Metal Gear Survive is shaping up to be a contentious title. A lot of Metal Gear Solid fans seem prepared to count the game out as something that could be worthy of the series' name well before release, but I feel that this judgment might be a bit hasty. Because of this, I’ve compiled a list of reasons explaining why Survive could still end up being awesome:
Gameplay changes have worked in past Metal Gear titles
Metal Gear Solid is known for essentially establishing stealth as a genre, but that doesn’t mean that it has never gone outside of its comfort zone before. Metal Gear Rising: Revengeance is an example of one such out-of-genre move, and it is one that was received fondly by many fans of the series for its frantically-paced, stylish swordplay by Platinum Games.
When most people think of Metal Gear Solid they don’t think of fluid sword fights and ninja-running as taking the spotlight from lesser stealth segments, but Revengeance did exactly that and made it work. Because of this, survival over stealth in Survive is by no means a death sentence for the game. In fact, it might just be refreshing.
Stealth is not gone
Stealthy play has by no means been eliminated from Survive as a meaningful gameplay choice. Enemies will take massive damage from backstabs which encourages players to sneak up behind them, and some enemy types will even explode and destroy resources if approached from anywhere but the back. This means that stealth will still be an important consideration for survival in the game’s world. There will just be other options as well, which is a good thing. Flexibility and player agency are usually design strengths, not weaknesses.
Zombies aren’t so strange
Survive might mark the first time zombies are the primary enemies in a Metal Gear game but it’s far from the first time they’ve appeared in the series. Snake Eater and The Phantom Pain both featured them at certain points and other games in the series have been host to enemies that are just as weird. Sons of Liberty had one boss fight against an actual vampire, Revengeance’s final boss was a United States senator on nanobot steroids, and the original MGS is remembered for having one adversary break the fourth wall by reading your memory card and shutting down your controller while talking directly to you, the player.
And this is just scratching the surface. Metal Gear Solid has never shied away from weirdness and unrealistic elements, and so zombies in an alternate dimension aren’t really out of place. In fact, they almost make a strange sort of sense.
The story and world will still be weird
Speaking of which, fans can rest assured that while the game looks lighter on story than most Metal Gear titles, the story it does feature will still be characteristically bizarre and exciting. Starting out with a major event from Ground Zeroes seen from the perspective of the player’s MSF grunt, the game quickly transitions to an alternate universe by means of a wormhole to a hellish alternate dimension where zombies with crystals sticking out of their heads called Creatures appear out of a fog called "The Mist World”. Basically, this is Metal Gear absurdity at its finest. It’s reflected in the game world too — mission rewards come in cardboard boxes from other Metal Gear games and the wormholes appear to be those that came from an upgrade to the Fulton Balloons from Phantom Pain.
What’s more, the story also contains some meta elements that the Metal Gear series has become so infamous for. A group of underlings struggling to survive without their legendary leader in a world that is familiar yet foreign to them sounds eerily similar to what’s happening to Konami now that Hideo Kojima has left the company and is no longer involved with making the Metal Gear Solid games. In a way, it's a game about itself.
Multiplayer co-op is always fun
Perhaps the most obvious reason that Survive may very well succeed is that co-op gameplay is almost never dull. The only thing better than a memorable experience in gaming is a memorable experience in gaming alongside friends. With other people to work with you can make your own stories of triumph and failure, and each victory is that much sweeter alongside a gaming buddy. New strategic options open up with more people, more coordination becomes possible, and the frenzied panic of survival is intensified by a crowd. This one feature alone could be a serious game-changer.
So what do you think, are you convinced? Let us know in the comments and pray to Big Boss that Survive does end up being the great game we think it can be.