metal-gear-online-1 Konami

The original Metal Gear Online was a quirky, exploit-riddled, nonetheless fascinating experience. It offered gazillions of covert, optionally nonlethal ways to skirmish with other players across a battery of maps and stealth-flavored mission templates. But it never really caught on, leading publisher Konami to scotch the endeavor on June 12, 2012, two years to the day after it launched alongside Metal Gear Solid 4.

Now it’s coming back, the name unchanged, without sequel numbers or outlandish post-colon appellations. Just Metal Gear Online, hey how’s it going, or in series parlance, “Kept you waiting, huh?”

The video below offers a fresh-from-the-Tokyo-Game-Show guided tour of the game’s elaborate play styles and modes. Those of you still working through Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain—if you aren’t, you’ll need to be to download Metal Gear Online free on PlayStation 4 or Xbox One when it arrives October 6—probably wondered why they created an avatar at the story’s outset.

No spoilers here, but the avatar also is for Metal Gear Online, originally slated to ship in tandem with The Phantom Pain, then knocked back a month on consoles and until January for the PC version.

Where original Metal Gear Online tossed you into 16-player sneak-scrums, but without character classes, new Metal Gear Online divides combat roles three ways: enforcers (tough to kill, wielding heavy weapons), scouts (balanced combat or support, sniping-focused), or infiltrators (stealth-focused, grabbing close-range intel).

It looks like the organic extrapolation of Phantom Pain‘s concepts to competitive multiplayer I’d hoped it might be. Character controls are identical to the campaign’s, flattening the acclimation curve, and most of the play concepts dovetail with stuff practiced for dozens of hours in the story.

Interrogating enemies as an infiltrator, for instance, lets you extract locational info about opposing team member (as with enemy sentries in the campaign). Scouts are critical at distances, able to mark enemies for shared visibility by allied players. And yes, if you’d rather kidnap than kill, you can “Fulton” enemies out of Dodge (the game’s tongue-in-cheek quick-extraction system) with a kneel, clip-on balloon and chuckling bon voyage.

metal-gear-online-2 Konami

I’m pretty sure the quasi-historical Battlefield series was first to use a ticket scoring system (or at least to call it that). In those games, each side’s actions fed a generalized “ticket” index that determined who’d won once the clock ran out. In Metal Gear Online, it works more or less the same, only the ticket index represents how many actions perpetrated by the opposing team that yours can withstand.

Each individual success, say a kill or enemy extraction, thus subtracts a ticket from the other side’s ticket counter. And wrinkles in different play modes introduce clever ways to replenish a dwindling ticket score, like taking out an enemy who’s killed a bunch of your teammates (and who thus has a high “bounty” score), which then adds his bounty to your ticket tally (potentially swinging the match). Whichever side drops to zero first, loses.

The rest is better shown than told, including the thing about the plush puppy and the sniper and the … well, you really need to see for yourself in the 11-minute demonstration above.

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Why I Can’t Wait to Play Metal Gear Online