When Metal Gear Survive was first announced, it was hard not to roll my eyes. At the time, Survival games had arguably hit their peak, with games like RUST and Conan Exiles and even ARK all dominating the space. While trends are arguably stepping away from the Survival genre, Metal Gear Survive now exists. It’s unfortunate though, as while there is some potential to be realised with the concept of Survive, it ultimately falls flat. In this game you’ll spend a majority of your time poking dead things with a stick. Metal Gear Survive is essentially Konami doing the same to a series that has lost its way.Metal Gear Survive picks up right after Big Boss’ base is destroyed at the end of Ground Zeroes. Once the man himself leaves the site, a wormhole opens above the base and sucks everything into it. As a random soldier from the base, you narrowly escape, but fall unconscious. Six months later, a shady research organization sends you to the place the wormhole took everything. A hellish alternate to MGS5’s Afghanistan populated by strange creatures, called Dite. Eventually, you’ll discover how they became that way and what the cause of all of this is.
Which is where my main complaints about Metal Gear Survive lies. The story doesn’t really need to go the places that it goes, but it does, and with little apology. It’s hard to talk about the plot without downright spoiling the entire experience, but the twists you’ll encounter towards the end of the story are so unexpected because they’re so outlandish to the point where it’s nonsense. We now know that Metal Gear Solid plays the king of retcons, but Survive is the jester, performing to an audience of joyless faces. As you’d expect from the name, Metal Gear Survive is an open world survival game. You’ll be thrown into a massive map, given a few missions to embark on here and there, and be tasked with micro-managing a multitude of metrics like thirst, hunger and even oxygen depending on where you are heading. The map is largely covered by “Dust”, a shady area where your radar doesn’t work properly, your map is near useless and enemies are more aggressive and higher levelled. Essentially, the gameplay loop has you preparing to enter the dust, completing some missions, getting back to your base and then repeating the process to earn higher level materials and defeat higher level enemies.
I must commend Metal Gear Survive for trying to be more than that though. When it was first revealed I thought it’d be a mindless battle royale style game with survival mechanics tacked on without care for balance. While the latter is still true, it’s slightly refreshing to see that Survive has a full story mode with set piece style boss battles and a conclusion that’s bound to be divisive. It’s just a bit of a shame that there’s so many systems to learn about here that the tutorial is very long and poorly paced. Essentially, the opening hours of Metal Gear Survive are slow and the few who do enjoy it will struggle to find their groove with the game initially.But if you’ll persist, you’ll discover that guns and sometimes combat in general is the wrong way to approach things. From the get-go you’ll be armed with a melee weapon that does a great job at defeating enemies through defense fortifications like fences and gates. Later, you’ll be introduced to creatures that can completely bypass these fortifications, requiring you to change up your strategy. A smart player in Survive will quickly realise just how worthless guns are, instead opting for a stealth approach. They’re just not cost-effective when weighing up everything else you could craft instead.