As I write, countless Big Bosses are sneaking or blasting their way though Soviet military bases in the fantastic Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain. Those skills will come in handy next month when Metal Gear Online goes live as a free update for anyone who owns MGSV on October 6 for consoles, with the PC version following in January 2016. Like GTA Online, Metal Gear Online refashions the mechanics of a single player game into a variety of competitive, online modes. The first of these was revealed recently in a presentation at the Tokyo Game Show 2015.
Players can use the avatar that they created at the beginning of the game, or create new characters using the same robust creation tool. Next, they can choose one of three classes, each of which focuses on different areas of The Boss’s wide range of tools and tactics. The classes are:
Infiltrator: A sneaky assassin packing stealth camo, perfect for players who prefer to have their target knocked out from behind and extracted before they know what hit them.
Enforcer: Shields, big guns, and the stamina to absorb some punishment, this is the class for players that like to jump right in to the action.
Scout: The locations of opponents marked via binoculars are shared between teammates, so having players that can hang back and scope out the scene from a good vantage point can give you a tactical edge, especially when they also have a sniper rifle.
There are also unique playable characters from the game, who have special abilities, such as Big Boss’s rocket arm, or Revolver Ocelot dual wielding his eponymous gun and shooting opponents in cover by ricocheting off of elements of the environment. It’s not clear whether you will be able to play as these characters freely, or if they will only be available in particular modes or are otherwise restricted.
The complementary nature of each class’s skill sets should encourage good teamwork. This is further encouraged with a buddy system, where two players on the same team can form a special bond by saluting one another, sharing information such as the locations of enemies that your buddy is aiming at. There are apparently more actions possible as your camaraderie increases. Buddies can be changed around at any time during the match. It’s a system that encouraging collaboration in nested cells within the team.
The demonstrated gameplay mode is called Bounty Hunter. At first blush it’s a relatively standard death match format, with two teams competing to get the most kills or extractions. Both teams start with an equal number of tickets. Every time you kill or extract an enemy, the enemy’s team loses one. The first team to zero, or with the lower count at the time limit, loses. The twist is that each player has a bounty value, displayed over their head for everyone to see. This goes up for every opponent they take down, so opponents with high bounties have taken down a lot of your teammates. If you Fulton extract them rather than killing them, their bounty value is added to your team’s ticket total, allowing for dramatic, last-minute point swings that reward tactical play.
MGSV‘s current online components, where players raid one another’s Mother Bases for staff and supplies, is a somewhat questionable nuisance, hampered by server issues in the first few weeks of the game’s launch. This sounds like it could be a lot of fun, however. MGSV‘s mechanics are beautifully refined, and the game effectively rewards stealth, which is usually relegated to a very secondary feature of most competitive online games, with the result that Metal Gear Online has the promise of being very interesting, if well executed.