Metal Gear Online PS4 Review

Fans of Metal Gear Online have been waiting a very long time to get back into something comparable to what came bundled with Guns of the Patriots, and this renewed concept of that original format has arrived. For the sake of consistency, I’ll be forthcoming by saying that I favored playing as an Infiltrator, and this reflects on my examples along the way.

metal gear online stealth

The currency in Metal Gear Online is GP, or Gear Points, which are earned for competing online and then turned into gear and weapons, with an increasing amount of equipment available as levels are unlocked. Loadouts in MGO also include perks specific to each of the three classes, but even further still is the ability to customize how each person wishes to play within the boundaries of each class. For instance, as an Infiltrator, I’m able to focus my perks on things like bonuses while in stealth, or pick ones better suited for using Fulton — I chose the latter, because the payout for successful Fultons is invaluable, but more on that later. There are only four perk slots available, and as players progress their perks through play, each leveled perk requires one more slot than the previous level, all starting at one. This means that priorities must be made along the way, but it also means that players can either choose to specialize with one big perk or specialize with two, three, or four different lower-level perks.

The ultimate charm behind Metal Gear Online is that you can play it like you play Phantom Pain, albeit you have to think less and react more due to real players being your enemies. Since Sons of Liberty, I’ve chosen to play with passivity in mind. So, I have taken to MGO in that light, by knocking out my opponents and dealing with them without killing them. In fact, it’s almost necessary to have someone with stun grenades, because it makes for fantastic crowd control in concentrated groups. This flexibility marries well with aggressive play from everyone else running and gunning their way to victory, allowing some strategy to a chaotic battlefield. However, it’s more than frustrating when fellow team members kill your knocked out enemy while trying to execute a Fulton Recovery; this is another example of why the online scene isn’t favorable for the stealth concept behind Metal Gear.

The maps themselves are stellar, featuring likenesses to key locations from the core game in ways that favor two teams of six. What makes these maps even better is that each can be played at both day and night, making each match a little different than the next, even if they were played on the same map. Better still is how open these maps are. Even with turrets and Walker Gears, players can get around them and take them down from blind spots and higher ground.

metal gear online map

There are only three game modes— Bounty Hunter, Comm, and Cloak and Dagger—and the only one that “convinces” the players to play like the game intended is Cloak and Dagger. In the other two, which are Team Deathmatch and Control respectively, players play as expected in a multiplayer match: blind trigger-happy zealotry with the occasional MGS die-hard who finds ways to make stealth work (the ability to stealth is still there, but, of course, almost noone uses it). One balancing act that MGO performs revolves around the use of Tickets. One ticket reflects one kill, and each team has 30 tickets. When a player kills an enemy, he or she has a bounty attached automatically, and these bounties add up with the more consecutive kills performed before dying. If someone with a high bounty on his or her head is fultoned from the field, then the opposing team earns those bounties back as tickets, evening the score in most cases. So, if someone has eight bounties, then the opponents can earn eight tickets back when he or she is fultoned from the field. Since this has potential for evening the score, it’s even more enraging when a teammate runs up and kills an opponent who’s being fultoned, resulting in a loss of ticket accreditation.

Cloak and Dagger is the one mode that puts players in a scenario stapled to the series. One side infiltrates with non-lethal weapons in order to take an objective while the other team defends with lethal weapons. It doesn’t always work, because a game mode like this is dependent on new players knowing how to take on a task like this against legitimate players, which leaves a sour taste on the final product that is supposed to be Metal Gear.

mgo ps4

Freeplay is an interesting concept, because it acts as a live testing ground to customize players and test out new equipment. Much like Mother Base, this jungle setting has targets for practicing and locales to traverse for the sake of breaking in that new gun or trying on that outfit. Get used to seeing this place, though, because the search time for finding game sessions tends to be long if the game sessions stay there long enough to join in the first place.

Parties are one big complication in MGO. Much like with Killzone: Shadow Fall, parties are based on who’s in your Party Chat, and everyone involved follows the host. This means that one of the players must be the host of the call AND playing MGO. While this sounds like a redundant statement, I came across problems with this set-up. Someone playing the Star Wars Battlefront beta hosted the chat while I played with another person in the chat. While the in-game menu displayed us in the same party, we couldn’t join the same game since neither of us were hosting the chat. So, we had to reestablish the chat so the game would allow us to play together.


The server problems break down the core concept early on. Metal Gear Online, from what I can tell from numerous problems I’ve experienced since release last Tuesday, lacks dedicated servers, meaning that players are the hosts of each game, leaving eleven other players at the whim and capability of one person’s internet connection in order to play. This more often than not eliminates the ability to play with stealth outside of spamming stun grenades, since enemy players glitch around while they’re shooting barrages of bullets. This also means that the team with the host is more than favored to win, from the experiences I had with the game, with an advantage that old Gears of War gamers used to call “Host Shotty.”

metal gear

Host Shotty can be explained something like this: Since the host is in charge of the connection, he or she maintains a relative sort of lag-free performance, meaning that other players have to respond to what the host is doing. This allows for an advantage of precious half seconds where the host can get the first blows or bullets in on opponents. Thus, an imbalance is born, creating an almost inherent need to use automatic guns or wide-range explosives in order to succeed.

Stealth becomes cumbersome as well, because being CQC’ed often happens way before the enemy player appears on the screen. There were plenty of times I slammed into the ground before the enemy appeared over my body, and these particular players I reference weren’t using their stealth camouflage either. One exchange stood out to me: I knocked out an enemy with darts after hitting her with three in a row, but the last one I had to land after she jumped over a fence. With this in mind, she should have fallen on the same side where I took her down, but she ended up glitching back over the fence to where she was BEFORE she jumped the fence, which was well over five seconds before. To top it off, if the host leaves, the entire session is forfeited, sending everyone back to their Freeplay setup, and in order to get back into a match after that, players have to queue back up and wait for a game to appear. To add to the frustrations, all points and experience earned are lost if the host decides to leave early. These server issues cannot be blamed only on the player’s connection, however, because it wasn’t the players who designed this game this way.

Still, there’s a lot here to take in, and even with the beginning equipment, players can take to the ranks and compete. Even so, good luck finding someone who just wants to use a dart gun after using a stealth SMG knockout gun for over 100 hours in single player and a basic AK after using much bigger and better guns in the single player. For now, know what to expect before going in. When the servers cooperate and the host has a great connection, the entire experience is magical, channeling the heart and soul of what made MGO great with Guns of the Patriots but without the terrible backdoor account setup. Classes are palpable and customizable, the maps are immaculate, and the core concepts of the MGO are exactly what made The Phantom Pain great. The underlying negative across the board is how the servers have been made, which degrades these core concepts more often than not. With better server delegation, dedicated servers, and appropriate host management, Metal Gear Online has the possibility of becoming something much greater than it could be, but it has a long way to go before it’s good enough to be an e-sport.

Check out the Metal Gear Solid 5 review.



The Final Word

The internet connection of the host is the deciding factor in how good the experience is in Metal Gear Online. Even with a stellar multiplayer on paper, the limitations enacted by the lack of dedicated servers keep this from being what it could and should be.