The future of the Metal Gear Solid franchise was unclear after the departure of Hideo Kojima, and many were sure they’d never see a new game in the series. However, Konami shocked us all with the announcement of Metal Gear Survive. A spin-off from The Phantom Pain and based on the same Fox Engine; MG: Survive is a “zombie” game with survival being the key.
Set immediately after the invasion of Mother Base at the end of MGSV and after Peace Walker (1975) a long cutscene describes in detail what is going on. Unstable wormholes are being created and linking to a different dimension. This dimension leads to a place called “Dite” or also referred to as “Hell” by a UN member.
You play as create-able character known as the “Captain” who is a silent protagonist. You can select between male or female and you can start to see where corners were cut in this game. Apart from the first few cutscenes that are actually cleverly cut together to reveal the history of your character, there are hardly any to speak of after this. All conversations with other characters you meet throughout the game are done in text boxes in a “codec-like” screen. Thankfully they are voiced, but your character never says a word. You are sent to Dite to effectively mine its resources of “Kuban energy” in order to power more wormholes, build a base camp and rescue survivors of the Charon Corps.
The goal of the game is to survive. You collect materials to craft items and weapons, and for sustenance; food and water. The latter is by far the biggest drag in the early portion of the game. You can only drink dirty water and the ability to cure any sickness that occurs from this is only available several missions later. This is well before you feel comfortable in the game’s mechanics to venture out. It is the biggest flaw in this title and what will put off most gamers. The difficulty curve is steep and unforgiving, there are a set of rules and the game does not stray from them one tiny bit. I have done timed missions where a survivor I was rescuing had to be brought back to the base, and even though I was one second away from using the quick travel wormhole, they ran out of health and died, leading to a failure.
You will fail a lot, the items at the start are few and far between, and the rapidly draining thirst and hunger meters are incredibly annoying. Checkpointing is bad too, when you die you can either respawn at base or load the last checkpoint. Both of these options will take you back to the base, but one will allow you to go back to where you died to collect a “Lost box” and recover all your loot, similar to what you see in Dark Souls. To add to the chance of dying, the missions require certain tools and if you don’t equip them when you set off, you will likely fail the mission. However, there is a turning point where it all clicks, and it takes all that frustration to get there. For me it was when I got the blueprint for making a bow and arrow as well as the first shotgun.
The main enemies are referred to as “Wanderers” humans who were infected and now are out to kill you. At first, they seem scary, but you quickly get overly confident when tackling one on its own. Later the game teaches you that a horde of them can easily dispose of you. But, after the turning point you will figure out ways to deal with them and they become easy to kill. As soon as this happens more enemies are introduced, and there is a huge one that you can’t even hurt know as the “Lord of the dust”; the mystery of this creature is what pushed me through the game.
Daily rewards are given to make the game a little easier, a few rations can make all the difference and make heading out into the “Dust” or danger zones more reassuring and painless. The more you play, the more items and features will be unlocked such as base building, crew management, levelling up, new items to craft, the list is practically endless.
The missions do get repetitive, you are mostly rescuing survivors, defending your base and defending a wormhole generator from the horde of Wanderers who are attracted to the noise. Although it is challenging to begin with, the game starts to become too difficult and some of the fun is sapped away.
Metal Gear Survive is not a Metal Gear Solid game akin to Metal Gear Revengeance. It is a standalone title. So don’t expect a complicated web of character meshed into a convoluted storyline. This is all about gameplay and for use of a better word, surviving. It is difficult, frustrating and unforgiving, but somehow very satisfying when you succeed and it keeps drawing me back in, even though I have never “rage-quitted” a game more than this one, and it happened several times! I imagine those who like survival games and the Dark Souls/Bloodborne style games would be into this.
- Replay Value