Metal Gear Survive is not a BAD game. But it didn’t need the Metal Gear name, and it certainly should have avoided common “survive” tropes like eating and drinking. But, if you take away the Metal Gear Solid V story tie-in, what you’re left with is a mediocre zombie game with base building, crafting, and meh combat. So they’re totally banking on the MGS IP, which is already tarnished because Kojima is gone.
Basically, they should have made something more like a continuation of the IP, and less like a passe spin-off of a genre that’s done to death. I watched Jim Sterling’s impressions on the game as I waited for the PC/Steam version to open up last night (something that was a bit of a debacle due to some issues with the Steam listing but cleared up quickly). He had me prepared to loathe Metal Gear Survive, while others who played the beta events for Co-Op had me quite intrigued. As always, friends, be sure you try something for yourself to get a real feel for it.
But then, if you didn’t play the betas on PS4, XBOX, or PC… you’d have to spend $40 to “try” Survive. And therein lies the problem. Without getting access to the single-player mode before launch, many of you pre-ordered the game based on beta events with the Co-Op, or previews from the media or streams. No “reviews” could come out because we didn’t have access to the final game. Now here I am, reviewing the product in a week’s time, and my score and suggestion for “Buy/Don’t Buy” won’t come until what’s basically forever in the collective frame of media consciousness.
While my score for MGSurvive isn’t coming today, my recommendation is pretty simple: watch streams, wait for reviews and don’t rush out to buy Metal Gear Survive. I’m not going to go as far as Jim Sterling and outright call Metal Gear Survive shit. I don’t think it’s quite that awful, but it’s neither an inspired take on the survival genre nor a must buy for Metal Gear fanatics.
The story, at least so far, is surprisingly decent and thought out, despite the groan I audibly let out whenever they call the zombies “wanderers”. It’s a zombie survival game, with Metal Gear IP tacked on. Set just a few months after the end of MGSV, you’re one of the Diamond Dogs brought back to life to go into an alternate dimension of earth called Dite. There’s a substance there called Kuban that the government has known about since the end of the Vietnam War. They want it, they need it, it can change the course of humanity and the balance of power. But there’s a kicker… Dite is home to a lifeform they call the Wanderers, and they effectively turn humans into zombies. You’re infected with this lifeform, and your only way to get the shadowy government egomaniac Goodluck to help you cure yourself is to do his bidding and find a way to get as much Kuban as possible back to Earth. Oh, and also find out what the hell happened to the raiding party they sent there before your arrival.
The gameplay itself is not unlike MGSV, since it uses the Fox Engine. But it all goes kind of sideways when you realize that Stealth is mostly useless as long as you have enough building materials to make fences and walls to keep the zombies at bay. In a way, Metal Gear Survive is more influenced by State of Decay from Undead Labs than Metal Gear. The aesthetic, UI, and so forth are Metal Gear, while the gameplay, crafting, base building, and so forth feel very Undead Labs. That’s not a knock either, in fact, if you liked State of Decay, you’ll probably like Metal Gear Survive. But there’s one thing that MGSurvive relies on that just makes me roll my eyes in any game these days.
It’s not the zombies, as trope-y as they are… it’s the damned eating and drinking mechanics. I get it, somewhere someone decided that eating and drinking were “fun” in survival games. Let me assure you, it wasn’t fun in The Sims, it’s not fun in DayZ, and it’s not fun in games like Conan Exiles. The more often you take me away from the exploration, action, and story, and make me eat or drink to not get debuffs, the more annoyed I’ll be. Hunting and eating are used really well in games like Breath of the Wild or the recent Monster Hunter World – you cook and eat to get beneficial effects. But if you don’t eat, you don’t lose anything. That’s a mechanic I want more survival games to try. Stop tying my ability to just play the game to some arbitrary form of avatar babysitting, and instead make the act of sustainment beneficial in a more optional way.
Our final review will likely come at this time next week, after I’ve had a good amount of time with the single-player campaign and the persistent online co-op. I’m not ready to say Metal Gear Survive is a bad game. But it’s definitely going to do a whole lot more to get my seal of approval. I’ve had to restart from save points twice in 2 hours to get past objectives that errored out. I’ve seen half of my screen become pixelated and blurry, and not because of driver or GPU/system errors. Just because it’s apparently bugged. Survive feels like a good game, not 100% ready for prime time, and not quite worthy of the Metal Gear monicker. Stay tuned for our full review later on.