The spin-off Metal Gear Survive rightfully has its skeptics. After series mastermind Hideo Kojima departed Konami in a messy separation, fans questioned if Metal Gear games would ever be the same. When Konami announced Metal Gear Survive, it was a surprise – a survival action game with zombies? Even Kojima commented on how he didn’t see how zombies fit within the series. I went into my hands-on session for Metal Gear Survive just as doubtful as any fan about the game being something I’d even want to play. While I don’t think Metal Gear Survive will be an earth-shattering experience for the series, I walked away having more fun than I expected. 

While Metal Gear Survive does have a single-player campaign, Konami isn’t ready to give many details on it, except that a wormhole opens in the sky, absorbing all MSF soldiers, transporting them to an alternate reality. You must survive a harsh environment overflowing with dangerous creatures by collecting resources and building a base camp. Time will tell if Konami takes a more zany approach and tells an interesting story considering the premise or makes the single-player very straightforward with a focus on gameplay. 

At Tokyo Game Show, I played a section of the co-op in which you work with three other players in missions. My mission was to protect a generator from waves of zombies. I chose to play as a fighter, but you could also choose a shooter. You basically want to level your character up and find better gear by completing missions; after every mission, you get new loot depending on your success. Metal Gear Survive uses the same controls scheme from Ground Zeroes and Phantom Pain, and they’re as responsive and intuitive as you remember. However, even if you haven’t played the recent games, the controls are easy to pick up and understand. 

Before each wave, you can prepare for the onslaught of baddies coming your way, by putting up barriers, spinning blades, and even mini turrets. The best strategy is to look for any opening the zombies may be able to exploit and put down some traps to thwart them. Once they break through, you can shoot, punch, throw molotov cocktails, and anything else you come equipped with. In between waves, you can take on side objectives to get better resources to protect you from the next wave. 

I loved the chaos and strategy of it all. One minute, you’re prepping by thinking ahead, the next a horde is overflowing the area, forcing you to think on your feet and use what you have at your disposal. The resource management part is a nice touch. You have a limited amount of all your items, from barriers to ammo. You must use them judiciously if you want to make it through every wave. Setting up the perfect trap or throwing a molotov cocktail to torch a zombie horde is satisfying. Even more so, working with a team to make the best of all your resources and help each other out in a bind makes for a fun co-op experience.

Because I only played one mission, I can’t speak to the variety of content or if this game has legs beyond a few matches. Metal Gear Survive has a tough tassk ahead of convincing players it’s worthy of their time. Survival games have become more popular in recent years, but convincing people to abandon those like PUBG is a hard feat. That being said, the game is a lot more enjoyable than I was expecting, providing me that rush I get when I play games like Left 4 Dead or Mass Effect’s multiplayer. Now it’s up to Konami to see if they can attract a strong player base and win back fans. Something tells me this won’t be enough, but Metal Gear Survive is nice a diversion if you’re looking for something in this vein. 

Metal Gear Survive hits in early 2018 for PS4, Xbox One, and PC.