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Metal Gear Survive Review

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The opening hours of Metal Gear Survive goes from exciting to frustrating to annoying and back very quickly. But it was the addictive exploration and intense, yet annoying combat that kept me going right until the end even after being punched in the gut by my base being wiped of all my hard work and the story hitting multiple walls. Metal Gear Survive is in no way a bad game but it does not do fun well. Hours into MGS you feel as if you have gotten nowhere and as soon as you finally make progress the games wipes it all.

Just as soon as you make sense of its harsh survival mechanics and you base is thriving with people and livestock, the game tramples over everything you have done and you need to start all over again. It is simply not an ideal situation at all but I kept finding myself going back to it mainly due to the fact that it is addictive and the sense of discovery is present throughout the game. What am I going to find over this hill and what is in this container? These are the questions that kept going through my head as I mindlessly explored the Dust in search of survivors and completing the dull story.. 

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Metal Gear Survive is set after the attack on Mother Base in Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes. During the attack, a massive wormhole opens up that leads to a parallel world. With it, a large chunk of Mother Base gets sucked into the hole along with some XOF and Diamond Dog members. You play as a speechless character who is told they are infected with a parasite that has overrun this parallel dimension called Dite. Your mission is to travel there to seek out a cure for the parasite and while you are at it save all the people who might have been abducted by the wormhole too.  

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Dite is the setting for the entire game. This wasteland is filled with creatures known as Wanderers and this material called Kuban which is the currency in the game used for everything. Undead-like zombies that now walk the lands in a frenzy. Wanderers come in various forms such as a giant-headed one called a Bomber that explodes when killed, a fast-paced crawling creature, and even flying drones that shoot you from above.

The game takes its jolly time to introduce you to these creatures as you pretty much fight one type of them for the entire first half of the game. Like all games, these monsters have weak points that can be exploited by using a specific weapon to attack a specific part of their body. This keeps combat fresh and focused on your desired weapon type.

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While MGS has various types of ways to kill these creatures it all boils down to materials or more like the lack thereof. Everything you do in the game needs a specific material to craft it. Arrows need wood, fire arrows need oil and wood, and bullets need gunpowder. This is where I found MGS the most limiting. While it does boast a whole range of melee and ranged weapons, it is pointless making many of them due to the sheer brutality of the combat and restrictions to storage space on your character. Shooting Wanderers in the head with a pistol is the easiest way to kill them but you can only hold 20 bullets for much of the game. You also need gunpowder to make these bullets of which you can barely find.

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The same goes for melee weapons. While they do break, the durability lasts a few trips into the Dust before they do. The issue here is that the enemies are extremely unpredictable and often feel broken. You will be grabbed by one to be hit by another so hard you hit the floor and have to get up. Often you will be hitting one and it will follow your attack and land a hit on you.

The same can never be said for you as you get stunned if you get hit. It does not feel fair at all so the only way to do this is to keep a safe distance with a spear. One-handed weapons need you to be up close and personal and that does not work due to the game's broken enemy hitboxes. Two-handed weapons then take too long to attack so it opens you up to even more abuse. 

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In the end, I stuck with a spear and a bow mainly because it was the safest option that did not require scavenging of hard-to-find materials, and it was the best way to counter the enemies' terrible attack patterns. Sure, the game has a range of classes that enhance different weapons and attacks, but indirectly the game limits itself. 

The opening hours of MGS are unforgiving. You land in Dite and you are hungry and thirsty. Two things you need to worry about the entire game. Hunger represents your maximum health bar and thirst is your stamina so the higher the two the more you will recover when you stop running or self-heal. The issue with the start of the game is that food and water are scarce.

Finding sheep to get meat and cook it on the fire helps but before you know it you need to eat again and the sheep are nowhere to be found. Most survival games have ample resources but not Metal Gear Survive. Instead, you are subject to a couple of sheep every so often and there were many moments where I truly prepared to die of starvation. While I survived, I could not help but feel that I focused way too much time running around hoping to find food. 

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It is not an ideal situation as backtracking into the Dust and back to base is a tedious task. The main problem lies in the oxygen issue where if you enter the outskirts of your base your oxygen tank depletes which means after a while you need to return to refill it. So while you are trying to find food and water to get your health bar up you are facing three threats that are in your face stressing you out. It's unbalanced and annoying and while you are trying to get objectives done you once again are not finding food at all. 

It was only about 12 hours into the game where I finally had my grip on the food situation. This was thanks to unlocking the ability to catch sheep and have them as livestock in your base. Every 90-minutes they would leave meat behind for me to cook. I also had a water purifier too so yay for fresh water. All these resources then contributed to the overall total of my base and the people I saved ate and drank from this too. The base management system sees you give different people roles in the game to focus on farming, protection, medical aid etc. 

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Unfortunately, it all comes tumbling down after a while as the game does not tell you that you pack up and leave the area. Well, more like just leave. Certain story events unfold and you are thrown out of the starting area of the game, leaving all your hard work behind. All sheep cages, potato farms, and even water purifiers. It is really a terrible move from the developer's side as just as you have your life in order and stop running around mindlessly looking for food, you have to do it all over again when you land in Africa. It sucks and I did not feel like going on with the game when it happened. However, I did and the addiction of exploring the unknown set in once again. What lied in the distance and what new blueprint I could find in containers was what kept me going.

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Much of the time spent in MGS exploring sees you finding resources, and of course opening up teleporters so you can fast travel back to base without walking there. All these activities put you up against the enemies and throughout the game, you will have to either defend the Wormhole Transporter as it boots up or your base during story missions. This is where the game truly shines as you have to build walls, traps and defensive items such as grenades and Molotovs and stack up on your ammo or arrows in order to fight off the wave.

The teleporters in the Dust are placed in such a way that you have open areas to fight and pathways to block as you kill as many Wanderers as possible. These scenarios are a lot of fun but then again the combat and limitations I mentioned above do put a damper on your fun. In the end, it was all about the easiest way to disperse the crowd and the game's wide variety of weapons and objects are overlooked as you naturally find the easiest and fastest way to kill them. 

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That is to say, the gear system is not completely useless as the game does offer some exciting things to make. As you progress in the story you will obtain blueprints to craft gear such as weapons and clothing. All this has an attack base and defence stat and the better the rarity the better the gear. Again, you will need the materials to craft this but at least armour is a once off craft and when you have it you just need to repair it, again using materials.

I had different blueprints to what my friends had as these are all scattered in containers that you need to carefully open without alerting enemies. Some containers are easy to find while others are hidden in houses and tombs. Given that Dust is covered in, well, Dust, it is hard to see what is in the distance other than a glowing blue light that points to either a container or deactivated teleporter. 

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Dust is not fun to explore at all and I think it is the game's biggest downfall. Your character runs out of stamina at three times the rate faster in the foggy area, on the odd chance you find a vehicle it breaks within minutes of driving around and worst of all the map simply does not reveal itself as you explore the area. This means you can never master where you are going and every time you teleport in you just need to hope you don't get lost. Remember, you have hunger, thirst and oxygen to worry about while doing everything in the game.

All this makes exploration a chore and the story sees you going from one point, back to base, back into the Dust, back to base and that is about it. Need oil? Well, good luck as the game's resources only respawn every three hours or so. This also means that meat you obtained will not be there for a couple of hours. The whole survival system falls flat on a constant basis. 

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Then we have multiplayer which is both a jewel and an unfortunate grind. You are unable to participate in any multiplayer activity after a good couple of hours in the game. Mainly because enemies are at level 20 and you start at level 1. I only felt confident enough to play the mode after around 20 hours of gameplay. This was also a good thing as it gave me time to get used to the game and enough gear to head into the mode. Like the main game, the co-op does not hold your hand either. All ammo and gear you have go with you into these levels that see you protecting your wormhole digger for three rounds. You need to play your part and often I did not have flame arrows so I decided to not go into a match until I did.

Once in the co-op game, you cannot craft anything from your home base materials, rather you will have to find materials in the area to do so. This makes preparation key to a successful mission and if everyone understands that then it will be a success. I played a couple of missions with friends and it was fun. Everyone building what they brought with them, and using all their materials they found to craft more. The best part about co-op is the loot drops that lets you obtain rarer gear to take back with you to the single-player mode. Not to mention that it is co-op survival and I am a real sucker for it. 

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Metal Gear Survive is not at all a bad game but it needs more balance. Enemies are boring after a while and combat is frustrating. While some may enjoy the survival aspect of the game it needs work too as animals are rare and the respawn rate is too low for my taste. Dust is a mysterious and enjoyable wasteland to explore but it becomes a chore due to all of the above.

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The shining star in MGS is the co-op but even that is locked until you put up with the game's biggest issues. I will go back and play some co-op as it is really fun but just don't expect Metal Gear Solid here as its nowhere to be found. This is a good thing or bad thing depends on how you look at it. 

This review was based off a code provided to us by Konami

Available On: PS4, Xbox One, PC Reviewed On: PS4 Pro | Release Date: 23 February 2018 | RRP: R629

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