gadgets. The things you can create are pretty much everything you would expect to find in this type of title from gun turrets to barbed wire barricades. You wont only require resources to craft but also Kuban Energy. Most of the resources you will find throughout but the Kuban Energy is slightly harder to obtain. This energy comes from killing the zombies and finding bits of it growing around Dite. Pretty much everything you can craft can also be customized, meaning that you can give it a stats boost. When it comes to the guns some can be upgraded with parts like a silencer for the pistol. I am thirty hours in to the game and not even scratched the surface of all the items you can craft.
As you progress through the story mode you will open up more options for strengthening up your home base. You will already have basic work benches for weapons and gear etc. However as you get deeper in to the game you will be able to craft advanced versions. These allow you to create more powerful weapons and different types of food respectively. The advanced campfire will also allow you to create clean water. As well as going plant picking and hunting you will eventually be able to grow plants as well as keep farms on the home base. I am actually enjoying the who farming of resources bit. I also have tents to which you can use to rest and change between night / day and an expedition tent to send teams out for resources. Night-time is always going to be tougher on the old visibility in the mist – I will come to that shortly. As I have said things open up as you progress through the story mode. Due to the survival element this can take some time hence the thirty hours I have put in so far. Unlike other survival titles I have played this one just keeps puling me back in for some reason.
When it comes to the environment you have the normal every day one an then there is the mist. Both will be challenging but in the mist is where a lot of your time will be spent, but you really need to be prepared for it first. When you enter the mist you need an air tank for your oxygen and just like your food and water this depletes when in the mist. You can keep topping up your air with fresh oxygen using Kuban Energy but each top-up costs more. The air tank also deteriorates with each top up of air meaning you will only always have a limited amount of time in the mist before you need to get out. This I think is a great touch because it makes an intense situation that much more risky, especially if you get lost in the mist, which will happen.
When it comes to side quests and missions a lot of your time will be spent in the mist so you will need to be on top of managing your oxygen. I have so far came across three different types of side missions that will open up throughout the game after you complete the required chapter of the main story. Some of these chapters will act like a tutorial when you first encounter each type of gameplay.
The first not only aids in traversing the large map but also helps point out landmarks of interest as well as paths. These are called wormhole transporters and need to be reactivated. When you come across them. Bringing them back online will start a timed horde mode which starts of only lasting a couple of minutes but that time increases with each one you reboot. So before you activate it you will have to build your defences. Simple task you may think, but you can only take a certain number of barricades with you. I’m limited to six of everything at the moment and so far I haven’t seen a way to increase this. When you first do this a tip is to take a spear as when you put up metal fences you can attack the zombies with it from the other side. There are also vehicles you can come across but they break easily, although they can get you out of a sticky situation.
I have also came across a walker unit, aka a mech unit, as well which is fun. It allows you mow down wanderers with its machine guns but these units also break although they are a bit more durable than cars. When you get far enough in the story you will also have a much harder version of horde mode when defending your base. It taken me hours to grind and build up defences around my base in order to survive the attack as it lasted over six minutes.
Another key side quest in the game is minable moving singularity spots, which is where you set up a wormhole digger to harvest energy. This sets up a tower defence type mode where it shows you the multiple paths of the enemy just like games like Van Helsing’s Deathtrap etc. Your job here is to stop them getting to the digger in the centre. Just like the horde mode you are limited to what defences you can put up and you cant place them and then go back for more. Other side quests include things like rescuing people and answering distress calls. When travelling in to the mist always make sure you repair everything before leaving home base.
When you are sent on a rescue missions or to recover memory boards this usually sends you to ruins or large building. In this instance it feels almost like dungeon crawling experience, not exactly like one but it does have that feel to it. You will also be able to gather plenty or resources as you search for the survivors etc. It is in these places where I have found a lot the jump out scares and they are pretty good moments.
When it comes to combat You have the option of getting to locations using stealth, however there is a focus on action combat as well hence the horde type modes. I have been playing the game pretty much in stealth just to try and advance deep in the game. The metal fences and the spear are your best friend when you start off as you can attack the enemy through the fence. This isn’t a glitch though as you cant do it with the machete. With this focusing on zombies it has so far been pretty run of the mill stuff. You have the cannon fodder type that you can usually take out from a distance or up close. You don’t want to be swarmed by large groups, your best bet at that point is running. I have also came across a bomber, which are deadly not only to you but to your defences. These guys can be hard to kill and will go kamikaze and run into you and explode. They are very deadly in numbers. There is also an OMG! WTF! Is that when you are in the mist but for the time being it doesn’t seem to touch you. There are some more moments especially when it is introducing you to new zombies like the bomber. Other foes I have cam in to contact with are flying mechanical zombies as well as spider like ones. These you will encounter around chapter eleven.
The game runs on the Fox Engine which is what the previous Metal Gear games ran on so you have a fair idea what to expect. The colour palette does get a little boring with all the browns and greens. There are moments where you get to ruins that it throws in the odd blue colour with some nice lighting effects but its been few and far between. It does get to a point when you start getting rain falling and similar to MGSV metal texture have a nice shiny effect to them. The sound effects are put to great use, especially if you have quality headphones, as it uses locational sound. This is very handy when hunting gerbils. The voiceovers are fairly standard although the two A.I voices does become a bit of an annoyance.
The grass isn’t always greener though as the game does have its fair share of negative points. Firstly you require a constant internet connection to the servers. This obviously poses an annoyance for solo players if there connection cuts or the Konami servers go down, meaning no access to the game. However in the thirty plus hours I have played I have not had any issues. The game also features micro-transactions in the form of SV Coins. This is becoming a common thing these days in games and I cant see it stopping anytime soon. Metal Gear Survive seems to be a bit on the heavy side with this though. If you want extra storage space or the ability to have more groups go on exploration tasks you will need to purchase additional slots / space it using SV coins and it isn’t cheap either. It will cost 1000 SV Coins which equates to £7.99. The only way at the moment to obtain these coins without buying them is a daily login bonus, they do this with PES 2018 as well. When it comes to the game save, there is only one, which covers both single and multiplayer. There is also no quick saving as it happens automatically before and after each mission. The only manual save so to speak is in your home base and that is just for when you are turning the game off. There are three other character slots but again they must be purchased with SV Coins costing 1000 each. The single player and multiplayer run in parallel so there is no need to create a second character. I also noted that if you are going to do a horde mode mission on your home base, do not think that you can set up defences, save the game and then go back to it later as any mines you put down will disappear. This is something I hope Konami can fix in a future patch.
Metal Gear Survive also has online co-op play and will net rewards for completing salvage missions. The good thing about this is that things earned either in co-op or single player is transferable. I have only checked out the co-op play alone but the level of zombies was to high for my character level. With being a survival game it does lend itself nicely to teaming up in the horde / tower defence model. The only issue is that while you can jump straight in to the game with your survivor class, you really need the option of the other four classes the game offers. Except you will need to beat the main game in single player mode. If your quite new to the survival genre, or not just that good at them in general, this could take twenty plus hours, which will put people off. Having not completed the game till the end yet, I have had to put co-op to the side for a bit longer. I will update this section when I can.
The Good Things
- It may be a spin off from the Metal Gear norm, but it is quite a solid and enjoyable survival title.
- The need for gathering resources as well as food, hunger and oxygen always keeps the tension on every mission.
- I like the mix of the horde / tower defence style gameplay.
- There is some great jump scare moments and WTF! moments.
And The Bad
- You have to complete the single player campaign before unlocking the other classes.
- It is a bit of a slow burner to start with.
- Micro-transactions let’s the game down.
- While Metal Gear Survive may only be a Metal Gear game in name, there is quite a solid survival title on offer here. It has certainly been a more enjoyable experience than some other survival titles I have tried. When you go out on missions or even just resource collecting there is always a feel of tension due to management of food, water and when your in the mist, your oxygen. Things then get more intense when you begin to manage and fortify your home base as well and need to gather extra resources to keep thing ticking over. The combat is enjoyable and offers both stealth and action packed gameplay. When attacking and defending you should think about what weapons and defences to use as you are limited when in battle. It is just a shame that the micro-transactions lets down a game with a solid survival title. All I can add is that currently I have not felt the need to even think of buying any micro-transactions, and I am still having an enjoyable experience.
While it may only be a Metal Gear title in name it is a solid little survival title.