Metal Gear Online (MGO) is a hate to love it relationship in short. I’ve grown from initially loving the experience to outright hating it, even trying to swear off playing it again. But I came back and started to witness the game’s player base evolve, turning the best game mode Cloak & Dagger (C&D) into a free for all.
One might claim the game mode to be ‘horribly unbalanced’, but here’s the rub. It isn’t. Not by a long shot. the entire idea of the mode is one team is supposed to defend two data discs on the map. while the other should sneakily infiltrate and subdue and defenders and sneak out of the base with the disc to one of two drop zones. The matches initially started as blitz runs, but this is because each team had one of two player types. the call of duty find the enemy and shoot them, or the objective focused player who does exactly what it says on the tin – they go for it.
For a time matches were either lightning quick or strategic cat & mouse by both teams as one tries to outdo the other team. Defenders eventually got creative with hiding on the objective they chose to defend, while others planted themselves on the objective as a living drone of sorts.
Yet the issue is MGO only has five maps, they come in rush or normal mode. One being a cordoned off area of a larger map, or the full size map. These are typically used in Bounty Hunter mode or Comms Capture, the games only other modes. They basically boil down to Team Deathmatch & Domination game types. They feel like a tact on addition to the C&D mode previously mentioned as this is supposed to be the multiplayer of a predominately stealth based game.
I thought I’d be alone in nearly exclusively playing C&D mode, but one look at community pages to do with MGO & I found not only was it the bread and butter of MGO’s community but the game has multiple exploits that can’t be fixed due to the games dependence on player hosting of matches. So people are hosting private games and using these exploits to maximise xp gains and reach the games ascension stages much faster than legitimate players who aren’t. But there are legit modes in which you choose what is best to earn certain rewards. you can gain xp by the bucket load in a modified Bounty Hunter game type which bumps tickets (the games score system. deplete the lives of the enemy to zero to win) from the default of 30 to 99. causing 10 minute or less matches into 30 minute marathons. where some of the best players can walk away with over 50,000 xp.
But the games currency GP (gear points), are earned minimally from these game types from 10 points from a loss or 20 for a win. So you’d have to go into auto matchmaking to earn 50 for a loss or 100 points for a win. but the games are fixed into default modes this way, but you come out with much more normal balances of xp. The issue with the MGO currency is that it asks for multiple thousands per custom camouflage pattern. Some are ridiculously priced at 500,000 GP where the game expects you to be playing for such a time over these minimal amounts of maps. to which in the later stages of players have already got player patterns down, to the point defenders are no longer defending but going on hunts to kill the ‘attackers’ before they can even get off the ground knowing that they are only armed with tranq weapons, or able to use a minimal selection of placed weapons like mortars and anti air guns, which would only serve to draw direct attention to themselves, assuming that they are ever able to do so, or even care.
The more surprising element is how in certain loadouts players can have their own stealth camo so even defenders are sneaking around the same way attackers are to aid them in getting the drop on anyone who is foolish to stumble upon the stealth path the defending player is trying to cut off.
But this is where player types vary, Infiltrators are the most common class followed by Scouts and less common Enforcers. Infiltrators are so common because they best represent Snake the main class from the single player campaign, they are very weak to enemy gunfire only able to absorb about three shots before dying. While Scouts can take three to five depending on area hit. while Enforcers can absorb the most damage of five to seven shots before succumbing to deaths embrace. The issue is available weapons, versus speed. Infiltrators are very bare bones, barely getting a selection of assault rifles, and shotguns. While Scouts are the sniper class and get a selection of Rifles and various scope attachments, and skills which aid staying hidden and enemy mark spotting prevention tools. Enforcers are fully armoured and come so well armed infiltrators stand no chance against a chain machinegun. They have to hide and PRAY the games stealth camo keeps them hidden long enough that they can shadow the enemy players path and grab them unaware and then deal with them via interrogation and kill. or interrogate, stun and fulton. the games highest point scoring combination for a single ‘kill’ as you not only get 500 points for interrogating the enemy which rewards the entire team by showing every last enemy players exact location for about twenty seconds, but 250 for the stun and a further 500 or 250 dependent on game mode for fultoning the enemy off the battlefield by quick ascent balloon.
Scouts will generally stay back as they are a much slower class, but with a very skilled player they can eliminate enemies from the equation within seconds of starting a game as they have the range and weapons to get instant headshot on certain maps. Yet with an ascended scout they get a Ghille suit, which makes them near impossible to spot if they play the class correctly and a lethal deadly menace. But if an infiltrator can successfully sneak into the enemy area. there are usually only a handful of spots a scout can go to get a genuine vantage on the enemy team and they are easy to check, and can get countered if they spend all the time down range of the scope.
Enforcers are simply cumbersome. If they are defending they will usually camp an objective or wade headstrong into the enemy camp in the hopes of wiping up some kills. The issue usually is, they end up alone a lot. they are deadly, but if they get caught, they are a liability some times.
Possibly the best addition is the games music selection. not only does it have a number of soundtracks premade for the game already, but it has the soundtracks from every previous console version of Metal Gear from the MSX to current generation systems, and listening to your favourite of these can not only make your game more thrilling, but a nostalgia trip too. Be it the original Metal Gear 1989 chiptunes to the collection of Harry Gregson Williams tracks of Metal Gear Solid 2 Sons of Liberty and beyond. All perfectly contextualised to the action of the game you are playing.
MGO will have you hooked or disinterested within a couple of games. The issue is how far do you wish to go with it as the five maps get tedious quickly, and knowing Konami they’ll likely charge for a fistful of maps the same way they are charging real money for some cosmetic items from custom skins to items like the crocodile head item which serves to make you stand out rather than blend in with your environment. This addition to The Phantom Pain feels like the end of the main campaign, rushed and tacked on to say they did it. MGO will only serve to foster the players who are absolute die hards of the series while everyone else will be moved on to other multiplayer experiences or the plethora of single player campaigns that will suck out any spare time they have left later this year.