There are a few reasons why I bought Metal Gear Survive. Being a huge Metal Gear fan this was always on my radar and any chance of the series carrying on after the departure of Hideo Kojima from Konami needs to be looked at. However, the main reason I finally decided to give it a go was the absolute hatred that this game inspired on the internet. Because I love an underdog story I decided to play it as well as just adding it to my Metal Gear collection and I have been pleasantly surprised by the result.
The storyline of this is typically Metal Gear. Set just after the events of Ground Zeroes and probably alongside The Phantom Pain, you play a completely customisable soldier who is sucked through a portal into another dimension. Of course, there is a shady government conspiracy behind this but I haven’t got far enough in the game to join all the dots together. The game itself is a strange hybrid of a survival game and base builder but as the title suggests the emphasis is very much on survival and it isn’t easy.
Your main issue when you first set up your base camp is simply staying alive. You have two meters on your screen, but in reality, you need to know you need food and clean water to survive on this hostile planet. Matt Damon actually had it easier in the Martian. This will put many people off the game. It is very easy to just die from thirst or hunger in the early game. The only guide I can give you here is to build up a small reserve of food. There are a few animals at the back of your camp that can be killed then cooked at your campfire. There is also dirty water which should be collected but this may give your soldier a stomach problem that needs medicine. The early game is full of these checks and balances that you must overcome before the missions become achievable. Luckily the game has been patched since launch and there are daily rewards when you log in that makes it a bit easier than it was on release.
When you get past actually staying alive you have the mission structure itself. You have to find the whereabouts of the previous inhabitants of your home base and rebuild their AI assistant. To do this you need to venture out into the barren landscape of Dite and contend with the dust and the zombie-like wanderers. These are the main enemy of the game and while stupid are deadly in numbers.
This basically sets the scene for the whole game, you have to do numerous fetch and carry missions to get to the next story beats and expand your world map. At first, you only go to bases and structures close by but after discovering an oxygen tank you can venture into the uncharted dust area and beyond while your oxygen levels last. The game is no more or no less than this basic premise yet even so there are moments of inventive gameplay to be found.
The main thing that impresses me about the game is the fence mechanic. Much like Fortnite, you can build simple structures on the fly. This is essential when you need to survive a sudden ambush by wanderers. With your trusty crafted spear, you pick a bottleneck in the environment and put the fence down before the wanderers get to you. Then as they try to fight their way through the fence you stab at them through the gaps. It is brutally simple and logical and a real highlight of the game. As you progress and get better weapons and firearms you can trap them in a fence then take them out even more efficiently. It never loses its simple satisfaction or sense of urgency as the game progresses and coupled with the constant struggle for food and water you have an intriguing and difficult gameplay loop.
Despite this, the game has been almost destroyed on the internet for a variety of reasons. The main one being a defence of Kojima and his treatment by Konami. There is simply no reason for the hatred that this game has received. It is a budget title with decent gameplay and an intriguing story that provides a sizeable challenge to anyone that picks it up.
Unfortunately, it has done itself no favours. You have to pay real money for an extra character slot. In this day and age, that decision is always going to be met with ridicule. This is a game that really needs that extra slot or at least the ability to copy you game to another in case you make a catastrophic mistake and run out of food. There is also the painful difficulty level to consider. One early example is going into a pack of wolves looking for food. Without a decent weapon, you will get killed by the animals that you went to prey on for food. As it is something suggested by the AI it shouldn’t really be as difficult as it is. There’s also the matter of the games title.
While it tries to cling to the Metal Gear heritage, it clearly isn’t a Metal Gear game. It may have been worked on as an add-on or even paid DLC but other than the cutscenes and menu screens it could have been simply called ‘Survive’ and would surely have garnered a better response from the public. These are questions we will never know the answer to but if you know what you are getting into you will find a great deal of challenge and satisfaction in Metal Gear Survive if very little fun at a budget price.