When I first heard that Metro would be going open world for it’s third entry, I was hesitant in my enthusiasm. While I was hopeful that the developers had the talent to pull off such a monumental task, I was nonetheless concerned by the possibility that one of the best narrative driven shooters would sacrifice what made them special in the first place. However, after spending many hours with the game, I am happy to report that while Metro Exodus is not without its faults, the experience still feels familiar and uniquely Metro.
Publisher: Deep Silver, Koch Media
Developer: 4A Games
Platform: PC (Reviewed), Playstation 4, Xbox One
Release Date: February 15, 2019
Price: $ 49.99 (PC)(Review Copy Received) $59.99 (Console)
For the first hour or two, the game feels the same. It’s not bad, but nothing new, it’s simply a more polished version of the REDUX games. However, this is where it begins to shine, and where the gameplay for Metro Exodus proves itself.
Once you have your mission, you can experience the semi-open world in all its murky glory. Metro Exodus does not go the full open-world route; instead it is built into large hubs, similar to the STALKER games. You will enter a zone, where you will be given the main quest line to follow, as well as side-quests and general areas to explore.
When I realized that the world would be a bit more contained, I found myself feeling more at ease. With the ability to cut the world into chunks, there could be more time and effort put into each zone, making sure that nothing felt out of place or unnecessary.
I’m happy to say, that is precisely how the world feels. There is an incredible amount of detail put into your surroundings, from the creatures who inhabit the world, to buildings and wreckage that you will spend your time crawling through.
Over the course of a series of fantastic set pieces and action sequences, including jumping onto a train from another train while blowing it up, it comes to light that there are other people on the surface and that it’s actually mostly safe and inhabitable.
The world is free to be explored in these chunks, with each area requiring a unique way to tackle the obstacles in front of you. This is made more interesting with the game’s new weapon upgrading mechanic.
You gather materials on your journey and can whip out your backpack to craft ammo, filters, medkits, and other goodies. You are also able to craft and gather upgrades for your weapons, allowing you to create the perfect “Frankenstein’s gun” to use to blast away mutants and humans alike.
I would spend a lot of my time tweaking my favorite weapons to get them just right for my preferred task, even if the only gun I used most of the time was my trusty pneumatic rifle.
Metro Exodus takes place after the events of Metro Last Light, continuing the story of Artyom as he seeks a better understanding of the surface world. He has become obsessed with trying to find civilizations on the surface, hoping that humanity’s future would not be left underground.
Unfortunately, Artyom appears to be alone in his belief that there are such places, leading him to venturing out into the ruins of Moscow on his own, usually returning to the Metro on the brink of death, irradiated; something that costs his home station more and more each time he returns.
His single-minded determination and stubbornness have begun to cause tension among the ranks of the Rangers, but he is unwilling to give up and quit trying to find answers.
The only person who does not hold Artyom personally responsible for his actions is his wife Anna, even if she does not believe in the world above ground. She begs Artyom to give up on his quest and to move to a comfy home in Polis station where they could settle down.
There is a quick flash forward to a time in which Artyom is once again on the surface, using a radio to check for any signs of life. This time though, he has Anna with him. They don’t find anything on the radio and decide to head back, but along the way, a train comes down the railway tracks.
This is when the truth begins to unravel. Artyom and Anna run into a group of soldiers, who seem to be an extension of the Rangers, but are far more brutal. They are attacked and thrown into the back of a military vehicle, and driven to a pit.
There, they witness the execution of an elderly woman and her grandson, along with Artyom being shot and tossed into the pit as well. It’s clear that there is some kind of cover-up taking place, and Artyom is going to get to the bottom of it.
The Ranger leader, Miller, admits that not only is most of the world recovered from the nuclear war, but Russia may very well be the only country not to have improved.
He, along with most of the Russian command, are worried that the war between Russia and NATO is still ongoing and by going to the surface and showing that the Russians are still alive, would put them at significant risk of another nuclear attack.
Miller is afraid that Russia’s surface is occupied by NATO forces and that there is only one hope to saving themselves; they must travel to Mount Yamantau in the Ural Mountains. It is believed that this is where the Russian military commanders fled when the bombs dropped.
Over the course of the last several decades, they have been in the process of rebuilding civilization there. With a plan, a train, and a crack squad of his best bros, Artyom sets off into the open world to try to discover the truth.
Metro Exodus is quite the experience. I, for one, chalk most of my enjoyment up to what I call “Eastern European Magic.” From the days of STALKER: Shadow of Chernobyl to Kingdom Come: Deliverance, there is a style and flair to Eastern European games that makes them stand out, and more importantly, stand the test of time.
In an era where the term “open world” is met with groans and disinterest, Metro Exodus proves that, with a little effort, you can craft a broad, believable world that never feels empty or dead. I cannot wait to get back into the ash-filled ruins of Russia to hunt down some more bandits with my overly modified Assault Rifle.
It is a shame that controversy marred the launch of the game, as it feels like a proper Game of the Year contender. I hope that there is another sequel, but it has been proven to me, without a shadow of a doubt, that anything that 4A Games touches is going to be gold. Metro Exodus is an impressive experience, and by far one of the most ambitious sequels I’ve ever reviewed in my career.
Metro: Exodus was reviewed on PC using a review copy provided by Deep Silver. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s reviews/ethics policy here.