In many ways, Metal Gear Online is one of the most enjoyable online experiences of the year. Sure, it’s fraught with connection issues, balancing problems and lack of server population; but its back-to-basics approach to multiplayer is refreshing. With three game modes, three character classes and a handful of maps, MGO takes the great gunplay and stealth mechanics from The Phantom Pain into the realms of tight 8v8 arenas.
That core gameplay is bloody enjoyable; as long as you can get into a game, you’re almost certain to have a great time. Movement is fluid, combat handles exactly as it did in the base Phantom Pain experience and the glory that is the FOX engine makes for some incredible moments. All of that training you did in the forty-plus hours in single-player pays off. Stealth, in particular, brings with it a natural rush of adrenaline when used correctly; successfully CQCing an enemy will give you an opportunity to Fulton them out of the map and to a respawn screen for bonus points.
It’s just a shame then, that MGO has been shown less love by Konami than the ending of The Phantom Pain. The three gameplay modes are fairly basic: Comm Control being a straightforward Domination game type, Bounty Hunter has you extracting enemies with the Fulton device and generally murdering anyone that steps out into the open, while Cloak and Dagger is essentially Capture The Flag. All three are fun in their own right, but they are a bit too familiar.
The balancing between classes is really poor, and the support going forward is in question
This isn’t helped by the fact that there are major balancing issues between the three classes, and that being able to switch between them requires a significant levelling commitment. Nor is it helped by the fact that the servers are as bad as they were back in the Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsidence days. There’s a serious lack of servers – thanks to the game seemingly being P2P based – and a lack of population already. The biggest issue here is that if the host of a lobby gets disconnected, which happens often, everyone gets booted out with no XP or rewards. It’s so frustrating, given how far online shooters have come in the last decade.
But that all said, there’s no bigger thrill than spawning into a map as Big Boss, the original MGS music thundering through our ears as we break between cover while under fire. Bursting from cardboard boxes with tranq gun in hand, Fulton-lifting unsuspecting enemies off into the sky, and sitting with a smile imagining how pissed off someone across the world is at that moment. There’s a lot to love in MGO, but unless Konami starts putting some major support behind the mode, it might not survive the year.