Metal Gear Survive Beta reveals a game with an identity crisis

Metal Gear Survive holds an interesting place in Konami Corporation’s roster of video games. I couldn’t help but think just a few minutes into the game’s beta that the title is either an opportunistic cash-in developed after someone decided that a title revolving around The Phantom Pain’s “wandering soldiers” side-ops was a great idea, or a new idea with the Metal Gear logo tacked on as a solution to the problem of no one at Konami caring enough to develop the title as an original property.

What Konami has unveiled to the world is a title that is uncomfortable in its own thin, appropriative skin. MGS (but not THAT MGS) is a survival game featuring members of Big Boss’ Mother Base who were teleported to the Da Shago Kallai region of Afghanistan in The Phantom Pain (with sections of Mother Base strewn about) after the finale of Ground Zeroes.

The beta offers only a single Salvage Mission as a tease. The objective is for gamers, either alone or co-operatively, to collect items necessary to craft weapons, clothing, traps, first aid, and even food while defending a generator that extracts other resources out of the ground. The game’s HUB is similar to the training area found in Guns Of The Patriots, where gamers could test different firearms. MGS also borrows the in-game circular radar from MGS4.

Players have less than five minutes to prepare before the generator begins to dig, and that’s when the fun begins. Zombies attack the generator in waves, with short breaks in between to prepare for the next onslaught of the undead.

Basic weapons include a handgun, a sweet knife, and a large sledgehammer. A few rounds of scavenging allow for the creation of mounted machine guns, spinning blade traps, and more.

It’s actually pretty fun, if simple, but the creative context of this game is impossible to avoid, thus marring any real enjoyment. Konami originally announced MGS at GAMESCOM 2016, a year after the company fired MGS creator Hideo Kojima, and the in-house development studio that bore his name in a long and dramatic series of events. Kojima flatly denied all rumors of any previous involvement with the title, which only added to the ire Kojima/Metal Gear fans already held against Konami.

The producers of this Kojima-less Metal Gear title seem somewhat apprehensive as to how far to veer in the direction of originality versus a direction that flies fully into the world of Metal Gear’s influence.

The result is an incongruent mix of things familiar and blasé. Hopefully Metal Gear Survive will find its creative legs before the February 20 release date.

We’ll be sure to keep you posted as we have the chance to play more.