It’s clear that Metal Gear Survive isn’t going to go down as the best-selling game sporting the Metal Gear title, but it’s also a far cry from the terrible experience many preemptively claimed it would be. Hung up on the “Metal Gear” portion of the title, fans of the original series couldn’t quite connect the dots between a zombie-survival base builder and the story-heavy series. Metal Gear Solid may have always been known for its fantastical elements, but the pitch to use the series as a launching point for this kind of game must have been a wild one.
The beta for Metal Gear Survive proved that it’s not the perfect game by a long shot. There’s still plenty that could be changed to further enhance the experience, and though it will never feel like an AAA title, it can, at least, improve.
With time to still make some alterations, Survive could be a better experience by its February release date if the following items were tweaked to better suit the game’s direction.
They’re zombies and there’s no reason to believe that they’d be intelligent to any degree, but the crystalloid monsters of Survive didn’t even show the same ferocity of the average zombie. All-too-often it felt like they were following one command to mindlessly charge the base and ignore the human obstacles near their path.
On many occasions, hordes of zombies stopped moving when they hit barricades (natural and manmade) and didn’t do anything until antagonized. Sometimes it wasn’t even a physical barrier that stopped them and they just froze in place for several seconds.
Zombies didn’t seem to have much of a directive beyond “Rush B” and wouldn’t initiate combat with a human player unless that player was directly in their path. Granted, the point is that they’re primarily drawn to the Wormhole Digger, but it would be nice for them to act more erratically and be far less predictable and like an undead assembly line.
Melee has never been the Metal Gear Solid series’ strongest point, but it’s been manageable. Metal Gear Survive seems to go out of the way to make early-game handheld weapon attacks absolutely miserable. In fact, even upgrading your character’s melee attacks for longer combos or different moves doesn’t really improve hand-to-hand combat.
Attack time even for smaller weapons like a machete takes an unreasonably long time. These men are Big Boss’ finest and they can’t seem to handle a 12” blade without needing a comically long wind-up. Considering the lack of ammo (at least in the beta), one would think melee combat would be a little more accessible.
Instead, it’s a game of timing enemy attacks to line up with your character’s ample swing time. It would be nice to see hand-to-hand combat revamped to be even marginally more reliable. Essentially, your character’s fists are useless, so don’t even try to go toe-to-toe with a zombie if you’re not brandishing a weapon.
The "Metal Gear" Name
That Konami decided to use Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain assets to bring this game to life is a huge misstep. Unfortunately, it’s set in stone and can’t be rectified now, but removing Survive from the Metal Gear Solid universe would do the game a great service. Much of what didn’t work were elements pulled from Hideo Kojima’s popular series, but it goes even deeper than gameplay mechanics.
The average gamer that’s familiar with Konami’s popular series is going to expect the same quality that’s been delivered across most Metal Gear Solid titles. Survive isn’t intended to be that type of game. It doesn’t have the same shock and awe gamers are used to with Metal Gear Solid, which, quite ironically, mimics one of the bigger issues with the game it pulls most of its assets from.
By setting Survive in the Metal Gear Solid universe, Konami psychologically sets many gamers up for disappointment. Even if there had there been no controversy over business practices and the treatment of Kojima, there still would be plenty of backlash from players that felt misled.
What’s to say about a company that learned nothing from the backlash Electronic Arts received for the microtransactions in Star Wars: Battlefront II? For Metal Gear Survive, it’s an even bigger risk considering it’s not really an AAA title that players would be willing to throw money at for random rewards.
Microtransactions weren’t present in the beta, making it difficult to gauge just how prevalent they’ll be in the final release, but it’s probably safe to say that no presence would have been better, especially if they unlock higher-powered weaponry and items and aren’t just cosmetic.