The Metal Gear series is considered by many as one of gaming’s greats, dating all the way back to the NES-era. From its humble 8-bit beginnings, developer Konami partnered with director Hideo Kojima in creating and shaping the immersive Metal Gear universe that we all know today. With the great success that these games have brought to Konami and Kojima over the years, it was a stinging surprise when the two decided to part ways in 2015. It was even more strange to see a new trailer from Konami, the following year, highlighting their new project, Metal Gear Survive.
Many, including myself, have been extremely skeptical about the studio continuing the Metal Gear series without Kojima, the true mastermind behind the series. These frustrating thoughts are only exemplified by the fact that Kojima had spoken previously through a tweet about creating a zombie-based game during the development of Metal Gear Solid V. It seems almost as if Konami is profiting from the concepts of their former employee instead of creating ideas on their own. All this aside, though, lovers of the series are still curious as to how the game will turn out.
An open beta for Metal Gear Survive came out this past weekend and has been met with varied opinions. When the trailer released last year, most people believed it was going to be a zombie survival game much like the former Left 4 Dead games, where the focus is on running and gunning through hordes of zombies. However, the game plays much more like a straight survival game with the addition of zombies on the side. From what I’ve seen so far, it is reminiscent of the Undead Nightmare addition to Red Dead Redemption.
The story (at least so far, since we haven’t seen any single player yet) is that, between the events of MGSV: Ground Zeroes and MGSV: The Phantom Pain, the Motherbase that Snake helped build was sucked through a wormhole. The soldiers who were caught in the wormhole were either turned into the pseudo-zombies, or “creatures,” that you see throughout the game, or were spared and now must try and survive, as the title of the game so accurately depicts.
While the concept seems weird and over the top, the whole Metal Gear universe is weird and over the top. It’s not any more bizarre than all the other aspects we’ve seen from Metal Gear games, so I don't believe this will take anything away. Still, the whole zombie genre in video games has become tiresome, only creating another hurdle for Survive to jump through.
When you begin, the game allows you to make your own avatar. If you played MGSV: TPP, then you’ll immediately recognize this creation screen, as it is a straight copy. That’s not necessarily a negative, just an interesting note. Konami could have changed it at least a little, but they obviously decided to devote that time to the actual gameplay. In any case, it's always great to have an avatar that you can customize throughout the game.
After creating your avatar, you are loaded into a sort of “base of operations” area where you can view all the items and gear you have unlocked and get used to the controls. It is essentially a playable menu where, instead of choosing from a list of items, you use your character to interact with objects. It’s a very intriguing spin that, in my opinion, makes the normal hum-drum of navigating menus a little more enticing.
While the full release will include a separate single-player mode, the beta is completely multiplayer. In the load out area, you can choose from a list of missions to complete. At their roots, these missions operate as standard tower defense. You have a certain amount of time to set up barriers and other similar defense items to guard against the incoming hordes of creatures.
When the initial timer runs out, a Wormhole Digger spawns in the middle of the fortress. From what it seems, each Digger is “digging” resources from the wormhole for you to use. It takes the entirety of the match for Digger to complete this process, so it is your job to protect it.
Once the Digger spawns, the game plays pretty similarly to any other defense game. The objective is to keep the creatures away from the Digger until the timer runs out while, simultaneously, keeping yourself and the Digger alive. At the end, if you are still alive, you will get a grade of S, A, B, C, D, or E based on how long the Digger survived and on your personal ranking. You, then, receive loot boxes based on these rankings.
Even though the game is basic at its core, there are some very fun elements. I can see where it has potential, especially when playing with friends. Completing a mission is very rewarding and developing your character is addicting.
However, this can be said for almost any decent multiplayer game. I’m not sure there is enough here to completely entice most gamers. A huge part of that crowd refuses to acknowledge Survive with the whole Konami vs. Kojima issue still fresh on their minds, so the game already has a huge slope to climb. Add to this the fact that the game essentially feels like an add-on of MGSV, and this could quickly turn into a disaster for Konami.
The road seems very long and treacherous for Survive, but remember, this is just the beta. Although unlikely, the full game could completely rock the gaming world when it releases next month. With the addition of a single-player mode and some sort of story, there might be just enough for it to see success. I suppose we will have to wait and see.