Metal Gear goes survival
This past weekend Konami held a Metal Gear Survive open beta on PS4 and Xbox One. As a huge fan of the series since the beginning I was naturally very curious to give it a try. Could the Metal Gear name survive following the departure of its legendary creator Hideo Kojima? I spent the entire weekend finding out!
While the game has stirred plenty of online discussions since its announcement, I decided to go into the beta fresh. Aside from a brief 30-minute hands-on at E3 2017, my knowledge of the game was pretty limited. I knew it was a spinoff horde mode type game featuring zombies, but that’s about it. My weekend crash course taught me two more important things: it’s not really a Metal Gear game, but it is very fun. Let me explain.
Powered by the Fox Engine
The most Metal Gear-esque aspect of Survive is its gameplay, and for good reason: it uses Metal Gear V‘s engine. The excellent gunplay, slow but satisfying melee attacking, and ability to crouch/lie prone all return. Once you actually get into missions though you’ll quickly realize there are major differences.
For one thing, stealth gameplay is pretty much non-existent. As far as I can tell crouching and going prone is rarely needed, mainly because zombies attack quite aggressively. I was constantly on the move and anything less than a sprint felt like it was slowing me down. There’s no waiting in cover until the moment is right—Metal Gear Survive is essentially a fast-paced action game.
The other key difference is, as the Metal Gear Survive name implies, the game is all about survival. The core gameplay loop revolves around defending your base against waves of headless creatures while scavenging for necessary supplies. It’s a lot more like Fortnite‘s Save the World mode than it is anything Metal Gear we’ve seen before. And that’s okay, because what Metal Gear Survive has to offer is overall quite satisfying.
At launch, Metal Gear Survive will feature a variety of single-player and multiplayer modes. This includes a full story mode, which unfortunately wasn’t a part of this past weekend’s open beta. What we did get is a mode called “Salvage Missions” where you defend a harvesting machine from waves of zombies. This mode can be played solo, but as I quickly found out it’s intended to be played 4-player online cooperative. On my own I barely beat the first two waves as the creatures attack in swarms and are very aggressive.
Salvage Missions begin with you starting in a wasteland type environment with a few minutes on the clock. You have to scramble and collect resources, like wood and iron, to prepare for the oncoming zombie rush. Resources can be found by picking up everyday objects (radio, wooden chair, etc.) or breaking down larger item. For instance, you can hack down trees for lumber, or bust apart an oil drum for scrap metal. All of these materials are then brought back to your base and added to a resource pool.
Crafting your defenses
Inside your base are several workbenches used to convert resources into useful items. At the weapon station you can build a variety of melee, handgun, and rapid-fire weapons. Examples include electric stun rods, bows, assault rifles, pistols, hammers, and spears. You can also make ammunition for said weapons, like bullets and arrows for your bow. It’s important to scavenge, then, or else you’ll be short supplied come the next zombie wave.
As well, another huge category of crafting supplies are Gadgets. These range from offensive items, like grenades, to defensive traps such as land mines. You can also construct fortifications, including sandbag barricades and barbed wire fences. These walls have varying properties and are extremely vital to protecting your mining operation. Sandbag barricades, for instance, are climbable and allow you to strike zombies at a height advantage. On the other hand, barbed wire fences are weaker but allow you to poke spears through holes and kill zombies. Of course, both types of fortifications also slow down the creatures and can be used funnel them straight into traps!
The name given to the creatures you fight in Metal Gear Survive is “Wanderers” but let’s be real, they’re zombies. Headless, pretty fast zombies to be exact. Wanderers take a fair amount of damage before going down, although shots to their protruding neck spires deal critical hits. Their weak spot is pretty easy to hit, too, since it glows a vibrant red colour.
Other enemies I face in the beta include bloated Bombers, and a heavily armoured brute zombie. The former looks like a walking spore and can explode causing large blast damage. On the flip side, armoured zombies are the game’s bullet sponges and can withstand an enormous amount of firepower.
While I’m a big zombie fan, I do hope the final retail version includes a wider variety of enemies. The three in the beta were a good start, but Survive needs more in order to stay fresh and exciting. Considering the heavy emphasis on online multiplayer, with luck Konami will evolve the game over time. Fingers crossed on that!
Overall, I thought Metal Gear Survive was a solid experience, albeit one that strays far the series’ original vision. This is a game for those who enjoy horde mode, such as what you see in Gears of Wars or Fortnite.
With just a month to go until the retail release on February 20, 2018, we’ll find out soon everything this game has to offer. While the beta wasn’t a revolutionary experience, it was enjoyable and held my interest. Now I can’t wait to see what the full story mode entails!
Stay tuned for a full review of Metal Gear Survive coming soon right here on the Best Buy blog!