I have mixed feelings about this announcement, and not so great feelings about how people are responding to it. I don’t detest the game, but I’m not head over heels for it either. I am interested in the concept, but not invested in what’s been shown to me. I think this is largely because I find the trailer to be bland. I have a lot of things I want to say about this, so here we go. I wasn’t expecting this to be my first post on here, but things don’t always go as planned.
Konami has unveiled the game to follow Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and I’m not talking about the Snake Eater Pachislot remake. Instead, I’m talking about Metal Gear Survive, a co-op game which takes place after Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. The protagonist’s military base was destroyed at the end of the game, with his soldiers either dead or left without a home. The Phantom Pain revealed that the survivors moved on, but were never able to replace what they had lost. The twist here is that Metal Gear Survive says some of these survivors were suddenly sucked into a wormhole that brought them to an alternate universe where they started getting into fights with biological threats that more or less resemble zombies. Also something about going home.
I’ll start off with the story – I don’t like it right now. It reeks heavily of an excuse plot that exists solely for giving the co-op game a reason to be in the Metal Gear universe. I don’t think an excuse plot is one of the biggest sins in video game development – if the core game is fun enough, I can sometimes give story a pass. Even so, I personally dislike how random the wormhole is, even by Metal Gear standards. The destruction of Mother Base in Ground Zeroes was caused by explosives, planted by a group that had managed to infiltrate using a blind spot. Nothing in the prior stories indicated a wormhole leading to an alternate reality would fit into all of this. I can guess what some people are thinking: “You could use wormholes to kidnap people in The Phantom Pain!” Thing is, though, that was a gameplay element that was not a part of the main story. If it were, I’d be singing a different tune. Correct me if I’m wrong, it was also an ability you’d get very late game. That all being said, if the game turns out to be a non-canon side-story, I won’t care as much. A random wormhole leading to a bizarre world fits right in where non-canon stories are concerned. I’m not speaking of games such as Metal Gear: Ghost Babel, but rather things like External Gazer from Metal Gear Solid 2, Snake vs Monkey in Metal Gear Solid 3, and Jamais Vu in Ground Zeroes.
As for the zombies, I actually might not have that much of an issue with them, although that may change depending on how things proceed. Saying that The Phantom Pain did not feature something reminiscent of zombies wouldn’t sit right with me – the ‘infected’ in that game moved like zombies and sounded like zombies. Their inclusion in the game’s story, however, fit into the narrative being told. I’m not a big fan of zombies and they bore me to death, but I can give the game credit for making the infected fit in somehow. The question is what Metal Gear Survive will do when it comes to these ‘biological threats’. Will they link to the events of The Phantom Pain, or will they be their own thing? Will there even be an explanation? So many questions.
Something that does genuinely grab my attention is the concept of playing as the survivors of the attack on Mother Base. This army grew to about 300 people during the events of Metal Gear Solid: Peace Walker, a game which unsurprisingly focused on Peace, contrasting with The Phantom Pain’s theme of Revenge. Peace Walker gives us some insight on how these soldiers lived their lives when they weren’t fighting in some foreign land – they spent time with cats, played soccer, had relationships, among other things. This would all be taken away from them. We know from The Phantom Pain that the desire for revenge took control of some characters, but was that the case for everyone? I’m truly fascinated in getting to see the struggles of these soldiers, trying to cope with the loss of their home, their family, and all the other things that made them feel alive. I’d like to see the themes of Peace and Revenge come together, see a sort of battle inside these troops to retain their sanity, their goodwill. Maybe the characters of this new game are tied to the wandering soldiers you find in The Phantom Pain. Maybe we’ll get to see how people feel in regards to their hero apparently leaving them to die. We’ve already seen in The Phantom Pain that stories spread about Big Boss possibly selling his comrades out. I’d take anything expanding on those points, but perhaps I’m asking too much from a co-op survival game. I don’t know.
The gameplay is what I’m really curious about, though. Metal Gear fans responded well to the co-op feature that Peace Walker introduced. I thought it was brilliant, being able to take on stealth missions with an ally, as opposed to simply trying to gun people down on your way to a goal. If you were into that sort of thing, there was room for that too, in the form of the game’s numerous missions involving the capture or destruction of enemy units. The only major issue I had with it was that I had nobody to play with. I didn’t have any friends who played Peace Walker, let alone many who had a PSP. When I got the HD Edition on 360, I didn’t have a Gold subscription to play online, and I didn’t feel I could justify paying a sub to just test out a few rounds. I did get around to trying out the co-op at some point, and I’m not exactly sure how that came about, but I do remember really enjoying it. People wanted this feature to return in The Phantom Pain, which unlike Peace Walker featured a massive open-world with numerous locations to infiltrate. Alas, no such feature was implemented, leading to a number of requests for it to be added in a patch.
I could be entirely wrong, and this is just my guess, but I believe the desire for a co-op Metal Gear adventure is what brought about this game’s conception. It could be that adding co-op to The Phantom Pain is not possible for the team that has been left working on it. Alternatively, a co-op Metal Gear game may just be brilliant enough to stand on its own and make some great cash out of. I don’t know what the deal is, but either seem likely to me. My concern is where the gameplay could possibly go. We are told that is a survival stealth co-op game with Metal Gear elements, and I’m honestly a bit concerned about how much the stealth element will stay present. I’m worried about a future where this stealth co-op game devolves into merely being a shooter, but with any luck the game will be designed well enough that being sneaky can still remain the key ingredient that it always has been. A new co-op Metal Gear game sounds amazing on paper, and if this has to be the first post-Kojima game, I want it to deliver.
I’d like to discuss the reactions to the game. They are nuclear, and they are wild. Already I am seeing comments saying that the game is doomed to suck, that non-Kojima games are not worthwhile, that people aren’t real fans if x or y, or that the trailer is the worst thing they’ve ever seen in their life. There are lots of people throwing profanities at each other over it. I can see nothing but thoughts poured out from an initial emotional response. To clarify, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with posting your initial impressions, negative or positive. That’s just what they are, things that happened on the spot. Sometimes in the heat of the moment we tend to say things that we don’t mean 100%. At the same time, I’ve seen this happen before, and no doubt some people will continue with the intense negativity just because they can.
I don’t think we have enough information to say that the game is doomed to be a total mess. People can talk about how Konami’s escapades are indicative of the game’s future. People can talk about how this game could just be a way to earn more Big Bucks through potential micro-transactions. People could turn out to be right. Regardless, we currently have nothing functioning as concrete evidence of whether or not the game will turn out to be fun to play. It’s too early, and that trailer gives us absolutely no gameplay footage. We can of course draw up theories as usual, but with so little to go off of I don’t feel like anything can be said for certain yet. I think anything with the gameplay of the last two titles could be interesting, though.
Concerning the worth of Metal Gear games not made by Kojima, this is a topic I’ve been wanting to discuss for a while, but I won’t touch on it too deeply for now. Many people enjoyed Ghost Babel, directed by Shinta Nojiri. The Acid series, despite having its ups and downs, has also earned a couple of fans. I can personally state that I feel the second game made up for many of the flaws of the first. They were also directed by Shinta Nojiri. Revengeance also has its share of fans, and was directed by Kenji Saito. Snake’s Revenge on the NES gets a bad rep for being both an NES Metal Gear and a non-Kojima game, and from my observations, the negativity mostly comes from people who haven’t played it. People claim Kojima thinks it’s an abomination, and to my knowledge he only ever said that about its predecessor. I don’t think we should be shooting down Metal Gear games solely because the creator of the series wasn’t responsible for them.
I also can’t believe I’m seeing the ‘real fans’ thing everywhere again. I thought we had moved on from those days. Every individual has their own set of preferences, and they all have their own reasons for following and liking a series. People can like or dislike an element of something and still be dedicated fans. I’m typing this with a rare double-pack of Metal Gear Solid and Special Missions sitting to my right. I would not have bought these games more than once if I were not a fan. Additionally, Batwoman: Elegy, alongside Batwoman Volumes 1-4 are sitting behind that double-pack. I enjoyed those, but heard that Volumes 5 and 6 weren’t particularly special or good. I still intend to read them, but I am in no hurry to purchase them. Does that mean I’m not a Batwoman fan? How can people, without knowing my personal experiences with something, claim that I am not a “Real Fan™ © All Rights Reserved”? I just don’t get it.
A trailer for a video game is not the end of the world. A video game is not worth tearing each other apart over. I understand that people feel off about Konami, and I also understand that the timing of the Pachislot remake only strengthened their animosity towards them. On a personal level, I do feel that the trailer is lackluster and missing a lot of what made Metal Gear what it was to me. It’s a two-minute trailer that fails to demonstrate the video game part of the video game, with an addiction to cutting to black. It looks incredibly generic, and I feel it’s very telling that many are seeing this as just another zombie survival game. When I think of Metal Gear, I think of a unique experience, and Survive does not stand out to me. But the trailer is not the game, and I’m sure we’ve all watched trailers before that showed us things we didn’t end up experiencing. This game could be dreadful, this game could be excellent. It could turn out to just be average. No, it doesn’t look or feel like Metal Gear at all, but I still need more to see before I can judge its quality.
I think this game is worth discussing, but I don’t think we should jump the gun on it, or each other.