Metal Gear Survive is now available, and has launched to some rather mixed reviews. Some elements to it are being hailed as rather good. The multiplayer can be a lot of fun, especially when you get together a group that actually cooperates to accomplish common goals. The story is not winning many people over, however, the campaign has some issues where it can get uneven, and microtransactions abound. Not to mention, sales are not that great, with it selling 85% fewer copies than Metal Gear Rising and only having around 6,000 people playing worldwide at one point on Steam after launch. What I am getting at is, Metal Gear Survive makes some pretty big changes. Could it doom the series?
Let’s start with the single player affair. While some Metal Gear entries have had multiplayer elements, with Metal Gear V: The Phantom Pain’s Mother Base segments being the most recent, they have never been the focus. The story always is. Yet in Metal Gear Survive, it feels like the reverse is true. The multiplayer is the part that is genuinely fun, what with its horde mode elements. The campaign is not very memorable. It requires us to stretch our imaginations and make leaps about the series’ lore and storyline, as well as get invested in people who are not very well-defined strangers in the strange realm that is Dite.
What’s worse is how stacked the deck can be against players in Metal Gear Survive. If you play a lot of multiplayer and spend time skimping and grinding, you can get through it. But it can get somewhat uneven and suddenly feel rather difficult, when you get to an area with a lot of Dust that messes with your sense of coordination or find yourself running low on food sources. Sometimes, it almost feels like the game is pushing you toward the microtransaction investments that will let you spend real money to speed up means of production and exploratory missions that will give you the items needed to more quickly succeed.
It does not help that Konami is nickel and diming people throughout Metal Gear Survive. The game is constantly trying to get people to spend more money on features that should be immediately available for free. Do you want more than one save file? It is $10 per extra character. Do you want more than four loadouts for one of your characters? You need to pay for the extra four to bring it up to eight. It is infuriating that you have these extra fees for features that other games offer for free.
There is also the always online element. This struck a chord at launch and has been a recurring problem since. If you can not get online and connect to Konami’s servers, you can not do anything with Metal Gear Survive. This meant some PlayStation 4 owners were left twiddling their thumbs on launch day, because there was an issue on Konami’s end with the servers that kept them from playing alone or with friends. If the network you are on, be it PlayStation Network or Xbox Live, goes down, your experience goes down the tubes too. Internet outage? Forget about playing Metal Gear Survive. Actually playing the campaign and have something cause the connection to drop? You lose all of your progress since the last time you check in at the base. It keeps adding up and wearing everyone down.
But, there is something important to note about all of these issues. Aside from the problems with Metal Gear Survive’s lackluster story, every element could be fixed by Konami. With a few patches, things could be repaired. Difficulty can always be rebalanced. They could decide to give away extra character slots or loadouts for free. The always online requirement could be removed. We already know the company is going to add some additional modes as time goes on, and Super Bomberman R has shown Konami is willing to take the time to repair games that stumbled when coming out of the gate.
I do not think Metal Gear Survive is going to kill the series. But, I do think we are at a make it or break it moment. What happens with this spin-off will dictate the future course. If things are handled well, we could see the Metal Gear series transform into something new, post-Hideo Kojima. Maybe it will become a more multiplayer-focused affair. If they are not, then there is a chance things could take a serious downturn before eventually fading away.