Metal Gear Online - The Road So Far

Despite the radio silence that's been going down on my site recently. The living situation got a lot more complicated but an apartment is in sight. I will soon have my own room, my own internet, and my own privacy to spend all day playing games and then writing about them. And maybe even more!

When MGO launched, I was excited and extremely nervous. I played the first MGO, with Metal Gear Solid 3: Subsistence, for a short amount of time. I think I got it for my birthday and then a few months later it was shut down. But the game had such a lasting effect on me. I hadn't played very many multiplayer games at that point but I loved Metal Gear. The idea of playing it competitively with other players - online - was such a crazy idea, I had to get it!

I loved it, to say the least. The maps gave you a lot of options, to sneak or go guns blazing. It was unique in that sense, that it allowed you to do what you wanted. A swath of modes and special characters to play as made it a really fun, short lived experience. One I was glad to get my hands on.

That's when a little indie game you might not have heard of was announced: Metal Gear Solid 4: Guns of the Patriots. The (then) newest entry in the Metal Gear Solid series, designed for next generation console PS3. And with it came MGO.

With that MGO, I can proudly say I was there from the very beginning to the very end. During the private beta where soldiers moved so slow you could see the hair growing on their heads.

The game came out, MGO was eventually turned on and that's when it really, truly began for me. I played it obsessively for hours upon hours every day. I at one point managed to get in the top 5 for Deathmatches on Blood Bath and maintained a relatively high score for other maps as well. I was really proud of that. In fact, I'm surprised I even remember that. Because I was pretty much at the bottom right after that. But it was loads of fun.

I got competitive, made some friends, made some friends that made machinimas, and made some machinimas.

 I played Sneaking Missions until I obtained the FOXHOUND emblem and I played so many Raiden/Vamp 1v1's that I can't even remember a good portion of them.

But as fondly as I remember MGO, I also remember the hassle of using Konami ID's, an account you use to connect to MGO, on top of using your PSN. It was a metric fuckton of a hassle to sign up for and sign in with and I almost forgot my password once and I hated it. It was awful. I also remember the fact the game was completely region locked so I couldn't play with any of my European friends. I also remember the fact that once female avatars were added to the game, you had to buy an extra slot to be able to use them. Nothing was given away for free, nothing was handed out. It had some DLC like more codec commands and some other stuff like new maps and characters.

It's easy to look back on these things with rose tinted glasses and imagine a better time, but sometimes that's all it is, imagination. MGO2 was fantastic, a really unique game that expanded on the ideas of the first(While the first was an admitted beta test for the later opportunity to really get it right). I can honestly say, I loved MGO2. And I can honestly say, I hated it. It had issues, lingering issues. Like cheaters, lagswitchers and you name it. And the best part? Konami didn't give a fudge. They weren't monitoring their services, they had to have people record gameplay of cheaters via capture card and send it to them. In fact, I have a good friend who did that a lot back in the day. I believe she actually got a lot of scummy cheaters banned because of this.

It did have a personality. Personality in spades. With the unique characters that were really unique, the maps that were just a joy to play around in, and a lot of interesting customization options that were added in over time to make your soldier yours. It, as I said above, took everything from the first MGO and turned it up to 11, with more or less the same amount of polish.

For example, the game had options. Don't like a certain weapon? When hosting, you can de-select it from the available list of weapons. This allowed you to customize the way games were played, if you wanted to play knives only, you could remove all guns. If you wanted to play with pistols only, you could. You could choose the length of a round, the total number of rounds, and even amount of points you would need to win the game.

Once in the game, you could vote to go to the next map, vote to restart the round, vote to switch teams, even vote to kick. So if you had a bad seed in your game mucking it up for everything, you could cleanse your lobby of the problem. It may have launched feeling a little lacking, but the options were there from the very beginning.

And the game modes... my god, the game modes. There were so many to choose from and I liked them all. You had Deathmatch, pretty self explanatory. Team Deathmatch, also pretty obvious. You had Sneaking Mission, which selects a random person in the lobby to play the role of Solid Snake, who's goal is to avoid detection from the other two teams who are duking it out, and steal 3 dog tags from the other players. Helping you out would be Metal Gear Mk. II, controlled by another player. It was just so great. Solid Snake and fucking Mk.II in an active battlefield, getting shit done. It was easily my favorite mode in the entire franchise of MGO and by far the most unique.

Other modes of note were Team Sneaking, which pits two teams against each other, one wearing stealth camo and wielding non-lethal weapons, the other without any sort of camo and wielding very, very deadly weapons. The sneaking team has to steal an objective that I can't remember right now and deliver it to the specified zone. But, if you get shot, hit, or bump into an enemy soldier, the entire sneaking team's stealth camo will deactivate, revealing themselves. It was an insane rush to sit right next to a group of enemies, not moving an inch, as they walk past you none the wiser to your location. Your stealth camo made you virtually invisible while standing still, but moving would make you slightly more obvious, as the knife in your hand was visible at all times. Too small to see while stationary, but to see a little black object bobbing around at a distance could be enough to alert the enemy team.

I mean, I played the shit out of this mode. It wasn't available at launch, sure, it was patched in later, but for free. It wasn't included in the DLC, it was just added in one day. And it became one of the most popular and beloved modes in the game.

Stealth Deathmatch was another exciting mode. Everyone has stealth camo AND you can use lethal weapons. It's a free for all for the ages as you sneak around avoiding detection while also eliminating the enemy. Same stealth camo rules apply, get shot, camo goes off. Also if you take too long to win the game, the map will begin getting smaller and smaller over time, until everyone is basically right next to each other.

It was all great! The modes, the maps! The skills that let you totally disarm people and use their own weapons against them. There will never be a more exciting video game moment to me than that time my entire sneaking team got killed EXCEPT for me, which resulted in me disarming a soldier of his M4 and using it against him and his friends, capturing the objective and making it to the goal. I mean, holy crap, what a rush! It was such a unique set of circumstances that allowed that to happen and it's all thanks to the unique design behind something like MGO.

Enter: MGO3.

You can check out any time you like, but you can never leave
The newest entry in the Metal Gear Online franchise comes within the package of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. It's by and large the next generation of Metal Gear Online, using the beefy gameplay mechanics behind the single player experience while at the same time touching on some of the old concepts that made MGO so unique and fun.

There's just one problem though: It feels more like a beta than an actual game. Hey, look, I'm not one to tell people they did a bad job and they should be ashamed, and I'd never imply that. I mean, jeeze, even the guy who created this damn series got fired, so I can't imagine what the guys who made this are feeling like. It doesn't even seem like that long ago MGO3 was announced. Maybe it didn't have enough time in the oven? But then with the state that MGSV is in, it's hard to tell.

What's not hard to tell though, is that MGO3 is not the same as the older MGO games. It's similar in that it's a strange janky mess right now, which will inevitably be smoothed out later on. The game is extremely limited. There are very few game modes, there are very few options within those game modes, very few potions within the game itself.

That region lock I talked about before? There is no region lock on MGO3. Which causes the game to match you with people from all over the world, creating the most unbearable gaming experiences in recent memory.

But... the issue isn't that it's bad, because it's not bad. The issue is that it's so close to being perfect. It's so close to being the game I wanted/needed it to be. But there are issues that get in the way and prevent it from being that.

Right now, as it stands, when you start the game, you are told to create a character. Right now it just pulls in the character you created from the very beginning of MGSV and it uses that. But once you level up some and unlock some slots you can create other characters, including women. So it's already got a 1 up on the other MGO's.

Once you create your character, you choose a class. You have three choices. Infiltrator. Enforcer. Scout. Infiltrators are light sneaky bastards who choose stealth over showy action. Enforcers choose showy action and heavy machine guns and rocket launchers. Scouts use weapons at a distance, like snipers and other things with scopes on them.

They also have innate abilities and most notably, class specific weaponry. Which I will say is the single biggest issue here.

Meet Motoko, she's an infiltrator(And a waifu!) This was right after creating her.
Because I'm an idiot, I made the character I created at the beginning of the game an infiltrator and then immediately made another one. You can only(So far) have 3 slots for your characters, one for each slot, so I'm pretty much screwed if I decide I like Scout better than Enforcer, because you can't change the character class.

The game begins and you have 3 game modes, Cloak and Dagger, which is some bastardized version of Team Sneaking. Bounty Hunter, which is an interesting take on Team Deathmatch that injects a whole hell of a lot of teamwork into what would otherwise be dummies shooting each other for 99 minutes, and Comm Defense, which is just domination.

The other two modes are fine and good, and perfectly serviceable, but when it comes to Cloak and Dagger, it is fundamentally broken. Sorry to sound like an elitist, but the reason the mode is broken is because, while it sets up a team of Stealth Camo wearing attackers to steal one of 2 objectives and return to the specified zone, it also allows the defenders to use stealth camo as well. So you ostensibly get a game of Stealth Camo Vs. Stealth Camo and it completely sucks the fun out of it. Not to mention the fact that Stealth Camo is basically useless now, as you can see it very clearly through any time of day, even if they are standing still. It's no lie that I've headshotted camo wearing users from across the map before, because they just aren't hidden well at all.

Not only that, but stealth camo has gone from a special item that's only usable in certain special game modes to now being an item that anyone(Or at least infiltrators) can equip. And the best part, you pretty much get it right away.

In the olden days of MGO, the unique mechanics allowed you to simultaneously play fast and quick while also being methodical and stealthy. With or without stealth camouflage, you could get your shit in order and make it happen. It was a display of pure skill and it was a hugely rewarding experience, but here... Just equip stealth camo, hide behind a wall, get a quick easy CQC before being immediately killed, rinse and repeat.

For the record, I will state that I didn't want to hate this game. And I don't hate this game, but boy does it have some hardcore issues. And once more, I don't want to sound like an elitist, but stealth camo should not be an item anyone anywhere could use, and if you are going to include stealth camo, it should at least make you INVISIBLE.

But the issues go far beyond stealth camo and the fact that it's used and abused while at the same time being extremely noticeable and obvious, it goes to the idea of class based multiplayer in general. In my honest opinon, while trying my hardest to avoid being the angry old man yelling about change and kids on my yard, there shouldn't be any classes, and if there are, it shouldn't be so obviously mismatched. As it stands, the infiltrator gets a grenade launcher at level 37. A lethal ass, totally explosive, "kill a motherfucker", grenade launcher. And the enforcer? They get a sleep grenade launcher. You know, the guys who are supposed to come out decked in heavy armor and machine guns... put enemies to sleep... The Scout is probably the sanest sounding class as it is, which gets appropriate weapons all the way through.

Motoko mostly grown up! Ascension level 1 with her own sneaking suit! (And snazzy sunglasses!)
So right now the highest reward the stealthy guys get is the ability to fuck motherfuckers up with 40ml of explosive shit, and the (presumably highest I actually don't know when they get it) enforcers get is a sleepy weepy eat your greens before bed time launcher? What? How? That makes no sense.

I mean, wow, they get it so close to being right, and then do something like that. So now I'm fighting these heavily armored fuckers that are putting me to sleep and I can't even put them to sleep? Where's my sleep grenades or sleep grenade launchers? Hell, I'd argue that those weapons should be special weapons as well. But that's just my own personal fringe opinion that bares no reflection of my thoughts on the weapon, the game is perfectly fine with their existence, it's just where they end up that bothers me.

Game modes, personality, clothing options.

Older MGO games had at least some game mode diversity. This game does not. It's either you play Sorta-TDM, Team Getfuckedbystealthallover, or Domination. There isn't even a regular "Deathmatch" option. In fact, and I may be wrong on this one, hell I hope I'm wrong on this one, I don't even know if the maps we have would suit a death match option. They don't really seem too well laid out for singular incursions all over. Aside from Blacksite, all maps are just wide open wilderness surrounding a base. So I'm not sure if we'll even get a mode like that sans a DLC.

The personality is also lacking in this game. Before MGO3 launched I was so excited to see what kind of special characters they would have. I mean Snake and Ocelot are obvious since they were already announced, but WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO else could there be? Skullface is an obvious choice. He's even got a gun! Maybe Miller? Huey and his Robo legs? Quiet? Man, the possibilities are endless! And there aren't any other characters. It's just Snake and Ocelot.

At least Ocelot is a blast to play as. The feeling you get for richocheting bullets halfway(Or in some cases, ALL THE WAY) across a map to kill a guy is incredible. If there's one thing they did right, it's Ocelot. You're pretty good.

I have yet to play as Snake, but he's a dick and most people just spam his fucking rocket arm over and over again so I don't care about him. They really seemed to go out of there way to make him really un Snake-like in this game. He's supposed to be the sneaky guy, maybe with STEALTH CAMO and tranq weapons, you know... like Snake does. But nope, he's got a full arsenal of ROCKET ARMS to spam in your fucking face non-stop like seriously did anyone beta test this shit.

Meet Ascension LV2 Motoko! With her own specialized sneaking suit! And Beret! And snazzy sunglasses!
The clothing options are also absent. I remember seeing a video a while back of them playing the game and showing it off to the world in a live environment and there were people in sneaking suits and bating suits and shit. And I saw some screenshots of guys wearing those short shorts that the African forces wear. I was so hyped to rock my short shorts and squid hat. And do you know where they are? WELL I DON'T. They will probably be released as fucking microtransactions though if this game is any indication. It's hard to not sound bummed out and cynical here but I mean come on, that was promotional materials! You can't just show me shit that ain't in the game! This shit is bare bones as it is.

With the amount of Gear Points that you earn from Ascending even just twice, I was hoping to be able to actually use them to buy stuff. But so far it seems like these missing items might just end up costing Mother Base(Microtransactions)Coins. So that's disappointing.

MGO3 is close to being great... it's just got some really deep issues to overcome. And I've read the MGO twitter so I know these guys are aware of the issues and are working towards fixing them. And I thank them for their patience. The MGO community is very niche and demanding, but only because of our deep love for MGO. It's truly unique in that it allows you to play however you want, run in gun or sneaky snakerson. So I hope they find their way to make it even better than before.

But just remember, even the last MGO took a little time to get going. And that didn't even have a development team capable of reaching out for community info! We had no way of contacting the last developers, but the current guys are on point in the social media taking feedback and getting in touch with the fans.

I will be writing more about MGO in the coming days and months because I will still be playing it pretty much non-stop!

My name is Ryan. I like to play video games and Dungeons and Dragons and all kinds of other cool stuff. I also like to write. This is my website, it's nothing special, but I write about topics from time to time that probably make no sense. But if you think they do make sense, then hang around and check out some other articles. My friends call them "blogs" but goddamnit I've got a URL and everything, so they're "articles".

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