Metal Gear Survive Deserves a Better Chance Rodney Lloyd September 22, 2016 Articles, Video Games Metal Gear Survive has not received the warmest of receptions. As Konami’s first Metal Gear title after the departure of Hideo Kojima, the cooperative stealth game already had an uphill battle to win over fans when it was announced last month. But with the recent release of a gameplay demo at the Tokyo Game Show, intense doubts and concerns continue to be directed at various aspects of the game. While such negative reactions by fans may come to be substantiated by Survive‘s release, I consider the severe backlash thus far to be undeserved, especially because we’ve seen very little of the game and learned only a handful of facts so far. There are definitely concerns that should be addressed, but based on the little material released so far, I believe Metal Gear Survive deserves a better chance. Let’s begin by talking about Metal Gear Survive without Hideo Kojima. This particular part of Survive‘s identity makes it an easy target for unhappy fans, producing an inherent incredulity among those who see Metal Gear as Kojima’s pet project. Granted, no one wants to see a creator leave the series he built from Day One, but history has shown that some video game series’ can still find success independent of their individual creators. Final Fantasy found success after Hironobu Sakaguchi, Resident Evil found success without Shinji Mikami, and Devil May Cry found success without Hideki Kamiya. It would be nice to see Kojima continue his work on the Metal Gear series, but his absence does not necessarily mean Survive will be a bad game. But if a Metal Gear without Kojima is still a sticking point for you, consider Metal Gear Survive‘s self-aware role as a side-story. If you watch the gameplay demo from Tokyo Game Show, you’ll see that Survive is wearing its role as a goofy spin-off tale on its sleeve. A group of soldiers from Mother Base are sucked through a wormhole into “an alternate world,” where they must “fight to stay alive as they try to return home.” This is an admittedly silly premise, and Survive is keeping no secrets in that regard. I don’t think we’re really meant to think of it as anything other than an adventure set aside from the series revered storyline. Wormholes, zombies, and alternate dimensions all point to a side-story that really shouldn’t be taken seriously, and surely shouldn’t be seen as a threat to Metal Gear‘s story. If Metal Gear really is to continue without Hideo Kojima, this approach seems to be the best solution. The game isn’t touching on the epic saga of Solid Snake and Big Boss, but we still get the chance to play around with the Metal Gear formula once again. So unless the game truly asserts itself as a threat to the main series, Metal Gear Survive deserves a better chance. I’ve also seen criticism aimed at Metal Gear Survive re-using assets and maps from Metal Gear Solid V. While I agree that the re-appropriation of pre-existing game assets for a new game is a lazy tactic for developers in select cases, and the practice is in line with some of Konami’s past missteps, I don’t necessarily see it as the case in every circumstance. Such a tactic could be a way for a passionate developer (and there may still be passionate developers at Konami) to make the most out of the work they spent on a previous game. We’ve seen the successful re-use of game assets in other series’, so Survive should at least be given the chance to prove it can be successful in the same way. Red Dead Redemption: Undead Nightmare, Far Cry: Blood Dragon, and Far Cry: Primal are all titles that re-used a prior game’s assets to construct a new game, and all found relative success, with the former most directly relating to Metal Gear Survive. The goals of Undead Nightmare, Blood Dragon, and Primal were to provide a new game experience using a prior game’s map and assets, doing so in a tone that is largely removed from the original. Metal Gear Survive could be attempting to offer the exact same thing. If you ever found yourself saying you wanted to spend more time in The Phantom Pain‘s world, this could be your chance. Survive may take place on the same terrain and the same engine as its predecessor, but it’s also offering a different experience and new perspective of that world. Other developers have been successful letting players re-experience a game world in a fresh, new way, so Survive should not be chastised for such development methods alone. Based on the potential we’ve seen sprout from such a development choice, Metal Gear Survive deserves a better chance. A lot of time and effort went into Metal Gear Solid V, from building the Fox Engine, to constructing the game world, to perfecting the stealth mechanics that so many enjoyed. Why wouldn’t a group of developers want to get the most out of assets already built, especially to provide a new experience for fans? Survive may just be offering players a chance to re-engage with Metal Gear Solid V in a new way; it’s not necessarily acting as a quick cash-grab by Konami. Now, we may come to find that the game’s price point is too high for what Survive offers, but until more information gets announced, we shouldn’t make that assumption. Metal Gear Survive could even be priced along the same lines as an Undead Nightmare or a Blood Dragon. Metal Gear Survive deserves a better chance, as it could reveal itself as an affordable side-game rather than a full-blown sequel. As far as gameplay is considered, Survive seems to have retained the fantastic stealth and shooting systems of Metal Gear Solid V. For this reason especially, Metal Gear Survive deserves a better chance. From last week’s TGS demos, we can see that Survive players will still be able to infiltrate enemy compounds, neutralize sentries from the shadows, and collect valuable resources a la Fulton just as Venom Snake did last year. In terms of gameplay, fans shouldn’t see Survive as a drastic departure for the series. If anything, they should embrace the game for at least keeping true to the gameplay elements that The Phantom Pain established. But for those that see the gameplay of this new Metal Gear title as too similar to MGS V, I think Konami has done a fair job to show the ways in which Survive will try to evolve the familiar gameplay elements of its predecessor. The final segment shown in the recent TGS demo shows the Survive team fortifying and defending an outpost from an encroaching horde of creatures. These defense segments — while being a logical choice for a game with zombies in it — look to build upon the FOB Defense sections seen in The Phantom Pain. Metal Gear Survive seems to have taken the FOB Defense system’s core idea and expanded on it. In this new game, resource collection, crafting, and defense management can be done at all points during primary gameplay, not in a menu. With a seemingly increased number of horde sections like the one seen in the demo (probably one for each wormhole), players can defend a position in more varied environments, not just in the sterile Mother Base-style FOB environment. And with fortifications needed to be built in real-time during an invasion, players will experience heightened tension and excitement. These defense segments may even be built into an online competitive mode. Defense missions will now be a fully fleshed-out part of the game and integrated into individual story missions, not standing alone as a secondary gameplay feature. If Metal Gear Survive builds upon other mission types that we saw in MGS V — particularly ones that didn’t get a fair shake — I’d say that it would have value as a new installment in the series. Metal Gear Survive deserves a better chance, at least until we see what other ways the game will attempt to develop aspects of The Phantom Pain. Lastly, I just want to touch on the frustrations some fans have with seeing zombies in a Metal Gear game. Now, I completely agree that the zombie trope in video games is getting a little stale, but I cannot accept the claim that zombies do not have a place in Metal Gear at all. In the long-running history or Metal Gear, we’ve seen many strange things. We’ve seen phycho-kinetic super-soldiers, we’ve seen gravity-defying vampires, and we’ve seen undead apparitions. As much as the series wants to explain away these occurrences with nano-machines or parasites, this weirdness still invites supernatural elements to be placed in Metal Gear, including zombies. So, if Hideo Kojima wants to decry zombies in a Metal Gear game, he’s more than welcome to do so. But I cannot deny that the weirder elements he placed in his series have set the table for zombies in Metal Gear. Survive may even jump on the opportunity to challenge the trope of zombies in video games, just as past games in the series have challenged tropes in the medium. Until we know exactly how the zombies will be implemented in the full game, Metal Gear Survive deserves a better chance. There are certainly reasons for Metal Gear fans to be wary of Metal Gear Survive. Just look at the comments on the official trailer or gameplay videos to see some of those reasons. However, I don’t believe the game should be so violently dismissed or so vehemently hated until more of the game is shown. Much of the negativity Survive has received seems to come from pre-conceived notions of the series or pre-built attitudes toward Konami. A game shouldn’t be shunned for those reasons; a game should at least be appraised based on its own merits. If the game ends up mediocre then, by all means, let the negativity find its due target. But until the final game is released, Metal Gear Survive, based on just a debut trailer and 15 minutes of gameplay, does not deserve the unrefined hated it has received. Metal Gear Survive deserves a better chance.