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Hands on with Metal Gear Survive: A much-needed step in a new direction

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I am not a fan of Hideo Kojima at all. There I said it. I feel that his work was great once upon a time but Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was oozing with his arrogance that it failed to live up to the MGS4: Guns of the Patriots spectacle. Metal Gear Survive is now the first game in the Metal Gear series to not have Kojima at the helm and I have to say that it could be the game that the series has been in dire need of. Moving away from a story-driven model, Metal Gear Survive takes place during the events of The Phantom Pain where a bunch of mercenaries get teleported into a parallel universe where the world has ended and strange creatures walk the Earth. 

The beta does not tell us much about the plot but the humans have been turned into these strange walking death machines by a material known as Kuban. You and your team of highly trained mercenaries head off into missions to extract the materials left in the world. The thing is this extractor summons the creatures so classic survival gameplay begins as you try and protect the machine from the monsters before they destroy it.

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Playing MGS at E3 2017 I was already surprised to see just how the game played out and this beta was a polished up version of the build I tested out. You start out in a social hub where players can get together and form a team. There is a training area to try out weapons, crafting tables to make weapons, ammo and other supplies (more on that later). Players can join through invite and everyone has access to these tables and stashes scattered around the hub. 

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There is much to learn about MGS as from UI to its controls the game does feel clunky at first. Hidden tabs hide away extra inventory slots and without reading the tutorials you will be stuck learning it all from scratch which is not a problem at all. I mean who reads pages of tutorial notes these days. After a few minutes, I finally got the hang of what each button does and if I equip a molotov cocktail to my character where I would find it and how I could throw it. Luckily the social hub is the best place to try out everything you have and can make as the ammo and amount of traps you place are infinite, you just need to have at least one.

I invited my brother into my game and the fun continued as we learnt how to crouch so we could tea-bag each other if we died. Probably the most important thing about a game these days. Starting a mission we had no idea what we were in for but we knew we had to go in prepared so we crafted some ammo, walls, electric and oil traps and most of all mounted guns. All these crafting items need two things, a recipe that you get in the game through completing missions and the necessary materials to craft them be it copper, steel whatever. It kind of reminds me of Fortnite but much more in depth than just wood, stone, and metal. 

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Recipes also come in different rarities such as blue, white, orange and purple. The higher the rarity the stronger the weapon, the more durable the wall and the more damage a trap does. It is plain and simple and I would love to see what the highest tier weapons do as I try to mow down a mob of zombies with my mounted gun. At E3 I did get a taste of the orange tier weapons and they were pretty epic but the beta did not have any available, or from what I played I did not find one.

Once I had a dozen walls made, a few hundred ammo crates and I was dressed up with some decent clothes that did not weigh me down, yes there is a weight system that prevents too much carrying of items to make it balanced, I was ready to set off on a mission.

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Landing in a location you instantly start to search around for crafting materials. You see, everything you have in order to craft in the hub stays there and you will have to find more in the world in order to craft more. You might have 50 gunpowder in the hub but unless you find gunpowder in the world you will be hitting enemies with your knife when your ammo depletes and it goes away very quickly. You can craft at your base where you have to protect your extractor which is at least something positive but if you don't arrive prepared then prepare to struggle. 

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Placing traps down is as easy as you think it would be. You have three inventory tabs, The middle, left and right. Your middle one is for weapons and your left and the right one is for traps and other items. Placing a trap means pressing down the left or right D-Pad to place that trap into your tab, (left D-Pad for the left tab and vice versa). After its equipped, you just hold down R1 or L1 and place them where you want. The same goes for items like grenades, you just equip them with the D-Pad and press the button to throw them. It is a decent inventory system that gives the player so much room to equip items and store things. I could not imagine going into the game with just a few select tabs available to store the defences.

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Gameplay in Metal Gear Survival feels great as you run around protecting your extractor from the enemies coming at you. Your minimap shows your location and where they are coming from so you can make sure the path towards you is ready with traps. In the beta, we faced a Bomber, which is a massive round exploding enemy that kills everything around it and deals great damage to your extractor. Lurkers are fast creatures that can leap across the map. Armoured enemies are equipped with armour and bullets are useless against them, and the Wanderers are the basic enemies that make up most of the wave. 

Each enemy has a weak point and shooting them and slicing them up feels great as the feedback of the controller and screen shakes and sound effects give you an accomplishing feeling. That is to say, it is not easy as the sheer number of enemies coming at you can be hard to juggle. Teamwork is key though as you and your partners can designate each side to a player. 

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After each wave supplies drop on the battlefield that you can collect. This included gunpowder and other crating materials. You then rush to make more items before the next wave arrives. It is all very fast and very awesome. We even had a walker weapon spawn in one wave that let us drive it around and mow down all the enemies. It was really great. 

After the level is done huge boxes fall from the sky that contains items and recipes. The better you do in ranking from F to S, the better the items. You then head back to the hub to do it all over again. 

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I have to say I love a good co-op game and MGS might just be the game I invest in. Its everything Metal Gear Solid is not and that is a good thing. I am looking forward to really being challenged by waves of enemies and earning all those purple recipes so I can make the strongest weapons in the game. But most of all I am looking forward to doing it all with friends who I play all my co-op games with. If you have those friends too then this is a no-brainer. The game makes for a fun co-op session. So far so good I have to say and Metal Gear Survive is officially on my pre-order list. 

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