Metal Gear Survive is a survival game, in every sense of the word. After sinking a few hours into the single-player campaign, and dabbling in the co-op mode, I’ve found that the game is all about micromanaging every aspect of your avatar to make sure they’re in tip-top shape.
The early hours of Metal Gear Survive’s campaign waver between challenging and infuriating. Equipped with nothing but a few raw materials to make a spear, the game immediately sends you out into the desert to hunt for animals and look for water. This resource collection is a key aspect of the game; your hunger meter determines how much maximum health you have, while the thirst meter determines your maximum stamina gauge. If your hunger drops to zero, it’s game over.
The first four or five hours of Metal Gear Survive can be rather brutal, especially if you’re relatively new to survival and crafting games. Because Metal Gear Survive’s combat system has been directly lifted from The Phantom Pain with a few adjustments to melee attacks, it constantly feels like your character isn’t quite as swift or responsive as you’d like them to be. Movement feels a little slow and clumsy, which can be irritating when you’re faced with a horde of Wanderers shambling and swiping at you. Sprint too quickly without keeping an eye on your thirst meter, and you might find yourself out of breath within seconds. You could keep your thirst meter up with dirty water, but you also run the risk of falling ill and bringing on a whole other set of problems for yourself.
Metal Gear Survive’s micromanagement doesn’t end there either. You’ve got to keep an eye on gear durability, oxygen levels when you’re heading into the dust, as well as keep track of the different kinds of injuries you might have sustained along the way, and heal them up with the appropriate medication. This also needs to be crafted back at your base camp. Put all of these micromanagement aspects together with the clumsy basic combat, and you might find yourself overwhelmed by the brutality of the game’s early hours.
Even so, things do get better the more you progress. Before long, I unlocked the ability to craft a hanging pot that would allow me to boil dirty water to get clean water, and I found a renewable source of potatoes by starting up a farm at camp.
So far, the campaign’s story has been rather thin, as most fans might have expected. I’ve encountered a gruff soldier, a Boss-like AI pod with split personalities (none of which are nearly as interesting as the Boss herself), and a nurse who’s now been assigned to tend to my potato farm. The story follows your avatar as they enter the alternate dimension of Dite to find a cure for the zombie-like Wanderer disease, and hopefully save some survivors as well. The story is tepid, the voice acting hammy and monotonous, and the characters feel more like quest-givers and environmental decoration more than anything else. Fans certainly shouldn’t expect to get any new Metal Gear lore or story tidbits out of this one.
After having had enough of the campaign for a day, I turned my attention to the co-op mode which, to my surprise, ended up feeling more lackluster than expected. About six hours into Metal Gear Survive, I’ve yet to unlock any other game types aside from the Salvage mode, which we’ve already seen in the beta and other previews. No new maps yet, either.
Perhaps more annoying is the fact that your character carries everything from the campaign over to co-op. And I mean literally everything. All your gear and weapons are brought over, but so too are your hunger and thirst levels. This means that if you exited the campaign with a half-filled health gauge, that’s how you’re going to enter the co-op mode as well. It certainly doesn’t help that there aren’t any animals or watering holes to be found in the multiplayer maps. Considering that the co-op modes don’t feel all that relevant to the story progression itself, it’s odd that your thirst and hunger gauges need to be carried over between both sections. It’s more annoying than anything else, and players should certainly stock up on tons of food and water if they’re hoping to engage in a long multiplayer session.
From what I’ve seen of Metal Gear Survive so far, the microtransactions don’t feel all that intrusive just yet. SV Coins, which are the premium currency of Metal Gear Survive, can be used to purchase resource boosters. These aren’t necessary for progression, so you could just ignore them without any worries. What is worrying, though, is the fact that you have to shell out real money to create a new character and save file, as well as additional loadout slots. These are basic functions that you’d expect to have unlocked right from the start of the game. Instead, Konami has opted to put them behind a paywall.
My experience with Metal Gear Survive has been rather tepid in the early hours. Maybe things will change as I progress further in the campaign, but for now, color me unimpressed.