Absence doesn’t just make the heart grow fonder, it makes it more expectant. The longer you wait, the less likely it is that whatever it is you’re waiting for can ever live up to your lofty expectations. So it is with Metal Gear Online (MGO), the standalone multiplayer component of the otherwise stunning Metal Gear Solid V (MGSV). Simply put: there’s nothing wrong with MGO‘s ideas, but there’s nothing special about them either. Given just how long we’ve had to wait for it to arrive, and just how good the single-player is, this is highly disappointing.
Most damning is that you can see why it’s disappointing before you’ve even caught sight or sound of a rival player. The Metal Gear series might be about sneaking and subtle infiltration, but when those mechanics are reformatted for an online environment, the simple act of passing through the matchmaking door becomes an enormous hurdle.
This being 2015, it’s shocking to see a modern game fail to provide a stable matchmaking and lobby system. More often than not my attempts to join matches—using both the auto-matchmaking system and manually scanning for suitable lobbies—failed. The message “You have been disconnected from session” is now ingrained, permanently and unwelcomingly, into my brain. Without exaggeration, this happens three or four times in succession before a match is actually found. If you’re feeling charitable you might be able to accept such problems on Day One as various creases are ironed out, but MGO has been in the wild for over a week now on console, and the problem is still as common now as it was on release day.