It's already looking like Metal Gear Survive—Konami's ill-advised attempt to cash in on the legacy of the much-loved series—is on its way to being flop.
Metal Gear Survive generated some interest in the week of its release, mostly from curious onlookers who were wondering if it was any good. But once the lukewarm reviews started to roll in, any excitement quickly dissipated.
Mike wrote in our Metal Gear Survive review, "Ultimately, I like Metal Gear Survive. I wouldn't say it's a great game, as I still have some issues with the mechanics as illustrated above and the story is still Metal Gear nonsense. Still, it's probably better than it has any right to be. There's a framework here for a unique style of survival horror that I think Konami or some other studio should build upon. If you can hack it past the first 5-6 hours, there's a worthwhile experience here, which is more than I expected when I saw the game's first teaser trailer in 2016."
Sadly, in this crowded market for games, most people don't have the patience to see the good side of Metal Gear Survive, and the lack of overall interest is reflected in its sales. Eurogamer reported this morning that Metal Gear Survive sits at sixth in Chart-Track's official tracker for physical copies, and that it is currently averaging around 5500 players worldwide—good for about 70th place. Company of Heroes 2 and H1Z1 are among the games with more concurrent players at the moment.
It's slightly healthier on Twitch with about 7,782 viewers, but it's also kind of anemic for a major franchise a week after launch. It's fair to expect that Metal Gear Survive will drop off rather quickly. It's not even worth discussing how it compares to the excitement generated by the rest of the Metal Gear games, where even the spinoff Metal Gear Rising has a devoted cult following.
Metal Gear Survive was always going to have a hard time garnering positive attention. In the wake of series creator Hideo Kojima's acrimonious departure from Konami in 2015, any follow-up was bound to be seen as apocryphal at best. When Metal Gear Survive was announced the following year, it was met with immediate skepticism.
In a weird way, Metal Gear Survive's middling reception is Konami's best case scenario. It's not completely awful, it's unlikely to generate a massive backlash, and it may ultimately make a little money off a niche community. It's not going to generate the sort of heat that has given companies like EA fits over the past year. It seems more likely to be picked over and forgotten as an entry that is only remembered when it appears on the bottom of a list of the best Metal Gear games.
But now what? Metal Gear appears to be deader than The Boss now that Hideo Kojima is out of the picture. Any attempt to revive the series will be met with sneers from its devoted fanbase. In a world where a familiar IP is worth its weight in gold, Metal Gear appears wrecked beyond recognition.
What's more, it's an open question whether Konami even cares about its properties at this point. The publisher that was once known for classic properties like Castlevania and Gradius appears to have fully pivoted to mobile. In December, the iOS release of Winning Eleven 2018 surpassed 60 million downloads. The rest of their portfolio consists of pachinko, athletic wear, fitness clubs, and other enterprises wholly unrelated to gaming.
That leaves Metal Gear in the same spot as Castlevania and Silent Hill, once dependable properties that have fallen to the wayside. I doubt we'll see any new entries in the series any time soon, if at all.
It might be for the best. Even without a "proper ending," Metal Gear Solid 5 effectively closed the loop with the original Metal Gear. It's rare to see a popular franchise naturally run its course like this. In the continuing churn that defines media these days, beloved games like Halo, Gears of War, and Mass Effect are much more likely to get awkward sequels.
Better to remember Metal Gear for what it was: a gonzo mech anime series that occasionally touched on big ideas while featuring some of the best stealth action games ever made. Attaching its name to random zombie survival games will only serve to diminish its legacy, and an unwanted sequel moreso. This is one instance where it's better that a beloved franchise fades into history.
If you ever miss it, you can still find the HD remaster on PS3 and Vita. You can even play a pachinko version of Metal Gear Solid 3 (sorry). One way or another, Solid Snake will live on. But in the wake of Metal Gear Survive's tepid reception, I think it's fair to say that the post-Kojima era of Metal Gear will be over as soon as it began.
Looking Ahead to the Rest of the Week
We're in for a packed week of releases, despite the fact that it's only February. Buckle down and get ready folks!
- Into the Breach [February 27]: The creators of FTL return with this little tactics game that is already earning raves from some outlets. It's a sci-fi tactics RPG that pits humans against giant monsters called the Vek. Sounds positively anime. It'll be available via Steam.
- Payday 2 [February 27]: Payday 2 is making its way to the Nintendo Switch, but it already seems to be generating some controversy in light of it being a much older version than the one available on other platforms. Unfortunately, these sorts of middling ports are likely to be increasingly common as publishers rush to cash in on the Switch's popularity.
- Where the Water Tastes Like Wine [February 28]: Dim Bulb's bleak interactive folk tale anthology lands on the PC, Xbox One, and PS4 later this week, bringing with it tales from a good chunk of the games press, including Waypoint's Austin Walker and Embed with Games author Cara Ellison. It also has some very nice artwork. Look for Caty's review when it launches.
Nadia's Note Block Beat Box: Secret of the Arid Sands from the Secret of Mana Remake
The Secret of Mana remake for PS4 / PC / Vita is a weird animal. It generally plays things safe—a little too safe. Square Enix chose not to fix the original game's myriad problems, add new content, or do much experimenting.
Outside the game's soundtrack, that is. The soundtrack for the Secret of Mana remake is off the wall, and its samples range from "brilliant" to "oh my God." Like I said on Twitter, it takes balls to re-write a beloved soundtrack and add dubstep in there.
Is every remix in the Secret of Mana remake a success? God, no. Are there some improvements over the original soundtrack? Yes! Some of the SNES game's tunes are a bit lacking, and the remake beefs up a few of them. One of the better examples is Secret of the Arid Sands, Secret of Mana's desert theme. I was never a fan of the original track, but the remix sounds appropriately dangerous and adventurous. It's a pretty good job. To hell with Captain Duck, though. Damn egg-lobbing bastard.
Mike's Media Minute
If you were wonder if Black Panther was a flash-in-the-pan with no legs, wonder no more. Weekend number two was no slouch. The Hollywood Reporter has the official numbers for the second weekend at $111.7 million.
That's the biggest second weekend of all-time behind only Star Wars: The Force Awakens. It's just a bit short of Spider-Man: Homecoming's opening weekend. It's larger than the opening weekends of 2017 superhero fare like Logan, Wonder Woman, and Justice League. Domestically, it's the top-grossing February film ever, beating Deadpool's $363 million. It's soon be the third Marvel Cinematic Universe film domestically, sitting behind Avengers: Age of Ultron and The Avengers. Black Panther is on track to beat the former and could challenge the latter.
It's frankly a shocking run and we're only two weeks in.
Caty's AltGame Corner
I love a good puzzle game, especially one with a Match 3-esque touch. Dissembler tickles just that itch. It's a puzzle game about colors from developer Ian MacLarty. Rather than the expected "match 3 similar pieces to drop down more tiles" method, Dissembler instead postures just a shape in front of the player, as they're free to shift tiles around until like-colors match one another. Rather than more tiles dropping down when they're matched, the goal instead is to clear out a shape entirely.
There's also a color-blind mode, for those who might not be able to discern the many bright colors of blocks in the game. The game hosts over 120 puzzles, along with free daily puzzles too. Dissembler costs $3.99 on itch.io for PC.
This Week's News and Notes
- As you may have seen this morning, USgamer's publisher was purchased by PAX organizer ReedPOP. This move will bring EGX and PAX together under one umbrella in what should be a win-win for both parties.
As for what will happen to USgamer, we're going to be continuing on as usual. The past year has been very good for both Gamer Network and USgamer in general, and I expect that to continue into the near future. Our goal over the next couple years is to continue aggressively growing USG, and having ReedPOP as our parent company offers some really intriguing opportunities in that regard. I look forward to seeing what the future holds as we keep pushing forward and growing the site.
- In an embarrassing snafu at the DICE 2018 awards, no one was apparently available to pick up the award when Nier: Automata won best RPG. Oops.
- Metal Gear Survive's developers seemingly hid a message for Hideo Kojima in Metal Gear Survive. Kojima Productions forever, indeed.
- Speaking of which, I sat down and ranked all of the Metal Gear games last week. Yes, I even ranked the stupid mobile games that are now impossible to find. "But where did you rank Metal Gear Acid," you demand. Click and find out!
- Star Fox celebrated its 25th anniversary last week, and in writing about it, Nadia had the nerve to call it possibly the best game in the series. I must say, I strongly disagree. After all, Star Fox 64 is possibly the best shoot 'em up ever made. It's no wonder that Star Fox has struggled to better Star Fox 64: how do you improve upon perfection?
- And finally, the servers for Demon's Souls officially close down this week after nearly a decade in operation. Demon's Souls has lasted far, far longer than anybody could have ever imagined, blowing past sales expectations and setting the stage for the successful franchise to come. Dark Souls is better known, but Demon's Souls' impact shouldn't be underestimated. It will go down in history as one of the most important action games ever made.
- The USgamer Podcast: The gang reviewed Metal Gear Survive in the latest episode of our flagship podcast. There was also lots of talk about Assassin's Creed's very cool Discovery Mode as well as speculation on the new Sonic movie. Subscribe here!
- Axe of the Blood God: What are some of the best RPG endings? Nadia and I have a lively discussion that touches on Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy X, Mass Effect 3, Planescape Torment, and plenty of others. We also have more to say about Kingdom Come! Subscribe here!
Look at this little tidbit hidden in Metal Gear Survive by a dev.“Kojima Productions Forever” and calling director a bastard and the producer cunning.Nice. pic.twitter.com/BW7bNlcDJi— Jed Whitaker is inside the industry (@Jed05) February 25, 2018