I’ll start with what is probably an unpopular opinion. Metal Gear Solid V was bad. I couldn’t stand it. In writing this Metal Gear Survive review and playing Metal Gear Survive, I’m reminded just how terrible Metal Gear Solid V was.
The open world was boring. Venom ‘Kiefer Sutherland’ Snake was boring. It was a repetitive slog that had none of the trademark fun and wit of the series and I never even bothered to finish it.
Strangely, similar complaints can be levied at Metal Gear Survive. However, I’ve found it to be an altogether superior and much more enjoyable game.
Metal Gear Survive Review
The premise for Metal Gear Survive is so dumb it’s amazing. Though that’s is par for the course in Metal Gear games.
Following the attack on Mother Base, a deceased soldier is resurrected and sent on a top-secret mission through a wormhole to an alternate dimension. This dimension is known as Dite and is desolate, dangerous and a threat to humanity.
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The soldier, codenamed Captain, is attacked by aggressive, zombie-like creatures known as Wanderers and only survives by forming an alliance with a marooned XOF soldier named Reeve.
Together, they travel to an abandoned Base Camp, from a previous mission to Dite and set about trying to survive and make it back home.
So it’s not gold-standard narrative material, but remember in Metal Gear Solid when that guy shit his pants? Yeah, it’s never been a series known for it’s subtly or nuance.
Maybe there is a beast . . . .maybe it’s only us
Metal Gear Survive’s theme is right there in the name. Survival is key and in Metal Gear Survive doing so is tough. At least initially.
As you play, you’ll need to manage the Captain’s hunger and thirst, as well as health, injuries and stamina. In the first few hours of Metal Gear Survive when resources are scarce, keeping the Captain functioning is a real slog.
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Your thirst gauge will constantly be empty and you’ll constantly be alerted to the fact that you’re hungry and need to eat. Maybe it’s my love for Snake Eater or the series in general (except The Phantom Pain) but I enjoyed this early grind. It gave me a sense of purpose and fighting to survive against impossible odds was really rewarding.
In addition to survival, there are two other major gameplay loops in Metal Gear Survive; crafting and base-building.
All three systems work together for a dynamic and unique take on the survival/crafting genre. Having just played Dragon Quest Builders, I was surprised to find that Metal Gear Survive is incredibly similar.
They both have the same reward loop and both push you to keep progressing with the promise of bigger, better and more powerful creations.
I give my life, not for honor, but for you
Exploring Dite is a similar experience to that of Afghanistan in The Phantom Pain, though there are fundamental differences. In Dite, for example, much of the map is covered in ‘Dust’ which requires an oxygen mask to properly explore.
It’s also pitch black while inside the dust and it disrupts communications so you can only navigate by sight. Suffice it to say, I’ve nearly suffocated inside the Dust on more than one occasion.
The bulk of your exploration of Dite will take place inside the Dust and while daunting initially, over time it becomes the norm. This is true of pretty much every mechanic in Metal Gear Survive.[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”Every trip back to Base Camp is a chance to reset” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””][/perfectpullquote]
When something is first introduced to you, it seems a little overwhelming. Especially given how complex it already is and how many things you’re keeping track of.
Over time though, it all clicks into place. You’ll remember to eat and drink, repair all of your equipment, construct a new workbench, plant veggies and prepare clean drinking water.
Every trip back to Base Camp is a chance to reset. To deposit all of the materials you’ve collected, improve your base and get ready for the next mission.
It’s a satisfying loop that kept me engaged from start to finish.
You might be wondering where the Metal Gear of it all is in Survive and it’s a fair question. In all honesty, this could have been an all-new franchise without the Metal Gear name and it would have made a lot more sense.
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However, the entire gameplay system is taken wholesale from Metal Gear Solid V and benefits from the improvements and enhancements made to the series’ mechanics over the years.
Unfortunately, stealth is almost completely useless in Metal Gear Survive. You are able to sneak up on Wanderers and stealthily take them out for a bonus, but that’s about where it’s usefulness ends.
Animals can’t be snuck up on and if you are spotted, all you need do is run away, reset and try again. It makes sense in terms of how Metal Gear Survive plays though it is jarring that a Metal Gear title features so little in the way of Tactical Espionage Action™.
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Instead, you’re able to hunt, gather, build and craft and each of these systems work in concert to elevate Metal Gear Survive beyond what it seems on the surface.
In the beginning, you’ll be lucky to be running around with a rusty machete as protection. As you collect more items and create advanced workbenches at Base Camp, you’ll move onto sledgehammers, baseball bats and eventually shotguns, grenades and an increasingly deadly arsenal.
The same is true of food, medicine, armour and gadgets.
You’re constantly improving. Even after 40+ hours, I’ve not hit a wall for progression. There is always something to do in Metal Gear Survive. Something to find, something to hunt and something to build.
It’s a strange choice for the continuation of the series, but against all odds, it turned out great.
Metal Gear Survive was reviewed on PS4 using a digital copy provided by Konami.
Game Title: Metal Gear Survive