Metro Exodus has you being shot at on trains. It has you fighting on trains. It has you attempting to be stealthy while being bombarded with mutated creatures on train tracks in near total darkness while battling for oxygen. This is still a significantly more pleasant experience than getting on a f*cking Scotrail train from Edinburgh to Glasgow. Those trains are full of some of the vilest and most disgusting creatures known to man and being shot at would probably make the trip slightly more comfortable. Essentially what I’m saying here is that the Scottish railway service is god awful and life in a nuclear wasteland would not only be much more pleasant but there would still manage to be fewer delays. Too long didn’t read? Metro Exodus > Scotrail.
Metro Exodus is, of course, the third game in the Metro series which is based on a series of books by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom, a total idealist living in a colony in the Russian underground with his wife and comrades. As this is a sequel there are plenty of returning characters such as fan favorite Colonel Miller. 4A games have done a fantastic job from the story this time around. From the moment early on where Artyom is gravely injured the intensity and pace is incredibly high. You will always feel under pressure and at risk in ways that add extra dimensions to the gameplay. The twists are constant as well. More importantly, they work. There are some shocking revelations within the first hour alone that will really hook both new and returning players. When the morality system and player choice comes into play it feels genuinely meaningful and both endings are diverse enough to warrant playing through twice to see. Another thing that warrants multiple playthroughs is the difficulty levels. 4A has done a fantastic job here. There’s an option for those wanting to experience the story. There’s an ultra hardcore survival horror option. There really is something for everyone on offer.
At its core, this is a survival horror first-person shooter. Resources are scarce and stealth is vital. You’ll have to not only choose your paths and battles but choose your battles within those. You might infiltrate camp and end up in a huge firefight but perhaps the best option is simply to barrel through? There is a lot of player agency here in terms of minute to minute decision making as well as risk/reward. If you take a lot of risks early on you’ll be well stocked by the second half of the story. If you try to be too quiet and safe early on you could fight the challenge is much harder to overcome without plentiful supplies. The shining star is the newest addition to the franchise, the open area. There is so much to explore and it is all incredibly interesting. Areas will subtly tease you in with visual cues. You’ll find yourself wondering ‘what could be in this house?’ only to follow that up with ‘wow it’s 4 am and I’m up for work soon.’ These open world sections are just that engaging. They’re a wonderful blend of beautiful and functional.
There are many nuances to the gameplay in Metro, many of which carry over from early in the series. This includes things like wiping/patching your gas mask, changing your oxygen filter and making good use of your lighting options. Knowing when to use your lighter and when to approach in the dark can be the difference between life and death this time around, especially against some of the more aggressive creatures that you’ll face. Human enemies are predictable and you’ll take them down with ease. A brutal pack of wolves in pursuit though? You have no chance. There is a full crafting system as well as workbenches which you’ll use to upgrade and enhance your firepower. Constantly having to prepare for each encounter will keep you on your toes and being able to craft on the go really adds an excellent layer of strategy to an already neat package.
Metro Exodus is beautiful. I played on an Xbox One X and was stunned at the number of times I would stop just to enjoy a vista. I was stunned at how many times I would look at the side of a train or an object in a house and just think ‘Wow’. The game is simply breathtaking. Graphics are never make or break in my opinion but in Metro, they really add an additional layer of immersion to the world that you’re exploring. The enemies all look and behave brilliantly, effects like fire are stunning to see in real time. The sound is another highlight. It really adds to the atmosphere of a hopeless nuclear wasteland. Due to the Russian accents, there was a ton of opportunity for voice acting to fumble into the cheesy category but it never does. It is consistent throughout and never distracts you from the game even if there is some awkward or silly dialogue.
Metro Exodus is a true next-generation game. I know we’re five years into the current generation, but Metro plays and looks like it truly belongs in ways that other games just don’t. The gameplay has advanced leaps and bounds not just from the last installments but from FPS and survival horror games in general. The story is engaging and the production value is incredible. If you’re a fan of story-driven games in any form (who isn’t?) Metro Exodus should be top of your gaming priorities.