When you talk about Metro you think of… Well, the Metro. The dark underground of Moscow after WW3, filled with mutants and the snow covered surface that’s almost certain death to venture to. It’s arguably the best horror FPS out there. Metro Exodus completely flips the series on its head, taking a more hopeful turn as Artyom takes his journey beyond the boundaries of Moscow and into the open Russian wilderness.
Metro Exodus is set after the events of Metro Last Light. From the beginning there are references to the previous games along with a returning cast so it helps to play the previous games especially since Exodus is more about the personal journey of Artyom and his squad. There is an opening sequence at the start set in Moscow, with Artyom adamant that there is life beyond the city and the Metro. Once your fellow Spartan Rangers eventually join you due to an uncovered conspiracy, you set forth aboard a train to uncover the truth of the outside world.
Depending on the level the way it plays may be different but for the most part Metro Exodus is much more free and open than the previous games. Some levels are still linear due to specific events but the main ones will have a decently sized sandbox where you can go off and explore rather than being stuck on a direct path to your objective. Since the game is still level based it helps to do as much as possible in an area before moving on since you won’t get the chance to go back. There are a couple of minor visual glitches in some areas and the occasional bug but there is nothing that is game breaking. Worst case scenario is you load your last checkpoint which was likely 5 minutes ago.
Just like the previous games the morality system returns. Performing optional tasks in the previous games was the main way to improve it such as saving someone or giving bullets to a beggar. With the levels being sandboxes this time it’s much easier to miss optional tasks so it offers an incentive to explore. Various other incentives to explore such as missable suit and weapon upgrades are there but the most important incentive for optional tasks is the effect they now have on the main narrative. Your actions may impact your squad member’s fates… Ultimately effecting the ending.
One thing that hasn’t changed much despite the open world is the combat. Stealth is always your best bet against humans and keeping your distance from mutants but dispatching them as fast as possible with your guns and occasional throwable is your go-to strategy. Even on normal difficulty the damage you take is high, so head on confrontations are best avoided. New mutants may require some different strategies such as hitting weak spots on shelled enemies or scaring another with fire before it charges at you. The change to the environment does offer some new opportunities though such as being able to get atop a tower and snipe enemies from a distance, something you couldn’t do in the tunnels of the Metro. Weapons will have to be maintained and cleaned at workbenches as well to keep them working optimally or they’ll begin to jam and have their stats impacted.
Workbenches are your best friend in Metro Exodus. Them, and crafting materials. As you explore the world, check bodies, containers and dismantle weapons you’ll find crafting parts which in turn can be used to craft ammo, medkits, gas mask filters, and other resources. Since stores don’t exist out in the wilderness it’s down to you to get everything yourself. The focus on crafting means you have to manage your resources much more carefully. Do you craft an extra filter because you’re running low, more ammo, or a couple of throwables to help clear out that enemy hideout? It’s all about making use of your limited resources.
When you aren’t out in the world you will be aboard the train that the crew lives on, the Aurora. When you’re stopped at an area for a mission there will be a camp set up next to the train. Plenty of interactions can take place between Artyom and his squad, you might even see other squad members interacting with each other as you walk about and can listen in on their conversations. Some conversations might show points of interest on your map or even give you a small side quest such as to go fetch an item for someone which then leads to other interactions. Some of the conversations are extremely long but they are done well since they rely on you having already played the past two games and getting to know the characters and care about them. The voice acting is the only thing that I’m kind of iffy about but it’s not going to be perfect since it’s English in Russian accents and some of the actors aren’t natives.
A copy of the game was provided for this review by the developer/publisher