Metal Gear Survive Is Surprisingly Great [E3 2017 Preview]

My first scheduled appointment at E3 2017 was Metal Gear Survival. As a Metal Gear fan, this was an opportunity for me to witness, for my first time, what the series is like without Hideo Kojima. I was skeptical.

First and foremost: this is not a mainline Metal Gear game. Instead Konami made clear during our introduction to the game that it's a "spin-off". And, in my opinion, it'll be a great one.

The demo began with placing four players in a pre-lobby, where we were able to select our class and play around in a sandbox environment, becoming familiar with both the controls and our loadouts before jumping into the game.

I decided to play as the Shooter, a character equipped with a standard assault rifle, but also capable of deploying fences and traps. Most importantly, she has a bow that can deal catastrophic damage if aimed with precision.

In the pre-lobby we were able to socialize a bit, going as far as trying out some emotes, which as a Metal Gear Online enthusiast I found important. Although voice chat wasn't supported at the time due to issues with the microphone hardware, it will certainly be a vital feature at launch.

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We soon found ourselves in an open world desert environment. Narrow, unpaved roads and dune-like mounds littered our surroundings. In this desert we encountered several stray enemies that had no chance against our firepower; their sole purpose was to ensure our team stuck together

We soon arrived at an installation where our goal for the next 20 minutes would be to defend against waves of enemies. Nearby were several walls, and even buildings we could enter through doors or windows. At the center we could construct a generator. Defense of this generator served as the primary objective.

As the first wave began, I set up a few fences to keep enemies at bay along with some traps in case things got ugly. One of these traps was a Fulton Trap, which would leave an enemy suspended in the air if they got too close, functioning like a crowd-control of sorts. After moving around a bit and engaging with several enemies using the assault rifle, I was happy to find that the gameplay and controls functioned nearly identically to Metal Gear Solid V. The team working on Metal Gear Survival clearly didn't tamper with the stellar gameplay that Kojima Products created a few years back, and that's a great thing.

The first wave of enemies was admittedly easy to take down, but I could tell early on that my teammates were competent. They used their utility in smart ways and paid attention to the mini-map that indicated where swarms of enemies were coming from.

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Between waves, which are separated by over a minute, we had an opportunity to tackle side missions. These are very beneficial to complete, but as we would learn, are not a good thing to send your entire team out on. If successful, whoever is sent out is able to retrieve crafting materials, components that are vital to surviving the later waves. But at least one or two players should stay behind to prepare for the next wave, as the countdown doesn't stop for anyone.

The second wave introduced a new mechanical enemy that had thick armor and a huge bomb. This type of enemy was incredibly intimidating, even if it moved slowly, as it was capable of obliterating the generator we were defending if we didn't prioritize it. Even if it didn't get that far, it would collapse and explode when defeated, posing a problem for our defenses.

It was during this phase that I became much more familiar with the limited resource items I was carrying. For example, the bow isn't particularly powerful unless you are able to hit enemies in the head for quick kills, or in the legs to slow them down. However, it comes with a ton of arrows, and can be employed for stealth kills that don't alert nearby enemies. I also had a few sidearms, and a stun baton that felt awkward to use.

During this round I also learned more about crafting. Essentially, we found materials on the floor from time-to-time, and were rewarded handsomely when we ventured out from our installation to take on side missions or scavenge nearby territory. These materials could be used to replenish the quantity of utility we were carrying, or even build new items entirely.

I ended up crafting a sniper outpost, and soon after placed it in a key location that gave us an opportunity to long-distance KO enemies in one of the more troublesome lanes. It was kind of strange building such a large structure and holding it in my inventory, but that suspension of belief is something the Metal Gear franchise has never shied away from.

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At the end of the second wave, two of our teammates were able to successfully complete a side mission, rewarding them with D-Walkers. This small, single-person sized tank-type unit allowed them to move around quickly on the battlefield, and mow enemies down with a spray of bullets.

The third wave was incredibly challenging. At one point I thought we were toast. I ran out of ammunition for my assault rifle, and accidentally dealt some nasty damage to my teammates when tossing grenades. Hopefully they didn't mind the friendly fire.

We were victorious, unlike the other team of press playing next to us. As a result, we were rewarded with rare loot, some of which was shared among our teammates, while others were granted based on performance.

The two most important hings I can say with certainty about Metal Gear Survive is that it's fun and inoffensive. This is a game made to adapt Metal Gear Solid V's great gameplay into a co-operative environment. It works incredibly well given the tactical nature of the franchise, and scratches an itch I have had since retiring from Metal Gear Online. I came in not expecting a whole lot, but consider it a game with solid potential.

Konami confirmed that Metal Gear Survive is scheduled for an early 2018 release, and will not only be available on PS4 and Xbox One, but also Steam for PC gamers.