It may have taken a month after the release of Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain for it to launch, and it may have taken a few days to iron out all the bugs and really get rolling, but Metal Gear Online: Tactical Team Operations is now fully functional and hitch free as of yesterday. I was struggling to even get into a match when the service first launched, but now the servers are are good to go and jumping to an online match is a smooth transition. Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain was already the greatest game even without the online multiplayer, but now the addition of Metal Gear Online: Tactical Team Operations has made an already perfect gaming package even better.
The character you take control of in Metal Gear Online is of the same appearance you design during the prologue chapter of The Phantom Pain. You’re then prompted to choose one of three character classes: Scout (sniper, long range), Enforcer (heavy arms, bombs), and Infiltrator (closed quarters, stealth). Right of the bat you’re thrown into a training camp that lets you fiddle around with weapons and get warmed up, after which you can jump right into one of the match types. Metal Gear Online also lets you assemble a party that allows you team up with the same people in each session, but you can jump in with random players just as easily. There are three match types in Metal Gear Online, namely Bounty Hunter, Cloak and Dagger, and COMM Control.
Bounty Hunter is an amusing take on the death match formula. While the emphasis is on killing enemy soldiers, the fulton feature from The Phantom Pain comes into play here as well, which means you can kidnap enemy soldiers using super charged air balloons (i.e. fultons). Cloak and Dagger is an interesting offence vs defence sort of deal, centred around the retrieval of the opposing team’s data disk. A fair bit of stealth comes into play here, and it is probably the more Metal Gear -esque match type on offer. Finally, COMM Control is a bit of a mix of the other two, and it involves capturing enemy bases. The match types, while not many, still offer fun variation in play styles and teamwork.
The gameplay approach in Metal Gear Online is very much tightly focused and fast paced, taking place in closed-quarters maps with careful layouts. The maps are small in size (you’ll even bump into invisible barriers), a far cry from the sprawling open world in The Phantom Pain, and so it’s a matter of learning the locations and using the layout to your advantage. Metal Gear Online is pretty much instant gratification action, and while the stealth sensibilities of Metal Gear remain intact, it’s executed at a much quicker pace during online battles.
Overall, Metal Gear Online: Tactical Team Operations almost feels like a standalone add-on to The Phantom Pain, and while it retains a lot of the weapons, gadgets, and even vehicles from The Phantom Pain, the core experience in Metal Gear Online is a far cry from the grandeur,sprawling map epic found in the single player. That being said, it is a fun, instant gratifying multiplayer experience that you can jump right into, and best of all it’s intensely competitive and so you’ll be spending time mastering the fine intricacies, just as you would for other competitive multiplayer games. Sometimes Metal Gear Online: Tactical Team Operations feels like Metal Gear meets Call of Duty meets Counter Strike, but the essence of Metal Gear is strong enough to make it stand out. As a free add-on to the already impressive package that is The Phantom Pain, you can’t really fault it too much, especially now that it performs smoothly with an active community to keep it going.