Metal Gear Online: There’s only room for one Snake…per team

We’d love it if the Swedish T-shirt/Moby Dick Studios conspiracy was true, mind, but we’re firmly in the Kojima apologists’ camp, and perhaps what we see as genius is in fact a cocktail of arrogance and narcissism. Perhaps it’s both. Still, you can’t deny his sense of humour, with the recent reveal of Metal Gear Online bringing with it a fluffy toy dog that distracts enemy sentries and that selfie.

All well and good, but what’s it all about? And is Metal Gear Online really going to take off this time around, after its decidedly stealthy presence back in the Metal Gear Solid 4 days? We are adamant that no one really invested too much time into it back in 2008, and with so many other excellent multiplayer-driven games out there, does something so comprehensively singleplayer really need an online component?

So many questions we’re playing right into Kojima’s hands. What we do know, however, is that Metal Gear Online will appear for free alongside Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain, whenever that may be. We know that it will feature a class system, as online shooters typically do, and it looks like you’ll be able to play as characters from the main game as well as the faceless Mother Base operatives with names like Simon and Albatross that were a staple of Peace Walker way back when. Whoever discovers the ‘play as Hideo’ Easter Egg first wins a prize from us we’d be wholly unsurprised if there was one.

There isn’t much information in terms of different game modes currently, although the match footage we have seen hinted at something of an assault mode, with one team having to infiltrate the others’ base and recover some item of importance. The footage shown was clearly very scripted, reminding us of the gameplay videos that appeared of Rainbow Six: Siege wherein everything plays out with such skill and fluidity that it seems like a movie. We have never played an online game with such precision, and we doubt many of you have either. Still, the maps look large, the tools are there and with the right set of players, you could be enjoying a truly tactical, stealthy multiplayer experience when the game rolls out.
There appear to be some lovely little touches, too. As Snake climbs aboard a walking mech and unloads its minigun at a group of enemies, we see one poor bugger trying to run away while concealed inside a cardboard box. He doesn’t get far. And in fact, the idea that potentially every single player on your server could spend the entire match hidden in a box could turn every round into a high-tension cat and mouse experience. Or the most boring thing ever.

As time wears on, it’ll be nice to see more maps revealed and more general details, but for now Metal Gear Online seems to have a real Deathmatch feel to it, and how well this philosophy will translate to the best triple-A stealth franchise available is unclear. The gameplay demo showed us a wide array of legitimately stealthy moments, complete with silent takedowns over railings and some sort of weird cloaking device that left behind a particle trail as if Delsin Rowe had been there. Marking enemies as targets will play a key role as well, allowing players to pull back and perform recon instead while still directly aiding their team.

If Kojima Productions can deliver on its promise of a fresh, stealthy take on versus multiplayer then Metal Gear Online will no doubt be a worthy addition to The Phantom Pain. If it strays too far into aggro third-person shooter territory then it won’t reflect its source material and won’t stand out in a packed world of online PvP. We’ve seen unnecessary multiplayer suites tacked onto some great games in the past and they’ve sullied the experience, but with the right focus, Metal Gear Online could be a hell of a lot of fun when it launches at some point in the next 50 years.

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