After a month-long wait, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain's online component has gone live. Titled Metal Gear Online, it hopes to take the revered gameplay of the Fox Engine and open it up to multiplayer experiences.
Although it was delayed a month for polish, Metal Gear Online is a shaky experience right now. Its infrastructure and server design don't appear to notice what year it is, and gamers are paying the price. Let's go over why gamers are upset with Metal Gear Online on day one.
Peer-To-Peer Is In Full Force
Where most modern online games, especially those with as many microtransactions as Metal Gear Online, have employed dedicated servers, it appears that Konami was happy to go with the same peer-to-peer system that powered Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots' online. This means that everyone in a lobby is at the mercy of the host's internet connection. In the event that the host has a low bandwidth internet, or is using WiFi instead of a direct physical connection, there is certain to be a colossal amount of lag, rubber-banding, and even crashing.
Matchmaking is Failing
Although this is likely a launch-related issue, it's one of the biggest problems that players are dealing with right now. Matchmaking isn't consistently matching players with others successfully. As a result, they are turning to the almost equally as frustrating lobby system.
A Lobby Menu That Doesn't Refresh
Since matchmaking isn't working, most players are trying to join a game manually using the lobby menu. As they sift through the lobbies looking for one that fits their needs, most times they find that while the lobby says that it has open space available, it will be full by the time they try to join. The truth is that the lobby was filled seconds if not minutes ago. Unfortunately, the lobby list doesn't refresh and provides outdated information.
Servers Are Unstable
While playing many players have lost progress following a server crash. In some cases this is the result of maintenance, but most crashes are unnatural and as such can happen at any moment.
You Can't Re-Select Your Class
One of the first things you do when you hop online is design a character along with selecting one of three classes. You better think long and hard about what you're choosing, because based on preliminary information there is no option to re-specialize. You'll have to make a whole new character if you want to try out a different style of play losing hard-earned progress during the transition.
No Host Migration
In the event that a host leaves or crashes, that player brings everyone down with them. There is no host migration, something standardized many years ago. This is a direct result of a heavy peer-to-peer infrastructure with no redundancies. As with many things on this list, it is something that can and will make you lose progress.
A Tutorial For Microtransactions
This is the first time in years that a AAA game has made an effort to teach its audience how to spend real money on microtransactions. The particularly sad thing is that the gameplay tutorial is brief and doesn't do a whole lot to prepare players for success. It's easy to tell what Konami was focused on.
No Punishment For Leaving
Are you losing? Don't want to affect your win/loss record? Just leave. The game won't mind at all. There is no punishment for ditching a game, even if you were the host. Theoretically, you can secure a 100% win/loss ratio if you're willing to leave around half the games you join.
Poorly Balanced Health Pools
Konami doesn't appear to have gotten the memo that low health pools encourage camping. It's common to die within a split second, and those who are popped by someone they don't see never stand a chance. Players are naturally gravitating toward humping cover and avoiding aggressive play in fear that they will be insta-gibbed.
Not only do server crashes and hosts leaving result in progress being lost, but some finished matches aren't uploading their data. Players have found that their best matches haven't been set to record, making it appear that their success was a mere figment of their imagination.
Bow Down to the Host
Not only does the game host have the ability to bring the server down, they can kick players. This makes them a dominating figure that has control over the destiny of other players in the game. You may want to think twice about pulling the trigger if the host is in sight. The player might just rage-kick you.
A lot of the lag present is a result of cross-region servers. You will regularly find yourself playing against Japanese players who have a much lower or higher ping than you. You'll also have to deal with a communication and cultural barrier that provides an uneven teamwork experience in many circumstances.
It's Not All Bad
As with the single-player experience, the gunplay and movement are solid. The game modes are also relatively good, with Cloak and Dagger standing out as the highlight of the show. The music is great, and so are the visuals. Metal Gear Online has a lot of potential, it's just more frustrating to play than it's worth in its present state. The extra delay of the PC version may be a blessing in disguise.