Metro Exodus

Developed by 4A Games, Metro Exodus is the third instalment in the Metro video game series based on Dmitry Glukhovsky’s novels. Following the events of Metro 2033 and Last Light, Artyom has left the Spartan Order and is convinced there must be life outside of the radiation-stricken city of Moscow. On one of his expeditions on the eradiated surface, a series of events unfold that lead him to discover that the Order has been aware of Human life around the whole globe, shielding their own people as a strategic play for safety. Upon discovering this he is forced to leave the Metro immediately else face certain execution. Artyom escapes with his wife, Anna, as well as members of his previous squad on a train outside of the metro.

Now faced with a brave new world to explore and find new shelter, the unfortunate truth is that the ravages of war have spread through out the land, setting up the post-apocalyptic tone for the remainder of the game. While some elements of previous Metro games are still present, such as the obvious fact it’s still a First-Person Shooter with monster jump-scares, the overall tone and feel of Metro Exodus is a complete separation from the previous two instalments. You can’t not directly compare Exodus to something like Fallout thanks to its mutated monsters in the semi open-world wastelands. While it’s like Fallout [3,4,5] in so many ways it almost feels like a more definitive version of what Fallout should have become with all its sequels. Rather than opting for an open-world with procedurally generated side quests as it’s main draw, Metro Exodus is mostly linear with set missions to play out. Even though there are side-quests to enjoy, each seem to have purpose, rather than being something to tick a corporate box of hours in playtime. Character dialog and progression is truly believable, and depending on your success or failure, one wrong decision can lead to the permanent death of your crew. 

Every mission has you scavenging for supplies and ammunition, perfectly reflecting how barren the world has become. No matter what difficulty you choose, of which there are five, you always have moments where you run out of ammo or aren’t completely equipped to take on a situation. Thankfully you can craft and upgrade your weapons and supplies by collecting and dismantling scraps in the wastelands. While some games make crafting a chore and too integral to the game, Metro Exodus seems to have found a great balance where depending on how well you play you could [potentially] ignore it all together or use it to your advantage.

The most anticipated change from the previous instalments of Metro is the changes to the 4A Engine, which has seen vast improvements to visual fidelity. Everything from character models, facial movement, monster animations and lighting are everything you’d hope to see in 2019. The main downfall to this is the only way to see it in its true form is when accompanying it with a Nvidia RTX Graphics Card, enabling Raytracing. While I did get to spend around an hour restarting the game with RTX ON [RTX 2070] at a local event, my system which I played the campaign on at home has a GTX 1080, which unfortunately can’t enable these lighting effects. It’s worth noting that even without Real Time Ray-Tracing enabled the game is honestly gorgeous. The lighting of Metro Exodus is probably the best I’ve seen in recent times, and I commend the studio for going through the effort of advancing their own Game Engine when they could instead opt for something like Unreal Engine, especially seeing as it’s a timed exclusive on the EPIC Games Store. [sorry Steam]

While choosing their own game engine is commendable, the unfortunate outcome of this is that I had quite a buggy experience at first. The first few days I had intermittent freezes, system wide crashes and eventually an error which completely prevented me from opening the game and needing a complete re-install. At times characters would phase shift straight through me, and I would often find myself stuck somewhere with my foot in the ground, forcing me to load from the previous checkpoint. While Day 1 patches and early access have become the staple for PC Gamers worldwide, I don’t feel it’s acceptable for this to go unnoticed on the launch of a retail final-build game. Thankfully this isn’t something that can’t be patched out, and it’s possible that I just had some combination of hardware that wasn’t properly compatible at the time. These issues also lead into the Photo mode of the game, which I found impressive, but barely usable due to screenshots not being saved. I had to opt for using Nvidia Experience to take the screenshots while in Photo Mode.

While these game bugs turned a 20+ hour game into a 30+ hour experience, I was somehow drawn to it every time I loaded it up and looked past these flaws due to it just being an otherwise great experience. From the memorable story, to the enjoyable game mechanics, monster battles and perfect sound design, I found myself enjoying Metro far more than any other generic open-world post-apocalyptic shooter to date. Every mission felt like I was playing a new game, with some being simple tasks such as collecting a teddy bear for a child, to others being more intense battles and rescue missions. Metro Exodus is a breath of fresh [irradiated] air in a time where childish shooters like Fortnite reign supreme. If you have the system to run it, and are looking for a mature story driven campaign, I wholeheartedly recommend you pick it up.