Review: Metal Gear Survive
After the extensive coverage of Hideo Kojima’s split from the company, Konami had to know that the next entry in the Metal Gear series – formerly Kojima’s project – would be under intense scrutiny and they’d have to NAIL the launch. Instead, Metal Gear Survive launched with very little fanfare, servers that weren’t available, and two patches needed for the PS4 version to work at all.
The game is completely described by the title – a survival game set in the Metal Gear universe that starts immediately following Metal Gear Solid V, then moves off into its own world where zombies with crystals for brains roam the wastelands. Players, controlling a created character of their own design, roam this wasteland scavenging for resources to stay alive, rebuild a base, and craft new clothing, buildings, and weapons.
The map, which starts basically blank, draws in more and more as you roam – but sections covered in Dust, a blinding fog that requires an air tank for you to survive exploring, remain blanked out. Going into the Dust provides some of the game’s most tense and frustrating moments as it limits your vision and fuzzes out your waypoint markers, making it a race against time as you try to find your way to the objective while your air supply constantly dwindles.
There are also hunger and thirst meters to contend with, but it’s not as simple as finding food and water and chowing down. You’ll need to return to base, a task made easier by finding teleporters out in the wild to enable instant travel back and forth once you’ve completed a quick and easy ‘defend the base’ scenario to fire them up for the first time. Once at the base your raw resources can be cooked at the campfire to turn them into a variety of steaks or stews, while the dirty water needs to be boiled and converted to clean – drinking dirty water is possible, but inevitably leads to an infection that then requires medication to treat…medication that’s not commonly found in the wild.
While doing all this you’ll earn Kubon energy by defeating enemies to harvest their energy or smashing apart Kubon deposits in the wilderness, then use that energy to level up your character. Starting as a Survivor class, you need to hit level 35 to be able to branch out into new classes with new skills – once you’ve found those classes during a mission.
If all this sounds like a bit of a slog, it is. The bits of action scattered here and there are separated by long bouts of trying to find enough water and food to keep going, and then – once you’ve gathered up a few survivors – to find enough to keep THEM going as well. Your base building will eventually add some elements that help with this like fields to grow food like potatoes and onions, and water recyclers to generate fresh water, but they are a drop in the bucket compared to the need you face.
There are a wealth of microtransactions that begin to pop up a few hours into the game, which start to feel a bit forced. As you run out of room to store the materials you’ll need to craft into more complex items, for example, the system gives you the option to buy more storage space. Want more help gathering resources? Pay to get more expedition teams – survivors who you can assign to go out on forays to find resources, though at a sizable risk – and they can help lighten the load. Want another save slot? That’ll cost you… It’s a microtransaction system lifted directly out of free-to-play mobile games, and it feels a bit gross in a $60 release.