I’ll be brutally honest, with the whole Hideo Kojima divorce from Konami, the cancellation of P.T/Silent Hills, their continued disrespect of turning beloved franchises into gambling machines, rather then you know, actually revitalise those games into remakes with the Fox Engine and all has already caused enough unrest amongst the fiercely loyal fan base.  So add all this to the fact that I absolutely love the Metal Gear Solid franchise and practically worship the ground that Hideo Kojima walks on, Metal Gear Survive already had a handicap with an immense uphill battle to win me over.  So in an attempt to be as neutral as I possibly could, other than the initial announcement and one following trailer, I avoided all news regarding Metal Gear Survive like it was the plague.  After all, the more I saw and knew, the more I would surely detest the concept of this game.

So when Metal Gear Survive arrived for me to review, despite me going in as blind as possible, I wasn’t looking forward to firing up this game what so ever.  After 30-minuntes to an hour of playing, I was beginning to have enough, already thinking of uninstalling this abomination from my PS4 hard drive, but for the benefit of my review I persevered and to be honest, I’m quite glad that I ploughed through with this flawed, but yet odd (and surprisingly) enjoyable survival horror game.  Yes, it may not be a “survival horror” game in the traditional sense when compared to Resident Evil or Silent Hill, however, it is at its core a survival game and to my other surprise, it also has its moments of horror.

The game begins at the end of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and the basis of the story is that you’re pulled through a wormhole in an alternative earth known as Dite which is populated by zombie, crystal, crack-head things called Wanderers.  You are tasked with finding out as much about this place as possible in the aid of opening up a big-ass wormhole to get you and whatever human survivors you have back home safely.  To do this you must wonder the dusty lands of this alternative universe of Afghanistan seen in The Phantom Pain gathering resources and what not, while killing shit loads of mainly generic zombie crackheads during its 20-30 hour singleplayer campaign.  Missions can vary from saving survivors, setting up equipment leading to the wormhole that will get you home, resources to build up your home base and so forth.

The base itself is kind of like a much stripped down version of the mother base seen in The Phantom Pain.  Here you can build and upgrade workbenches to craft and upgrade weapons, equipment and various gadgets to aid you on your next mission.  Oddly, out of all the weaponry you can craft, a fence seems to be my most valuable asset, yes, a fence.  Like most gadgets in the game, you assign them to a hotkey/d-pad direction and you’d then call upon them when needs be.  So if you’re defending a portal against waves of enemies, drop as many fences in their path to slow them down.  Obviously this won’t be the only thing you’ll need as weapons such as bow and arrows, and homemade poking sticks are vital to picking out enemies from a safe distance.

Unless you’re swarmed with enemies, the wanderers shouldn’t pose much of a problem as they are dumb as pig shit.  I know they’re technically zombies, but I expected some level of decent AI.  Many times they will wander into a building, wall or fence just walking on the spot and this is how the homemade fence becomes your best friend, because most of the enemies won’t know how to get around them, which makes it easy to pick them off with a long-ranged weapon.  There were some quite cool moments where if there are loads of wanderers pilling towards a fence, they could actually clamber over them or knock it down completely.  But if you’re out in the wilderness, my common tactic is to find high ground, let them come towards you and gradually pick them off one by one.

With each wanderer you kill, you’ll pick up what is called Kuban.  This is essentially the main in-game currency (not including the real-world funded micro-transaction); Kuban is used to fill up your oxygen tank, upgrade/craft many of your gadgets and items in your home base as well as to level-up your character and more.  Other then weapons, the oxygen tank is quite possibly you’re most important item in the game, other than food and drink, but more on that later.  The desert in which you’re stranded is a harsh place and not just because of its inhabitants.  Located in the desert is the dust, think of it as something like the fog seen in Silent Hill.  When in this dust, your sight will be obscured and waypoints will disappear, which can result in you losing your bearings and getting lost.  Which happened to me from just searching for a waypoint that was very near, but because I lost my way, I was wandering way off the mark, which ultimately resulted in my death.  If you do lose your way (and you will), keep a look out for radio tower lights as they can often guide you to safer areas.  For a game that has enemies that are easy to exploit, the dust certainly adds some much needed difficulty and a sense of dread.

I spoke earlier about the oxygen tank, when in the desert, you will gradually (but quite slowly loose oxygen) and when you’re in the thick of the dust, your oxygen tank will decrease much faster.  If you don’t top up your tank soon enough by using Kuban, you will run out of air and die.  This is fine, that I have no problem with; after all, it’s a survival game.  However, what can get very tedious is the constant threat of being starved of food and water.  Again, I know this is a survival game, so those mechanics are expected, but it feels like it has way too much of an emphasis on the food and drink side of things.  Before you go out on a mission, it is vitally important that you stock up on items and when you acquire the required machinery for your base, you can filter clean water, grow crops and cook food to take on your journey.  But having to constantly eat and drink (as well as topping up your oxygen tank) every few minutes, feels more like an annoyance, rather than adding a level of suspense.  I can fully appreciate that food, drink and oxygen is a key component to this game, but I feel the game would benefit greatly if that aspect was toned down just a little.  In fact, as strange as it may seem, if you have any revitalising pills in your inventory, rather than wasting loads of food and drink topping yourself up, it’s often better to let your character die, use the revitalise pill and continue where you left off as it refills all your gauge bars.

While it can be a grind to level-up, the best and quickest way by far to acquire Kuban and resource materials, is by participating on the online co-op missions, known as Salvages.  Here, you and three other friends (or randoms) will defend your base (almost Tower Defence-like) against hordes of enemy waves while the time is counting down. If you complete this Salvage mission, your rewards will be far greater to that of playing the singleplayer, which granted that most online co-op missions can last about five minutes at a time, it’s a great way to level up quite quickly.  However, you better hope that you have a good team with you, because if you’re one short or are paired with a team of idiots, things can get very difficult, very quickly.  That said, I found that I was enjoying the co-op missions far more than I expected.  That said, leading up to the games release, I believed that the main aspect of Metal Gear Survive that it was co-op, however, the only aspect of this game that is co-op is the Salvage missions and not the main campaign itself.  Which just feels like a massive missed opportunity for a game such as this one, as it would have added fun playing the campaign with a friend.

Now, as I said quite early on, I’ve actually been enjoying Metal Gear Survive far more than I  expected, as I’ve enjoyed the gathering of resources, levelling-up my character and base, wandering into the unknown.  That said, while the game has some elements of stealth, it is very minimal and nowhere near to the standard of the main series and it lacks much of its silly humour, which is probably the clearest sign of Hideo Kojima’s absence.  But for me, the biggest elephant in the room is with the additional save slots that charges you to have more than one active character.  The chances are that you’ll only use one character anyway, but should you want an additional character tied to your account, you’ll have to purchase 1,150 worth of SV Coins (its micro-transaction currency) each time you want more than one active character, which sucks, big time.

I know we’ve seen this in the Metal Gear Online modes, but in their defence, they were additional modes attached to a base game.  Yes, I know Metal Gear Survive is a budget (ish) title, but I wouldn’t expect to see you having to pay for additional save slots.  I would perhaps expect to see it in a free-to –play game, but seeing as Metal Gear Survive costs around £25-£30 at launch, having to pay £8 to buy the credits just to have one more save character slot is a bad move on Konami’s part, especially when they’re not seeing favourably in much of the public’s eye right now.  I really hope that Konami removes this element from the game and reimburses those that purchased the save slots with SV Coins, but that’s not going to happen.

In conclusion, I expected to burn Metal Gear Survive to the ground, but it’s worth noting that its not a Metal Gear Solid game (in the traditional sense), in the same way that nor was Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance.  Like Reveneance, Survive is a spin-off game and if you can separate this away from the main series as its own entity, you might have a better acceptance of the game.  That said, being a big Metal Gear Solid fan, that’s not much of a fan of survival games, I’ve been enjoying Metal Gear Survive more than I expected.  It’s not perfect, not by a country mile, but it’s not quite as bad of a game that many makes it out to be.  Sure, the enemies are dumb as fuck and the water and food mechanic can get very tedious, but after finishing a mission and seeing your base grow, there’s at least something rewarding about this game.

Whether fans or none-fans of the Metal Gear series will give this game a chance somewhere down the line remains to be seen, but when Konami pulls shit like charging for additional character save slots, it’s no wonder that most people won’t give this game the time of day.  If you’re willing to look past its flaws, and if you can convince a friend or two to pick up this game, there is fun to be had.  However, much of this games success in the long-term comes down to the online player base and I believe the best chance of survival that Metal Gear Survive has, is by throwing it in as a PlayStation Plus/Games with Gold title later down the line.


Richard Lee Breslin
Richard Lee Breslin

Gamimg has been my life for 30+ years and will always be my passion. I have a BDes Hons Games Development and Digital Media, and I hope to one day turn my passion for gaming and writing into a living. My favourite gaming series are Resi Evil, Metal Gear Solid, Silent Hill, Assassin's Creed, Uncharted and The Last of Us. I collect gaming merchandise, comics and movies. I love football (namely Aston Villa) and WWE. I can also often be found wondering the outskirts of Raccoon City. Follow me on Twitter @Solidus5nake