The beta for Metal Gear Survive, a spinoff of Hideo Kojima’s Metal Gear franchise, just landed. However, after a messy departure from the game publishing and development company, Konami, Metal Gear Survive lacks Kojima’s involvement. Now, with the prolific game creator no longer involved, the latest game in the Metal Gear series feels like a very corporate affair and has lost the soul of previous entries.
While the game isn’t officially out until March, there’s still just enough time to make some small but meaningful changes that could elevate the game’s online mode to a solid experience.
Add More to the Waiting Area
While the waiting area in Metal Gear Survive is evocative of the VR training room in Metal Gear Solid 4, it lacks a lot of the character that made the franchise famous. As it stands now, it’s an empty void that displays a player’s equipment loadout and zones that relate to mission selection, skill trees, item management, and similar gameplay functions. This design choice feels especially bland coming off the Dragon Ball FighterZ demo, which had a hub world filled with references to locations in the iconic series.
This waiting area needs to be spiced with some kind of personality, even if it’s not harkening back to moments or places in previous Metal Gear titles. If the game’s creators are unable or unwilling to make this change, then this void should be removed altogether and replaced with a menu screen. Menu screens could be much more intuitive than the current layout and would allow players to jump from inventory management to combat much more quickly.
Revamp the User Interface
Right now, the user interface in Metal Gear Survive is a bit clunky, to say the least. Main weapons and auxiliary weapons are tied to the directional pad, meaning you may have to press the same button three or four times to get the item you want. Crafting is also a bit of a slog, as you have to hold down a button to select the number of items you want made rather than just selecting the amount beforehand.
While some of these issues are a lot easier to fix than others, the addition of a button mapping option could be a great first step. Not only is this a great feature in games in general, it also allows players to engage with a game in a manner that is most comfortable to them.
Create New Assets in Future Maps
A lot of the character and art assets in Metal Gear Survive are lifted straight out of Metal Gear Solid 5. The avatar generator is almost identical to the one in MGS 5, as are many of the buildings and environmental designs. The reuse of these assets makes the game feel much less distinctive and reminds us that we could be playing the brilliant MGS 5 instead of Metal Gear Survive.
New art assets definitely need to be added to future maps in Metal Gear Survive. While this will be an expensive and time-intensive process, it will help give the game some personality and make it feel less like a cash grab. The more distinctive a style and tone Metal Gear Survive develops, the better.
Replace the Blood Screen Effect
While the Metal Gear series is no stranger to over-the-top stories and visuals, the damage effect in Survive takes the campiness in the wrong direction. When a player takes a bit of damage in Survive, droplets of blood appear on the screen. When a player takes a lot of damage, more blood streaks down the sides and middle of the screen than the end card of a schlocky ’80s horror movie. Not only is this effect unnecessarily distracting, but it also doesn’t look very good.
While MGS 5 had a similar effect in the form of a film burn appearing on screen in response to damage, this effect at least helped the game feel more like an action movie. Rather than a schlocky blood drip, a simple reddening or tunnel-vision effect would work well enough. Alternatively, since dimension hopping is a central part of the game, it would help establish the game’s identity by having the screen gradually turn to white or the character slowly become transparent as their health drops.
Make it Weirder
The Metal Gear series – including the spinoff titles – is known for being quirky and strange. Revengence had a super-powered U.S. Senator, Acid had a companion who might be an alien, and even Ghost Babel contained a hidden satirical radio play. Survive, on the other hand, feels a bit sterile and more like a safe money-maker than a passionately created piece of art.
This game would be far more interesting with the addition of some strange or risky element. Survive desperately needs some wacky character emotes or equipable voice lines that come from Metal Gear’s many bizarre dialogues. Right now, the beta makes Metal Gear Survive seem very safe and a bit boring, which is the last thing anyone thinks of when they recall the monolithic Metal Gear franchise.