September saw the launch of the long-awaited sequel Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain. The lengthy path to the game's release was marred with difficulties, from the backlash surrounding the release of prequel Metal Gear Solid: Ground Zeroes to the deteriorating relationship between series creator Hideo Kojima and publisher Konami.
Still, for all the problems along the way, Metal Gear Solid V was worth the wait. The game is currently the highest rated game of 2015 on the PS4, standing above high profile releases such as The Witcher 3 and Bloodborne. It's Kojima's swan song, leaving the franchise he started in 1987 on an incredibly high note.
While there was plenty of content to keep players busy in the single player campaign, the multiplayer component did not launch with the game. Similar to the release of Grand Theft Auto Online, the multiplayer component shipped a month after launch, giving everyone a chance to familiarize themselves with the mechanics and gameplay before jumping into competitive game modes.
Metal Gear Online launched earlier today (Oct. 6th), first available in the U.K. and rolling out worldwide as the day progresses. Konami's official site is updating as servers go live in individual countries. Servers are currently live on all consoles throughout North America, though the PC servers won't be available until some time in 2016.
Players can choose between three classes of characters for the competitive modes -- the infiltrator, the enforcer, and the scout. Infiltrators are stealthy and most effective in close-quarters combat. Enforcers are the classic soldier, carrying heavy weapons and armor. Scouts are a balanced class, best suited for sniping and gathering intel.
Metal Gear Online features three modes:
- Bounty Hunter: Each team has a pool of lives that they share. Each time a player is killed, that life is deducted from the pool. However, the more players you kill, the larger the bounty is on your own head. If the enemy team manages to extract you using the Fulton, the bounty will be added to their pool, giving them increased resources.
- Comm Control: This mode is essentially a game of territory control, with the attacking team trying to take control of certain points and the enemy team trying to defend them.
- Cloak and Dagger: Cloak and Dagger has one team attacking and trying to capture intel while the other team tries to defend it. The catch is, the attacking team only has access to nonlethal weapons for close-quarter combat. The defenders have access to all weapons. Players have only one life, so the mode emphasizes stealth and teamwork in order to complete the objective.
Launching alongside the Metal Gear Online update is the new online Forward Operating Base -- an extension of the in-game Mother Base. Players have the option to build a FOB. after Episode 22 of the campaign and the extension will help gather resources. Players manage their resources and personnel, utilizing the extra space to increase their base's development capabilities.
With the update, players can now invade the FOB of another player. The invader can steal resources and kill the player's staff, leaving the base in ruin. Players will have the option to either return to their base to defend it or send their security team in to try to deal with the intruder. Konami has emphasized that the online aspect of the Forward Operating Base is a part of Metal Gear Solid V and isn't technically associated with Metal Gear Online.
The FOB sounds like the most interesting multiplayer aspect of Metal Gear, combining the infiltration game mechanics from the campaign with a persistent online world. However, the mode isn't without its faults. The largest and most egregious of these is Konami's microtransaction model for the Forward Operating Base.
As reported by Polygon, Konami is offering players FOB insurance. Players can spend real money on MB Coins and purchase protection for their base. Doing so will protect certain aspects of your base, reimbursing you for lost items and damage caused by the infiltrator. However, the insurance will not cover nuclear weapons, wounded staff or security officers killed protecting the base. The prices range from 50 MB coins for one day of insurance to 300 coins for two weeks. 100 MB coins can be purchased for $0.99 or they can be earned in-game.
It's a strange move for Konami to make, as it gives players the options of undermining the basic mechanics of the Forward Operating Base. The inherent risk is that somebody can infiltrate your base at any time. It gives player a reason to build their defenses and plan around such an event. It's a risk that Konami emphasizes while offering players a way to pay their way out. Plus, charging players real money to buy insurance for virtual items seems a bit over the top.
It should be noted that the multiplayer components of Metal Gear Solid V are all optional and the campaign can be enjoyed without microtransactions.
Metal Gear Online launches worldwide today, October 6th 2015.