A new Metal Gear game was revealed today, Metal Gear Survive. It’s a co-op survival title where four players are sucked into an alternate universe filled with zombies covered in crystals. It certainly looks worlds apart from what the series is typically known for and, understandably, pretty much no one thinks it’s a good idea. The trailer isn’t objectively horrible. Maybe the music choice isn’t your cup of tea, but there’s some action and trick arrows seem cool. There’s mainly one big problem – it looks incredibly basic. And Metal Gear has been anything but that.
Let’s get this out of the way first: this game’s announcement was probably doomed from the start. It’s the first Metal Gear game from Konami without Hideo Kojima, following a troubling year of public fallout that included removing his name from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’s box art and a hellish workplace environment. Whether Konami revealed a new full-fledged game, Pachinko, or Raiden-themed underwear, things were not going to go smoothly.
The most abundant complaint from fans is that Metal Gear Survive is wrong for the franchise, diluting it. Feeling strongly about a beloved series is understandable (though this can’t really be more of a betrayal than the two Acid titles, which were a pair of tactical-RPG card games). But that aside, and not to knock on the folks at Konami who are working on Metal Gear Survive, but zombies? For real? Even taking into account that this is a pre-rendered trailer, the concept is a bit… blasé for gaming these days. By the time this game comes out next year, we’ll already have four other co-op games with zombies: Dead Rising 4, Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare, State of Decay 2, and possibly Days Gone.
Each of them has their own elements that make them distinct: Warfare’s famous actors and David Hasselhoff, Decay 2’s wide array of characters, Days Gone’s motorbikes, and Rising’s very own Frank West. They’ve all got their little niches carved out in an inundated zombie market — some of them even share niches, like Infinite and Rising’s crazy zombie murder, for example. The best Survive could hope to do is ask to share room. What’s going to separate this from the two times that Capcom has tried and failed to turn Resident Evil into team shooters? So far, it seems the answer is not much. There’s more to be seen beyond an announcement trailer, but if there’s a moment to convince the public your game has an identity, it’s then.
Of course, there’s also the matter that an alternate universe filled with zombies sort of feels a bit “last resort” for this series. Had this come out four or five years ago when it was still novel to toss zombies in a game for the fun of it, around the time that Dead Island was becoming popular, it would have the benefit of an audience that hasn’t already seen zombie hordes of all shapes, speeds, and sizes.
But the game is releasing in a post-Metal Gear Rising world. And just to remind folks, that’s a game where you played as a breakdancing cyborg ninja who fought a US senator with a Darwin complex. You’d think that if anything, Konami would try to make a sequel to that, or at the very least use that as a blueprint for spinoff titles. Where’s the game where you play as D-Dog, or a solo title for Quiet? It’s like when Yakuza randomly inserted zombies into their series for that Dead Souls game.
What is the point of putting zombies in a series that can do better than the undead? This is a title that has had ghosts and vampires, and a game against either of those enemies would be pretty fun and stand out against the pack. Hell, even something like cyborg vampire ghosts, just to tie it back into nanomachines. Zombies these days are the epitome of “been there, done that,” even if these zombies look like they spent some time in Steven Universe’s world.
Metal Gear Survive could end up being a pretty fun co-op title, but it’s going to have some hurdles to jump over first. If people are willing to give Konami a shot at their first non-Kojima title, the company has to make it of value. Playing a new game with friends is fun, but if it’s one that has nothing to offer that can’t be found elsewhere, it’s definitely not going to survive.