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Surprise! Metal Gear Survive Is Actually Kind Of Good, If You Give It A Chance

Through the wormhole.

Considering that video games can be full of so many contrasting and brilliant gaming experiences, we should always try to be open minded to new games and experiences. That’s difficult for a lot of people, when coming to consider the existence of Metal Gear Survive.

I get it. Konami did wrong by the darling of the video games industry, or so the rumours say of Hideo Kojima’s departure from the company, and that’s an unspeakable crime for one of the preeminent auteurs to be treated in such a way. Now Konami have gone back to the franchise without him, taking Metal Gear Solid V and twisting it into a zombie survival game.

It’s easy to assume it’s going to be terrible, that it offers nothing new and worse, that it goes against the spirit of Metal Gear. I mean, Kojima said that “The Metal Gear games are about political fiction and espionage,” and definitely not zombies. No, not zombies and wormholes, but nanobots, psychic abilities, telekinesis, cloning, a woman who breathes through her skin, and characters being possessed by ghosts in an arm. A Metal Gear game with zombies would just be ridiculous!

Step away from this being Metal Gear without Kojima, and it being based off the prior work for Metal Gear Solid V, and Survive is actually pretty good. There’s a real struggle to stay alive in the single player, keep your food supplies stocked, gradually build up your base, venture into the poisonous dust storm, and deal with zombie-like “creatures” that have crystals where their heads should be.

The conceit is that during the climactic events of Ground Zeroes, a whole bunch of Mother Base was sucked up into a wormhole and transported to an alternate dimension. You were far from the only one caught up in this, but you are one of the few to survive and the only able bodied soldier who can venture forth for resources on this world called Dite.

You start off with practically nothing, crafting a basic spear of sorts and heading out to hunt sheep and to gather water from nearby. There’s an interesting health and stamina system at play with your hunger and thirst levels determining how far your health and stamina will recharge. Sustaining yourself makes venturing forth easier because you can sprint for longer, take a few more hits, and so on.

The overarching aim is to gather Kuban crystals to power a means of opening a fresh wormhole and heading home. It’s these crystals that sprout from the necks of the corrupted humans and act as a currency for upgrades, though harvesting from their bodies won’t get you very far in that regard. Going toe to toe with them isn’t terribly tricky most of the time; they’re pretty dumb, so quickly erecting a fence through your iDroid’s wormhole summoning ability is enough to stump them and let you stab through the chainlink with your spear. However, if they’re coming in enough numbers they’ll bash a fence down or climb over it and cause it to collapse. As always with zombies, they’re most dangerous in large numbers.

That’s sure to happen when trying to broaden your reach into the rest of the open world by restoring power to teleporters throughout the . The noise draws hordes of these zombies toward it while you have to try and defend the station with barricades and whatever weapons you have. It doesn’t help that these are situated in the cloud of poisonous smoke that drags your field of view in, deprives you of your mini map for orientating yourself, and forces you to use an oxygen tank that limits how long you can stay in this area.

While your base starts off looking like an oil rig that’s been dropped from a great height – that’s literally what it is – and has a few handy crafting stations dotted around amidst the wreckage, you’ll have to build it up into something defensible. The threat is minimal to start with, but chainlink fences, sandbag barricades and more will eventually become vital to making sure it can be protected.

There are certain tensions within the survival that aggravate to start with, but that I can see disappearing after a few hours. You’ll so often pick up empty bottles and be able to fill them with dirty water from pools and streams. You can’t purify it until you’ve upgraded the fire though, and so you might have to gulp down potentially poisonous water. Similarly, several of us playing were stumped trying to figure out why I couldn’t just combine five bottles of dirty water into a canteen, before eventually discovering an obscure system for doing this at one of the crafting stations.

Thankfully it shouldn’t take too long to uncover blueprints for better weapons, such as the bow and arrow or firearms, though you then need to scavenge resources to build them, and your base will develop over time as well. The point at which you can fulton teleport animals back to base and keep them in pens in the first step towards self sufficiency.

There’s also an odd balance between single player and cooperative multiplayer, though this aspect is being balanced for launch and likely skewed for this preview build. You take your existing characters through to the four player co-op mode, but this means potentially taking a character with low health and poor equipment, making you more of a liability.

You need to prepare to take part, which was difficult after only a couple hours of play and prevents it from being a drop in, drop out experience early on. There’s no food in sight if you’re running low of stamina or health, so that can only really be managed when playing solo.

However, it offers something different, as a more purist defence game in which you try to stop three waves of enemies from reaching and destroying a wormhole generator. We soon discovered that the enemies are tied to a level system, so we were utterly hopeless with level 4 characters going against level 10, especially as tougher enemies we’d not yet seen started to show up. That said, the rewards for even surviving a single wave were incredibly generous in both experience and resources, quickly helping us to advance and start to compete.

With each wave on a timer before the remaining zombies are wiped out by a pulse of energy, it’s a simple case of trying to stall the incoming enemies. However, there’s also optional objectives and things to find, boosting your mission rank if you can get them, resulting in even bigger payouts.

Going into Metal Gear Survive, I really wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was pleasantly surprised to find a game that actually manages to add something meaningful to Metal Gear Solid V. Though it’s hard going at times, the feeling of being resource starved and having to actually struggle to survive actually works thematically with the Metal Gear universe. I’m sure that this game will remain all too easily dismissed, its publisher rightly or wrongly maligned, but believe it or not, there’s something here that could actually be good in its own right.

  1. ron_mcphatty
    Since: Sep 2008

    Really good to hear that you enjoy the game Tef. Aside from the Kojima content PP’s underlying gameplay was brilliant and it’s good to see it being put to good use. I’ll probably get this, less for the surviving of crystal zombies and more for the sneaking, shooting, bludgeoning and rolling around on the dirt that made PP so much fun. So is there no fultoning or is it fultoning into wormholes? I’ll be extra happy if I can tie balloon to goats. If only we could do our food shopping that way.

    Comment posted on 17/01/2018 at 09:12.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      It’s fultoning into wormholes. There’s screenshots out there with fulton balloons, but the times I tried it, I’m not sure I saw a balloon before they were sucked up into a wormhole.

      Comment posted on 17/01/2018 at 10:19.
      • ron_mcphatty
        Since: Sep 2008

        Cheers Tef. It’s all part of the daft ness that gives the Metal Gear games their charm. Not not expecting this one to have as much as before but with the worm holes and neck crystals it sounds like the game won’t take itself too seriously, which is ideal. Looking forward to the beta!

        Comment posted on 17/01/2018 at 14:05.
  2. kjkg
    Since: Apr 2010

    Had very little interest in this game when it was announced. Watched the first trailers, went almost to 0% interest.

    Reading this, I am now very much interested. It does sound like it could be quite fun actually.

    Comment posted on 17/01/2018 at 10:45.
  3. PoorPaddy89
    Since: Aug 2009

    Is there any kind of plot, apart from earn enough crystals to get home?

    Comment posted on 17/01/2018 at 12:37.
    • Stefan L
      Community Team
      Since: May 2009

      Yeah, there’s a story running through the single player as you build up your base, find other survivors and try to figure out why people’s necks have crystals on them and not heads.

      Comment posted on 17/01/2018 at 12:50.
      • Tuffcub
        On the naughty step.
        Since: Dec 2008

        Well clearly because neck crystals are in this year, it’s the latest fashion.

        Comment posted on 17/01/2018 at 13:39.