- Game: Metro Exodus
- Consoles: PS4, PC, Xbox One (Review on Xbox One X)
- Publisher: Deep Silver
- Developer: 2A Games
- (A review copy of Metro Exodus was supplied by the publisher.)
As I lay on the floor, gasping for air I wondered where it all went wrong. Everything was going great until a mob of mutated “humanimals” found me stalking through the bushes and decided I would make a nice meal. Their ferociousness was a wake-up call for what I should expect during my trek across Russia’s irradiated hellscape.
Nowhere is truly safe in the world of Metro Exodus. If the mutated monstrosities roaming the landscape or clans of humans who have thrown morality to the wind don’t get you, then the very air will. Almost everything you touch has been poisoned in some way by this nuclear-induced apocalypse. Whether physically or mentally, the end of the world has affected everything and it’s your mission to travel across Russia with only a few allies, some bullets, and a dream.
Set two years after the events of Metro: Last Light, Exodus places players in the dirt covered shoes of series protagonist Artyom. A special forces soldier, Artyom and his wife Ana live in a world under the belief that only the citizens of Moscow survived the end of the world. However, this assumption is shattered early on when a massive steam train comes roaring through the city. One thing leads to another and eventually, Artyom, Ana, and a crew of Spartan Rangers finds themselves on a steam locomotive dubbed the Aurora.
Like the previous entries in this franchise, Metro Exodus pushes a character-driven story that largely revolves around Artyom and his relationships with the other crew members. Most of the supernatural aspects have been wisely shoved to the background allowing for a less confusing and more streamlined plot. This makes Exodus easier to enjoy and more accessible for those unfamiliar with this series’ former entries.
Yet, if you are a long time fan you might find some of the story beats relatively bland. Despite the brilliant writing and performances, one can only watch Artyom and company act dumbfounded at how evil other people are. It felt like every post-chapter journal entry featured Artyom rambling on about how he can’t believe how man is the real monster. This becomes even more frustrating given he has encountered plenty of terrible people in the previous games. If it wasn’t for the strong character moments, Metro Exodus’ story would collapse under its own, overly familiar weight.
You take this roughly 40-hour journey through Russia which is broken up into four distinct acts. Each section sees the crew of the Aurora arrive in a new location, two of which are mini-open worlds that can be freely explored. The remaining two offer a far more linear experience, but they are engaging and open enough to warrant repeat playthroughs. All of the acts are tied to a corresponding season, which not only influences the weather but gives a nice visual sense of progression.
These mini-open worlds serve as the backbone for Metro Exodus’ exploration and choice-driven gameplay. Once players are let off their leash, they are free to roam and visit any location on their map, regardless of what gear they possess. Each of the four major locations proposes unique and varied challenges for Artyom to overcome. Whether it’s rolling sandstorms that obscure vision in The Caspian Sea or the multitude of rivers around The Volga, Metro Exodus consistently finds a way to throw a wrench in your gears.
It’s up to the player to decide if they are prepared enough to tackle whatever challenges await them in the wilds. Metro Exodus offers a suite of new and returning mutants that all sport unique abilities that players will need to assess and exploit. Large crustaceans are heavily armored but are extremely weak to any form of head trauma. Swarms of giant spiders are extremely deadly up close but can be killed by shining your flashlight on them.
Most enemies are quite deadly and can easily kill you within a few hits if you’re on the Normal difficulty. Thankfully, you don’t always have to battle these beasts, as stealth remains a very viable option. Given how scarce ammo and resources are, sometimes just sneaking past a pack of mutants is better than risking it all in a gun battle. A lot of this plays into the day and night cycle that Metro Exodus expertly weaves into the gameplay.
For those looking to only explore when the sun is out, expect stealth to be exceptionally difficult. This also means more human enemies will be out patrolling their turf and there’s a good chance they will see you coming. Inversely, making your way through the world at night means guards will be asleep, but more mutants are prowling about. Understanding what time of day to strike an enemy encampment or raid a mutant-infested building is critical to your success.
Luckily Artyom has a wide variety of weapons and tools at his disposal. While the core arsenal consists of the typical assault rifles, pistols, and SMGs, Metro Exodus’ weapon upgrade system adds a remarkable layer of depth. As you play through the game, Artyom will encounter a number of enemies with different weapon modifications that you can disassemble and take. When out in the field Artyom can break apart and modify his guns on the fly without any repercussions.
The changes that can be made to weapons is rather robust, allowing players the ability to turn a revolver into a powerful, long-range rifle. Since the system is incredibly streamlined, this allows users to quickly assemble any type of gun they need on the fly. It’s a smart and polished system that pushes experimentation without breaking the game entirely. Since Artyom can only carry three weapons (two primaries and one specialized), picking what type of gun is still important.
You’ll also have to clean your weapons of dirt and grime unless you enjoy using a weapon that constantly jams. Developer 4A Games has done a remarkable job with the visuals and Metro Exodus may easily be one of the best looking games in years. From the shine of wet mud to the individual drops of water you have to wipe off Artyom’s gas mask, the level of detail on display is fantastic. Monsters are equal parts fascinating and horrific to look at, which is complemented nicely by the terrific sound design.
The only major blemish has been the various bugs and weird A.I. glitches I experienced. No less than six times has my game frozen up, forcing me to completely restart the software. Keep in mind this was after the February hotfix that went out alongside review copies. There were also a number of bugs such as items vanishing and enemies getting caught on the terrain. It wasn’t enough to truly sour my experience, but it certainly broke my immersion.
Metro Exodus Takeaways
Metro Exodus is a master class in smart game design blending into a believable world. Moment to moment gameplay is rewarding and the weapon upgrade system is a stroke of genius. Even with occasional bugs and overly familiar story, Exodus is a highly enjoyable singleplayer experience. Whether you’re a series veteran or brand new to the Metro franchise this is worth checking out.