Many may not know that the Metro games are based on the works of Dmitry Gluhkovsky. I have read the first book in the series, and I can attest to the fact that Gluhkovsky has written these novels with heart and passion. What is most excellent is that his passion for the books has been expertly translated into the video game format by 4A Games – who adapted the first book into the outstanding first-person shooters that make up the Metro video game series. Three years after the first title, 4A Games released the highly anticipated sequel: Metro: Last Light. The studio worked closely with Gluhkovsky on Last Light, and it showed. Now, in 2019, the third and final chapter in the Metro video game series has released. To be blunt, Metro Exodus is every bit as incredible as its predecessors, and then some.
Metro Exodus has it all: the same and familiar smooth first-person gameplay from 2033 and Last Light; the same horrible-yet-incredible looking monstrosities that want to bite your head off; and the same post-apocalyptic narrative that spans the entirety of the Russian underground train system. This time, however, Exodus does away with the tight confinements of the metro, and instead introduces acvast open world to explore, with its own denizens, monstrosities, and Russia-spanning narrative. In this Vamers Metro Exodus Review, I go over exactly why Metro Exodus is currently the best post-apocalyptic shooter available.
Saviour of the Metro
Metro Exodus follows on directly from where Last Light left off. Artyom, the saviour of the metro and one of the best rangers the metro has ever known, has settled down with Anna, a ranger and marksman of note herself. Together, they have established a life in the metro and, if the “good” ending from Last Light is anything to go by, they are set to establish a family together.
However, during the months following the civil war that broke out in the metro, Artyom seemed to have picked up on a rogue radio signal – the first sign of the outside world in decades. The game begins here. Artyom learns that decades after the world was destroyed by nuclear warfare, life does indeed still exist on the outside of the metro stations and railways of Moscow. The thing is, however, these signs of life have always been masked by the higher authorities who rule over the metro for the betterment of its citizens. Now Artyom, Anna, and a handful of the Metro Rangers, set off to search for answers and to find out whether “enemy occupation” really rules over Russia, as the authorities believe.
Together, Artyom and friends travel on the Aurora, a fully working train that, admittedly, has seen better days. However, as they travel through the various regions of Russia, they discover whole new stories, people, and the mutated creatures that they have to offer. These various groups call themselves raiders, cultists, gangs, or otherwise “Wordly Folk” who are trying as hard to survive like anyone else. These groups are as Mad Max-inspired as they sound, and make use of the world around them, and the tools and vehicles at their disposal, to either make the Rangers’ journey toward salvation like hell, limbo, and everything in between. While there is life outside the metro, it is still in as much chaos as before the bombs dropped on Moscow.
The wonderful thing about this story is how different it is to the games that came before, while also feeling familiar. The narrative feels and sounds exactly like you would expect if you had read any of Dmitry Gluhkovky’s novels, and the gameplay is the beautifully flawed piece of art that previous Metro games have always featured. With that said, Metro Exodus manages to breathe new life into the franchise thanks to the narrative’s superb cast.
Throughout the epic odyssey toward salvation and truth, you will get to meet a whole new cast of characters. Some of these characters will join the ever-growing caravan Artyom and the Rangers are building, while others will act as clear-cut antagonists right from the moment you meet them. There are others who balance on the line of “frenemies”, but ultimately Metro Exodus features a beautifully written cast. To the detriment of all of this, however, is the subpar English voiceover work, which the Metro series is synonymous for. While playing the game with Russian voiceovers helps immensely with immersion, English is laughable at best.
It is clear that the series has come a long way since the janky English voice over days of Metro 2033. However, it still has a heck of a long way to go before it can stand up to the likes of other shooters of note, such as Halo. With that said, the animation is still as wonderful as ever, and it definitely alleviates the clunky-ness that the voice over brings to the table.
Compelling where it matters
Metro Exodus is a beautifully crafted first-person shooter (FPS) that is not afraid to throw the player everything it has, right from the get-go.
From the opening sequence, the player is met with the series regular requirement for filters. It also immediately teaches players that the outside equals danger, and metro equals safety. Sort of. The metro does have its own set of problems and monsters. The opening moments also teach you about collectables, such as audio tapes and diary entries, as well as the brand-new crafting and modular weapon system.
Throughout your travels, you will be picking up all kinds of gear that range from weapon modifications, to armour upgrades and modifications. Weapon modifications are without a doubt the biggest aspect that you will notice. Most human enemies will always drop their weapons onto the ground. You can pick up these weapons and use them as your own, or alternatively, strip them for ammunition and parts. If the parts are full-on modifications, you can attach them to appropriate weapons that you own, in order to change up the way that your weapons act. Thanks to this, you can literally turn a standard snub-nose revolver into a huge, booming, sniper rifle, complete with a long, silenced barrel, militarised scope with eight-times optical zoom, and multiple firing modes! Or, you can turn a standard shotgun, into a three-barreled slug-launching rifle perfect for close quarter battles.
Modifying weapons is not the only thing you should be focusing on, however. As you trudge through dirt, swamp areas, and perform tasks in the worst conditions imaginable, your weapons will become dirty. Cleaning these will cost you valuable chemicals that are hard to come by in the open world. Similarly, weapon scrap is also hard to find, but not as challenging to find as the chemicals. Scraps, as abundant as they are, are used to craft bullets, med kits, filters, and all sorts of other useful things that Artyom can make use of in his journey.
Similarly, you will also come across valuable armour upgrades on your journey towards Mount Yamantau and beyond. These include night-vision goggles, a metal detector for your wrist guards, and even a bunch of upgrades related to the various skills you want Artyom to specialise in.
Together with weapon modifications and state management, the various upgrade systems are huge improvements to what players could do in both Metro 2033 and Metro Last Light. They prove to add an extra layer to the hardcore survival elements that Metro is known for – even more so if you play the game on harder difficulties, such as Ranger Mode.
Naturally, difficulty and gear upgrades or modifications are not the only things players need to take note of. This is a Metro game, which means that players will be running, hiding, and exploring to their heart’s content. Monsters lurk around every corner! Whether they are mutated lobster fish or militarised cannibals, they remain a huge threat to both the player and their buddies. Players need to make sure that they collect enough resources to craft ammo and filters while keeping enough to craft the occasional medkit or two.
Considering how Metro Exodus features vast open areas. This is a direct contrast to what the previous games offered. Exploring, however, remains largely the same. The story compels the player toward a certain point, only for screaming non-playable characters (NPCs), the allure of more loot, or just a straight-up promise of getting a side story completed, quickly takes Artyom in another direction entirely. While the procedure remains the same, it will take players a much longer time to realise that they strayed too far from the main objective. This is not a bad thing however. Rather, it is a refreshing thought, knowing that you are playing a Metro game, but have been spending entire hours fetching teddy bears, train upgrades, or even killing surviving pockets of cannibals.
Metro Exodus is gorgeous and smooth
It most definitely helps that the gameplay compliments the incredibly detailed worlds and level design, both of which are new additions to the Metro franchise. I think it is clear that 4A Games have poured everything they could into Metro Exodus. From the onset, the player is met with the same beautiful landscapes featured in Metro Last Light. Artyom stares into the distance as he tunes his radio, seeking the radio signal he found months before. It is here that the game switches over from cutscene, directly into gameplay, and there is not a single desynchronised frame or hitch that gives it away. The cityscape looks the same, and the player is left wondering… until Artyom stands up and prompts the player forward. It truly is breathtaking.
Of course, the game immediately takes you back to the confines of the metro tunnels below Moscow. This is not out of the ordinary either – players have spent countless hours in there, in previous games, after all. The game may be an open world shooter compared to those previous titles, but 4A Games did not skimp on making the metro as beautiful as they could. While some places seem more lit than they ought to be, the tunnels of Moscow still took my breath away when it plunged me into darkness, only to have me run for my life when I figured out that I was fighting for my life against a brand-new military force. It is here that I learned how to use stealth properly, and I continued to do so throughout the entire game.
As soon as I stepped into the open plains and swamplands on the outskirts of Moscow, I knew I was in for a good ride. Somehow, while 4A Games were honing their skills on designing the best-cramped hallways and poorly lit tunnels they could, they picked up the ability to suddenly be master level designers for outside areas as well. Snow-topped cliffs hide dark secrets while ruined villages are slowly being eaten by the sea and the surrounding nature. Monsters and bandits hole themselves up in the dilapidated houses and buildings. Vast networks of power lines are home to vultures and all kinds of other critters that are otherwise left to themselves. When the game takes you back to the bunkers of Yamantau, and then the beautiful spring-time and summertime areas after that, similar landscapes await you. I especially loved how Taiga perfectly showcased what a post-nuclear summer can look like if the world had 40-odd years to settle.
I think the fact that I made my way through the game in a slow and methodical manner definitely helped with how much I appreciated the level design. No matter how futile it seems, there are always alternate ways to approach missions. It may not seem like it, but you can practically make your way through the game without killing like a madman. I did not get the pacifist achievement this time around, however (if it even exists). Cannibals tried to eat Anna, after all… but know that it is possible to make it through the game without shooting too many bad guys in the head.
With that said, Metro Exodus is first and foremost, a first-person shooter. Gunplay mechanics are excellent as always, and enemies are equally as terrifying as much as they are well designed. It is truly a strange thing to think of monsters and enemies as ‘pretty’, but somehow that descriptor is one for the best for the creatures featured in Metro Exodus – many of which stand out among all kinds of monstrosities in the genre. Simple ghouls (or humanimals in this case) look better than any post-apocalyptic shooter I have ever played. This includes Fallout 4, and – laughably – Fallout 76. Similarly, basic creatures such as the Tsarfish, a common monster you will see in the first few chapters of the game, look incredible. While not exactly the desired effect, they do remind me of the “crab things” from Stephen King’s Dark Tower saga. The very ones that took Roland’s fingers. I digress, but the point is that they look incredible and terrifying, and are beautifully crafted to their surroundings.
There is no denying that I loved every moment of time spent in this game. From the onset, the game hooks you with stellar visuals and incredibly gripping gameplay. It then lures you further into its grips with an open world that doubles up as an incredible journey of finding your place in a world that very suddenly ripped itself open, only to reveal an entirely new world beneath.
Metro Exodus is a great game. It expertly brings the best at what 4A Games can do, in terms of level design, together with a whole new world of opportunities. I suppose the only sad thing about it all is knowing that Metro Exodus marks the final game in the trilogy. Does that mean it is the last in the franchise? I hope not. However, whatever 4A Games does next, I am certain that it will have a lot of Metro vibes to it. Now excuse me while I go and replay Metro Exodus once more.
|Time played||20+ Hours|
|Acquisition||Review code courtesy of Deep Silver|