There's still time to save this sinking ship.
The recently-announced Metal Gear Survive is in pretty shitty standing with the public as of right now, mostly due to Konami’s bad decisions on how to present the first post-Kojima Metal Gear. The trailer below shows a lifeless game, devoid of any intelligence or fresh ideas.
And a part of me gets it. Konami would be fools to let a property like Metal Gear waste away, and we should be thankful they didn’t attempt to make a new Metal Gear Solid. Just because it’s not a stealth game shouldn’t immediately discount it in peoples’ eyes. The fact that it’s titled simply “Metal Gear” should indicate that Survive isn’t trying to mimic the artistry and finesse of the Solid games. It’s important to give every game a chance, but this is just a bad trailer.
As fun as it is to pick apart everything that’s wrong with this reveal, there’s some potential in the concept of MSF soldiers being sucked into an alternate timeline. Ignoring the people who are (understandably) going to hate Survive regardless because of how Konami treated Kojima near the end of his time at the company, it’s possible for this idea to turn into a game worthy of the Metal Gear name. Here’s how.
1.) New character-focused trailer
First thing’s first, next time you show off this game, make sure you do it right by giving people some sort of personality or flair. In a 4-player co-op format, you want to create characters that friends will fight over playing as. Show off each soldier’s uniqueness in the trailers, and make that a focal point of how you sell this game.
Pitching it as some weird one-off Resident Evil game like Survive comes off as in this trailer is the absolute wrong way to do it. No one is impressed by some asshole with a explosive bow-and-arrow that we don’t know or care about. If Konami thinks that hinting at a crafting system will get people excited about another co-op zombie shooter, then they’re severely underestimating the intelligence of the video game community.
Highlight the personality of the new characters, but maybe also tease us with some elements from the old games; something like an alternate-reality Big Boss would provide a link to the rest of the series. Ending a new trailer with Kiefer Sutherland reprising his role but as some sort of villain would make this new Metal Gear feel organic, and might win over some of those angry fans.
2.) Get good writing talent
Most of these types of 4-player co-op shooters have shitty, forgettable scripts. The cooperative components are the big sell for these types of games, and the story usually takes a backseat. Make Survive the game to change that, and give us a story that plays with the Metal Gear universe in interesting ways.
There aren’t a ton of great “alternate-reality” video game stories which twist the characters and settings of established franchises, but comic books have been doing this sort of things for years. Writers like Brian Michael Bendis, Geoff Johns and Mark Millar have little video game experience, but are known for their ability to revamp existing stories and create something original and exciting. Any of them could potentially add something to a project like this and make the narrative something substantial.
Don’t try too hard to recapture the tone and complexity of the Solid games, and instead focus on working with the elements the franchise already has. Without Kojima, the in-depth, political sciencey subtext Metal Gear was known for should be left in the past. Even still, don’t just give up on trying to tell a mature story. Get a professional, not some schmuck who’ll write a lame, utilitarian script.
3.) Stop telling us about stealth
This may have been the point of creating something as divergent as Survive, but the stealth-action games that Kojima made are impossible to recreate. In their press release for Survive‘s announcement, Konami stressed that it will still maintain the stealth mechanics core to the Metal Gear series, but in a new format. This is stupid.
Sure, throw some stealth sections into your game, who cares. But almost every two-bit AAA game has sneaking mechanics in it, so pointing to that every time someone asks you why the hell this is a Metal Gear game is meaningless. Acting like stealth was the only thing that made Metal Gear unique is idiotic and shows that Konami does not understand the series. Metal Gear is mature, it’s provocative, it’s artistic. It’s so multifaceted that dumbing it down to a bunch of soldier shooting guns at zombies is what pissed people off so much about this game in the first place.
The direct game play comparisons need to stop, because Survive clearly will never be tactical espionage action. Don’t pretend like it is.
If nothing else on this list, just don’t make it dumb. Period. If there’s anything Metal Gear isn’t, it’s brainless, and that’s exactly what this game looks like. Next time we see Survive, create a trailer that begs questions, not one that brandishes pre-order bonuses. Give us something beyond the ordinary, and you’ll have captured the essence of Metal Gear.
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