Metal Gear Online first impressions – beware the puppy trap…

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-Tom Heath

You may or may not realise that there was a second major online game launch this week. The first was the Star Wars Battlefront beta and everyone has been talking about it, myself included. But the second certainly deserves recognition, it being the multiplayer component of a game I have been very, VERY much enjoying.

I am, of course, referring to Metal Gear Online.

My experience with Metal Gear Online was off to a slow start when I loaded it up upon its launch this past Wednesday. After reading through all the T&Cs, the tutorial descriptions and selecting a class for my character, I was placed in the “Free Play Zone” as the soldier I had created in the Phantom Pain single player some 55 hours of game time earlier. A soldier, if I recall correctly, I had tried very hard to make resemble my own face.

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The resemblance is UNCANNY.

Now it was time to find a match to play in, and hopefully my mates on voice-chat would be able to hop in with me. We weren’t overly fussed about the game mode, time of day or whether “Rush” mode was activated (still don’t quite know what that means), so I told the game to find us the next available match playing “Bounty Hunter”, Metal Gear Online‘s equivalent of team deathmatch. It began searching, and continued to do so for about 20 minutes before we gave up and promptly went to playing Battlefield 4 instead.

Oh that’s right, this was an online game’s first day of launch, so we should have realised it wasn’t going to work. Shame on us really. But it could have been worse, my mate Adam sent me this screenshot of what happened when he first loaded up the game:

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I need scissors! 61!

Anyway, I tried again a few days later and everything ran pretty smoothly. Hurrah! Time to tactically espionage some fools.

Now, where I said in my impressions of Star Wars Battlefront that the game was casual player friendly, the opposite is true for Metal Gear Online. This game assumes you’re fully immersed in the Phantom Pain control scheme, aware of all the tricks like sudden dives for cover, how to jump into a roll, quick selecting weapons, all of that.

Granted, this is the delayed multiplayer aspect of a whole other game, but what that means is that pretty much every single player has clocked many, many hours with the mechanics before they’ve even gained their first rank. And if you’ve spent your many hours of Phantom Pain playing it as a stealth game, being slow, methodical and not nailing headshots while running at speed, and you’ve now leaped into Metal Gear Online, then I feel bad for you son. That ain’t how this works.

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You’re going to see this a lot, and probably from the same guy! Dude’s a gun.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of stealth aspects to Metal Gear Online, but the kind of stealth you’ve been implementing in the main campaign goes out the window once there are loads of other human players in the mix. The moment a match starts, people rush for the D-Walkers, sniping points and objectives, ready to shoot the first person they see. The closest we get to stealth in the these matches is the same as stealth in the likes of Battlefield and Call of Duty: sneakily out flanking.

Essentially, that’s what Metal Gear Online feels like to me: a much more intricate and tactical Battlefield/Call of Duty online, but played from third person perspective. It really shows the versatility of Phantom Pain‘s mechanics, that they can be reapplied to make a solid tactical shooter as well as function perfectly for the ultimate infiltration simulator. And any players keen for a complex tactical team based shooter, then Metal Gear Online would be a perfect game to jump into.

Of course, that is if you’re willing to accept the classic Metal Gear quirks as well…

Metal Gear Online puppy

Huh, so love CAN bloom on the battlefield…

Yes, that is a plush puppy, and yes, that soldier is already planning the honeymoon. The plush puppy is a kind of trap that if your character spots it, you will squat to the ground and get so lost in the toy’s eyes that not even Google Maps could lead you out. Your position will also be immediately given away due to the love hearts floating from the top of your head. The first time it happened to me was the absolute worst humiliation. I can’t wait to see more of the ridiculousness the game has to offer as I rank up further.

The focus on non-lethal tactics are a highlight of Metal Gear Online, where higher rewards are given if you knock out and opponent and use the Fulton balloon to extract them, rather than simply killing them. It really stops a lot of players from just camping and shooting anyone who runs by, forcing them to move around and try to get in close. It really is what Metal Gear Online has that other online shooters don’t: a reason not to kill the enemy. But to be honest, most of the time I opted for the kill because every situation always came down to who could get the shot off first; no time for CQC.

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Or just a full on explosion, they work too.

We’ll have to wait and see how this game evolves over time and as more skills come to light with experience. I’d really like to play some matches with a team I have direct communication to so we can be more strategic, I imagine that is where Metal Gear Online will shine the most. But until then, beware the puppy trap. Seriously, that cute little guy is the devil.

Share your best puppy trap moments with Tom on Twitter: @tomdheath. LoadScreen is also fond of puppies, and can be followed on Twitter, @load_screen, and Facebook.

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