Metal Gear Online impressions from the Community Day at Konami Los Angeles

Metal Gear Informer was invited by Konami to attend the Metal Gear Online Community Day, which took place on October 1st at the Konami Los Angeles Studio. On this day, several members of the MGO community could try out the game for the first time, and battle with and against each other in a variety of game modes. Carlos ‘Crimsonfox’ Fregoso represented Metal Gear Informer on this occasion, and you can read his report of the Community Day and his impressions of the game below.

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Metal Gear Online 3 is the long awaited multiplayer component of Metal Gear Solid V. Leagues of fans loyal to the classic MGO iterations have been clamoring for years for the chance to get back into the fray. And newcomers of the series are as excited as ever to finally be able to team up with friends in highly competitive modes as opposed to fighting against random foes in FOBs. Will this new, modern take on MGO live up to what long time fans of the series have been waiting for? Will MGO3 be engaging and competitive enough for newcomers? I certainly think so. As a person who has delved in E-Sports, watching a group of 8 community members and fans of the series play up against 8 developers from Konami Studios L.A. was some of the most tense, exciting & fun gameplay to watch. But actually getting my hands on it myself was something even better. And while this is upsetting to most returning fans, classic “Text Chat” and “Clan” features will not be returning to this iteration of the MGO series as of now. This doesn’t mean that these features won’t be added later. MGO will be continuously monitored after release and things will be altered if they seem overpowered or unbalanced. Who’s to say these things won’t come in when it is available for PC on January 2016 and updated through patches for consoles? These features are a big deal for many and I understand that as I played hours and hours of MGO 2 myself. Nothing else can be said on this subject, so from here on let’s talk about the things that are a part of the game. And the experience I had with it personally.

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Our first game was 2 rounds of Bounty Hunter (Team Death Match) on Black Site. Black Site is Camp Omega 9 years after the events of Ground Zeroes, and the area has changed over the years. The map is familiar but varied and altered enough to offer a new experience. It has a variety of interior and exterior areas that offer some good close quarters action and some excellent eagle nest locations to pick off enemies from a distance. The game mode being like Team Death Match, I wanted to try what was unique to MGO. When the enemy collects kills they get a bounty number over their head. The higher the bounty number the higher number of tickets you can put back into your team’s score. Provided that you stun or tranquilize the person with the bounty then Fulton Extract them out of the battle. So if your team is getting stomped out like Gray Fox under Metal Gear Rex you and your team can band together and try to neutralize the enemy and extract them. You can flip the tide of the battle and put the ticket count in your team’s favor. While I was playing our team had marked an enemy with the INT. SCOPE which shows you and your team their ticket count. This enemy had a Yellow 7 over his name, showing us his bounty. We discussed the situation and coordinated “Don’t kill him! extract him out of here for his tickets.” We, a small group of 3 tried to get in close without being spotted, but two of us were. While the marked enemy was shooting at my allies hiding behind cover, I flanked him and with some pretty good CQC threw him on the ground and got him out of there. Extracting a enemy that you know has been on a streak, killing or extracting your comrades with this technique was super rewarding. And then it didn’t feel like a run of the mill Team Death Match anymore. Everyone was trying to neutralize each other instead of killing, to try and keep their teams ticket count above the other. But then a Walker Gear (personal bi-pedal mech) entered the battle and it became brutal again. Hiding behind cover trying to avoid getting sprayed by its intimidating rail gun was exhilarating. When the Walker Gear turned around to shoot in another direction I saw one of my team members sprint up behind it and throw the pilot to the ground. The enemy was stunned and was getting extracted when his Fulton Balloon was shot out of the sky. His friends had came over to protect him and my team mate was shot down. In this first game I had a handful of close calls and fun situations like this. At on point both teams had Walker Gears and shot each other head on in a fiery battle that ended with amazing fire effects that totally engulfed the loser, and in the night light it looked amazing The game can be played with extreme brutality or highly thought out strategies. Building on what was already established in the main campaign of MGSV:TPP. You have total freedom to play in any way you like, or in any way your skills allow you to. If you are good at sneaking around you get around the middle of a full blown battlefield. Feeling similar to the intro of Metal Gear Solid 4 when two factions are in conflict and Solid (Old) Snake was still getting around undetected. You can stay back with a Sniper and tag enemies for your team giving you all the advantages of battlefield awareness. You can be mischievous and lay traps and set up your foes for embarrassment. Or you can just go all out like the animal you are inside amongst other things.

Our next mode was Comm Control. Attackers must capture Comm Links to download “Confidential Information” before  the time limit runs out.These Comm Links can be gained and lost by both teams by occupying the designated areas. The defenders must stop the attackers from getting the “Confidential Information” from 3 points, A, B & C. Playing this mode offered some great tense action as well. As an attacker I was trying to take Comm Link B next to a bridge on the lush green map known as “Jade Forest” with a team mate. When we arrived we took out the defenders on site with some quick body shots. We crouched down to capture the area when a Walker Gear came to defend. My ally and I tried to run away from the Walker when he started to shoot in our direction. We ran for the bridge and hid behind some boxes. He was beginning to chip away at the boxes when I decided to throw my newly acquired Petrol Bombs in his direction. I tossed out my three and jumped over the railing of the bridge while my team mate followed. While we both hung from the floor boards we watched as the grass around him started to catch fire disabling his mech and burning him to death. With a deserved smile and excitement we climbed back over and were able to capture “Comm Link B” for the team. Later on in the game I was able to sneak into a Comm Link when I realized that 3 foes were protecting a particular side. When your enemy is on a Comm Link you can’t take it, So I had to make them leave! I was able to CQC the first and fulton him. While he was flying away his team mate turned around and I took him out with a shot gun blast. Now it was just me and the third victim… I grabbed him and interrogated him, giving me and my team all of his friends locations. And while I’m holding him, I notice I’m capturing the Comm Link. And the meter is filling up as if two of my team were there. I looked around and it was just me. I stabbed him while holding him and when he died the meter was filling like normal again. I was actually using his body to speed up getting the objective for my team while holding him. It’s a little detail but it’s these twists in classic game modes that make this iteration feel fresh. On this map I also had some fun utilizing the mortar. I spotted a sniper sitting back and defending “Comm Link A”. I saw the mortar and decided to take him out with it. But he was vigilant, I was spotted while in route to the mortar and I had to crawl to it to avoid his shot. He moved in closer to Comm Link A to try protect it, and once he went under some nearby cover, I was able to get to it. I was able to aim and blast off two rounds in the area where he was taking cover. He then popped out and got me with a clean head shot *sad face* then my mortars land and I took him out! my team was able to move in on “A”  and take it for the time being. Also when your team captures a Comm Link you and your team can respawn there to get back into the action quickly. You can also respawn on a team mate that you established a “Buddy Link” with by Pressing R3 on the PS4 controller. Your character will salute. Anyone on your team that salutes to you at the same time will establish this link. Once at 50% on the link meter you can spawn on each other, at 100% on the meter you can use a “Worm Hole GEN” allowing you to teleport to your buddies location anywhere on the map. When a buddy was taking a Comm Link on the other side of the map and said he was taking fire, I used my Worm Hole to teleport next to him and provide assistance. When you use the worm hole you are stuck for a second while it turns on and you’re stuck for another when the teleport is complete, so you have to be careful where and when you use it. If you use it and your friend is crawling you’ll spawn crawling. If he is standing you’ll spawn standing and so on. Comm Control offers fun for those who like a coordinated effort but also enjoy a fire fight, since attacking and especially a strong defense are key for victory in this mode.

The third game mode we played was Cloak & Dagger, which should be familiar to those who played MGO 2’s TSNE (Team Sneak). This game mode is basically defenders protecting two “Data Discs” labeled A & B and the attackers have full lethal equipment. The Defenders have to recover each “Data Disc”, return them to the “Evac Point” and successfully upload them. All while going in with Non-Lethal weapons besides your stealth camo for defense and all with one life. If you are attacking in this game mode and die,  you have to wait until the round is over. When you die you can watch your remaining team mates as a spectator. This game mode is the most Metal Gear of all the game modes. If you are spotted and shot at with your camo equipped your camo will deactivate along with your entire team’s! So you want to play as stealthy as possible. This mode was my favorite because of the nail biting sneaking you have to do to pull off the mission as a attacker. Every game has two rounds and you play both sides, but playing as an attacker is the most exhilarating and rewarding, if you manage to obtain a “Data Disc” and successfully take it back to the “Evac Point” undetected. As a defender you play a great game of cat and mouse too. You know your enemy is near, but not knowing their locations leaves you paranoid and on point at every turn. While playing this mode as an attacker on the Map “Gray Rampart”, a team mate and we spotted a Defender looking out from a ridge overlooking the river that goes through the middle of the map. We snuck up on him and grabbed him. While he was being interrogated I was grabbed from behind, an alert went out that we were spotted, and our team had to adapt to the situation. I was fultoned out of the match but my teammate, who was doing the interrogation, was able to kill both defenders and get away. From this point on I was watching from my “spectator” perspective, made helpless to just watch as my team was slowly eliminated and we lost this round. Making the next round that much more intense, I wanted revenge… but we ended up getting sneaked around and we were unable to locate one disc. While searching for the first the second got away too. The whole team was running to the Evac Points to try and stop the uploads while on the way the attackers successfully hid and were able to CQC us and get the win. Later on we played other rounds that played out totally different, and even more fun once the concepts and ideas were realized to a better degree. This mode ended up being my favorite of the three due to sheer amount of different outcomes it can have. I’d like to also mention that any game type on any map can be played during different times, night or day and in any weather condition. Rain and sandstorms can start and stop during any game. This made some games of Cloak & Dagger that much more fun. With visibility being altered while trying to defend against attackers, the act of finding enemies with Stealth Camo equipped made it super tense. And as an attacker, sneaking in with camo in the rain made me feel like Solid Snake jumping off the bridge in MGS2. These three modes, while familiar, offered great Metal Gear Online twists that keep them fresh, and a level of polish that unfortunately isn’t seen seen in many modern games.

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As a modern game itself Metal Gear Online has changed the ranking system used in past iterations. This rank system works the same as most shooters work today. You rank up with the score you get from each game and earn GP (Gear Points) which only apply to gear you wear. All of the weapons are given to you based on your rank. You use GP to buy Gear and camo colors, not weapons. When you buy a new piece of gear you can press square on PS4 to change the color using GP. You can actually buy a gold and silver camo using MB Coins, they aren’t just for FOBs anymore. But other than that, MGO3 is completely disconnected from the main campaign. Nothing you do online affects the main game and vice versa. Another modern addition to the game is the addition of “Abilities”, similar to the skills in Metal Gear Online 2, such as Additional Ammo, Additional Ammo for Secondary Weapons, Extra Support Weapons, Increased Aim, Durability of Fulton etc. You also have four slots to use these “abilities”, and some abilities have level 1 – 3 upgrades. Basically, a level 2 ability takes 2 of your 4 slots and a level 3 takes 3, and so on. You can use these abilities and slots in any way that complement your play style. Every weapon, attachment and item you equip also has a weight to it. The heavier you are, the slower you are, and it can affect the distance you can sprint before your character gets winded. There’s no infinite sprint like in the main campaign. There also isn’t a meter telling you when your character can’t sprint or the cool down before you can sprint again. You really have to get a feel for your character and how much he or she can sprint and how often you have to slow down. There are also three classes that you might prefer for different play styles. The Infiltrator Class is great at CQC and lets you move around a little faster. The Scout Class uses long distance weapons, and lets you mark enemies instantly with their INT. SCOPE, unlike other classes that have to wait for a % to fill up to fully mark an enemy. And last, the Enforcer Class is the heavily armed class that lets you get into the action with big weapons and a ton of ammo, although they are slow. They are great for people who like the ”open up a fresh can of whoop ass” approach. Another cool addition: you can also play as Snake or Ocelot. A player will be randomly selected at the beginning of every game. Either Snake or Ocelot will be on each team and have their own special abilities. Snake can use his Blast Arm and his Bionic Arm Sonar, while Ocelot can reflect bullets off of surfaces to hit characters hiding behind cover. If you are chosen to play as one of these unique characters you can opt to pass and not use them if you like. If everyone in the lobby passes on using a unique character, the game just disables the feature. When using Snake or Ocelot you cannot customize your load-out. But normally, all regular character load-outs can be customized in the following ways: Head Gear, Chest Gear, Base (suit) and Accessory (Glasses, googles). Weapon load-outs consist of Primary, Secondary, Support (Throw & Place Weapons), Items and Abilities. Also, when choosing your primary and secondary weapons you can buy weapon camos using GP. You can also make password protected private parties or parties for anyone to join and play in games together as a squad. You can make custom games with custom time limits or ticket counts depending on the game type. You can choose the weather conditions and time of day to whatever you or your friends want to play.

Overall MGO3 is different than what long time fans expect, and I was a bit worried about how this iteration would work out. But after playing a few hours of the game myself with other likeminded players that also weren’t sure what to expect out of the experience, I can say it is great fun. Everyone there appeared to enjoy it for all the right reasons. It’s legitimately fun and all I have been thinking about is: how can I make my load-out better when I get back online on October 6th. And I honestly feel like this game can be around for as long as the community supports it. This time around they have a team that is 100% dedicated to this and to keeping it around and keeping it fun. I’m also crossing my fingers for a big push from E-sports. This game is insanely fun to watch and can be hardcore competitive. The work done by the Konami L.A. Studio is great. Balancing the already amazingly received gameplay from The Phantom Pain and adapting it to the multiplayer component would have been difficult for any studio but they got it right. The speed of some animations has been changed to keep what would have been overpowered in single player work online, such as climbing and diving, and fun additions like the worm hole and cute distraction of the plush puppy and great fulton canon (which hilariously works as a claymore that can shoot a Fulton Balloon at you if you aren’t careful) make for a compelling, deep multiplayer addition that only builds on what The Phantom Pain has done with flying colors with its gameplay. I can’t wait to see what kind of crazy highlight reels will come out of the addition of MGO3. I have already played over 160 hours of The Phantom Pain myself. As it stands it’s an incredible value. And with the few hours I’ve had with Metal Gear Online I think my hours might double… or triple. MGO3 really does deliver in all the right places. It’s engaging, It feels good, it can be tense, it can be hilarious, it’s Tactical Team Operation and it feels like Metal Gear. It’s worthy of the code name MGO3.

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Metal Gear Online will be available as a free download for all those who own Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain on October 6th 2015 for consoles and January 2016 for PC.

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