clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Metal Gear Survive guide: 10 tips for your first 10 hours

How not to starve or get eaten by zombies

Ryan Gilliam (he/him) has worked at Polygon for nearly seven years. He primarily spends his time writing guides for massively popular games like Diablo 4 & Destiny 2.

Metal Gear Survive is a game full of difficult decisions. When you first start out, you’re going to be hungry, thirsty and dying. But don’t panic. There are ways to survive this wasteland. In this guide, we’ll teach you 10 things to keep you alive in the early game of Metal Gear Survive.

Stay healthy

Hunger and thirst meters are key to the survival game genre, and Metal Gear Survive is no exception. You’ll be asked to maintain your character’s body from the first moments. If you want to keep your health and stamina at max capacity, you’re going to need food and water.

Stamps denote water, carnivores, herbivores and a dangerous base

Food is fairly easy to come by. You can hunt all kinds of animals around the world. There are herbivores like sheep and goats (which won’t put up a fight) as well as carnivores like jackals and wolves (who’ll attack you if you attack them). Many of the early side missions will point you in the direction of food sources. Once you’re done hunting them, use the stamp feature on the map to mark the location. The animals will respawn there, giving you an endless supply of food.Take the meat back to your camp and cook it for maximum efficiency.

Water, on the other hand, is much harder to come by in the first several hours. While you can (and should) grab water from every pond and sink you come by, it’ll be dirty. This means that, while your water supply is effectively limitless, drinking dirty water is dangerous. It can make you sick, causing you to randomly double over and puke. It also limits stamina and health regeneration.

You’ll probably need to drink dirty water at some point in the early game. All you can really do is hope it doesn’t make you sick before you get the tools you need to purify it. (It seems to us that drinking lots of dirty water back-to-back increases the risk of getting sick.) If you do get sick, you can rest in a tent or take pills randomly found in the world to repair your stomach. Luckily, you can find clean water out in the world, which leads us to our next tip.

Pick up everything

Items are everywhere in Metal Gear Survive. If the plant glows or if the water sparkles, you can pick it up and carry it with you. You can even break down some of the boxes and oil drums into crafting parts.

This is the kind of game where you have to build almost everything yourself. It’s rare for Metal Gear Survive to just give you a piece of gear to use. Since you’ll be crafting so much, you need lots of materials. Some of these are rare, but you can build most of the early game items using materials you run into all the time. You’ll be far less likely to run out of arrows, bullets and other items if you pick everything up along the way.

Don’t fight — run!

There are lots and lots of enemies trying to kill you in Metal Gear Survive. While killing them back grants you some Kuban energy, going hard on the zombies isn’t always the smartest course. When you first start the game, you’re low on resources and gear. This makes killing enemies much tougher.

Keep in mind that you can and should run from big packs of enemies early on in the game. You’ll have plenty of chances to be a hero as you get more gear. But when you’re just starting off, leave the zombie alone so you can live to fight another day.

Take enemies one at a time

Before you get access to automatic weapons in Metal Gear Survive, your ability to kill large packs of zombies is fairly limited. Unless you have a molotov cocktail, you should deal with your foes one at a time or not at all.

If all you have is a spear or bow, getting swarmed by zombies could lead to death. Try and engage enemies slowly, taking them one-on-one until your gear gets a little better.

Carry fences with you wherever you go

You can easily manipulate enemies by building a fence. If you can’t manage to separate your enemies and give yourself some breathing room, you’re going to get overwhelmed. Luckily, you have plenty of ways to deal with this problem.

Metal Gear Survive is full of natural choke points. After you run through narrow passageways, you can build a fence behind you. The zombies will attack the fence. While they whale on your creation, you can poke them with spears or shoot them with arrows.

Don’t forget to repair gear

Speaking of spears, yours will be your lifeblood when you first start the game. If you don’t take good care of your tools, they’ll degrade and become less powerful. Every time you return to camp (which should be after every mission) be sure to visit a crafting table and repair your weapons.

Weapons with low quality deal less damage. Making sure your weapons are ready for the next fight can and will save your life.

Don’t stay out too long

Your items should only break if you’re fighting a lot of enemies without ever coming home. However, repairing items isn’t the only reason you want to come back to base. You need your campsite to cook and your supply box to offload some of your items. You risk running out of food and water if you stay out too long. Additionally, each item you pick up in the world has a weight value. If you get weighed down with too much stuff, you won’t be able to sprint. Return home between each mission, and you should have no problems with food or space.

Remember, you can pause

Metal Gear Survive is all about keeping those meters up, but sometimes you need to get a drink in the real world or do something around the house. To keep your meters from dropping while you’re AFK, pull up the systems menu to pause the game (which is at bottom left of the touchpad on PlayStation 4, the menu button on Xbox One and the Esc. key on PC).


Systems is different from the iDroid menu and has options like “Return to Base Camp” and “Restart from Last Save.” The in game clock will stop while in this menu. Pause so you can deal with real life without worrying about your Diamond Dog.

Walk toward the lights

Contrary to everything you’ve ever heard, you actually want to walk toward the bright lights in Metal Gear Survive. When you’re in the dust zones, you’ll lose some map functions. This makes orienting yourself really difficult through the smoke. But you can look into the sky and find your salvation.

The white lights are usually chests containing supplies and schematics. The green lights are your bases and teleporters. If you get lost wondering around, running out of oxygen, look up and follow the light.

Focus on the story missions

At the start of the game, you’ll have very limited crafting options. To expand your base and your items, you need to complete story missions. Getting dropped into this big new world can be exciting and anxiety inducing. But rather than exploring or looking for food, just play through the story for a while. Metal Gear Survive will open up much more once you recruit the nurse.

Accept or turn in your orders

There are new missions for you to pick up from Vigil AT-9 every day and every week. Completing them will net you extra supplies and other rewards.

Walk up to your computer pod at home base and select the “Accept Order/Report Completion” tab on the menu. The tasks are usually things you’re going to do anyway, like crafting a bow or killing a set number of zombies. Make sure you pick these up before a mission and refresh them every day.

Sign up for the newsletter Sign up for Patch Notes

A weekly roundup of the best things from Polygon