15 October, 2015

Metal Gear Online: Who needs Tactical Espionage when you have a Walker Gear

Metal Gear Online 3 is a beautiful amalgamation of the core system that made Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain so great, and the ability to play the game with other people and friends, as everyone has their own play style for you to adapt to accordingly. 

Within the first week of it launching, most players didn't know how to shoot down a Fulton balloon. They were too busy spamming the Radio Comm’s telling you “You’re great!” to be any help as you were whisked into the air, presumably to be tortured back at the enemies base. This could probably be attributed to Metal Gear's sudden exposure to the masses and the influx of new players to the series, with people who've likely never played a Metal Gear before this running and gunning as if it was a first-person shooter. Their inability to sneak and work as a team causes some frustration.

Metal Gear Online feels and plays just like the single player. Although, in the single player you have all the time in the world to mark enemies and stealthily make your way into enemy lines, in Metal Gear Online you can try to sneak up to the enemy stronghold using tactical espionage but your five idiotic teammates won't necessarily do the same. They'll run in firing their guns and charging the enemy, resulting in a massive CQC fight in a tiny hallway, until someone guns them down with a Walker Gear or a well-placed grenade. Again, I attribute this mainly to the current player base, my first week was of playing was marred by these frustrations. However as more ‘new’ people, those exposed to the series due to this games mega release trickle off and stop playing, core fans should carry on playing. This feels true already, now in its second week there are a lot more people playing true to Metal Gears style.

I don’t mean to sound like I dislike or even hate Metal Gear Online, in fact I love it! It’s smooth and feels great to play, it's release ended my dry slump of not playing any videogames, which was partly caused by this very games single player story being unfinished following months of hype and excitement. It really makes me appreciate once again how much fun games can be. It really does play like the single player game; the sounds, the movement… it  all feels just like when you play as Big Boss. Only with slightly differently balancing to make it fair. Metal Gear Online is class-based offering three different approaches; the Scout, suited for long distance combat and quick marking enemies to support your team, the Enforcer, the heaviest and best-suited for combat, and the Infiltrator, which is used for stealth and CQC. Both the speed you can mark enemy players and the speed of your sprint is determined by your class, but how long you can sprint is based on your equipment weight. So a player with a shield and light machine gun (an Enforcer) cannot spring as fast, or for as long as a player using stealth camo and a submachine gun (an Infiltrator).

In case you can’t tell, one of my biggest gripes with Metal Gear Online is the people playing it. Of course I don’t mean everyone, and I understand and accept that people can play the game however they want to. I thought that since this is a Metal Gear game people would play it like one. After hearing some of the wonderful tales online from the previous iteration of Metal Gear Online it leaves me feeling envious at how people played that version compared to this one. Speaking of wonderful tales from the previous iteration of this game, a LOT of content has been cut in this version of the game, with only 3 gamemodes available at launch compared to Metal Gear Online 2’s seven. Along with the lack of game modes many cosmetic options are not available, instead they are being released slowly over time, like the iconic ‘crocodile cap’, purchasable using the real world currency known as Mother Base Coins. Even silly features like taking selfies with restrained enemies and singing songs are gone. I get that this game is supposed to be more serious in tone than other games, but those features and many others are what made Metal Gear Online so fun and different.

Between the three gamemodes there isn’t much variety, though there is one called Cloak and Dagger, which is dedicated to the use of stealth. In Cloak and Dagger you have only one life; one team who are all cloaked with no access to lethal weapons, have to steal one of two data disks from the other team, who are visible and have lethal weapons. It is easily the best mode in the game; both sides are capable of feeling genuinely tense and scary, it truly feels like a Metal Gear experience. The other two game modes are just like those in found every other third-person over-the-shoulder shooter. Bounty Hunter is the Team Deathmatch styled gamemode, where you reduce the enemy’s ‘tickets’ with every kill you get. There is one cool feature; you to rack up a ‘Bounty’ for every kill, if you are Fultoned by another player, that bounty gets refunded to the enemy’s tickets. The final gamemode, Comm Control and is just an adaption of ‘Domination’ from the Call of Duty series; everyone runs and guns resulting in a big mess of shooting with you dying over and over again – this is my least played gamemode. Not that you don’t die plenty in the other gamemodes, as no matter what you play a Walker Gear will mow you down in seconds, and if the driver is actually skilled they might last an entire round without dying.

Metal Gear Online is good, it’s a lot of fun and now, two weeks after launch a lot more people are learning how to play. There is more teamwork; bringing much more competitive and tense battles. The initial launch left a sour taste in my mouth, as did Konami's approach; launching it with less content than the previous iteration, and holding back cosmetic options that were available and on show in all of the trailers leading up to the launch, as paid DLC. For a company that fired Hideo Kojima for ‘spending too much money’ on a game with an $80 million budget, which then earned over $180 Million in its first week, they shouldn’t be this tight on cash that they need to pursue these practices… Then again this is Konami, the company that is leaving AAA games development to pursue Pachinko Machines, so who knows the future of Metal Gear Online!

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