Metal Gear Survive is the first game to bear the series name since the controversial departure of Hideo Kojima. However, the game is noncanonical and does not advance the main Metal Gear Solid story line; it takes place in between the events of Metal Gear Solid V: Ground Zeroes and Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. You take on the role of the Captain (you can customize your character) on a rescue mission into a mysterious wormhole that swallowed soldiers and Mother Base debris after an enemy XOF unit destroyed the military platform towards the end of Ground Zeroes.
That’s not all, though. Your lucky destination (in another dimension) is a hostile world called Dite (pronounced dee-tay), home to hordes of zombie-like creatures called Wanderers. An unknown life-form infected these once-human victims and turned them into ravaging and deadly monsters, complete with glowing red crystalline structures growing out of the back of their necks. Your character is also infected by this life-form, which adds some urgency to your mission.
Your main mission is to recover data on the Kuban Energy (more on that in a bit) from the Charon Corps, the original military group sent into Dite, who mysteriously disappeared. You are also tasked with rescuing any survivors and activating the digger, which creates a wormhole back home. But why visit an alternate reality infested with deadly Wanderers in the first place, you may ask? That’s where the Kuban energy, a plentiful, powerful, and world-saving resource (and the reason for the initial Charon Corps expedition), comes in. Also, the Wanderers may start infecting people in the real world. Clearly, there’s a lot at stake.
The game officially launched this week on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and the PC, and we’re still evaluating the Metal Gear Survive experience. If you want to dive into the game before you read any full reviews, at least read through these tips, which I compiled after playing a developer preview, the beta, and a couple of hours of the full release (including the extended tutorial and all its cliché-ridden cinematics). These will help you get started, but you may prefer to wait for the full review of this PC game for my impressions and conclusions.
If you’ve had a chance to try out Metal Gear Survive or are avoiding it altogether for whatever reason, sound off in the comments. We’d love to hear your opinions.
1Embrace Your Base Camp
The Base Camp is one of the few (mostly) safe areas in the game, and it’s important that you always maintain it and use it to its full capabilities. The various benches here include a campfire, construction terminal, gadgets workbench, gear workbench, medical workstation, and weapons workbench, as well as a skill trainer apparatus, storehouse, and wormhole teleporter. The Base Camp is also the home to Virgil AT-9, a dual-personality AI system (think GLaDOS and Wheatley from Portal 2 without the humor or evil intent), that guides your mission and the overall narrative.
I’ll be honest: All of these various benches and upgrade systems feel overwhelming and the menus are convoluted. There’s a difference between meaningful progression and tedious gameplay elements for the sake of adding complexity. In any case, keep your Base Camp stocked with food (more on that in a bit) and any raw materials or resources you collect. They may not be immediately useful, but given the game’s focus on survival mechanics, it’s a good idea to keep extra stock just in case.
When you venture out into the Dust, make sure you keep track of your location relative to the Base Camp. The Dust is a deadly, mist-like substance that surrounds your basecamp. It is in your best interest to explore this area on your own, especially since it is rich in resources and the site of many future missions. Your map is essentially useless if you get lost and it’s hard to re-establish your bearings (this is a function of both the reduced visibility and the game’s bland overall aesthetic). The bright light on top of the tower is your most reliable point of reference.
2Avoid the Wanderers
Much of my experience thus far involves rescuing or retrieving a person or object from areas infested with Wanderers. Occasionally these creatures will also attack your base, so it’s important to fortify it especially in later parts of the game.
As a rule, it’s wise not to mess with the creatures unless it’s absolutely necessary; they are quite vicious and can easily kill you if you make a wrong move, have an ineffective weapon, or are running particularly low on resources. My advice is to simply run around them or quickly through a group of them, since (at least in the primary stages) you can sprint faster than they can lunge at you. This worked out well for me in the beginning. It’s worth noting that the Wanderers can both hear and see you, but you can sneak past them if you move slowly and avoid their line of sight. If a Wanderer detects you, it’s time to get out of there. You can also use a knife to kill them if you can successfully sneak up from behind.
You will often need to confront them head-on, however, especially in the co-op mode or in missions where you defend against oncoming hoards. My best advice in these cases is to make sure you know how to use your weapon and building resources effectively. A well-placed fence or an upgraded weapon can be the difference between death and survival. If you are not adequately equipped, you simply won’t get very far.
3Eat and Drink Wisely
As the old adage goes, eat or be eaten. Given the game’s focus on survival mechanics, hunting for food is a large part of the experience. None of the wild animals in Metal Gear Survive want to be killed, of course, but not all of them are violent or large enough to take you on. For safe meals, target sheep and small mammals scattered throughout the map. They go down after a couple of hits and the worst they do is run away from you for a bit. It can be a bit tricky to get in close enough before they bolt, though; it’s best to crawl in silently to make your attack.
However, a pack of carnivorous canines poses a much bigger threat to your overall health and will not hesitate to attack you if you stray into their territory or if you attack them first. When you do successfully hunt down prey, don’t eat it immediately. Return to the Base Camp so you can cook it properly. Eating raw meat can make you violently sick; it’s not fun.
Speaking of violently sick, the same principles apply to water consumption. Your best bet is to find clean water bottles scattered throughout the map. Of course, these will run out at some point, so you will need to drink water from unclean sources at least in the beginning. A water purification apparatus should be at the top of your list in terms of your Base Camp priorities. Despite the risks, you still need to drink water though, so just be prepared for some uneasy times.
4Don't Spend Real Money
Metal Gear Survive is the latest AAA game to include microtransactions. EA has so far been the worst offender with game-ruining mechanics in Star Wars Battlefront II and Need for Speed Payback, but other popular titles such as Destiny 2 and Overwatch are also offenders. Although many have said it before, I’ll say it again; microtransactions ruin games. It is despicable if a game is designed to encourage you to shell out extra cash just to aid progression. The trend in the industry has gotten so bad that a state rep in Hawaii submitted a bill to ban this practice altogether.
In Metal Gear Survive, microtransactions exist in the form of Survival Coins. If you buy them, they help you purchase Boost Passes, with stated effects such as “Kuban Energy acquisition booster, shared resource production booster, and Battle Point acquisition booster.” These passes last for anywhere between one and 60 days. In other words, these are not purely cosmetic enhancements: They impact the game experience itself. The worst part is that the packs of coins range in price from $4.99 all the way up to $49.99. That’s right, it gives you the option to pay more than the cost of the game itself, just to speed up the process of in-game mechanics.
Quite frankly, this pricing is ridiculous. It also communicates to the player that the game itself is not worth spending the time to accomplish the same task organically. Even though the game costs less than most AAA titles at $39.99 and this is an optional purchase, it still feels like a shameless money grab on the developer’s part. Maintain some personal dignity and avoid spending any real cash.
5Make Sure Your PC Is Ready
Both the single-player and multiplayer modes require a constant internet connection. The practical reason for this choice is that the game syncs all of your progress between the multiplayer and single-player campaign and vice versa. The resources, weapons, structures, and health levels you maintain in the single-player campaign follow you into the co-op rounds. However, there are many disadvantages of always requiring an internet connection, foremost of which is that it’s inconvenient to the consumer. There are so many ways that a poor connection or an inconsistent server on the developer’s side can result in a bad experience.
On top of that, the recommended specs for PCs cut out a good portion of the midrange market. The listed requirements include a quad-core Intel Core i7 processor, an Nvidia GTX 960, and 20GB worth of disk space. In other words, don’t try running this on your laptop with integrated graphics. I had no trouble running the game at high settings on a Dell Inspiron 5675 running Windows 10 with an AMD RX 580 and Ryzen 1700x CPU. The test machine maintained a locked 60 frames per second at 1080p resolution and over a Wi-Fi connection.
Of course, your experience may differ; let us know in the comments below.