One of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain’s strongest aspects is the emergent gameplay it so expertly prioritizes above all else. Its sandbox is packed with rich variation and endless possibilities, always demanding the player’s undivided attention. Metal Gear Online attempts to maintain much of the same spirit its outstanding single player component occupies, with hopes to successfully apply it to the competitive multiplayer scene. In doing so, MGO offers a fun, yet simplified reason to return to The Phantom Pain’s impeccable gameplay, even if the overall product is lacking.
MGO comes packaged with three modes and five smartly designed maps at launch, each bringing something different into the mix. The modes, starting with Comm Control, a fairly straightforward team-based operation where you fight over control points; it’s an enjoyable, yet unfulfilled attempt to encase MGSV’s complex gameplay. Next, Bounty Hunter, a deathmatch style mode has you killing and fultoning enemies in order to reduce the opposing team’s tickets. Quite cleverly, Bounty Hunter incentivizes players to tackle situations with a more nonlethal approach as fultoning a living enemy increases your team’s ticket total by the value of the Fultoned enemy’s bounty. Lastly, Cloak and Dagger–the mode that feels the most Metal Gear–tasks one team with attacking and the other with defending a set of data disc strewn throughout the map. Attackers achieve victory by recovering a disc and uploading it at the assigned evac point, while defenders win by preventing the upload or eliminating attackers entirely. Death is final if met with bullets in Cloak and Dagger, demanding the most planning and patience from players when stacked up against the other, more undemanding modes. There are three separate classes to choose from when heading into battle, each option equipped with their own gear specific loadouts and perks designed to take on scenarios central to their play style. Experimentation awaits each class, for their contribution to the fight is varied and noticeably different from one another. The Scout class, excels at providing support from a distance, marking and picking off enemies away from the specific combat zone, perfectly aligning with how I play The Phantom Pain. The Enforcer class on the other hand is more up close and personal, trading shots behind the cover of a riot shield or laying to waste enemies with a LMG. Lastly, the Infiltrator class acts as the best option for sneaking behind enemy lines, as the advanced camouflage capabilities and stealthier loadouts cater to a more tactical approach than the other classes. All in all, MGO’s classes encapsulate what you’d come to expect from a competitive multiplayer shooter of its same ilk, each bringing their own benefaction to the battle in ways that continually freshen up the fight.
Metal Gear Online feels like a bonus to a package that was never in need of it. Once the novelty of testing your tactical espionage skills in the wild wears off, there’s always the outstanding single player to fall back on. It’s hard for MGO to garner players’ dedication and patience when the internet connection of the host is the telling factor if a round is going to be enjoyable or not. Even the best of multiplayer ideas can be crushed by the absence of dedicated servers, let alone one that was only so-so to begin with. Nevertheless, when everything comes together and the frustration of the technical issues fade away, MGO almost captures the tension and excitement of its solo offerings. Metal Gear Online is by no means essential to the MGSV experience–suffering from unreliable servers and overall blandness–it fails to fully explore the potential of the project, to the degree it deserves.Conclusion: MGO is too light on maps, modes, and satisfying progression to rival other multiplayer shooters, but what’s there competently makes use of The Phantom Pain’s excellent stealth mechanics. Engagements could have easily been boiled down to run and gun gameplay, yet MGO respectably maintains the versatility in player approach that you’d come to expect from a Metal Gear experience. Much like many of the memorable scenarios from the single player portion of MGSV, the addition of competitive online is at its strongest when swept up by the ridiculous situations and gratifying results that stem from the exceptional gameplay. While Metal Gear Online isn’t quite able to hold its own against The Phantom Pain’s outstanding solo component, it offers a moderately enjoyable addition to an already superb package.
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