After so much drama around the release of Metal Gear Solid V, including the very messy and public exit of series creator Hideo Kojima, fans feared what Konami would do next with the series. The answer is Metal Gear Survive, a zombified approach to the innovative gameplay last seen in The Phantom Pain. While it’s unfair to pass judgement on a game we’ve seen so little of, it’s plainly obvious from the first trailer that the Metal Gear Survive mistake isn’t that it looks like a bad game. It’s that there’s no good reason for it to be released under the Metal Gear banner. Here, watch Metal Gear Survive‘s reveal trailer, and then watch it again but only from 0:30 onwards.
What’s in a Name?
Notice anything? If you chop out that intro that connects these random mercenaries to the dramatic end of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes, it will vastly improve your perception of Metal Gear Survive. You’re left thinking, “Oh, this looks like an interesting new title from Konami,” instead of focusing on the fan-fiction-level concept of “some dude was teleported off Mother Base to a different dimension.” Losing that silly intro with a cameo by Big Boss proves that the Metal Gear name is hindering this game much more than helping it.
For as ridiculous as Metal Gear plotlines have been, cross-dimensional travel has never happened in an MGS title. No time ever has a portal just opened up in that world, making it already feel very off for the tone of Metal Gear. On the plus side, teleporting folks into another dimension means te game won’t conflict with or change any MGS continuity, but again, why even put Metal Gear in the title if the game can’t even take place in the same timeline? It feels so cheap.
It’s also possible that Metal Gear Survive is part of the Metal Gear family because it uses the FOX Engine pioneered for MGSV. That’d make sense considering Konami reps say the co-op zombie hunting has “stealth action.” It’s certainly gameplay worth emulating because MGSV was a huge step forward in deepening the series’ gameplay, making Metal Gear multiplayer more engaging than ever. But there’s no rule that says the Metal Gear name has to be plastered on everything that uses that engine. Pro Evolution Soccer 2016 also runs on the FOX Engine, but Konami doesn’t call it Metal Gear Soccer.
And then there’s the whole zombie debacle. For the last decade, the undead have dominated gaming more than just about any other enemy. As fun as killing hordes of brainless baddies can be, it’s hardly novel. Beyond the Metal Gear trappings, will Metal Gear Survive stand out at all from the many other zombie titles? Also, just how much stealth is needed for fighting a bunch of zombies?
But the biggest reason this didn’t need to be a Metal Gear game is the series’ current poor standing in the eyes of fans. To most, an MGS game without Hideo Kojima working on it isn’t a Metal Gear game, so whatever titles Konami makes will be held up to intense scrutiny. Instead of coming out of the gate with a triple-A-level release, they chose a zombified spinoff like so many other series have done as DLC. And Konami has said Metal Gear Survive won’t be a full-priced game, which implies a certain smaller amount of content. It definitely feels like a smaller budget half-step towards a new release, and it’s bewildering that Konami would take such a misstep with their next era of Metal Gear.
Listen, I’m not trying to join the angry mobs on social media and YouTube who get upset over a publisher as controversial as Konami. The company has hits older than the NES and spent the last few years collecting negative press for lackluster rereleases or cancelled projects for franchises like Castlevania or Silent Hill. I’d prefer those latter two series return to prominence along with Metal Gear, and it’s confusing that those horror franchises weren’t used for a multiplayer zombie hunting game in the place of Metal Gear.
Will Metal Gear Fall to the Undead?
Let’s not judge a game based on less than two minutes of footage and no actual gameplay — I’ll give Metal Gear Survive the benefit of the doubt here on quality. But no matter what the critical reception, at its core I’m just not convinced this even needed the Metal Gear name on it. Maybe it’ll boost early sales, but if this further damages the Metal Gear brand, it’ll ultimately cost Konami a whole lot more future revenue.