Metal Gear Survive Xbox One X Review

It may not be the best Metal Gear game but Survive takes enough risks to make it feel distinct from past entries.

By Grayshadow, Posted 22 Feb 2018

Metal Gear Survive has been fighting an uphill battle since it was announced. It doesn't weave together a complicated political tale but literally takes it to another dimension where monsters roam, humanity is gone, and the world is covered in a toxic smoke called Dust. It may not be the best Metal Gear game but Survive takes enough risks to make it feel distinct from past entries.

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Players take control of a custom character simply called The Captain. After the end of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes your character is sucked into a dimensional wormhole in the sky and transported to an alternate version of Earth called Dite. Here crystalized creatures called Wanderers dominate the world, infecting and killing anything that isn't one of them. You and anyone else stuck in Dite must survive the harsh environment, repel the Wanderers attacks, and find a way home.

Most of the game's story is told through text boxes, with the occasional cutscene. The developers attempt to create a strong bond between each of the allies you encounter but this never pans out. With the exception of Virgil, the AI that provides combat data and reminds you of your depleting meters, no one else contributes outside from the base. Other than a cutscene showing them actually doing something I assume they hang around the base while I search for everything. You're all alone throughout the game and building comradery through cutscenes and dialogue alone isn't effective. 

The story itself is well-written, with some unexpected twists. Some easily assumed and others are hidden in plain sight. It's definitely different from other entries within the Metal Gear series but it kept me interested. The ending itself with either satisfy or disappoint but offers a solid conclusion.

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Metal Gear Survive pits you against the Wanderers for the entire game. These crystal-like beings come in different varieties such as common charging cannon fodder, bloating head with an explosive personality, and martial art masters. With the exception of 1, all the other Wanderers are generic enemies that many gamers have faced in other games.

In addition to the Wanderers, you'll have to survive the environment of Dite. You have to manage thirst, hunger, and oxygen as they were your health meter. Hunger is linked to health and thirst to stamina, they both constantly drain and you must find food and water to keep yourself from dying from dehydration or starvation. You cannot consume whatever you find in the environment, some things require cooking and others treatment. For example, you can't just drink the water from nearby water sources and must treat it's before it is safe to drink. The same goes with food, eating raw meat can infections that must be treated or it handicaps the Captain such as reducing the maximum health or stamina you can recover. 

Another thing new in Metal Gear Survive is stamina. You can no longer run for an indefinite amount of time and must take short breaks to recover, stamina is also tied to certain attacks. Draining it completely will cause your character to completely stop, leaving you open to attack. This is especially problematic in the Dust.

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The Dust is a toxic cloud that covers most of the environment. You cannot enter without an oxygen mask and running with it on drains your stamina much quicker. Since a large portion of the game takes place in these toxic areas it's frustrating that you constantly have to replenish your oxygen tank. You cannot mark destinations while in the Dust and everything is covered in a thick smoke. Bright lights lead you to important locations but leaving the lay of the land from memory is your best tool to prevent getting lost.

Kuban Energy is the most important resource in the game and is primarily obtained by killing Wanderers and ripping it from their corpse. More energy is granted for sneak kills and retrieving the body while it's alive. This energy source is used for everything from building, crafting, replenishing your oxygen while in the Dust and gaining levels. You get a regular amount of the energy and only the final boss battle did I find myself running short. Since you're giving an ample supply of enemies running low on Kuban Energy.

Skills and talents aren't that interesting here. Players can use Kuban Energy to increase their character's strength, recovery, health, and stamina along with weapon-specific skills and survival techniques like tripping and shoving. It's nothing shocking or interesting but does serve as servable advancements.

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Resource gathering takes up a bulk of Metal Gear Survive. In the 10 hours, it took me to beat the single-player about 60% was spent looking for resources. This is because everything must be crafted, from buildings in your base to the weapons and armors you're using. Coupled with the durability system that causes your weapon and armor to decay over time and needing to supply weapons and armor to expedition teams you'll spend a great deal of time scavenging for items, hunting animals, and processing the materials.

In the early portion of the game, players will struggle due to the lack of resources. Since important locations are not made known, having to manually mark them yourself, players will find themselves on the brink of starvation and hunger early on. Eventually, things become easier as you adapt to the game's mechanics but be prepared for a rough couple of hours.

Since everything must be created players will find themselves using more melee weapons than guns. Ranging from 1-hand, 2-hand, and penetration based weapons with each one have its own strengths and weaknesses. Spears can attack enemies through fences while a 2-handed sledgehammer can smash through common Wanderers with ease. Guns are available and can make short work of any Wanderer but due to the high-cost for bullets, you'll find yourself using melee weapons most often.

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You can deploy specific defenses at will using Wormhole technology and Kuban Energy. Players can summon items within the environment such as fences, barricades, and even turrets to aid in battle. You're limited to how many slots in your inventory and how much weight you can carry. Given that resources are necessary for everything you may find yourself sacrificing weapons or carrying capacity. Expect to become encumbered a lot since resources are available everywhere.

While it's possible to run into battle swinging away, this is also the best way to die. The Wanderers aren't smart and can easily be manipulated but they attack in force and can easily overwhelm without preparation. Sneaking is also encouraged thanks to the brutal checkpoint system. When you die you have the option to start from your last save or be transported to base camp but you can't do this all the time. When transported you lose all your gathered materials but can retrieve them if you head back to the location where you died. 

Base building is available and serves as a way to keep your allies busy. Primarily it'll you'll spend a lot of time crafting and sorting items for quick use. You can also build farms, water purifiers, and defenses for mission specific attacks. The issue with the resource builds is that they take too long to produce anything. Some will take hours to create one potato, while the environment resets its resources at a much faster rate. It was also upsetting to learn that hunger and thirst drain even when in the safety zone. This handicap meant that I couldn't dedicate time to building my base or organizing my resources and had to rush through things or lose out on necessary items.

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Survive attempts to keep things fresh by sending you deep into the Dust in search of lost information, wormhole generators for quick traveling, and recovering survivors but these missions constantly repeat themselves. You'll end up in new locations but most of them are redecorated areas from Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. In addition to resource gathering, you'll find yourself doing the same thing until the very end.

What Metal Gear Survive does very well is the presentation and soundtrack. The world looks amazing, especially in the Dust. The soundtrack gets you excited for the next wave of enemies or when fighting a powerful enemy. If only they were memorable foes.

Multiplayer is available, giving players the chance to survive with friends against waves of Wanderers in a series of maps and difficulty options. Nothing stands out, players build a defense against the Wanderers who try to smash the Wormhole generator. Survive all 3 waves and your team will earn resources and the player who does the best earns Kuban Energy. It's a good way for players to earn extra resources if they find themselves struggling the campaign.

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Metal Gear Survive does utilize a microtransaction system with a premium currency called SV Coins.  This system can be used to increase the speed expeditions, experience boosters, and increase in Kuban Energy gathering. I was able to complete the game without using any of the microtransactions but I then realize to start a new game I would either have to delete my character, whom I dedicated hours of playtime to, or pay $10 for a new slot. Locking an in-game system like this is extremely unfair and nothing short of infuriating. 

Metal Gear Survive takes a lot of risks foreign to the franchise. The use of survival techniques to simulate an actual life-and-death mission did provide more challenge to the adventure. However, the heavy dependence on The Phantom Pain's landscape and repetitive missions made it difficult for Survive to truly make a name for itself. The characters may be weak due to their lack of participation in the journey but the overall story was one worth experiencing. Metal Gear Survive is a challenging game and a welcome addition to this acclaimed franchise.

Adam Siddiqui, NoobFeed
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General Information

Platform(s): PC, PS4, Xbox One
Publisher(s): Konami
Developer(s): Konami Digital Entertainment
Genres: Action, Adventure
Themes: Survival
Release Date: 2018-02-20

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