The top seven reasons why you shouldn’t bother with Metal Gear Online
Oh boy. Where do I start? Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain is one of the year’s best games. Well, the single-player portion of it anyway. The multiplayer end, Metal Gear Online, will become nothing more than curiosity for most of the player-base, owed to a combination of bizarrely backwards decisions and gameplay that doesn’t offer anything new or interesting.
I’ll admit, I’ve never played any of the previous Online iterations (this being the third). So while some of my issues with it may not be news to fans of that mode – and possibly something they’ve even come to expect from it – they’re nonetheless annoyances that when added up, make for a forgettable, often frustrating experience.
The matchmaking/ game browsing experience sucks
It boggles my mind how in 2015, when games’ online components have moved well beyond being a tacked-on feature, some developers still manage to get it wrong, or don’t bother implementing it correctly.
When you choose the Metal Gear Online option from the menu, you’re thrown into what the game calls “Free Play.” You’re left to run around in a small map while you wait for your game to load. The way you get into a game is by either choosing automatic matchmaking, or browsing a list of games.
Since its launch yesterday, I’ve had trouble getting into servers no matter the mode I pick or the method I try. Auto matchmaking leaves you with just an icon on your screen that indicates it’s searching for a match.
Remember how in modern games that message actually says what the game is doing, things like “finding the best server,” or “narrowing down options”? Well, you’ll find none of that here. It won’t tell you how long it’ll take, and it won’t tell what it’s doing. You can be here for minutes or hours.
Browsing games is the answer, right? Wrong! When you query the game for servers, it lists a number of different ones depending on the criteria you picked. The only catch is that the number of players reported is almost always out of date. Doesn’t matter if you’re joining an 11/12 game or a 5/12, games are always full.
If the match host disconnects, everyone is thrown out and nobody gets XP
Annoyances like host migration are things we haven’t had in games for a long while. That’s because modern games usually have a listen server of sorts set up, and the ones relying solely on peer-to-peer connections seamlessly pick another player to be a host when the current one disconnects, without interrupting your game too much.
And you know what else games haven’t suffered from in years? Experience points and stats that only upload at the end of the match. That means if your host disconnects for any reason, not only will the game not auto-select another host, it will erase everyone’s stats with it.
If this isn’t frustrating in a supposedly tactical game, I don’t know what is.
All modes just boil down to Team Deathmatch
There are three modes in Metal Gear Online: Bounty Hunter, Cloak and Dagger, and Comm Control. Doesn’t matter though, because all modes play like the good old Team Deathmatch.
Now, you may shrug this off to the old “players still learning the game” excuse. After all, plenty of online games suffer from the same plague on their first few days of launch. That’s not entirely true here.
Metal Gear Online doesn’t actually teach players about how its gameplay is unique. Things like the benefit of using non-stealth weapons, or sneaking around and waiting for someone to fall into your trap are not encouraged. They’re there, sure, but you can and will have a much better chance using lethal weapons.
Outside of a short description for each mode, the game throws you in and expects you to know what’s up. There isn’t even a penalty for quitting.
Bounty Hunter especially sounds fun on paper: you get to fulton opponents and depending on the number of players they’ve killed, that number gets added to your team tickets. This could turn the tide if you manage it as your team is about to lose a round. In reality though everyone just goes on shooting each other.
If that weren’t enough, the game’s weapon balance is out of whack. Stealth-cameoed shotguns wielders and hulking Walker Gears rule matches. If you’re not rocking any of these two, you may as well stay at base.
Oh, and if you do stay at base, the other team is probably going to come after you and spawn camp said base.
Once you’ve selected a class for your character, you can’t change it
In another completely baffling decision, Metal Gear Online locks your class to your avatar. That means whatever class you chose for your first avatar, you’re stuck with it.
Most players usually pick something familiar for their first class, hoping to later change it. And considering how different from other shooters this game sets up its classes, you’re probably going to end up with something you didn’t want, or didn’t expect.
Well tough luck, because that class is now locked to your avatar. Upon reaching level six, you’ll be given the option to choose another avatar along with its class.
The in-game party system is the worst
Common sense dictates that if you’re in a party (in-game not console-level) and you search for a match as the party leader, the game should automatically take that into account when throwing you into a server.
Metal Gear Online however has another idea: putting you in a game with however many of your party it can. The rest? Kicked back out and given a “server is full” message. “What was the point of joining a party to begin with, then?” you’ll be left asking yourself.
The Metal Gear Solid gameplay doesn’t work in a multiplayer setting
This is by far the biggest reason why it’s hard for me to recommend playing this. Metal Gear Solid 5 relies on certain game mechanics that make things like character movement, shooting, using vehicles etc. responsive enough, but not multiplayer-responsive.
The gameplay was designed around stealth and works best when you use the various tools it gives you to achieve your objectives. The Phantom Pain is the best-playing Metal Gear Solid game to date, but even that is not enough for it to work in multiplayer.
Going the all-guns-blazing route will show just how much the game doesn’t lend itself to action-heavy styles of play. Yet, action is necessary in multiplayer. Otherwise everyone will just camp everywhere.
It’s serviceable and does the job, but that’s about it. Think of how it was going to be like if The Witcher 3 had multiplayer.
Serviceable doesn’t cut it in multiplayer. That’s why so many games failed to captivate audiences last-gen with their multiplayer offerings, and that’s why only a few titles reign supreme. The core mechanics of the series simply break when put in multiplayer.
It will be dead in two weeks anyway
Let’s face it, no matter how good a game is, in today’s world, if it doesn’t maintain a healthy community beyond launch week, there’s almost no point in even starting it. Haven’t you heard of Evolve?
A quick look at the release schedule shows the Star Wars Battlefront beta due this week and Halo 5: Guardians in a couple of weeks. And when that’s done, along comes November with its Call of Duty: Black Ops 3, the full release of Battlefront, and a hundred other games. These are all highly-anticipated multiplayer games, and ones that will no doubt be incredibly popular.
And that’s not even counting single-player games like Assassin’s Creed Syndicate, Transformers: Devastation, Fallout 4 and a few others. By the time you get acquainted with Metal Gear Online’s quirks, everyone else will have moved on to new games and you’ll be left to play against the hardcore.
Even if you’re not interested in any of the upcoming games, Metal Gear Online sadly doesn’t offer anything special to make it worth sticking with. Worth the bandwidth? Maybe. Worth your time? Unlikely.