The Metro games as a series has become synonymous with close quarters combat in dark, dingy and damp underground tunnels set in a dystopian post-Armageddon Moscow. The first two games were very well-received for their gameplay experience which had a penchant for inducing anxiety in the most grounded of individuals. So does this new installment live up to its predecessors? Let’s find out.
The events of Metro Exodus begin about two years after that of Metro: Last Light. After the attack on D6, the protagonist Artyom gets fed up of the way things are in the post-apocalyptic world and is determined to seek out better pastures. He leaves the Spartan Order and hitches a ride on a train, named the Aurora, that’s heading towards what could be a bastion for survivors to congregate. We are moving away from fixed environment in the previous games.
The train being very similar to the narrow spaces of the underground tunnels, has you reminiscing about the older Metro titles. The train does stop every now and then and lot of the missions take place on these stops so most of the game feels familiar. That being said, there is no central protagonist in the game. Certainly, there are multiple factions that you will come across time and time again, but there aren’t any overlords or bosses that you’d have to pit your wits against. While this does weaken the story a bit, the gameplay more than makes up for this shortfall.
Since you are operating out of a mobile base in Metro Exodus, the mobile base being your train, certain necessary changes were made to the overall gameplay. The ammunition based currency system is no longer there and you don’t need a workbench for everything. Instead, you now have a backpack which allows you to perform weapon modifications on the fly and even craft certain items such as Medkits, filters, primitive ammo and throwables. The crafting system also allows you to craft clean weapons but for that you will need to find a workbench which are scattered throughout the region.
The game is more of a semi-open-world rather than a proper open-world game. You still need to complete objectives in a linear fashion and move the story along so don’t expect much fun in a true open-world RPG-esque fashion. The Aurora does halt quite frequently and that’s where your missions start off. Only a small fraction of the levels take place above ground since the entire landscape was irradiated. You will be spending a good amount of time navigating narrow spaces and sh!tting your pants given all the jumpscares they’ve peppered each level with. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t anything new to look forward to. Oh no, that’s not the case at all. Since you keep moving about in the Aurora, the environment keeps changing at different stages. You will come across frigid tundras, desolate deserts and lush greenery as you progress. Each mission in these areas will have a new element that keeps the game feeling fresh. If you happen to be underground, you’ll see the all too familiar mutated rat-like or human-like creatures. Whereas in lakes you’ll find massive and swift shrimp-like critters. Each critter has a unique attack style and you will need to change strategies to combat them.
While we do agree that there’s variety, we’d have preferred a little more. Heck, where are the butterflies or multi-limbed goldfish when you need them. While on the Aurora, you will have to deal with mobile enemy factions that seem right out of a Mad-Max movie. However, in most levels you are still dealing with small camps with soldiers that follow fixed paths. You can choose to take the stealthy approach and take out enemies one by one or your can go in like John Wick. We noticed how simple-minded the AI is. There were hardly any scenarios where we were overwhelmed by an onslaught of human enemies. We say human because the critters were always scary. Should the AI spot you, then they do converge on you and lay down some pressure. The AI at best seems like a meagre improvement over Metro: Last Light
Aside from the core of the game being vastly different, the other thing that makes Metro Exodus stand out is the visual fidelity. The 4A Engine really shows that most of the work into the game was focused on improving the overall graphics component and how your character interacts with the elements in the world. Everything from the way you open doors, frozen over manhole covers, to how you cock your weapons and craft stuff on the fly, all have very smooth and believable transitions that helps with the immersion. Your character’s hands seem so well done and the animation with each weapon is distinct. Whether you’re wearing gloves or waxing philosophy by the campfire, the level of detail into your arms doesn’t go unnoticed. Most games do not perform this level of hygiene and instead focus on what’s happening ahead.
Here’s the thing. That’s not it. Metro Exodus has a procedurally generation wearing system that shows up every now and then. Your weapons, over time will accrue dust and get jammed and if you’re in a dusty environment, then the effects are accelerated. Since you will be spending a considerable amount of time in dark environments, you can really see how the real-time ray-tracing works wonders for the game. To experience this, simply focus on your surroundings when you open fire rather than at the enemy. You’ll see how the lighting from each muzzle flash compounds with the other sources to add a level of realism that simply draws you in. We’ve used the Metro games all of our video game benchmarks for ages and you’ll see why. This is by far the only game with real-time ray-tracing that you would want an RTX card for.
Metro Exodus – The Verdict
Developer – 4A Games
Publisher – Deep Silver
Platforms – PS4, Xbox One, PC
Price – 3,999 / 2,900
Metro Exodus isn’t a big departure from the Metro series. 4A Games has taken quite a lot of effort in making Exodus seem different from the previous games without eliminating the core elements which are synonymous with the Metro franchise. Overall, the game makes for a smart transition towards an open-world setting which is a nice way of keeping the franchise from going stale. The whole last-minute decision to become an EPIC Store exclusive was an outright egregious move, especially since it was marketed as a Steam launch. Only pre-orders are being honored on Steam, which is a consolation but the whole thing just reeks anyway. Aside from that, Metro Exodus is a pretty good game that could even pass off as a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. game.
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