In Metal Gear Survive, you play a custom character that is the opposite physical Venom Snake from Metal Gear Solid 5. This spin-off is an exercise in constant deprivation, where resistance is limited and you must look for food and water, which you must cook and purify, respectively, if you do not want to get sick. This means that you have the right tools to camp, what you have to do. There is also the issue of the zombies that infest the key areas of the mission, in an environment very far from what anyone would call "home". It is a new territory for a Metal Gear game both literally and figuratively. And after a previous four-hour session with the single player story mode, plus a multiplayer session, we were more curious than excited about the whole game.
Almost all Metal Gear games have had some supernatural element, but Survive takes things to another level, or another dimension to be precise. Taking place after the events of The Phantom Pain, the soldiers of the Mother Base – together with the base itself – are transported through a wormhole to another reality. The main objective of the story is to track down your brothers in arms and find a way back home.
Our demonstration began in the third chapter of Survive, approximately one hour after the beginning of the story. Based on our initial missions, you can expect a large number of training and incorporation style objectives. Collecting motherboards and learning to collect water seemed like domestic chores instead of the more attractive targets normally found in a Metal Gear Solid game. At least there were a lot of zombies in key areas to keep us alert.
While you try to stay alive, you learn from the beginning that you are missing the various skills of the Metal Gear protagonists who have earned the code name Snake. Your resistance is very low and you start only with basic melee attacks. And if the mission requires exploration in the hazy sections of the map, you must also administer your oxygen. It's a relief that the normal walking speed is enough to get away from the zombies, as long as you manage your resistance well. It remains to be seen if the undead can run later in the game.
These persistent demands on your well-being are fueled by the creation component of Metal Gear Survive which, if this preliminary demonstration was an indication, plays an important role in the overall experience. As with many other craft survival games, what you think you'll need to build first may not be the most useful gear. And, of course, what you do will be limited by the ingredients you have, leaving you wondering which components should be stored and what should be used immediately.
We discovered that creating fences – that you can build instantly, provided you have enough resources, are a great help in cornering the zombies and being able to kill them easily with your initial staff. Depending on how you attract the zombies in the mission areas, you can achieve your goals without having to kill them all, although you should build more efficient weapons such as a machete or a gun. That's because the defeated zombies throw kuban, the coin you spend to level up. Given the broad and diverse skills you can unlock in the Survivor class, the first of four classes, there is the potential that your custom soldier may one day be as talented as Big Boss.
This incentive of character progression combined with the appeal of the multiplayer mode is what Konami hopes will keep players interested in the long term, especially since the story takes only 20 hours to complete. Our short session with the cooperative four-player online mode echoed Fortnite's basic defense aspects, while imposing the limitations of endurance and ability mentioned above in story mode. In addition, we discovered that the zombies in the easiest difficulty are in level 10, while our team ranged from levels 2 to 4. It did not last long.
As much as we are still not convinced of the long-term appeal of Metal Gear Survive, we have to give what we have seen so far to give credit to their demanding game focused on survival. The level of collection and elaboration of resources is not unusual for an open zombie game of the world, but in the context of the Metal Gear franchise, it is the largest design output since Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance. It was also comforting to see that this spin-off retained some of the series' sense of humor, particularly when you send animals through mini wormholes instead of the Fulton globe system from The Phantom Pain.
Check out our other coverage of this practice preview session: