Metal Gear Survive
Despite losing the soul of the series, there's fun in Survive's resource-gathering base-building loop and co-op action.
Feb 28, 2018 6:48 pm
Feb 24, 2018 2:32 am
Metal Gear Survive is a weird game. In its sometimes clumsy efforts to merge stealth action, base-building, survival sim, and horror by stitching together pieces from past Metal Gear games, it’s effectively scrubbed those elements of the series’ signature humor and personality. That uniquely wild mix of sharp socio-political commentary and zany military sci-fi that has defined Metal Gear is swapped out in favor of a subpar fantasy plot involving zombies and wormholes, delivered by a cast of underdeveloped characters.
But there is fun to be had in Metal Gear Survive’s mishmash of ideas and the repetitive, yet comforting loop of resource-gathering and base-building, if you’re willing to power through many hours of initial tedium.
Survive opens with a lot of questions. Why did a wormhole open up above Militaires Sans Frontières’ Caribbean forward operating base, what is the true nature of this boring, zombie-infested dimension it’s dropped all these people into, and what does it have to do with Diamond Dogs, whose Seychelles Mother Base (which did not exist during the events of Ground Zeroes) stands in a twisted heap overlooking your character’s new forward operating base? As a long-time Metal Gear fan, I was not amused by these perceived continuity errors in Survive’s dry opening cutscene – but fans protective of the series can rest assured that in the course of its 25- to 30-hour single-player campaign, these inconsistencies are eventually addressed.
A small handful of cool moments doesn't redeem its flat story or characters.
The opening hours of gameplay, though, are pretty boring. Tutorials are rarely fun, and this one stretches on longer than most as it has you running several near-identical fetch quests and teaches you how to manage your hunger and thirst meters, scavenge for resources to build entry-level gear, and harvest zombies for Kubon energy, the main in-game currency used for everything from crafting to leveling up.
Customization adds a welcome human element to balance out the menu-heavy micromanagement.
Being able to manually rearrange each station to my liking and actually see my small group of NPC survivors working on their assigned tasks brought a welcome human element to Survive’s otherwise technical, menu-heavy micromanagement. I’ve grown attached to my base and feel compelled to flesh it out with more survivors, found in rescue missions around the map, and resources for building and maintaining new structures.
The best crafting materials are found in The Dust, a dangerous, unmappable zone where the majority of Survive’s resource-gathering and zombie-slaying action takes place. Those who have played Metal Gear Solid 5 will recognize The Dust as a recycled version of the Afghanistan map from The Phantom Pain, only blanketed in a thick fog and stripped of interesting landmarks. (Remember when the Skulls would show up and everything would become misty? It’s like that, but permanent.)
Survive seems to fundamentally misunderstand the circumstances that make stealth fun.
Surviving With Friends
Its combat is at its best during hectic wave-based defense missions.
Playing salvage missions is a fun way to grind for resources that carry into single-player.
Making Diamonds From Ashes
The hypnotic resource-gathering base-building loop feels like a casual game made up of Phantom Pain parts.
At one point I was in dire need of a high-voltage battery to craft a new electrified spear, and finally finding the rare material in a pile of plastic and spare screws while out hunting for food was a pleasant surprise. That hypnotic resource-gathering base-building loop feels akin to a casual game made up of Phantom Pain parts, and that was surprisingly enjoyable once I set aside my reservations about Survive not really being a Metal Gear game.
Tactical Espionage Microtransaction
The darker side of that is its microtransactions, particularly the one that requires you to pay $10 to start a new character without erasing your old one. I never felt pressured to dish out real money for new loadout slots, additional expedition teams, or other areas where the opportunity to make in-game purchases pop up, but requiring money for two save game slots is something I hope Konami changes its mind on.
So much of Metal Gear Survive is repeating the same thing over and over again in single- and multiplayer. Defending the same points from the same zombies. Exploring the same zones for the same materials. Mining the same resources for the same small amounts of gear. But after learning the ropes and learning to set your own personal goals within that loop, there’s an odd comfort in the formula, and I can see myself returning to expand my end-game base out of my own completionist urges. Survive might not compare well to the tactical espionage action that’s defined the Metal Gear series we know and love, but its oddly hit-or-miss combo of some solid old ideas and some clumsy new ones has at least some appeal.
Metal Gear Survive Final Review - The Soul of the Series Is MIA
Despite losing the soul of the series, there's fun in Metal Gear Survive's resource-gathering, base-building loop and co-op action.Chloi Rad