The Metal Gear series returns with a spin-off that maintains narrative and gameplay mechanics aspects carries over from the fifth installment, but that completely modifies its playable approach and offers us an interesting game of survival, management, and crafting. Since Metal Gear Survive was announced, has been surrounded by controversy, first to break with the play mechanics of the series and then the developers’ history with Hideo Kojima. However, it is time to forget prejudices and analyze Konami’s new work as a whole.
A history of Metal Gear
Metal Gear Survive begins shortly after the end of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, the soldiers that were attacked at Mother Base. We are taking the role of a captain of the Big Boss’ army. But, after this brief initial connection, the plot will give a complete turn to get into a science fiction adventure. The game will take place on Dite, a planet located in a parallel dimension that has absorbed parts of the earth and is inhabited by terrible creatures.
Although danger will haunt us at all times, there will be a greater presence of beings in the dusty areas. To access these areas of the planet we will need a special oxygen equipment, having to control the level of load at all times to avoid dying. Within the planet, our goal will be to discover what happened to the previous exploration team and recover all possible information about the strange dimensional phenomenon.
The story has been structured with a very promising beginning and full of references to the fifth installment, but as it progresses it loses strength due to the lack of depth of the plot and as well as the charisma of the characters, leaving a whole lacklustre, surrounded by a flat and repetitive narrative. Same happens with the cinematics that, although at first they are extensive and look for the style that Hideo Kojima granted to the franchise, with time they end up reducing its extension and frequency, something that inevitably remains spectacular.
Survival of the fittest
At a playable level, we must make it very clear that Metal Gear Survive is a survival title, so our main task will be to collect materials, hunt, hydrate, manage the base and survive enemy attacks. For this, the playable bases of Metal Gear Solid V have been used, so we will enjoy precise control and tremendously polished, being equally effective in direct action that in stealth. Thanks to this we will have a huge range of possibilities to overcome all kinds of situations.
The main missions of the campaign will be divided into chapters and, although the start is varied and manages to maintain tension, over time it loses strength and the missions, except in specific cases, will be too repetitive and lacking in emotion. Something similar happens with the secondary ones, since, although we can hunt, find fast-travel portals, rescue NPC or obtain large amounts of Kuban energy, they end up being too monotonous.
Having all these elements, we must indicate that completing the main plot will not take us more than 20 hours, but, logically, this approximate duration will depend on the tasks we perform and the time we invest in developing the base of operations. Another factor is the unfortunate saving system since we can only save our progress to reach the base of operations, losing hours of game if we are unable to complete the missions.
Building our arsenal
Metal Gear Survive has given great importance to physical weapons (bats, hammers, machetes or spears), being essential to master the system of attacks and dodges. That is why, although we will have firearms, such as guns or shotguns, these will lose prominence due to their scarce ammunition and relatively little effectiveness in combat. To manage our arsenal it will be essential to use the creation banks available in the database.
This strategic space will be located near the ruins of the old Mother Base, being able here, not only to develop the facilities but also to use the Kuban energy that we get from the environment or our enemies. Thanks to it we can develop objects or level up our character, thereby increasing statistics, and unlock new skills that will allow us to improve physical qualities, better control the weapons and learn new movements.
If we focus on the development of the team, Metal Gear Survive allows us to repair our weapons, reinforce them to improve their statistics and create new ones, needing for that the corresponding design plans. Any creation will also require a series of materials, so it will be essential to collect all kinds of raw materials. In this sense, the weight that we can carry will be limited, although in the base we will have a deposit to lighten the load.
Each created object will have a level of rarity: Common, Uncommon, Rare, Legendary and Epic, which will substantially modify its properties. But not only can we make weapons, but also healing elements and clothing, a fundamental protection for combat. Finally, we will create defensive structures such as fences, turrets or accessories, which will be really useful to overcome those missions based on waves.
In addition to crafting, Metal Gear Survive puts a lot of interest in the management of our base, having for it to organize well the disposition of the different workshops, protect it from enemy attacks and equip it with the necessary facilities. The introduction of this aspect is gradual and, although at times it will not require much interest, as the plot progresses it will gain in importance, being necessary later to organize vegetable plantations, manage livestock or build hydrographic facilities. For its correct development, we will also locate the members of the base that we have been rescuing in the different positions available.
A desolate world
To enjoy all this gameplay a pretty large open desert world has been designed. Here we will find clear zones and others with dust, being almost impossible to orient ourselves correctly in the latter due to the absence of radar and poor visibility. In our constant displacements, we will meet all kinds of enemies, the most common being called Errants. These zombies will be endowed with good auditory and visual insight, so despite their limited AI, we will have to be very careful.
In this wasteland, we will also find all kinds of animals and plants that will be essential to keep our levels of hunger and thirst stable, since survival is a fundamental point of this new delivery. For this, not only will we have to hunt and collect, but we will have to cook and worry about not taking anything in bad condition. These tasks are very demanding, something that adds a huge burden of tension to the proposal.
However, this can also be a big negative point, since those less demanding players will be burdened by having to perform such repetitive tasks. One of the main problems is that there are very few animals to hunt, the few available areas being exhausted once completed. In addition, the levels of hunger and thirst will be drastically reduced, so that at no time we can play calmly. In short, we have the feeling that we are facing a somewhat unbalanced mechanics that harms the global experience.
Due to the constant displacements and long distances, we can unlock wormholes that will allow us to travel quickly between the different points. In addition, we will have vehicles such as cars or Walker Gear, a biped transport equipped with really effective heavy weapons. However, these vehicles will not be very numerous and their resistance will be limited, so they will not be a determining factor in our mobility.
The multiplayer of Metal Gear Survive will be directly connected with the campaign since all the resources and progress that we are getting will be maintained when changing the mode. This connection will be interesting, since it is a very good way to earn resources for the story mode, however, it is also a bit stressful having to constantly manage the objects and the status of our character, something that prevents us from enjoying the online aspect with the usual tranquility granted by this type of modes.
The proposal is very simple: in teams of four players, we will have to activate a drill hammer and protect it for three waves, being able to use all our arsenal and the defensive structures that we have manufactured. The waves will be composed of a large variety and number of enemies, so it will be essential that we have a very good coordination. In addition, during the rounds there will be specific events to acquire special weapons or advantages, thus achieving a competitive bonus.
Each map will be equipped with banks to create equipment, weapons, and protections, also having a store shared with the rest of the players. In this way, once we have overcome the challenge, we will receive a series of rewards according to the rank we have achieved in relation to our performance. These prizes will also increase depending on the level of difficulty of the game, being able to choose between several options according to the level of the character and our requirement.
In addition, not only will there be normal games, but we will also enjoy special events that are really interesting. Undoubtedly, the Metal Gear Survive multiplayer is not a revolution and, although its link with the campaign makes it an almost indispensable complement, the little variety of maps and the monotony of its objectives make it a mode with little playable travel.
The title uses the Fox Engine graphics engine, the same as the fifth installment of the series. This powerful tool gives the video game a very solvent and really stable visual finish, enjoying a fully stable experience at 60 frames per second on all platforms. Metal Gear Survive also has good modelling, excellent texturing, remarkable particle effects, higher resolutions in PlayStation 4 Pro and Xbox One X, and a striking lighting system that achieves very good results in closed spaces, and a realistic recreation of the cycles day Night.
However, this is a visually poor video game, especially due to a palette of colors too gray. The artistic design does not help either, since we find repetitive and uninspired environments, something that is also applicable to creatures that, although they offer a good finish, do not have much variety or surprise. To this, we must unite somewhat poor animations and a set of cinematics that do not finish reaching the usual level of the series.
The title comes with voices in English or Japanese, so we can fully enjoy the adventure. At the sound level, we will enjoy a musical composition that goes unnoticed, with somewhat dark accompaniment melodies that fail to create an atmosphere to match. Finally, the sound effects are good and provide the necessary fidelity to the armament, also giving the creatures an imposing presence.
Metal Gear Survive is a video game of survival, management and crafting that departs radically from what had always been the saga and offers us something new. Having this clear, and leaving aside all the prejudices that have been generated, the truth is that we are facing a really interesting proposal. It is true that the title lacks on some parts, such as a story that does not show its true potential, unbalanced survival mechanics, repetitive missions, too simple multiplayer and a world with little life, but we also have a fun title that has managed to balance well all its playable slopes. This has allowed creating an addictive experience that will please lovers of the genre and that will positively surprise the fans of the series who from the first moment assume the peculiar playable nature of Metal Gear Survive.
We have done this review on a PlayStation 4 Pro with a download code provided by Konami.