metal gear sur­vive

Travel to al­ter­nate dimensions and fight mon­sters, like Snake didn’t

XBox: The Official Magazine - - START - Leon Hur­ley

It’s fi­nally here. The first Metal Gear game af­ter Ko­jima and Kon­ami’s less than am­i­ca­ble di­vorce. That noise you hear? The sound of swarm­ing Koj fans sharp­en­ing their knives in prepa­ra­tion to kill off the fran­chise with a thou­sand hot takes.

And… well, it’s not ac­tu­ally that bad, hon­estly. Thrown into an al­ter­nate di­men­sion, you play one of Snake’s former Mother Base sol­diers fight­ing to stay alive in a strange and in­hos­pitable new world. It’s clearly noth­ing like the pre­vi­ous games but not as out there as some of the se­ries’ past ideas – there was a boss that con­trolled bees, re­mem­ber. The re­sult is oddly not too far re­moved from

Don’t Starve, as you gather re­sources to build and ex­pand a cen­tral base while look­ing for a way to es­cape. It’s a game built on scav­eng­ing the wood, metal and other scraps you need to make weapons, cook­ing equip­ment, fences and other sup­plies. All while hunt­ing for food to stay alive, and search­ing out sur­vivors you can res­cue and put to work run­ning var­i­ous fa­cil­i­ties.

In­dus­tri­ous Snake

The main loop all this craft­ing and man­age­ment cre­ates is sat­is­fy­ing for the most part. You need to eat, so there are an­i­mals to hunt. You need sup­plies, so there are re­sources to gather. All the while, you’re fight­ing off zom­bie-like crea­tures that roam the world (as well as other things we’ll keep se­cret). It’s grindy to be sure but there’s al­ways a very tan­gi­ble sense of achieve­ment: need things, find things, fight through it all to get back to base and use things. It’s sim­ple but ef­fec­tive, and progress is re­ward­ing: craft­ing your first gun, for ex­am­ple, feels like a step for­ward. Set­ting up a potato farm, or a rain wa­ter pu­ri­fier, and then check­ing in to see when you can har­vest the goods be­comes an odd little draw to push you on and see what you can ac­tu­ally achieve. You’re not just fight­ing the world, you’re in­vested in it – learn­ing how it works and how you can use it.

There’s a horde mode el­e­ment to all this as well, where you have to hold back waves of zom­bies and other crea­tures to ac­ti­vate things like worm­hole tele­porters (ef­fec­tively fast travel points) and min­ers that ex­tract en­ergy. Ac­ti­vat­ing any of these draws in waves of crea­tures to be kept back with hastily built fences and bar­ri­cades, as well as mines and other traps you can craft. Again, like re­source col­lect­ing and base man­age­ment, it’s a solidly de­signed and en­joy­able chal­lenge. The crea­tures are dumb and will hap­pily flock around a sin­gle fence in a field, but make up for it with num­bers and, once they start mov­ing in from mul­ti­ple di­rec­tions, are more than ca­pa­ble of keep­ing you busy. Deal­ing with breaches on the fly soon de­scends into fran­ti­cally cas­cad­ing cri­sis man­age­ment. You can pre­pare all you like but when it all goes south (and it will) you just have to be ready to re­act with what­ever tools you have

to hand. The mul­ti­player takes this side of the game and ex­pands it into four player co-op, adding team­work and blame into the mix. It’s ef­fec­tively a separate part of the game to your home­base, but you do get to keep all the re­sources you col­lect, mak­ing it a handy way to farm items and gather sup­plies on the side.

Stran­gle­hold

The game’s main draw­back is that while most of all this is fun ini­tially, the dif­fi­culty con­tin­u­ally in­creases un­til it starts to stran­gle things. How long you en­joy it de­pends on your tol­er­ance for push­ing through a wall. For ex­am­ple, there are ar­eas filled with toxic dust, which re­quire a limited oxy­gen sup­ply to safely nav­i­gate. It’s not too bad at first, but as you progress and push fur­ther into these un­in­hab­it­able zones, the chances that you won’t have the oxy­gen to get back in­creases. It does force you to pri­ori­tise and think care­fully about your choices, but it’s still all too easy to get dis­tracted or am­bushed and sud­denly find your­self in an un­winnable sit­u­a­tion – too far out to change it and just wait­ing to die. What was a pro­gres­sion of fun little grindy loops be­comes some­thing that spreads out side­ways in­stead, as you grasp at tiny, barely sig­nif­i­cant wins. It doesn’t feel un­fair, just less and less fun. Of course you’re go­ing to die if you run out of oxy­gen in a toxic dust cloud. Ob­vi­ously run­ning out of food leads to star­va­tion. But what was ini­tally a chal­leng­ing prob­lem to solve gets harder and harder, and much more like work. There is a huge sense of sat­is­fac­tion to fi­nally over­com­ing some of these hur­dles, but they are sap­ping and, past a cer­tain point, it feels like you’re never go­ing to catch a break again.

That’s not to say this isn’t en­joy­able, just ex­pect a little frus­tra­tion along the way. It’s got some good hor­ror/sur­vival mo­ments and the strange alt di­men­sion has a creepy at­mos­phere with more than a few sur­prises thrown in. If Ko­jima had still been around at Kon­ami it would have prob­a­bly been re­ceived as an okay spin-off, so bear that in mind and try to ap­proach it with an open mind.

“Not to say this isn’t en­joy­able, just ex­pect a little frus­tra­tion along the way”

You won’t get any­where un­less you craft and there are benches for weapons, food, med­i­cal sup­plies, gear and more. Just make sure you col­lect enough re­sources to use them.

Far Left Aim for (you guessed it) their heads.

right It might have mon­sters in­stead of sol­diers but

Sur­vive is still a stealth game and it’s of­ten bet­ter to go for a sneaky kill.

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