Metro is a series that has been around for 9 years now, and Metro Exodus is the third game in the series. Set after the events of Metro: Last Light, Metro Exodus still follows Artyom who has now become obsessed with proving that there is life outside of Moscow. Artyom has been venturing on to the surface, looking for radio signals of survivors. During one venture Artyom is joined by his now wife Anna, as they journey to the surface. While on the surface a train shoots past the pair, but before they can chase after the train the pair are captured by Hansa soldiers. Through a series of events Anna and Artyom discover that there is a world outside of Moscow, and become reunited with their Spartan friends. Now knowing what they do the pair, accompanied by their Spartan comrades on a stolen train, flee Moscow and attempt to find a new home.
Metro Exodus is a change from the traditional Metro format of dim-lit tunnels filled with tight turns. Set across the span of a year, Exodus features all four seasons. The maps are open sandboxes, with one main objective and the option to complete smaller side objectives. The maps are littered with safehouses, locals and bandits for the player to discover. You can take over enemy bases, or just leave them be. It all depends how deep in to the game you want to get.
In terms of actual gameplay, the game plays as a fairly standard first person shooter. You have an objective, in a map, go complete that objective. There is also the crafting element; making sure that you have enough med-kits and bullets to get you through. Crafting materials are obtained from killed enemies, or by looting lockers out in the world. Bullets for the more powerful guns (shotguns, assault rifles etc) can only be crafted at workbenches, found in safehouses or on the train itself. You have to be resourceful with these, and use them sparingly and only when absolutely needed. Luckily for the player, Artyom is equipped with the Tikhar.
The Tikhar is a pneumatic gun, meaning that it runs on compressed air. It can be pumped manually by the player, and can eventually be upgraded to automatically refill (although this is a slow process). This gun is essential to survive in the world of Metro Exodus. The only gun you can carry with craftable ammo, this gun was my best friend. Many a time did I find myself relying on the Tikhar, and many a time it got me out of a sticky situation. Keep an eye on that pressure though; once it drops you might as well be spitting bullets at your enemies.
Should you find yourself with no ammo, well you are in for a struggle. Mutants and bandits roam the lands and they won’t think twice about killing you once they spot you. Manage your resources, craft constantly and you’ll stay alive. It is sometimes possible to play Metro Exodus without killing. You can incapacitate enemies by sneaking up to them, or sometimes avoid them entirely. It all depends on what your playing style is. The game has two possible endings, and depending how you act depends on what ending you get. For instance at one point you are asked, while sneaking around a village, not to kill the people in the village (even though they will kill you if they spot you). Your interaction with these situations is tied to your ending, as well as other points in the game, which is a nice little feature.
Graphically Metro Exodus is one of the most gorgeous games I have seen for a long time. The worlds look beautiful, and each of the seasons have been recreated perfectly. I was playing on an Xbox One S, but if you are lucky enough to own a more powerful console (like the Xbox One X I previewed this game on) or a PC that can run the game at it’s full potential then my lord are you in for a treat. Audio wise the game does well. Nothing stellar or groundbreaking, but it does the job. Unfortunately no matter how good looking the world you find yourself in, Metro Exodus does have some shortcomings.
In an attempt to make the game realistic, the development team went with an interesting choice. When Artyom is involved in a conversation with more than one person, you’ll find that the characters talk over one another. You’ll be talking with Anna, and suddenly Idiot pipes up in the background. So you’re focusing on what he has to say, and not listening to Anna. When in reality she’s telling you what the objective is and setting the scene, and Idiot is just spouting some crap. This gets even worse between levels, when you have massive group conversations with 5-8 people in them. You might as well be trying to plan a military operation in a nightclub on a Friday night. After a while I gave up and resorted to reading the subtitles as they appeared.
However my major issue with Metro Exodus is; it just isn’t fun. It should be. On paper it really should be. Roaming around a sandbox, crafting and killing. Killing and crafting. It just isn’t though. While the levels are quite open, they isn’t really much to do in the bigger levels. The maps are big but, in keeping with the theme of post-nuclear war survival, survivors and bases are far and few. I understand that this makes sense, given the plot of the Metro series, but it doesn’t make for a fun game. You spend most of your time travelling from objective to objective, not really encountering much in between. Taiga, the Summer level, is by far where Metro Exodus excels. While not as open as the other levels, the entire section has purpose. There is always something to do, and only minor sections of aimlessly walking around. The game does admittedly become a bit less like Metro, and becomes a lot more like Far Cry. Which makes it that much worse, that this section of the game is the most enjoyable. However it stands to show that it is the size of the earlier sandboxes that is the major issue with the game.
Overall, Metro Exodus is an enjoyable game. If you can look past the wandering around, and multiple characters talking over one another, it is at it’s core a good game. Challenging enemies, and a good resource management element, make for a fun experience. Once you’re in a fire fight, or sneaking around a camp, you forget about the shortcomings of Metro Exodus. I personally couldn’t look past it, and it did impact my time with the game, but if you can look past these shortcomings then Metro Exodus is a great game for you.
Metro Exodus is a gorgeous game, that is fun to play at certain points. Combating enemy bases is a blast, but unfortunately empty sandbox environments make for a slightly tedious travelling experience. When the game is fun to play, it is fun to play. Those moments are too farad between though.