Metal Gear Survive Gives Us an Excuse to Enjoy the FOX Engine One Last Time

When gamers look back at Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, there’s a lot that comes to mind. Great graphics, an underwhelming story, strong gameplay mechanics, and pure sadness evoked by Hideo Kojima’s break-up with Konami are just a few things that come to mind.

Yet, what I remember most is how optimized the game was.

Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was an incredible demonstration of the FOX Engine, a proprietary solution by Kojima Productions built to be “the best game engine in the world”. Developed over the course of several years, even early screenshots showing off its potential made headlines. And, as crazy as its goal was, many would argue that it was successful in outperforming some of the greatest software in the industry.

Beginning development in 2009, the creation of the FOX Engine was equally a reason for Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain‘s lengthy development cycle as it was the game’s optimized nature. It was the commonly overlooked reason why consumers and critics alike commended the game for running flawlessly at 60 FPS, even in the case of its PC version when running on older hardware. It played a huge part in making the game a visual spectacle, earning game of the year awards despite a few shortcomings otherwise.

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As great of a development as it was for the gaming industry, the FOX Engine’s potential was cut short the moment Hideo Kojima broke his ties with Konami. While it was originally going to serve as the foundation for Silent Hills, that game had its development canceled shortly after. Thus, during the past two years, it’s only been used for the Pro Evolution Soccer franchise. Sad.

But that won’t be the end of the FOX Engine.

Konami is currently working on Metal Gear Survive, a spin-off of the franchise. When it debuts early next year, it will not only be the second major title to feature the FOX Engine, but very likely the last.

As I mentioned after my hands-on time with Metal Gear Survive at E3 2017, it’s “surprisingly great“. Focused on wave-oriented defensive play that is most similar to Gears of War’s Horde Mode, it tasks a team of players responsible for working together to fend off swarms of nasty enemies.

I was impressed by how well the tactical play meshed into the gameplay environment, in addition to how the game manages to provide variety in what is traditionally a very monotonous style of game by introducing quests, a huge arsenal of weaponry, and great level design. Tactics are present, and there are some effective reward loops that make jumping in and working with strangers or friends to survive as many waves as possible an enjoyable affair.

But, perhaps most importantly, it’s another outstanding showcase of the FOX Engine. What I played not only had a solid presentation, but played smooth as butter. Third-person action games might hold a reputation for having clunky elements, but this game won’t be contributing to that. It plays almost identically to Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, and I couldn’t have asked for more.

Metal Gear Survive is certainly not a mainline Metal Gear title, but at the very least it’s giving the FOX Engine one final show before it’s laid to rest. For that reason, I’m excited to see what comes of it.