This title was reviewed on Xbox One, but is also available on PC and PlayStation 4.
It really can be a bit hard to get into the Metro series. The voice acting, while it tries it’s best, has never been very good. They’re games based off of a fairly obscure book series that’s very good. The gameplay consists of linear missions set in the underground metro of a post apocalyptic Russia, with radioactive monsters and asshole opposing human factions crowd tight, dark, claustrophobic hallways, and while the gunplay in 2033 and Last Light were fantastic enough to make this a non-issue, it definitely isn’t for everybody.
I, however, am a fan of the series, so I was excited to see Metro: Exodus in my inbox. I wasn’t disappointed for the most part. While Exodus does suffer from some issues with technical bugs and pacing/implementation and execution, the gameplay and signature feeling of bone-chilling tension do not disappear when placed in new, expansive surface environments. From the sandy dunes of the Caspian Desert to the foreboding natural aura of the Taiga Forest, you’ll be fighting a disadvantaged, uphill battle to find other survivors and recover humanity.
So first, let me give some background. Metro: Exodus is the third game in the Metro series overall. It is preceded directly by Metro: Last Light, and before that, Metro 2033. The series is partially based on the Metro series of novels written by Dmitry Glukhovsky. The first game is an adaptation of the book of the same name, with the other two games taking inspiration from the books, being partially written and directed by Dmitry, and taking place in the same universe and country. Exodus follows the same main character as the other two games, taking place two years after the end of Last Light.
Let’s talk about what I liked. To begin with, gameplay and setting. Right off the bat, in the very first ½ – 1 hour sequence you start in, Metro’s patent tension is lingering over you. As you navigate the dank, dark underground tunnels of a winter hellscape, crawling through tight spaces and fumbling through the dark, you’ll hear a noise and nearly jump out of your skin. It can really be a terrifying experience. That tension sticks with you the whole way through, and the series’ eternally emphasized scarcity of ammo makes panicking an absolute impossibility if you want to survive. You’ll have to brave this unnerving tension and make every shot count if you want to survive in the Metro. You won’t just be in the Metro however. This game is a story of Artyom and his companions journeying across the land to try to find survivors and quell Artyom’s obsession with the idea of others being alive post-war. On this journey, you’ll visit semi-open spaces in the Caspian Desert, a Taiga Forest and others, and claustrophobic, infested spaces underground.
Each area you travel through has its own traits that will influence combat, but I’m going to neglect to spoil them here, because this is a game that really needs to be played blind in my opinion. Metro is a series that’s focused on it’s story, and as a result, a lot of it is comprised of specific moments that make it all worth it. Exodus, in my opinion, is one long moment like this. When journeying around, I assure you that you’ll be amazed by the places you’ll find yourself in, the nerve-destroying, nail biting conflicts you’ll have to work out of, and the lurking fear you can feel in some of the underground sequences. I also don’t want to talk about the story, because it’s one of the most important parts of the game, and I don’t like spoilers, so I don’t like to spoil things.
Sorry if you came to read up on the story; I like to stay vague on that. Another thing I really enjoyed was some of the new weapons you get to play with in this game. That crossbow we saw at E3? Yeah, it’s probably about as satisfying as you thought it looked. Graphically this game is also stunning; the environments go out of there way to show off the graphical progression since 2010, and as a result of Metro’s formula continuing to encourage you to take your time, you have plenty of opportunity to appreciate the gorgeous locations. Exodus certainly doesn’t distance itself from it’s survival horror aspects, but it definitely does take steps to remind you that there’s more to it than that while still keeping the core of the series alive and well.
Now to talk about some of my issues. For starters, the gunplay isn’t as good here for me. I had a lot of instances where my aiming controls felt a bit clunky and occasionally floaty. It’s always either I’m sweeping too fast or I’m turning around at the speed of your blind grandmother using her walker. It can be irritating or even lethal if you can’t turn around fast enough to kill an enemy when you’re already at a high damage percentage. Obviously that’s not gonna happen a lot, but still. I also found that sometimes the AI would act… weird. I had a whole pack of Watchmen run at me and then just kinda.. Stop. Not for long, but they definitely paused to ponder my value long enough for me to execute them.
There’s various other graphical bugs and whatnot as well, not important enough to specify, and also pretty inconsistent and general. I also don’t understand Artyom; we hear him talk when he does his journal entries and whatnot, but when people directly talk to his stupid ass face to face, he just stares. Worse yet, nobody comments on this, as if everyone in the post apocalypse is somehow immune to how rude that is. I also feel like, at times, the new openness of some of the environments can feel artificial; Metro still retains it’s slow, deliberately paced movement and combat, so trying to do that in larger, non corridor based, non claustrophobic environments can, at times, feel off putting.
Outside of that, I really don’t have a lot else to complain about. Overall, this is a game that improves upon what Last Light and 2033 does, and while it’s new features bring along a host of new issues, they aren’t bad enough to drag the game down. The focus on the characters in this game makes it really compelling, and the new environments, complete with new conditions outside of “wintery hellhole” make exploring and progressing a joy to see and do. I had a fantastic experience playing through this, and if you’re a fan of the series, I can definitively say that you will as well. If you haven’t played the games before, I have good news as well; this game is pretty self contained. Certain elements and characters are tied to the past obviously, but the overall events and developments of the story in this game are largely self referential in nature, and you could easily understand and play through this if you were a newbie. All in all, I loved my experience here. I implore everyone to orchestrate a mass exodus to your nearest game dispensary to buy this.