|Publisher||Deep Silver, Koch Media|
|Metro Exodus Release Date||Feb 15, 2019|
|Genre||First Person Shooter|
Going through catacombs covered with spider web while wearing a gas mask and hearing clicks of a dosimeter under the ground is a nightmare for a usual human but happiness for gamers who love post-apocalypse. After watching the first Metro Exodus trailer, fans of this game had some other horror dream. What if there is nothing left of their favorite setting in a new game? Developers made a tough decision to move the action to the surface and away from Moscow, apart from that peaceful life of metro stations, into a wild and unknown post-nuclear Russia.
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Let’s review the result of their efforts and all other changes of Metro Exodus: the first real AAA blockbuster by 4A Games studio.
An Epic Journey
The artwork by 4A Games became the loudest “exclusive” for the Epic Games Store. There’s no sense to go in for polemics about the game quitting Steam for a year: that’s business. We won’t count someone else’s money. Only time can show if the decision of Koch Media publishing bosses was right. But it is worth to tell you about some features of the new Epic Games platform.
At the moment, EGS is just a “skin” with only two useful functions: downloading and auto-update. I downloaded the Metro: Exodus client (50 gigabytes of data) with no problem, and then I could launch the game not through the EGS Launcher but directly. And the Internet connection was not needed.
Many elementary comfortable features like cloud storages, forums, user screenshot libraries, and even game uptime counters are unavailable yet. The only way to find out the whole walkthrough of the Metro Exodus took me 20 hours was to record my gameplay. Nevertheless, they added game achievements on the 14th of February with no delays. It looks like EGS services are being developed.
The Silent Film Continues
In the final part of the previous Metro Last Light game, The Dark Ones saved the stable protagonist of the series from death. This was the ending taken as the canonic one for the Metro 2035 novel by Dmitri Glukhovski. The order recovers after the battle in the D6 bunker, Colonel Miller gets metal legs, and Artyom starts dreaming about living on the surface. He frequently goes out of his home Metro station hoping to catch a radio signal from survivors somewhere in other settlements.
Then, another raid happens… and after a chain of events, our silent hero together with his wife Anna and a squad of “Spartans” leave to search their new home. And the exodus begins.
End of Spoilers.
It is pleasant that a new story is all about survival, relations between people, routine and culture of human communities living in a post-nuclear world. It is less satisfying that crucial plot twists are visible literally from the distance of thousands of kilometers and failing to cause emotions. Not the wish to know the final of the story makes the player go through the game, but the setting itself with new beautiful places and their inhabitants. It is also sad that Artyom, the main hero, still has his voice only on loading screens. That’s a subjective bias, but as for me, it is difficult to feel sympathy about a character that doesn’t show personality and can’t react to events or environment.
While playing all Metro games, you can watch the interiors of stations and admire the developers’ attention to detail: they did not only create decorations but tried to make the environment live. Authors used that approach in Metro Exodus, too: the game became larger, broader and bigger but didn’t lose the extremely high level of environmental details.
Aurora, the train “Spartans” used for their exodus journey, is especially good. While traveling between destination points, you can talk to your teammates as long as you want (dialogues may last up to 30 minutes and maybe more), or smoke a cigarette while watching trees and small village houses passing by.
As the trip goes on, the interiors change as well. Here one of your fighters has his wedding, and the world around is in blossom, guitars play, tasty food is on the table. But then one of the crew members gets ill, and the picture mood changes: colors get duller and grayer, and tens of medicine bottles replace books on the table.
Metro Exodus: Cloudless Atlas
The raid through the whole Russia takes heroes a year of their lives, and developers created four prominent locations: one for each season. Each one of Metro Exodus has a different landscape, fauna, and story. On the frozen Volga banks, “Spartans” will meet the religious community worshipping a huge some and refusing to use any technologies. In taiga, they’ll encounter former children from the camp of pioneers who grew up and discovered the world in the way their teacher told them to. Learning the lifestyle of those groups and finding out how they survived after the last war is even more interesting than discovering the story itself.
Metro Exodus does not bore due to frequent changes in the environment. As only you get tired to hide from mutants in wet swamps, the game throws you into dusty decorations of Mad Max where tough humans are your most frequent enemies. A disappointing fact: “winter” and “spring” take almost two-thirds of the Metro Exodus timeline, and other sections seem too short comparing them to previous seasons. I can’t stop thinking that they made “autumn” in a rush: the area is not only terribly linear but the less impressive and memorable of all. Metro Exodus also lacks a good epilogue summarizing all Artyom’s adventures.
Is Metro Exodus Open World?
Formally, there is no open world in Metro Exodus, but the player gets enough freedom to call this game non-linear. There are big maps with a lot of interesting points. You don’t visit all of them during the main story quests; free exploration is a part of Metro Exodus gameplay as well. But when the time comes, “Spartans” leave the area and it is impossible to return to the previous game zone.
Allies give quests from time to time: bring a toy back to a girl, take the guitar from bandits, kick some slave merchants to show them who the boss is, etc. Sometimes, you find information touching hidden supplies through saving prisoners and listening to enemy radio communications. It is useful to check houses and containers in Metro Exodus, too. At any place, the player can find boxes with treasures… or caves full of hungry mutants.
Still, exploration is a voluntary process in Metro Exodus, and the “quality” of ending scenes does not depend on you checking every corner. Yes, this game offers two finals again, but getting the “good” one is much simpler than in previous parts of the franchise. If you thought to see something like the Banner Saga here (the fate of teammates there could change due to player’s decisions), then I’ll disappoint you at once. In Metro Exodus, it is enough to be merciful to enemies who give up and to solve conflicts with peace when there are choices. This doesn’t play for bandits and other bad guys: you can slay them as much as you want, so there will be a lot of shooting.
Metro Exodus: Economies and Crafting
Moscow underground inhabitants used special ammo instead of money, but this system died: there are no merchants in Metro Exodus. You’ve got to find or craft useful things yourself. In some ways, the new Metro is a “homeless guy simulator”: the player should put everything to their pockets, from flashing mushrooms to rusty iron things. Everything you find turns into raw materials of two types. Later you can assemble first aid kits, gas mask filters, and other items through the use of these resources.
That’s comfortable: you choose your gear yourself and don’t adjust to what you have nearby. Though it’s impossible to craft ammo on the go, so in Metro Exodus, you can quickly die while carrying lots of materials but having an empty gun magazine.
It is simpler to upgrade weapons, too. If you want, it’s possible to turn a regular revolver into a long-range rifle with an optical scope or add a second barrel to your shotgun. To do this, you only need to find modules by disassembling enemy weapons and then using them on your guns.
It is possible to upgrade other equipment, too: extend the ammo bag or set a portable metal detector on your arm. Still, these components won’t fall out from enemies, and it’s not too easy to find them in the world.
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Metro Exodus Gameplay
Before I faced Metro Exodus personally, I tended to compare it with Red Dead Redemption 2: same great attention to detail, same lousy shooting mechanics.
But 4A Games improved shooting mechanics in Metro Exodus very well, so it is much more pleasant to go loud on enemies than to try sneaking or using stealth warfare tactics. Still, stealth remained utterly simple. Artyom is invisible when in shadows. Enemies spot him at point-blank range only, and the player has a second or two to neutralize a shocked opponent even if they do. Enemies still hear poorly and can’t notice the player strangling their mate several feet away, but react adequately to dead bodies.
It may seem strange, but the “action” part of the game fails to shine due to the game genre. Developers offer the player to survive, which means to save everything they have as long as possible. If you prefer playing on difficulty levels above medium, it is unprofitable to give fights in the open, especially to mutants. Metro Exodus is not Fallout 4: there is no starred rifle falling out of the mutant’s body. So, the best solution to any situation: to avoid dangerous places at all, because you risk losing more resources to kill monsters rather than profits from objects they guard would bring.
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Developers postponed the Metro Exodus release date several times, but the result was worth waiting. I didn’t face serious “bugs” even before the traditional “first-day patch.” Graphically, the game is fantastic, and moreover, each region wonders in its way. The Caspian desert shows its sandstorms, and taiga forests impress you with a bright moon in the sky.
I have nothing wrong to say about the optimization as well. My Intel Core i5-8400 and GeForce GTX 1070 Ti were powerful enough to launch the game with 60 frames per second on “Ultra” settings and Full HD display resolution. Metro Exodus was pretty smooth even during dynamic scenes. A poor choice of graphics settings is a strange thing worth noting. You can choose the general picture quality preset (low, medium, high, ultra, extreme), texture filtration, motion blur, Nvidia HairWorks level and tessellation, but there are no separate choices for shadows, lighting, anti-aliasing, etc. I can’t say one would need them, but still…
Verdict: The Great Game
No additional ceremonies: Metro Exodus is the best part of the series and a “Game of the Year” title candidate. The involving 20-hour-long adventure that disappointed me only because it was over too quickly (I wanted to play it more and more). I can say the franchise came through the total reload: developers gave it a new life by feeding it with fresh mechanics and expanding the setting significantly. Although the main story was weak, the narrative interests the player through the original environment. To say more accurately, there are several settings with non-typical inhabitants, their stories, worldviews, and motivations.
Metro Exodus got more freedom and brought more variety to the gameplay. It is not necessary to be a pacifist if you want to get the “good” ending: shooting and hiding have equal rights from now. One could comply that developers were too scared to refuse the “legacy” of Metro 2033 and Metro: Last Light, but that’s just a matter of taste. Things that I didn’t like are entirely possible to be accepted by other players.
The point is: don’t follow your prejudice. You will make a big mistake if you decide to ignore the game only because it is not available in Steam.
Metro Exodus review score: 9.2 out of 10.